Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Cookbook Burnout

I do this quite often: I get really excited about something (an author, a new gadget, a favorite food, etc.), and I become so involved in the novelty that I soon grow tired of it. That is exactly what has happened in the past week or so. Initially upon my return from school, I was so excited to have access to a kitchen and to use my new cookbooks, but I now am a bit "burned-out" on them. While I still plan to use ED&BV, V-con, and The Chicago Diner Cookbook, I think I will give them some shelf time. As a result of my intense recipe endeavors, I haven't gotten a chance beckon my culinary creativity lately, which is something I enjoy immensely. Sooo, starting tonight, my cooking will be more free-style; often cooking without borders yields the best results:)

Rewind to earlier in the week: recipe madness was still gripping my soul, so many of the pictures below are from the aforementioned cookbooks. This will be a long post, so brace yourselves...

Remember how I mentioned that I was going to give Dreena's Blackened Tofu a try? Well, I did just that, and I really enjoyed it! One minor drawback is that I didn't mix the seasoning well enough, so I had one bite with a lot of cayenne pepper in it. Yikes! I enjoyed my tofu with some steamed brussels sprouts (with garlic) and whole wheat couscous.

For snackage on Monday, I made a good ol' peanut butter sandwich and washed it down with a tall glass of almond milk. I used my PB & Co. Cinnamon Raisin peanut butter on some of my parents' weirdo bread. The package says that it's whole grain, but it's also labeled "sugar-free." I didn't know bread was a big source of sugar, although many brands do seem to include high fructose corn syrup in their recipes. Anyway, this would have been much better on "my" kind of bread. That evening's shake was of the cookies 'n cream variety. Nonfat plain yogurt, vanilla Spirutein, and O'Coco's Chocolate Crisps made this magical treat. I just now realized that all the ingredients are organic too!


My Magic Bullet has been getting some good exercise lately, because the next morning I had another smoothie. This time I used frozen blueberries, almond milk, and a touch of agave nectar. I also had half of a whole grain English muffin.

When deciding what to make for lunch yesterday, I knew two things: 1) I had a bunch of leftover navy beans and 2) my mushrooms were about to go bad. I pored over V-con for some recipe combining the two and finally came across Tuscan White Beans with Mushrooms--works for me! I really used this recipe more as inspiration than as a set of instructions because I didn't have the time or all the ingredients required; plus I don't like tarragon, which is called for in the recipe. I also had some Kavli crispbreads, a perfectly ripe red pear, and organic greens with walnuts.
Last night's dinner was from The Chicago Diner Cookbook (I told you I went insane!). I made the Thai Broccoli Stir Fry. This dish was one of the more labor intensive dinner recipes I have tried in recent history; it required marinating tofu, baking it, preparing a peanut sauce, plus cooking the vegetables. Sheesh. I was pooped by the time I sat down to dinner. Fortunately, the resultant flavors made all that hard work worthwhile. I am officially addicted to any and all peanut sauce. Simple as that. I had a big grapefruit on the side.
My evening shake last night was banana flavored: Spirutein, frozen banana, soy milk, and a few Ghirardelli dark chocolate chips for garnish. This was yummy, but I might add a few chocolate chips into the mix next time--I love my chocolate!


This morning I found some unopened whole wheat pancake mix in the pantry. I didn't really follow the directions (which called for oil, eggs, and milk) and instead used almond milk and some ground flax + water. They still turned out pretty well, if I do say so myself. I enjoyed them with some homemade pumpkin butter, sliced organic strawberries, and just a drizzle of pure maple syrup.

Lunch today was something that I have been craving for a while: a bologna sandwich! For practically my entire childhood, I packed myself a (low-fat) bologna sandwich on white bread (eek!) with pickles, mayo, and mustard. I made myself a more healthful version today with Smart Deli meatless bologna, Nayonaise, mustard, lettuce, and whole grain bread. YUM! It took me right back to my brown-baggin' days. I also had a juicy red pear and some raw almonds.
After a long day of wedding-related activities, I returned home famished! I grabbed the first things that came into my field of vision: a banana and a jar of peanut butter! I washed it down with a glass of almond milk.
Tonight was breakfast for dinner in our household. My mom was making waffles, but since I had pancakes for breakfast I opted to make a tofu scramble again. Adding turmeric to the mix really does make it look like eggs! I toasted up a Rudi's whole grain & flax English muffin, and I had some low-sodium V8 since I realized I am low on veggies today!
Whew! That was a lot of ground to cover. I have a quick question for you all: I realized today that I have subconsciously collected quite a few packages of tortillas, flatbreads, and wraps, so I need ways to use them before they go bad. What are your favorite ways to use tortillas and wraps? Thanks in advance! Ciao for now.


VeggieGirl said...

I get the same way with cookbooks, which is why I vow to ALWAYS 'switch things up' every once in a while, so that I don't have to urge to throw away any cookbooks or anything, haha.

I love all of your shake ideas - so delectable!

I like to use tortillas and wraps for sandwiches, tacos/burritos; and Romina (from the Vegan Eating For One blog) has a FABULOUS tortilla pizza recipe - yum!

romina said...

I'm so with you on the idea of my parents "weirdo" bread... they seem to always buy anything that's not something I would eat!! It really is insane that sugar is added to bread nowadays... it kills the savoury flavour of it. Yuck!

As for your question, I love to use tortillas for everything! For breakfast I will sometimes spread some nut butter on it, add some banana slices and bake it for 5 minutes (you can also pan fry it). Or I use it for veggie wraps, burritos, tortilla pizzas. Sometimes I slice up tortillas bake them, and make some tortilla chips!

Anonymous said...

hmmm who knew they made sugar free bread haha...

that shake sounds amazing! i have been curious about those coco snacks!

i am using tortillas in my lunch post today haha and i had em last night w/ tacos!

ChocolateCoveredVegan said...

Wow you really DID go crazy with cooking from cookbooks-- good for you! I routinely find yummy-looking recipes in cookbooks, but then, despite my best intentions, never get around to making them.

I love how you garnish your shakes with chocolate shavings; it makes them look so fancy!

Cassie said...

I love using tortilla's for quesdilla's and of course Romina's outstanding tortilla pizza's!!!! YUM

How did you make that pumpkin butter? Sounds yummy!

All your meals look fabulous though! i look forward to reading about your freestyle meals!

Jennifer said...

Wowsa! That's a lot of cooking. I did that to myself with the baked goods section of Veganomicon.

But it all looks so good. Caroline, all your fruit, fresh veggies and fruit smoothies!! Send me leftovers!

Anonymous said...

Whoa, good for you for cooking up all those recipes! I love using recipes but I find I am just too darn lazy to do that on a regular basis haha

I use tortillas to make pretty much any kind of wrap sandwich, to make tortilla pizzas, wrap up egg beaters and salsa, dip pieces of them in hummus, wrap up banana and pb, and last night I had a veggie dog wrapped with cheese and salsa haha. It was a great stand in for a hot dog bun!

Alice (in Veganland) said...

I think your post just made me hungry!
I don't use my cookbooks enough to get a burnout... sad, isn't it?

Eric said...

Hey there, I happened upon your blog from Alice In Veganland's blog and you have some great stuff on here!

I'm gonna add you to my blogroll on my blog.

Cheers! :)

ChickPea said...

VeggieGirl: Good thinking on "switching things up." I definitely need a timeout from cookbooks. Thanks for the tortilla ideas!
Romina: Yep, I am glad that the oddball bread is gone!
I used one of your ideas for breakfast this morning...look for it in my next post!
loveofoats: I highly recommend the O'Coco's crisps. They're like 100 Calorie packs but natural and organic.
CCV: Normally, I too will have a bunch of recipes that I never get around to trying. These past few days I was just extra motivated I guess...
Cassie: Ooh! Quesadillas sound good!
I made the pumpkin butter my combining pureed pumpkin with cinnamon and cloves (sometimes I add giner and nutmeg too!), plus a little brown sugar. Sometimes I switch it up by using maple syrup instead.
Jennifer: Amzingly, I haven't tried any of V-con's baking recipes yet. Maybe another day...
lighterportions: I used your idea of wrapping a veggie dog in a tortilla'll be in my next post!
Alice: I admire your cooking because you're never a slave to the cookbook. It's not sad, it's inspired!
Eric: Hi! I'm glad to have found your blog as well. I'll try to catch up on some of your old posts soon:)

linds said...

Wow! You really have been busy with the cookbooks. Everything looks awesome though!

My new roommate has one of those wannabe george foreman grills, so naturally, I have been grilling pretty much everything before I eat it. Soo grilled veggies like peppers and asparagus stuck into a tortilla with other random ingredients, rolled up and then grilled again panini-style is totally on my list of things to do with my tortilla wraps (and favourite new kitchen toy!).

ChickPea said...

linds: That's a great suggestion for using my tortillas! I love my George Foreman too, so it's a match made in heaven:)

Danielle said...

Wow I wish I could say the same :) I'm dying to try some new recipes. Anyway, I just created a blogroll and you're on it, hope that's okay!

Ruby Red Vegan said...

Oh gosh, I know you said you're a little burned out on cookbook recipes, but... ED&BV has an excellent recipe that would use up your tortillas: Peanut Butter Banana Turnovers. It's essentially a pb & banana sandwich browned in a pan, but it just gets so melty and yummy!

I've only tried three recipes from the Chicago Diner Cookbook, but now that you gave it the thumbs up, I really want to try the tofu recipe with peanut sauce. I love peanut sauce too, so so so much! And the blackened tofu looks excellent.

I just got home from college too so I think I'm going to go through an intensive cooking phase over the next week, just like you did. It's so good to be home!

ChickPea said...

Danielle: Wow! I just checked out your blog, and you are so lucky to have such an experience! When I expressed an interest in nutrition in high school, one of my teachers urged me to consider global nutrition as a career choice. Who knows? Maybe that's where I'll end up...
Ruby: I remember seeing that recipe in ED&BV. I did something similar the other morning, as recommended by Romina. It was more like a breakfast pizza than a turnover. Look for details in the near future...
I am very satisfied with the Chicago Diner Cookbook. All the recipes are quite simple (except the one I tried, apparently...), and they've all been winners so far.
It is great to be home. I notice that you're taking summer school classes like I am. What are you taking?

ChocolateCoveredVegan said...

Now I am jealous of you because I have never seen purple beans. Oh, and I thought of you today, because I had a chocolate pudding cup, and I added a little bit of shaved chocolate to it, a-la Caroline :o).

ChickPea said...

CCV: Haha...chocolate shavings make it taste better, right? Sweet of you to think of me:)

ashley said...

Hi! I just found your blog and LOVE it! We eat so many of the same things. Mmmm...

I love making scrabled eggs and lightly pan-frying them inside the wrap. (Frying as in spraying olive oil on a skillet)

ChickPea said...

Ashley: Welcome to my blog! That's so cool that we eat so many of the same things.
It's funny that you should mention eating your eggs in a tortilla. I had a similar breakfast this morning--I scrambled some tofu and wrapped it in a tortilla. Great minds think alike!