Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Crunchy Blue Corn Chickpea Tacos

Recipe can be found at Veggie Terrain.

Taste: 4.5 (Garison gave these a 5)
Ease of Preparation:

Weight Friendliness:
3 (6 weight watchers points per taco when you consider all of the toppings I used
Maddie Friendliness:
3 (well, she ate the blue corn tortilla...)
Cost of Ingredients: 4
Overall: 3.7

My husband loved this one. In his words "Anything that involves blue corn tortillas and avocado is pretty much going be my favorite food."

The chickpeas were nice and spicy and added a lot of flavor to the tacos. I am now anxious to try Veggie Terrain's potato taco recipe. I need to use up the rest of those blue corn tortillas, after all. ;)

Pizza Crust

My sister-in-law asked me for my pizza crust recipe, so here it is! This recipe is basically Deborah Madison's pizza recipe from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.

  • 1 package dry yeast (or 2 teaspoons)
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt


Dissolve the yeast in warm water in a large bowl; let stand 10 minutes or until frothy. Add the wheat flour and the all-purpose flour. If you have a mixer, let it mix on the bread hook until the dough has formed a neat ball around the bread hook.

If you do not have a mixer, stir the flours into the water until the dough is well-mixed and slightly tacky. Turn dough onto a floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes).

Place the dough in a large bowl coated with olive oil, turning to coat top. Cover with a damp, clean towel and let it rise 45 minutes or until doubled in size.

Punch the dough down and then cover and let it rest for 10 minutes.

Divide the dough in half. Roll each dough half into a 12-inch circle on a floured surface. If you do not intend to use both crusts, freeze one in a freezer bag.

White and Brown Rice

I completely adore America's Test Kitchen and Cook's Illustrated. I love how they test recipes over and over again to find the, sometimes unexpected, best way to prepare things. I've gotten several old standby recipes from their website. Another thing that I love about them is the recipes they have for staples that show the best way to cook staples we sometimes take for granted.

A great example of this is rice. I have always struggled with rice, having so many problems with it sticking to the bottom or coming out a gluey, awful mess.

The recipes from Cook's Illustrated saved my rice-dependent dishes. So, because my mother requested this, here are the recipes I use for white and brown rice.

White Rice


2 teaspoons unsalted butter , vegetable or olive oil
1 cup long grain white rice (not converted)
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon table salt


Heat oil in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add rice; cook, stirring constantly, for 1 to 3 minutes, depending on desired amount of nutty flavor. Add water and salt; bring to boil, swirling pot to blend ingredients.

Reduce heat to low, cover with tight lid lined with a towel, and cook until liquid is absorbed, about 15 minute

Turn off heat; let rice stand on burner, still covered, to finish cooking, about 15 minutes longer. Fluff with fork and serve.

Brown Rice


6 cups water
1 cup brown rice
2 teaspoons olive oil or butter
1 teaspoon table salt


Bring water to boil in a large pot. Stir in rice, oil or butter, and salt. Simmer briskly, uncovered, until rice is almost tender, about 30 minutes.

Drain rice into a steamer basket that fits inside the pot. Fill pot with about 1 inch water and return to heat. Place basket of rice in pot; cover and steam until tender, 5 to 10 minutes. Scoop rice into a bowl and fluff gently with a fork.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Cuban Black Beans + Rice Review

Recipe can be found at Veggie Terrain.


Ease of Preparation:

Weight Friendliness:
5 (3 weight watchers points for a huge and beautiful pile of black beans
Maddie Friendliness:
3 (She ate the rice so that's...something)
Cost of Ingredients: 4
Overall: 4

I really liked this one! Easy, flavorful, nutritious...can't get much better. This one is definitely going into the old standby list.

I served this with steamed green beans with olive oil and rock salt. If anyone has easy ways to prepare green beans, please share! Maddie ate the green beans well, so I get good mom points for that, at least, lol.

For more on my ratings system see Recipe Ratings: A Guide.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Recipe Ratings: A Guide

I have a slightly complicated system for rating recipes. I rate each recipe by five topics on a scale from 1-5:
  • Taste
  • Ease of Preparation
  • Weight Friendliness
  • Maddie Friendliness
  • Cost of Ingredients
Taste: The score for the dish's deliciousness. My husband and I both rate the dishes for taste, so this is kind of a cumulative score. I am kind of picky, having given only two or three dishes a 5 in my entire lifetime. Those dishes, though, are the ultimate as judged by my taste buds.

Ease of Preparation: Work nights, I tend to prefer easier recipes. This rating allows me to sort through easier recipes on nights when I just won't have a lot of time.

Weight Friendliness: I am someone who has struggled with my weight since I was a teenager. I consider myself someone with an eating disorder. This rating allows me to search for recipes that are better for me. These tend to be my every day meals. I do like to have not so good recipes once or twice a week, though. ;) I will also list weight watchers points.

Maddie Friendliness: Maddie is my daughter. This rating is based on how she responded to the meal. She is a toddler and kind of picky, so this is also a crucial score for whether a meal becomes a regular meal at my house.

Cost of Ingredients: I have a budget for this house, so this score helps me to choose recipes that will not make me cry at the checkout counter.

How do I use these ratings? Well, I actually have a spreadsheet with all of the dishes I've prepared and their ratings that I can sort through if I'm looking for an old standby to prepare. The spreadsheet also helps me because I list main ingredients so if I'm looking for a way to use up stuff hanging out in my refrigerator, it provides an easy way to do that.

Spicoli Burgers Review

I have been looking for a veggie burger recipe that is pretty easy to make and does not contain mushrooms (blech) for awhile. I stumbled across the veggie terrain blog while searching for a recipe for Cuban Rice and Beans. I started reading other posts and came across the recipe for Spicoli Burgers. I had to try it! It was great! I will definitely be using it again!

The recipe can be found at veggie terrain.

Here are my rankings for the recipe on a 1-5 scale.

Taste: 4
Ease of Preparation:

Weight Friendliness:
4 (3 weight watchers points per burger and v
ery filling)
Maddie Friendliness:
2 (she didn't eat any of it, though she may have gotten distracted by the sweet potato fries)
Cost of Ingredients: 3
Overall: 3.4

With the burgers, I served Alexia Spicy Sweet Potato Fries.

Maddie ate these so quickly that my husband and I made donations to her from our own plates. She loved them! Though this did end quickly when I think she realized that they were spicy. She started to cry and stick out her tongue. We tried to offer her water, but she would not take it! They are pretty good for pre-packaged sweet potato fries. The spice tastes sort of like barbecue sauce. They don't taste that spicy initially, just kind of sweet, but there is definitely a little bit of an afterburn.

For more on my ratings system see Recipe Ratings: A Guide.

Menu for the Week of 28-Jun-09

Here are the planned meals for this week. I am going to take it a little easy since the last couple of weeks have been so stressful. I am trying three new recipes, though, all of them seem pretty basic. Thank you to jd from Veggie Terrain for the recipes. The post about smoothies got me thinking too. I made a smoothie this morning with fresh fruit and Maddie LOVED it. This could be an easy and delicious way to get her to eat some more fruit/vegetables.

Sunday: Spicoli Burgers with sweet potato fries
Monday: Cuban Black Beans and Rice
Tuesday: Crunchy Blue Corn Chickpea Tacos with corn on the cob
Wednesday: Gnocchi with Poor Man's Pesto (from The Mediteranean Vegan Kitchen by Donna Klein)
Thursday: Sichuan Broccoli w/ Tofu (from Cook's Illustrated)
Friday: Pizza (from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison)

A few
words about the older recipes I included this week.

Poor Man's Pesto from The Mediteranean Vegan Kitchen is one of my favorite old standbys. It is easily prepared in under 5 minutes with just my trusty food processor. The flavor is intense but G and I love it. Maddie is starting to come around too, though it takes her a long time to learn to like strong flavors.

Sichuan Broccoli is also one of my favorite easy stand-bys. It is very easy to prepare (I use frozen broccoli to cut down on cooking time). It is
a nice, spicy stir-fry.

Pizza is something we consider our Friday night tradition. The crust recipe from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone is outstanding. It cooks up nice and crisp on our pizza stone. If you like making pizza, I highly recommend buying a really nice pizza stone. The $10 pizza stones from Target are not the same as a good, heavy stone. Our pizza stone will cook up a beautiful pizza in 7 mins. It's also fun for kids because you can have them help you put the toppings on. One night we even had a pizza night at my brother's house where we cooked four very different pizzas customized for everyone. Everyone present was happy. :)