Tag Archives: summer

Food Network has Turned Me Into a Culinary Goddess

So, the other night while watching Food Network Star and then, subsequently, Iron Chef America (it was a long, sleepless night) I transformed into a chef. I’m serious! I have spent a lot of time screwing up recipes: the first time I made stale macaroni stuffed bell peppers, that time I made spanokapita with the wrong type of dough. It’s hard being a vegetarian in general, but when I also made the switch to mostly veganism due to my gastrointestinal issues it became doubly difficult to eat as deliciously as I wanted. Basically, I don’t eat dairy but I make exceptions for lactose-free dairy and eggs.

Selfie cooking shot -- look at me go!

Selfie cooking shot — Vintage kick ass apron not included in recipe.

While watching Food Network Star, one of the contestants, Nicki Dinki — no, I did not make this name up — made a winning chili which almost prompted me to get out of bed at 2 AM and go to HEB for the ingredients. I held back, but the rest of the night I was dreaming of Vegan Chili and by Matti’s request, Vegetarian Chicken Pot Pie. Chicken Pot Pie was a comfort food for Matti growing up so I spent a lot of time looking at recipes. Also, because the only experience I had with Chicken Pot Pie was when Cherisa Fee’s family made it for dinner and told me I couldn’t stay over because there wasn’t enough. I sat in the middle of the dinner table watching them all around me with little pot pie plates, sniffing and staring at me, their eyes screaming why are you still here and when can I eat my damn pie. The dad was a preacher. I never tasted the pie.

So, I had to make a great pie. I found a few different recipes and fused them together. You see that most of it is vegan but there are some dairy elements I added to make sure it had that authentic taste Matti would enjoy. Basically I’m a domestic goddess.

Mostly Vegan “Chicken” Pot Pie:

  • ¼ cup vegan margarine (I used smart balance)

    Finished product -- don't judge a book by it's cover people

    Finished product — don’t judge a book by it’s cover people

  • ¼ cup shredded carrot
  • ¼ cup finely chopped celery
  • ¼ cup chopped green onion
  • 1 cup frozen mixed veggies (I used peas and corn)
  • 8  brown mushrooms, sliced
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 cup vegetable “Chicken” Flavored broth (I got Imagine brand No Chicken Broth)
  • 1 cup lactose free milk (for completely vegan use soy milk or cream)
  • 2 cups Quorn Chick’n Tenders
  • ½ – 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon dried marjoram
  • ½ teaspoon dried sage
  • 1 package of puff pastry (thawed)
  1. First, heat butter in large pan on medium-high heat. Add carrot, celery and onion and cook for five minutes. Add mushrooms, cook for a few minutes unti veggies are tender.
  2. Add in flour and salt until relatively smooth (mine still had some flour crumblies on it but that’ll go away soon, scouts’ honor).
  3. Mix in vegan “chicken” broth and milk. Use a whisk if you have one — I did not so I used a fork which worked perfectly. Cook this for about 10 minutes, stirring constantly. This was the point where I began to try the mixins and had to go to the mirror to say to myself “damn girl.” So repeat this step if necessary.
  4. Then add your remaining seasonings, fake chicken and frozen veggies, however, calling this “fake” chicken is a grave insult because of how much it tastes like the real thing. Seriously, my meat queen best friend, Anna can testify to that and she eats beef jerky, just sayin’. Place on low heat and let the flavors mix for about 20 minutes.
  5. Make sure pastry is thawed. Get one sheet out, place it on the bottom of 9 inch baking pan/glass/whatever, trimming if necessary, and bake for five minutes at 400 degrees or until begins to puff.
  6. When mixture is to your liking, remove from heat and pour into your baking dish on top of pastry, cover with another pastry sheet, fold sides however you want or trim if necessary. I like thick crust so I rolled the excess pastry a little on the edges to almost make a pizza crust. Bake at 425 degrees for about 25 minutes or until crust gets golden.
Eat me.

Eat me.

Matti literally ate 9/10s of this pie in one sitting. He even just brought me an ice coffee as I am writing this because in his words: “I was like uhhh I’ll just make brewed coffee because Starbucks is so stupid but then I was like, that Chicken Pot Pie was really good.” So if you make this pie your boyfriend will start buying you iced coffees. I don’t know what else I need to say.

Vegan Spicy chili:photo (92)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 cup Quorn Meatless and Soyfree Grounds
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped chipotles in adobo
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chipotle chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 –  28 ounce can diced tomatoes, with their liquid
  • 3 cups cooked red kidney beans, drained
  • 1 cup cooked black beans, drained
  1. Heat oil in medium heat in large pot.
  2. Add onions, carrot, celery, garlic and cook for 8-10 minutes.
  3.  Add chipotles, oregano, cumin, chili powder and salt, stir that shit up.
  4. Add huge can of tomatoes and 3 1/2 cups water (use 4 cups if you like it less thick). Simmer for 45 minutes uncovered over low heat. (Does anyone know why you cover somethings to simmer and others you don’t? I’m genuinely curious).
  5. Add beans and Quorn meatless grounds and simmer for another 30 minutes. Make sure you check it and stir often so it doesn’t produce a crusty layer on the top — no one likes crusty chili.
  6. Pretend you are a culinary genius who will take the world by storm.
photo (93)

I don’t photograph well. -Chili

I’m Mexican. This chili is actually spicy but in the good way that you can still breathe and water cools you off. This may have been a trick since Matti can’t eat super spicy food. It did not work, however, he still had an entire bowl. I had two. The best part about these recipes though, is that you really should have leftovers which means a day off from cooking.

After all of this, I decided to also make vegan cookies. I’ve made them before and their the balls. Also, the best part is that they are completely vegan so you can eat the batter without worrying about salmonella. So, win, win! I will share this amazing recipe later because I must now go swim off all the food I have eaten in the last 24 hours.

On a separate note, if anyone’s hungry I have some leftover food in my fridge…

A Few Reasons Why I Might Stop Leaving my Apartment

You know those people that are really, really loud at pools. They have every relative over that is still alive and let each kid bring five friends to swim. Well, I’m about to complain about those people, and about people equally as oblivious to their surroundings.

To be fair, I am that person you see in public looking around, counting all of the potentially imminent social or physical disasters (which is my own shade of crazy). I get worried when there’s only one empty lounge chair left and I see two people entering the pool. When I see someone wandering around the pool, looking for an empty chair,  I might say, “actually I’m about to leave, anyway” even if I just got there because the sheer awkwardness of watching a young lady walk around, visibly uncomfortable with her bikini body is way too much for me to handle. I’m in a perpetual state of waiting to troubleshoot. Which is sometimes understandable, because I’m awful at dealing with conflict. I’m really good at confrontation, though, like in the way that my older cousin had to tear me away from two out-of-town girls that came to my high school party, uninvited, when I was sixteen. (I call this, the unprovoked rage of a once privileged middle-class white girl.)

My attempt at capturing my "holding it all in" face

My attempt at capturing my “holding it all in” face by the pool. No, I’m not a professional.

But in the adult way, I’m not good at all. Matti’s response to most of my rants about someone around us: “It’s not worth it, Al.” Because he’s an adult. My attempt at being an adult is posting a passive aggressive note (“Try harder next time”) on the car that just can’t seem to park within the lines instead of just following my gut and keying it.

If you happen to see a behavior of your own in my rants, please feel free to completely change the person you are/have become for my benefit.

Let me start with you, chronic texter, hater of all expected social courtesies, such as watching where you walk. What would happen if you put your phone down until you’ve reached, say, your destination? I promise, the guy you are texting will not like you any less if you leave him hanging for a few minutes.

The lone texting-walker in natural habitat, unable to break stride

The lone texting-walker, unable to break her stride

You know, you’re making us all look like stupid, phone-obsessed teenagers. Wait, are you a teenager? I forgot people were still teenagers after I turned twenty, four years ago. Do you live in this apartment complex, too? Did your parents buy  you that cell phone? What would happen if I was also looking at my phone? We would crash into each other. Like idiots. We would be two young women, obsessed with technology, unable to navigate their way through a wide open  sidewalk. Do you know how that would look to someone watching? It would be hilariously pathetic and I want no part of it, or you.

The only pleasure I can get from you, chronic texter, is the thought of pretending to look at my phone too, as I walk toward you, so we can bump into each other and you will drop yours. The phone won’t break though, because I’m not evil and let’s all hate Verizon together. It will just crack and then I’ll act super apologetic as I recommend for you to go the cheapest iphone repair place that has awful customer service and that’ll be your punishment.

On to you, unofficial representative of the church of St. Ignatius. Although you are free to send your religious aspirations into the sticky HEB air, hoping someone will get stuck, I will not succumb to your trap! I have nothing wrong with you being religious but I don’t often like being made to feel uncomfortable. I spend most days perfecting my apathetic front whereas anything that could be embarrassing or awkward I prepare for and create the proper response. For example: breaking my foot while walking in London was a purposeful way to expose the disparities between the US and UK healthcare systems, but in a funny way.

So when, in the middle of the HEB express checkout line, you begin to question why my parents didn’t take me to church every sunday I am a bit taken aback. Mostly because I can’t really say “well, they don’t serve Bacardi, Tanqueray, or shrimp cocktails there, right?” Also because I entered the quick checkout for a reason, meaning, minimal opportunities for small talk. But I guess I took too long to answer because before I opened my mouth, you were on to saving the cashier! I guess my soul wasn’t worth saving after all. The only lesson I can take from this is that you see your time as extremely valuable, and have already ascertained that my soul was not worth the effort of trying to bring into the light, which is now yielding, inside of me, a level of offended I didn’t know existed. So first off, good for you sir! And secondly, how dare you? How dare you begin to shower me with conditional open arms only to take it away and give it to the next, closest, lost soul before I could even say no!

You know what, sir, you are beginning to seem like those vindictive people on twitter that unfollow someone who won’t follow them. Were you trying to slow play me, spreader of the holy word? If your plan was to get me to think about religion for the rest of the weekend it worked. Although I don’t think it’s the way you wanted me to think about.

Finally, to the family of fifty that has taken over the pool, could you keep your crazy down a bit? I’m afraid it might spread. Although I’m wholly thankful I have not yet overheard any of your children narrate how it feels to be peeing in the pool right at the moment, I’m not exactly pleased with your behavior. One of your sons is literally going to die if you don’t watch him jump in and I’m literally going to die if I have to hear him ask you this again. The retired lifeguard in me is about to have a heart attack. Your children are playing a modified form of dodgeball where they run around the pool, peg each other with a beach ball, and then jump into the pool wherever is convenient. Which, thankfully, has not yet been near someone’s head. It is 106 degrees out right now which translates to: It is way too motherfuckin’ hot for me to be sweating this. Please get your shit together.

Your children, without your advisement, have started playing catch in the shallow end where you have all posted up. Some would almost call it peaceful. But not for you, because the wind has caught the ball twice and carried it into your inner circle. Apparently, this is where the line is drawn. Not twenty minutes ago when your child was deliberately splashing water on me to get my phone wet, but now that you have been touched by a weightless ball that could literally float away with the wind, you’ve had enough. The main thing I don’t understand about this is that your kids are five and they were mostly innocent in their ball-overthrowing crimes. These kids are clearly just learning how to throw and catch.

Half of said party is pictured here, you can see the active parental participation

Half of said party is pictured here, you can see the active parental participation

What’s worse is that you are all in the pool but you’ve claimed three tables and eighteen chairs as your own, leaving me to visibly cringe every time a new person comes to the pool and has to stair at the empty seats that could be theirs if the world was fair. I know you are trying to have a good time but I promise if you let your kids surf on your back for just fifteen minutes, maybe throw them into the air while splashing around for a bit, they will feel better about leaving you alone when you ask. It always works with my dogs.

And this, readers, is why I don’t feel as guilty for not leaving my house some days. Even when walking to the local market next door I am inundated with text walkers that have no regard for the safety of those around them. It’s a dangerous world out there.

Note: After doing brief research, I have found that texting and walking is actually dangerous, not just from a comic standpoint. People have actually walked into manholes. To me, this is perfect.

Also: I am not a parent and do not pretend to be. Although I have spent most of my adult life working with children I do not claim to know how to parent better than you. I will, however, comment on things that annoy me. One of the things that annoys me is when you are a lazy parent.