Tuesday, July 19, 2011

sunshine polka dots

Happy Monday!  The countdown is on - Monday down means only three more days until I wake up before the sun and race it westward to California!  I'm scheduled to touch down at 1pm-ish, so if I win, I might admit the world is coming to an end.

Anyway, I hope everyone had a great weekend.  As my previous post shows, I was pretty busy on Saturday, and Sunday as well, but in a totally different and far more fun way.  On Sunday, we met up with friends we haven't seen in a while - some of them we haven't seen since our wedding!  Fifteen of us descended upon North Bowl in the Northern Liberties section of Philadelphia and spent about five hours eating, drinking, and making merry.  It was a mixed bag, in terms of the service level being a bit below where I expect customer service to be, but we weren't there for the waitstaff, we were there to see each other.  Even Mister managed to be social!

I'm actually not going to spend a lot of time talking about our experience with North Bowl because I used up a lot of my words in the email I wrote to the management.  The happy ending, for now, is that the management responded quickly and appropriately and my happiness with the venue has been restored by their actions.  More details coming later....along with one of two upcoming surprises. [ilovesecrets]

Tonight I had a real conflict within while trying to determine what to make for dinner.  The part of me that hates when food grows limbs in our refrigerator and runs away or turns funny colors really wanted to make the Black Bean Burgers since I'm using up the burger thins from when I made the Lemony Chickpea Burgers and I don't know how long it will take them to grow "friends."  Another part of me wanted to make a longer-cooking meal since I had time, and yet another part of me wanted to make a meal with lot of leftovers for lunch this week.  Eventually, I settled upon the Mexican Rice and Bean Bake from Vegan on the Cheap.

Because a 4oz can of about two tablespoons of diced green chilies is pointlessly expensive, I pick up a cubanelle pepper at Whole Foods and diced it to saute with the garlic, and in place of the onion, I use my last shallot.

I'll admit, this picture made me a little nervous.  For one thing, I've never cooked a cubanelle pepper and I wasn't sure of its exact heat level.  The lightness of the pepper worried me, as it seems like they get hotter as they get lighter (ghost chilies, anyone?).  Also, apparently, shallots make my eyes tear the way onions make people who eat onions eyes tear.  I really wasn't sure what I was getting myself into.

[I would like to take just a moment to direct your attention to the pretty little Whole Foods brand pinto beans hiding behind the bowl there - 89 cents each, baby - that's right!  Thank you, Lacy!]

Turns out, I was getting myself into a fabulous base for a very tasty dinner.  I know I've made this before, because I know this isn't the first time I've said, "no, I am NOT baking this."  I can't remember when, though - what I do know is that I should make this more frequently because at the moment, it's a contender for the 2nd place spot for my favorite rice-n-beans recipe.

It's just spicy enough to keep things interesting, but I'm still able to eat it, which I consider a plus, since it's my dinner, too. In addition to the "just right" heat level, the little drops of sunshine scattered throughout (also known as "corn") added a satisfying and sweet pop of "other" flavor into a very savory and spicy dish.

Stay tuned for the unveiling of Secret #1 soon!


  1. My sister bought Meridith "Vegan on the Cheap" for Christmas. Interesting book, we've made several things from there. We've been experimenting with the "Close to Mom's Sausage", using rosemary instead of fennel was a really great substitution. I also doubled the tapioca for a better consistency. But Field Roast still makes the best sausage. I'll keep trying.

  2. that's awesome - I'm glad you're enjoying it. If you click on the "Vegan on the Cheap" tag, you can see all of the adventures I've had with the book. I really do need to try Field Roast someday - we usually do Tofurky.

  3. Oh wow, really, next time you're at Whole foods, you should try the Apple-Sage FieldRoast sausage links. It's awesome. and the Chipotle one is wicked too.

    Have fun in San Francisco. My sister now lives in Eureka, CA - I hope to get out that way soon.