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Sunday, March 5, 2017

The Squeaky Elf Gets the Grease

Y’ALL!! We are havin’ so much fun with the weekly plan!! We have the best of both worlds…organization and spontaneity. Organization in the sense that we KNOW what we are fixin’ each night of the week so we can plan our grocery shoppin' AND spontaneity in being able to let our creative juices flow with ideas for variations on our nightly themes. AND, we are trying out a new recipe from the mountain of plant-based/vegan cookbooks we have on our ‘Anything Can Happen Wednesdays’. All this bein’ said, we have to ‘fess up that this week didn’t go QUITE as anticipated, planned or even contemplated (operative syllable being ‘plated’). But in our commitment to be a transparent Elf, we will disclose the good, the bad and the deviations. And, as you can see, we’ve NAMED our weekdays keeping the spirit of the Mickey Mouse Club alive.  So let’s get on wit’ it!
SUNDAY…now known as GROCERY PALOOZA DAY.  We tried doing our grocery shoppin’ on Saturday last week as we finished the blog early. We won’t do that again…the store is MUCH too crowded, so we return completing our shoppin’ on Sunday. Contrary to your Elf’s innermost need to get the BLOG FINISHED before doing anything else…the world will not spin out of control if it’s published later in the day.
Sunday night is perhaps Big Solid’s MOST anticipated supper of the week as it’s TACO night. This week, we pulled a recipe from the Isa Does It cookbook. Ancho Lentil Tacos. They were delicious although we must admit as a nod to Big Solid, we did add a bag of Boca Crumbles. He loves their texture so between the lentils, the ancho powder spice mix and the Boca crumbles, we had it made in the Taco shade. We first made the Ancho chile spice mix
and sautéed it with some minced onion to ‘awaken’ the spiciness.
The lentils that we had cooked al denté in some of The Gentle Chef’s Chicken Bouillon with about a half teaspoon of liquid smoke were added. We let those soak up some of that good spiciness as well.
This mixture was joined by the Boca crumbles to a) bring a smile to Big Solid’s face and b) extend the quantity of this filling so we’d have plenty on had for Taco Salad Night on Thursday.
And finally, the stuffed Taco shells were topped with a slice of fresh avocado. It’s a great meal!!

MONDAY…now known as ‘SERIOUSLY, ALREADY! DAY” On Mondays, to kick the week off in the healthiest manner possible, we have a Roasted/Sautéed Vegetable day. This week we planned on our usual Kale and Mushroom sauté, mixing up the mushrooms from the previous week and throwing in a bunch of cleaned Red Swiss Chard. We also planned Buffalo Cauliflower bites complete with a bottle of Frank’s Hot Sauce. We have our several bunches of beautiful and some Red Swiss Chard.
HOWSOMEVER, in the middle of the day, we got a wild hair to make Leek and Potato Soup as we’d bought some beautiful leeks on Saturday. So we launched into that since we were certain that we had the main evening meal in hand. We sliced the leeks very thin and then washed thoroughly to get rid of all the sand and dirt. We then sautéed them in some Miyoko's Creamery vegan butter until they were soft.
Next we added some Chicken Bouillon and the potatoes and brought to a boil. They simmered until they were soft. We were able to use our hand held potato masher to smooth out the potatoes and added cashew milk (the 60 calorie carton), tasted it and declared it yummy!
OK, this is where the pictures of the soup stop. We got so caught up in finishing the soup and getting ready to prepare supper, we completely forgot to take a picture of the finished product. So, as supper time approached, we got the Kale, Mushrooms and Red Swiss Chard out of the frig. We also were getting the cauliflower ready to separate into florets for the Buffalo Cauliflower Bites. ONLY...where was the cauliflower? We looked in the outside ‘frig…nada. We revisited the kitchen ‘frig…nada. As it turned out. we never bought it. So, Buffalo Cauliflower Bites were out! What a stupidhead!! We wound up with the Kale sauté, Leek and Potato Soup and Cornsticks. While it wasn’t ‘zackly what we had planned, it was really good, filling and the soup/cornstick combo was delightful. Let’s just say, we did NOT go hungry.

TUESDAY (“SPINNING LIKE A TOP DAY”) is Baked Potato Day. We are always looking for unique and/or delicious toppings for our Tuesday Taters. We had some lovely fresh asparagus so we cut off the stalky ends and cut into 1 inch slices. We sautéed them in some coconut oil and added a bit of dark soy along with very thickly sliced shiitake mushrooms from Mr. Chen’s—gosh I love that place! Here are a couple of pics as the sauté just began
and as it cooked JEST RIGHT!
Combined with some plant-based chicken shreds and shredded vegan cheese (Daiya block cheese), it was a spectacular meal!

WEDNESDAY (“ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN DAY”). Well, here’s where we went really off the rails. Our original plan for Wednesday was to make it a Burger Night with the burgers made from another Isa Does It recipe…Olive Lentil Burgers. BUT YOU KNOW WHAT…once we read through the recipe again, it just didn’t have the same appeal. So we searched for an alternative  recipe that did not take several hours to prepare. Nothing tickled our Elfin fancy or was reasonably easy that we could find, so we went to Kroger to see if BY CHANCE they had Gardein meatless burgers. They are delicious. But, alas, Kroger did NOT have them, in fact MULTIPLE Krogers did not have them. We got sorta disheartened and finally settled on Sweet Earth Teriyaki patties
and Gardein Black Bean Burgers.
Now Black Beans do NOT sit well in Big Solid’s intestinal track which is why we got the Sweet Earth patties. We sliced some potatoes into fries for the oven and wished for the best. As it turned out, it was a less than spectacular meal. The Gardein Black Bean Burgers were quite good so your Elf actually had a good supper. The Sweet Earth Teriyaki Burger was not very appealing or tasty. We should have guessed when the two burgers in the package would NOT separate. The thin little paper thingie between burgers just sorta melted and we had to pry the burgers apart slowly so we wouldn’t squish them all up. We tasted one and the texture is mushy, almost like thick mashed potatoes. We will NOT be buying these agin. We just chalked this up to PLAN BETTER NEXT TIME!

THURSDAY (“A WEEK OF JUDGE JUDY IS ENOUGH DAY”) Thursday is Taco Salad Day when we make a great big ole salad and throw the remaining Taco Filling on it along with some Whole Grain Tostitos Scoops. We  held our little Elfin breath when we saw only ONE Romaine heart in the ‘frig but once it was all chopped up and the tomatoes, green onions, Tostitos Scoops (crumbled up) added, we had plenty. Topped with the taco filling, shredded cheese and avocado, it was delicious. Predictable but good. No need for a picture. You get the idea.
So a word or several about this week’s lessons that your Elf learned: 
When in doubt about the ingredients of a new recipe, READ IT AGAIN and don’t THINK you remember;
Don’t select a recipe that has more than 15 ingredients in it unless you are prepared to invest the time it takes to find them (which you probably can’t), complete all the prep work (dicing, shredding, slicing, grating, melting, cooling yada yada);
READ THE INSTRUCTIONS to make sure you understand all the time (and timing) needed;
And, perhaps the most important, have a back-up in case things don’t work out and time gets away from you. For example, everything that could go wrong on Wednesday time-wise, DID. We had multiple issues to arise during the day that HAD to be addressed and lost all kinds of preppin’ and cookin’ time. So, our plan now is to have at least two soups made that we can easily serve with a sandwich any of the nights that life intervenes to Elf Up the plans in the Kinky Elfery Kitchen.

This little bloggery is intended to share with you the ins/outs/ups and downs of a plant-based kitchen so if you are considering plant-based eating yourowns-elf, we want to share it all. We also want you to know that being plant-based is really NO DIFFERENT from any type of cooking when push comes to shove. You still have to shop for ingredients, you still have to do all the work involved in preparation, you still have to manage a food budget, you still have to prepare food that tastes good, and perhaps most challenging of all, you still have to FIGURE OUT WHAT YOU ARE GOING TO EAT/SERVE. That’s where most folks are stymied when trying out plant-based eating. What we are doing, hopefully, is share with you what WE eat with an occasional foray into more exotic/ethnic or challenging recipes. We also want to share with you how to make some of your most ‘go-to’ dishes plant-based. We will hold Big Solid up to you as the GOLD STANDARD for moving from carnivore to plant-based. From “I don’t think I can give up (insert…omelet, ‘real’ cheese, eggs, fish, chicken)” to reading the growing body of research supporting plant-based eating and announcing on his 73rd birthday that he was ready to go plant-based, he has never looked back (maybe sideways once or twice but never caving in). YAY to Big Solid! He is my HERO!
For those of you who think plant-based eating is too costly, we offer this link to help disabuse you of that notion. It certainly has been helpful to your Elf who has a tendency to over-shop and not think!
We have the germ of an interactive project to talk about in a week or two…stay tuned while we play it out in our Elfin mind.

So until next week and always, remember to Look for the GOOD, be an EXAMPLE of the GOOD, and ACT for the GOOD as HARD as you can, in as MANY WAYS as you can, EVERY DAY that you can. In other words, “DO EPIC”!
Your Elf

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