Sarah is on vacay this week. So you're stuck with me (on the left).
Well long time no see fellow blog followers! Scarlet Lily has invited me to do a couple of guest posts this week while she's out of town (and fleeing the cold weather) with her darling husband, B! I can't believe it's been 5 months since I posted my very last Home Grown Tomatoes recipe, where the hell does the time go?
Since we last 'spoke', I've welcomed 2011 with open arms. Huge. Open. Arms. I was happy to bid farewell to 2010 - it was one of those years that kind of sucked, but inevitably taught me a ton of lessons about both myself and life. A growing-pains kind of year, maybe that's a good way to put it. But alas, here I am, grabbing 2011 by the... steering wheel? It's possible I'm being a bit dramatic because there were some end-of-the-year highlights that were totally awesome:
* Ma and Pa Booch popped in for a Flagstaff visit. Holy shizam, we had a blast! Seriously, my parents are two of the coolest people I know.
* I turned 27. I like it. The number itself feels better than 26. My birthday party, thanks to my kick ass roommate, was like a scene out of a movie. I was surrounded by stellar people, there was an overflow of food, and at one point everyone was gathered in the living room while a couple of friends busted into a Velvet Underground cover because yes, there was an entire stage set up, amps, drums and all. Music all night. I've pretty much never felt cooler. Did I mention that there were party dresses involved? Awesome.
* Spent Thanksgiving in New Orleans with my cousin and best friend. Cousin Jonathan and I cooked a huge meal for the two of us, we drank mimosas, listened to music and feasted. It was fabulous. The three of us spent the rest of the trip together laughing our asses off. I mean what more do you need?
* Went home for Christmas for the first time in five years. Five Years! And it was everything I had hoped for. Enough said.
* Completed my first Graduate Certificate in Women's and Gender Studies. Began a second Certificate in Interdisciplinary Health Policy. Awaiting verdict on the two Master's programs I applied for here at NAU...I'm thinking that I can prolong being an adult as long as I'm in school...that's logical, right?
* Fell deeper in love with Flagstaff. Fell more out of love with the state of Arizona and its politics. Don't even get me started.
* And I've been dancing a lot more. I mean not in an organized class kind of way...like in a hit-the-town and cut-a-rug kind of way. It's become a valuable form of exercise.
Phew. So anyway, life is really good. I'm happy. And I'm enjoying being 27 in the year 2011. I also have really awesome friends, did I mention that? Well I do, and I'm thankful for that. In other news relating to food, recipes, and my ever-unsatiated appetite... I've recently discovered a few things:
I'm obsessed with lemon garlic aioli. No joke. Seriously, I've considered jarring and selling it. It's really that good (or it's just me). I've recently fallen in love with vegetables all over again. I love cooking for dinner parties. I love being in the kitchen alone, cooking, and listening to music (while enjoying a glass of red wine). It's pretty freaking awesome. Hummus has become even more of a staple in my diet as of late. How was that even possible? Good gravy. I've started taking vitamins. I'm not going to lie, I haven't been doing a ton of cooking because I'm too damn busy, so I tend to go for the simple, no hassle meals. But I did spend this past Sunday chopping, sautéing, boiling, stirring, tasting and smelling in the confines of my incredibly small, adorable kitchen. And thus I share with you...
As you know, if you were a Home Grown Tomatoes reader, I'm not into measuring, so these are more like food and ingredient ideas rather than recipes. Be prepared to experiment because I have no idea how the hell much of what goes into what :)
Split Pea Soup...is genius.
I don't have a picture because quite frankly, split pea soup in picture form does not make you want to launch through your computer screen and dive in. It's kind of weird looking.
In a large pot, saute a diced yellow onion, carrots, and red potatoes in some Earth Balance butter and Bragg's Liquid Aminos until nice and tender.
Add 8 cups of water and one bag of split peas and let the soup simmer on low for a long time. I think I had it on the stove for a couple of hours.
Add in some garlic powder, celery seed, nutritional yeast and black pepper. YUM! This, of course, is the vegan version, you can definitely do that whole ham bone thing, but this recipe is a no-brainer. And you don't have to wrestle with any bones.
Sweet Potato Gratin
Boil sweet potatoes until tender. Let the potatoes cool, peel the skins (optional), and slice into quarter-inch thick rounds. At this point, I made a mixture of spices that included cumin, curry powder, red pepper flakes, and nutritional yeast. In a baking dish I layered the sweet potatoes, some spice mixture, a couple dabs of Tofutti cream cheese, and Daiya mozzarella cheese (dairy free and soy free cheese that is freaking good). Layer. Repeat. Layer. Repeat. Top with one last layer of cheese and bake for about a half an hour. Yes, please.
Green Beans Tossed in Spinach Artichoke Dip, Baked with Almonds and Butter
I had some left over spinach artichoke dip that I purchased at the local health food store here and I wasn't sure what to do with it. Ah ha. I had a heap of green beans that needed to get used, so I steamed them and then baked them with a bit of butter, spinach artichoke dip and almonds. Easy. Tasty. Yum. Their recipe for the dip called for Veganaise, spinach, artichokes, cashews, and some spices. Since I went to a little Super Bowl gathering, I decided to create my own version of the dip (sans the cashews because I didn't have any).
Spinach Artichoke Dip
Whole Artichoke Hearts (not marinated)
Tofutti Sour Cream
Tofutti Cream Cheese
I've made this dip before, but this time I used the Magic Bullet to really go wild and get it nice and creamy. Creamy it was. And also incredibly green. It was very pretty if I don't say so myself. And I served it cold with chips. I'm definitely going to try the cashews next time, I'm quite certain they'd help thicken up the consistency. Taste wise, good shiz.
Well peeps, I feel like I've typed your ear off. That makes no sense, but you know what I mean. Anyway, I'm hoping to have one more guest post for you this week with a bunch of random things for you to check out :)
Thank you, Scarlet, for having me back!
Until next time...