May 30, 2012

Quick Bite: The BFD at Q's

Usually, I don't write about restaurants unless I have the opportunity to give a full review.  This is a time intensive and expensive process, because I don't feel I can accurately describe what a restaurant is like unless I've tried at least three or four items on their menu.  For instance, I had to scrap a would be review of Salt Tears Coffee House and Noshery simply because (after a decadent breakfast with the wife,) I haven't been able to afford to go back for lunch, and now that I can I don't really remember what I intended to say about the first meal.  Apart from some meager ad revenue everytime somebody clicks on the links littering the corner of these pages, I don't profit from doing this, so reviews have to take a backseat to everything else; they're really just bonus content whenever I am lucky enough to be in the position to go out to eat a bunch, and that hasn't been much of a thing lately.

May 21, 2012

Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers

We'd finally gotten into a rut.  As I've mentioned on this blog already, friend of the family Lotus and her son have been staying with us for the past month and a half, and to save wear and tear on the oven as well as the budget, it was easier to plan meals as a joint unit instead of seperately.  This has meant that, apart from the lunch meat I take to work and a bit of smoked salmon on Mother's Day, we have effectively turned into vegetarians.  Now, I've said it before.  I like vegetarian food.  While many people find it restrictive, I actually think I am a more creative cook when I can't rely on meat to supply its flavor to whatever I am cooking.  That being said, this past week I hit a wall when it came to menu planning.  Black bean burgers were on the menu for a third time.  I'm growing to dread the sight of any form of noodle EXCEPT ramen.  Without revisiting Asian flavors Wife could do without or breaking her calorie budget, I'd pretty much exhausted every meatless recipe on Eating Well, Epicurious, Simply Recipes, and the other websites I visit for inspiration (not to mention traditional cookbooks.)  That's when I remembered it.  Catfish's Dishes.  Not this blog, but the ink-stained source material.  In the cabinet where I keep all of my cookbooks is a tiny notebook, lightly tan in color to emphasize how recycled it is.  It was part of a three pack I recieved one Christmas, and I think it was meant to hold poetry or personal musings.  Instead, I wrote recipes.  Just a handful; I didn't know much at the time.  The children were still toddlers, Wife was still Fiancee, and I knew plenty about cooking improvisationally, but I didn't have many recipes of my own.  There was a chili recipe that I still use to this day, and a chicken enchilada recipe that I most certainly don't...and then there was several pages of vegetarian recipes.  I pulled the book out and began looking for an idea to set me free.  Deep-Fried Tofu with Mashed Potatoes and Mushroom Gravy looked good, but doesn't fit Wife's diet.  Green Tofu Enchiladas ceased to be a possibility when the local Winco stopped carrying tomatillos. (Edit: This was only temporary. The tomatillos are back.)  Several others were shoddy things that should probably never see the light of day; edible at the time but not worth writing about.  What stood out, though, were the stuffed peppers.  I used to make them all the time when we were vegetarian.  I made them because I'd always liked my mom's stuffed peppers, but I have to say that the traditional beef-and-rice filling doesn't interest me as much ever since I came up with this stuffing mix.  The original recipe called for couscous, and you can substitute it if you prefer, but I have started using quinoa instead  because it has a much higher nutritional content. 

May 16, 2012

Spiced Pumpkin Blondies

     With as much cooking as I do, it should come as no surprise to anyone that I love cookbooks.  I like to admire the pictures (and imagine how successful my blog might be if I had access to their photographers,) I like to look for interesting flavor combinations that I can work into other dishes.  I like to do lots of things with cookbooks.  I just don't like to cook with them. 

     That isn't to say that I don't use recipes out of cookbooks--I do.  I just don't like having the book in my kitchen, inviting splatters.  Well--that's a lie as well.  I think splatters on a cookbook makes a cook look accomplished.  My Joy of Cooking has bits of cookie dough on it from over a decade ago, and every time I look at it I get a sense of just how far I have come.  What I dislike is the organization.  Recipes tend to list ingredients, and then explain how to use them, which is fine when you are trying to imagine the dish, but not so handy when you are trying to cook it. 

May 8, 2012

Other People's Recipes: Roasted Tomato Soup

I'll come right out and admit it; I don't mind the taste of most healthy foods.  My mother always tells people as a point of pride that I loved salad as a child, and I still do.  I like to snack on carrots and almonds just as much as I like to snack on Doritos and French fries.  But I've been learning, as Wife embarks on a quest to improve her health, that one thing is missing from most healthy dinners I've come across on the Internet.