Monday, December 28, 2009

all I want for Christmas...

A ventilation hood. I want to bake, make veggie burgers, and pan-sear polenta without sending the fire alarm into a screaming fit.

I would also like a little more time, if you please, Santa.

I am the worst blogger ever. I can't believe it's been more than a week since my last post. I know there are people who go longer, but I don't want to be one of them! To make up for my negligence, I will share a recipe with you for the first time in months, it seems.

So, heavens, what have I been up to? What vile mistress has stolen my attention? The easiest answer is work...heck - I haven't even had time to cook, much less write about it. All of that should end relatively soon, and I'm back to my regular schedule, so hopefully I will be more faithful in the future.

As always seems to happen with shortened weeks, I packed a ton of work into Monday and Tuesday last week. By the time Wednesday arrived and was cold as hell, I wanted nothing to do with Christmas shopping, regardless of the change in schedule leaving me destitute when it came to gifts to give. I did concoct this tasty mid-day meal:
You could call it Cookie Dough in a Bowl (with pears) because that's really what it tasted like. I started by dicing a fairly ripe Bartlett pear (skin on) and allowing it to cook on a sprayed skillet long enough to start releasing a sweet syrup. Then I stirred in a handful or two of oats, along with a glug of soymilk. When all was said and done, I think I probably added about half a cup of soymilk. I also crushed two Sparkled Ginger Cookies and stirred them in. It was so good and exactly what I was craving after freezing my fingers off playing Christmas music on my piano in a bedroom the heating unit hates.

I stayed inside all day, and tried to get excited about spending time with a special someone to celebrate a very special birthday...
At midnight, I suggested to my darling sister that she might need a bathroom break. When she agreed and took off, I grabbed the bartender and ordered two Birthday Cake shots. They were so good and I haven't done a shot since....well....I don't know....probably a few years ago, actually.

Before we went out to Southwark, though, I took my dear little sister to dinner at Horizons, so she could share the wonder. It was freezing cold and there was still snow (and ice) everywhere. In my enthusiasm for getting to a patch of clear sidewalk, I fell over on the two block trek to Horizons, but my sister told me I fell very gracefully, so I guess that makes it okay. We had a delightful dinner and great conversation. Let's add that to my Gratitude list.

The following day was Christmas Eve, and to my immense surprise and great delight, I was able to get all of my shopping and wrapping done while Mister was at work (poor thing). Once he got home from work and took a short nap, we headed to church with his dad and stepmom. The service was beautiful and afterward, we headed to Rittenhouse Square for one of the most amazing dining experiences of my life so far. We went to Lacroix, which most definitely did not have a vegetarian menu, resulting in my husband and I presenting a challenge to the chef to match the foie gras and veal his parents ate with a humane alternative. It came out extremely well, and I was amazed with their willingness and ability to create a multi-course menu out of thin French air. I still think the most fun part of the evening was when my father-in-law tested the very French (accent, pompous air and all) Sommelier to pair a red wine with their overstuffed duck liver and boxed baby cow chops as well as our crazy vegetarian entrees.

Regardless of my harsh words about their choice of dinner, I cannot find enough words to express my gratitude to my parents-in-law for treating us to such an extravagant and fun-filled Christmas Eve dinner.

On Christmas Day, we ventured out to my parents' home for presents and dinner with my parents, sister, and cousins. It was a good time with a plateful of tasty food. I made Colleen's Tofu-Spinach Lasagna and everyone was awed by the tofucotta. They did not know it wasn't real ricotta until I pridefully told them - that made me happy!

I spent the whole weekend at work, but at least I'm back to my regular hours, so I was able to cook up the last two items on my 2 week menu. I reprised Colleen's amazing risotto, only to be told by my husband (after he picked his way through half a bowl) that he doesn't actually like risotto. Awesome.

Last night's dinner went much better. I knew it would, because I've mentioned before that you can't go wrong with Mister and Pasta. Not true, actually - he doesn't care much for that whole wheat healthy pasta. So, as promised, here is a picture of and recipe for P.B. Thai
2 medium carrots, bias-cut
medium head of broccoli, cut into florets
large red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
8 oz smoked tofu, cut into thin strips
1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
4 cloves garlic, pressed/minced
15 oz lite coconut milk
generous 1/4 cup chunky peanut butter
2 Tbsp soy sauce
dash of cayenne
2 Tbsp peanut oil
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
12-16 oz noodles (I used linguine)

Cook pasta according to package instructions.
Meanwhile, prep the vegetables and tofu.
When pasta is done cooking, drain and leave in the colander, covered.
Add oils to pot and heat on medium until the oil shimmers (shouldn't take long).
Add ginger and garlic and saute 1-2 minutes.
Add vegetables and cook 3-5 minutes, until vividly colored.
Stir in coconut milk, peanut butter, soy sauce, and cayenne.
Simmer, do not boil, for 5 more minutes, then add pasta and stir to incorporate.
Heat through and serve.

(vegan and one-pot dinner)


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