Let me explain...

| Sunday, November 28, 2010 | 0 comments |
So I realized that I boast about Quorn products alot...but never have a I really explained what they're made out of. I suppose I have not done so because sometimes when you explain what something is made of people will turn their noses up at it before they've even tried it (*cough* Chris *cough*cough*). Okay, so Quorn products, as I've mentioned before, are not made of soy. They are actually made of....wait for it....a type of fungi (mmmm, appetizing right?). Yes, that is correct. Gross to think about, but there are things we already eat that are a type of fungus, like mushrooms or even the coveted truffles.  From their website:

Okay, so lets see...it's a high quality protein that contains nine essential amino acids and actually has a higher Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS) than beef. It also has more fiber per serving than a baked potato, brown rice, or bread. Hmmm...sounds pretty good to me. It's also low fat and calories? I can handle that.

The downside to Quorn products is that they aren't vegan. They do contain egg and are processed in a facility that handles dairy. Some of their products also contain wheat, so if you have a gluten allergy you should read the label carefully (which you probably have to do with all foods anyway).

So yeah...it's made from fungus grown in a lab. Just thought I'd throw it out there so people would know what they're eating. I've never gotten sick from from it, it's still pretty damn tasty, and really...who cares where it comes from if it's that good for you? I would still it eat it over beef treated with rBGH (that would be the bovine growth hormone) or I guess beef in general...or any other of the genetically modified foodstuff that's out there (really how would we know though, its not like they're having to label it as such - ain't that a bitch?)

Bottom line...it's tasty. Try it...you may just be surprised.

Cranberry & Goat Cheese Chick'n Cutlets

| Saturday, November 27, 2010 | 0 comments |
Okay...so today I tried Quorn's Cranberry & Goat Cheese Chick'n Cutlets and they were....delicious! Two come to a package and they bake for 18 minutes in a 425º oven. When they came out they looked great...nice and golden brown. Upon first cut you could hear the breading crunch, which carried over into the first bite. The crunchiness of the breading then gave way to the soft, creaminess that is melted goat cheese. There was the slight saltiness of the cheese followed by the taste of the chick'n (which actually kinda tastes like real chicken)...the only thing that was missing? The cranberries! They were in there, I saw them...but they didn't provide any real flavor. I'm not sure why though. The tartness of the cranberries would have done well to cut the creaminess of the cheese. I suppose there was an ever so slightly sweet flavor to the cutlets...maybe that was the cranberry hard at work? Either way...these were really tasty. I am definitely going to buy these again. I just wish that there were more than two to a package!

A Veggie Thanksgiving

| Friday, November 26, 2010 | 0 comments |
I ALMOST forgot...(which I happen to do quite often...it's a weakness)...I finally tried that Quorn Turk'y Roast for Thanksgiving. I figured it was a perfect opportunity since the boys would be with their father for Thanksgiving and I would be by myself (sad isn't it?)

My Thanksgiving meal (mostly)

Upon opening the box I see a log o' turk'y (I guess?) wrapped in plastic with metal tied ends...similar to that of a giant sausage....only stumpier. I cooked it according to the main package directions because I didn't have one of those plastic turkey bags on hand...okay and I won't lie...also because I'm lazy.  To cook it the lazy man (er, person?) way you leave it in the plastic, poke a few holes in it, throw it in an oven safe dish, and cook it in the oven for 45 minutes from frozen. Sooo...I kinda followed directions, as I usually do...and dissolved a chick'n bouillon cube in water with a little seasoning and poured it over top of the roast. When it was done I took it out, carefully (as the package instructs) cut the metal ends off and peeled off the plastic. I cut into the turk'y, a feat that was surprisingly easy, and produced four small medallions of fake turkey deliciousness (I mean, it has to be tasty right?) I would like to say that the clouds parted and the heavens shown down up upon me as soon as I took that first magnificent bite...but alas...they did not. It turned out okay. I mean...it had that meaty texture...but didn't quite taste like turkey (at least how I remember turkey tasting). It wasn't bad really...but not stellar. Think about it as being slightly softer than a hot dog in texture...and tastes a little like dry, slightly bland turkey. A tad flavorful...but not an over the top wow. I guess that's good because it didn't overpower the gravy (the real star) and meshed well with everything on my plate. Not something you would eat alone, but as background to something better (like...the gravy). I think if you used option two of the cooking directions (remove roast from package, baste in herbs & olive oil, place in plastic turkey bag, and bake for something like 75 minutes) it would turn out much better. I think sliced thin it could still go on sandwiches well...you never really taste the turkey as much as the accompaniments anyway.

From the Quorn website...I suppose you could make it look like this if you TRIED and weren't lazy like me

Also among my Thanksgiving fare was the Tofurkey gravy...and let me tell you...this SAVED Thanksgiving! :) This stuff was delicious. It was a mushroom gravy with "giblets." Really the "giblets" didn't do much, texture or flavor wise...but the gravy was very thick, rich, and bursting with mushroom flavor. I served this over everything. It went very well with the turk'y and my mashed potatoes. I will definitely buy this again, Thanksgiving or not. 

Last, but DEFINITELY not least...the pie...OH the cherry pie!! That had to have been the most delicious cherry pie EVER! It was from Wholly Wholesome and was vegan, which is nice. According to package directions you're supposed to either brush it with milk or egg (both of which I don't have) OR a mixture of sugar dissolved in boiling water...well...I don't use sugar either (damn)...BUT I did have agave syrup, sooooooo that's what I used! I swirled it in some boiling water and brushed it on top of the pie. It cooked for about an hour and when it came out...oh....this is when the clouds parted and the heavens shone down upon my kitchen. Take a look for yourself...it was magical. Although, this isn't something you could have around all the time...1/6 of the pie will cost you 320 calories...but at Thanksgiving (and yes, this will be at Christmas too) it's worth it!!

Yeah...I ate that much...total fat assery I know...

So all in all Thanksgiving wasn't so bad...two out of the three items I would definitely eat again. That's a lie...I will probably try the Quorn product again (I'm a Quorn whore...what can I say) I'll just try a different method of cooking it. 

Hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving!!! Now it's on to planning Christmas...with my omni parents coming...who want to fry a turkey...what to do, what to do...maybe fried Turk'y?? (HA, joke) We shall see...

Kiss my ass Red Baron

So I know I've been absent lately...but I've been kinda busy at work and what not...AND I've been getting ready to go to California. I'm getting LASIK in about a week and a half...I'm hella nervous. I saw my bf get it last time he was here and it is creepy. They have this machine that suctions up your eye ball to cut your corneal flap. Ew, ew, ew....and you can supposedly smell your eye burning as they cut it with a laser...yeah.

ANYWAY...Thanksgiving has finally passed and it is back to normal life. Today I'm making a HUGE pot of marinara sauce and decided I'm going to make and freeze pizza (move over DiGiorno). They make really good quick meals for those days you're super busy and/or super lazy...and either don't want to or can't cook.

I found a really good whole wheat pizza dough recipe awhile back and while the taste was always there, the texture was not something I loved. I mean, I figured it was something I would have to live with seeing as this was a whole wheat pizza crust...nothing healthy (or healthier) for you ever tastes good right (say it isn't so!!)? Oh how wrong I was...I actually found out that you should probably pre-bake this crust a little bit prior to adding the toppings so the crust doesn't turn out so dense and/or unappetizing. I stumbled upon this revelation the last time I made pizza. I baked two individual pizzas for my sister and I, and then pre-made two pizzas for my boys..and froze them. I made the pizza for my sister and I as I usually do...uncooked dough layered with sauce and cheese, baked as normal. BUT for the boys, I baked their crust for about 10 minutes in the oven (I figured it would be easier to freeze this way), cooled it, layered marinara and cheese, stuck them in the freezer, and then wrapped them in plastic wrap once they were frozen. Needless to say the pizza my sister and I ate turned out...eh. About 3 days later I was stuck on what to give the boys for lunch...lo and behold, I had those pizzas in the freezer (man, I'm so smart to make these ahead of time just for this type of situation)...so I set the oven to 450º, threw the pizza in and baked it for about 10-15 minutes (well...until the cheese was nice and gooey). It turned out GREAT! So great in fact that I'm doing it again today (duh, that's the whole point of this post right?)...and posting the recipe for the dough. I would post the recipe for the sauce as well, but alas, I don't measure anything. It takes a lot for me to measure...and I only do it so I can post stuff on here. Marinara is one of those things I just can't measure because it's kind of a season as you go type of dish. Maybe one day I'll stop being lazy and actually measure...we'll see....I wouldn't hold my breath.

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough (Breadmaker)
 (And btw, this makes A LOT of dough...so feel free to cut recipe in half if need be)

1.5 c + 2 T water (water temp should be about 80º)
2 T olive or vegetable oil
1 t salt
1 t sugar (I use stevia equivalent)
4 c whole wheat flour
2 t active yeast

1) Add liquid and next three ingredients to breadmaker

2) Add flour, tap pan and spread flour to the edges, making sure to cover the water. Make a small well in the flour and dump your yeast in it.

3) Run the dough cycle. Once the dough cycle is complete dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead one additional minutes. Let it rest for about 30-45 seconds

4) Here's where your decision making process starts. You can either roll the dough into a circle to fit your pizza pan OR you can roll it into a giant rectangle and proceed to cut individual pizza rounds from it (I used an overturned bowl as a stencil). I rolled out my dough pretty thin, about 1/4 of an inch.

5) Sprinkle the bottom of your pan with cornmeal (I used a large baking sheet to bake the individual pizza crusts), add dough on top and leave as is. I know you'll compulsively want to fold over the edges to make a thick crust, but don't do it. Resist those urges...it'll be better this way.

6) Let dough rise about 20 minutes. First pre-heat your oven to 450º and then push down the dough using your fingertips (creating a dimpled look to the dough), or if you would like the crust on the thinner side, with that crunchy texture, pierce the dough multiple times with a fork. Seriously, take out your aggression on that bitch and pierce away. The more holes you have the less likely your dough will puff up.

7) Throw it in the oven for about 3 minutes, take it out, flip it upside down, and return it to the oven for another 3 minutes. Once you take it out, the crust should be pretty crispy on the outside. LET IT COOL!

8) Once the crust has cooled, ladle sauce on top, and top with whatever you want. Plain cheese is always the way to go for me (as I can put whatever I want on them when I actually cook them later).

9) Place pizzas in freezer uncovered until frozen (should only take a couple of hours). Then take them out, wrap tightly with plastic wrap, and return to freezer until you're ready to use them.

When you finally decide to bake them you can add any additional toppings prior to cooking. Pre-heat the oven to 450º, then place your pizzas directly on the rack (or a pizza stone of you have one) and cook for approximately 10-15 minutes....or until the cheese is all melty. Enjoy!

OH - and I suppose you could use regular all purpose or bread flour in place of the whole wheat flour...it would have a slightly different texture and taste, but I'm sure it would still taste great...and a lot more like traditional delivery or frozen pizza.

Fluffy Whole Wheat Bread

| Saturday, November 13, 2010 | 0 comments |
So...after a lot of talking about getting a breadmaker my loving bf bought me one as a surprise. I must say that I love it. I've used it to make both bread and pizza dough (with vegan cinnamon rolls next on the list.) Now generally speaking, a lot of people don't actually BAKE their bread in the bread maker. They use it to make the dough and then bake the bread in the oven...creating a much fluffier texture. Yeah, I didn't know that the first time I made bread and holy crap that shit was DENSE!!

WELL - I happened upon a bread recipe, which of course I had to tweak based on what I've read over the internet and what I had in my kitchen. The original recipe calls for sugar, molasses, dry milk powder, and a little less wheat gluten. I don't use regular sugar, I didn't have molasses, and well, I don't drink/use regular milk (I also read that wheat gluten makes bread fluffy...so I added a little extra for good measure.) So anyway, I planned on taking out the dough and baking it in the oven. That ended up not happening - hahaha. I guess I didn't hear the beep before it started to bake. All I smelled was fresh baking bread. I thought to myself "shit, that's gonna be a waste." Well, when I took it out I decided I would cut into it anyway to see how it turned out taste wise...and wow. It was actually REALLY light and fluffy...not something you would expect from a breadmaker. I've made it a few times now to make sure it wasn't a fluke...and since it's been great everytime I decided to post the recipe. Enjoy:

Fluffy Whole Wheat Bread

The settings for this bread was a large loaf (1.5 pounds) with a medium crust, on the whole wheat cycle.

1 1/2 c + 2T water (make sure it's the temp it needs to be for your yeast. Mine is 100º - 110º)
2 T almond milk
3 T honey
2 T canola oil
1 1/2 t salt
3 3/4 c whole wheat flour
2 T wheat gluten
3 t active yeast

1) Add first 5 ingredients to your breadmaker (water through salt)

2) Add whole wheat flour evenly to pan, then add wheat gluten. Tap pan to make sure water is covered (push flour around to all corners if you have to, you don't want any water showing). Then make a small well in the center of the flour (make sure it is shallow enough that the yeast won't touch the water.) Add yeast to the well.

3) Turn on breadmaker to the aforementioned settings, sit back, relax, and enjoy fresh baked whole wheat bread in a few short hours...okay - so maybe four hours if you go by my breadmaker.

My latest loaf
Another loaf that I made - so you could see the middle

My sister and I enjoyed this with homemade blueberry jam my mom sent me...and it was TASTY!!

Halloween Pics

So here are a couple Halloween pics...I know, I'm hella late...but I've been busy :)

Mario & Luigi...and my Grimm Gables Cemetery

Princess Peach
I will say...kids don't trick or treat anymore! We didn't even go through three bags of candy. I also think only every fourth house was participating and handing out candy. It was really disappointing. Although, the boys enjoyed it...and they got to eat candy for the first time. Riley performed a "Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Dance"...shortly after he was swimming in the candy...

All in all...I can't wait until next Halloween, regardless of the poor turn out. Hopefully it will be better next year.