Talking textures [Roasted Vegetable Casserole]

It’s ridiculous: just about every time carrots are on sale I used to pick up a bag only to end up not using them fast enough. As somebody who hates to waste food this irked me a lot so I’ve gotten better at resisting. Growing up I ate a lot of carrots* – just like about every child, I assume? – but the older I got and the more variety I brought into my diet the less frequent they became for me. When it comes to adding a vegetable to whichever dish I’m least likely to opt for good old carrots. Sad but true. Don’t judge!

*which funnily are called quite a number of different names in Germany: Mohrrüben, Möhrchen, Karotten, Wurzeln, …

sprinkled

And that’s where my use-up challenge came in ever so handy. Somehow I’d not only been lured into buying a week-only offer of yellow carrots but also a bag of the regular kind in the organic grocery. After last week’s curry I once more got out the blender to turn the carrots into puree. Not intentionally, though, as I’d originally planned to finally try maple-glazed carrots. But when the roasted vegetables from my weekend meal prep already lend some bite to the dish I needed to have a different texture for the carrots. Yes, I always need at least one ingredient offering some “chew” and one creamy component to be fully satisfied after a meal. The more textures, the merrier. In this case: the crispy, chewy [in the best way!] vegetables, starchy [for lack of a better word] roasted chickpeas,  creamy but still a little chunky carrots and smooth bell pepper sauce to top it off.

Roasted Vegetable Casserole

This is a very variable recipe in that you can use whichever vegetables you want. I noticed I’m actually a huge fan of twice-baked cauliflower and zucchini are a vegetable I liked to have on hand most days, too. Roasted chickpeas are a snack favourite of mine so I figured why not add some in, too?! Use whichever spices you feel like to switch things up to your liking.

dish

Did I mention we were talking lackluster, horribly lit pictures of delicious food today? Well, in case I forgot: there you go. I could excuse myself with the truth that my dentist’s appointments happened to be at the worst time ever. Just so untimely I couldn’t have lunch and at that take pictures of it before and came home when the sun had almost disappeared completely again. But you wouldn’t want to hear that, huh ;)?! So I’ll let the pictures do the talking words do the convincing because yes: this is good. Just trust me.

Roasted Vegetable Casserole with Creamy Carrot Puree and Red Pepper Sauce

  • roasted vegetables: you could use any kind of odds and ends you have on hand – for me these were zucchini and cauliflower [amounts once more depend on your preference]
  • 1/2 cup + 2-3 tbsps of chickpeas, divided
  • 150 g carrots, chopped, steamed and pureed – I decided to not completely blend it but leave a few chunks for [yes!] texture purposes
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • oil of choice for sautéing
  • 1/4 cup of soy milk
  • 1 generous tsp of coconut butter
  • 1/2 tbsp of chopped parsley [I used frozen]
  • 1 roasted red bell pepper
  • topping: 2-3 tbsps puffed amaranth (unsweetened) mixed with 1 tbsp nutritional yeast

 

  1. Mix the 1/2 cup of chickpeas with your vegetables, tossing them in your oil of choice plus nutritional yeast, garlic and any spices you like. I used about 1/4 tsp each smoked paprika and cumin. Roast for about 30 minutes at 350 °F.
  2. Roast the bell pepper at the same time. Let it cool and then peel. The roasting process can be done a day ahead like I did for speedier prep the day of casserole assembly.
  3. Add the oil to a small pot and sauté the onion and garlic. Mix in the carrot puree, soy milk, coconut butter, parsley and remaining chickpeas. Let cook for a few minutes to heat through.
  4. Meanwhile blend the roasted pepper with 5 tbsps of water. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Transfer the carrot puree to a small casserole dish.
  6. Add the roasted vegetables and spread the bell pepper sauce on top. Sprinkle with amaranth topping and bake for about 20-25 minutes at 350 °F.

Roasted veg

Oh, and Laura and Kierston: I might still not have the whole meal planning thing down but I already have a recipe to share for next week’s link-ups. Are you proud of my dedication ;)?!

Happiness inducing today: Receiving a letter from a blend :).

 

Does anybody else need to have as many different textures as possible in one dish?

Which foods – not necessarily produce – did you ate a lot of growing up? Do you still eat them frequently?

What are your favourite carrot recipes?

Culinary confessions of an overbuyer

Hi there, fellow foodies!

First off: thank you so much for all of the encouraging and supportive comments on my last post! I appreciated every single one of them. Change still isn’t easy for me but I’m trying to just let it happen and see where life leads me.

Before we head straight into the more illustrated part of this post I feel like I need to explain its background a little. all it a confession of an overbuyer if you will … Picture this: you’re visiting the Farmers’ Market knowing that you’re well stocked in the vegetable department already. Clearly, your only intention is to get some of your favourite apples only available at a certain stall and then head home again. No other purchases or even side glances at the full array of beautiful produce allowed … Can you guess the end of the story? Yes, I somehow ended up buying the most humungous head of cauliflower you’ve seen so far for a fantastic price and a bag of awesome pears as well. Typical foodie problems?! Which leads me to today’s What I ate Wednesday.

wiaw fall into good habits buttonUsing up what’s on hand and not buying new produce anymore sounds like a good habit to fall into, don’t you think so?! Once more I’m also linking up for Vegan Wednesday so to all German readers: take a look at a collection of delicious vegan food over at Julia’s.

Finding myself with an overload of produce – more specifically: cauliflower, bell pepper and carrots as well as slightly more “normal” amounts of random others – I had to modify my Pinterest challenge. It’s almost the usual for me to overbuy produce. But with my move coming closer I need to hurry up on eating my way through the produce party. Hence challenge “Make a dent” – not to be confused with any current appointments at the dentist’s …

Cream of corn

Have you ever been lured into the “season’s almost over so I have to buy it!” syndrome? With corn season being almost or even already over I noticed I hadn’t had fresh corn at all so far. Yes, shame on me. This recipe for sounded awesome and it didn’t disappoint. While I expected it to be good it turned out even better. So good, in fact, that I could have even done without any add-ins. Why didn’t I realize any earlier just how amazing fresh corn tastes?!

[Actually, I made this months back already but forgot to mention it in previous WIAW posts. Sorry!]

Next up was a freshly pinned recipe that I mentioned in my post on Sunday: Susan’s Spaghetti Squash Pesto Lasagna. Will you believe I actually followed the recipe [almost] to a T??? Okaaay, I subbed grated zucchini for the spinach – all for the sake of using it up – and used additional and also silken tofu though Susan doesn’t recommend it [with added cornstarch to thicken it up]. But other than that I didn’t make a lot of modifications. Verdict: Delicious! Once more I was skeeved by the low lighting but you can’t change the weather.

Squash Lasagna

Carrots first found their way into my Red Lentil Kabocha Chili which you’ll probably notice I modified a little and tried to measure how much water I added. How I forgot to add almond butter on top the first time I tried it is beyond me.

My original intention had been to try a Pumpkin Cauliflower Curry. However, the [red kuri] squash stored in the basement seems less perishable than carrots. And with no canned pumpkin available I had to prepare my own puree in anyway. So why not go for carrot instead of pumpkin?

oat loli

Don’t let the look deceive you. Despite its mediocre appearance I came up with a flavourful and spicy (!) curry that hit the spot once reheated. Does anybody else find that curry – just like chili – tastes better when reheated? On the side I tried another new-to-me recipe: Khusboo’s Oat Lolis. They had been on my Pinterest board/to-make list ever since she posted them and yesterday offered a great opportunity to try them.

scoop

Super easy and fast to prepare but the best part: they’re an great scooping device. In case you’re wondering: I added cumin seeds [obsessed!] and the first loli disappeared before it could even make it into a picture. Hangry blogger at work? Maybe … I’ll share the recipe for the curry later this week for any others desperately in need of using up cauliflower ;). Or just those who enjoy a good curry.

Cauliflower snack

Okay, this one is strange but good. Remember how I mentioned the cauliflower was humungous? I wasn’t kidding and I actually still had half a head sitting in the basement that I’d somehow forgotten about. Enter cauliflower not only for lunch but as a snack, too. Not any old cauliflower, though, but vegan egg-battered amaranth-coated cauliflower. More details on that in my next post :).

Avocado-Törtchen

Ending on a sweet and [semi-]raw note once more: [frozen] Chocolate Avocado Cupcake made by my sister. She’s been asking me for healthy food ideas and started experimenting on her own for quite some time already coming up with some awesome creations. Though they haven’t been eating weird food before it’s funny to see family members jump on the health foodie bandwagon every now and then lately, too. Who knows, maybe I’ll turn them into nut butter addicts and oat bran fiends one day after all?! Wishful thinking – but then again: Sharing my nut butters? I don’t think so ;).

Happy [healthy] Wednesday!

Happiness inducing today: Mailing another surprise letter.

Help me out: What are your favourite uses/recipes for cauliflower and bell peppers? Aside from roasting [still not a fan – totally untypical foodie here, sorry!] I appreciate any suggestions.

Are you good at resisting produce offers when you know you’re well stocked already?

Did you interest in [healthy] food rub off on family members yet?

Beware of the hangry blogger

Once upon a time .. okay, a while ago – before I had even thought of starting a blog myself – I noticed several bloggers [but cannot remember which – was it you, too?] not only posting their meals for WIAW but showing the aftermath [empty plates and muffin liners], too. I’m all up for variations on What I ate Wednesday so I just had to pick up this fun [to me at least] idea that I saw at another blog quite some time ago. Not only will you see the meal as I start it but also the remainders as in: the aftermath of a hangry blogger. Let’s get from start to finish [of my meals] at this week’s party. Thanks for being a wonderful hostess once more, Jenn!

WIAW_halloween button

If you read my last WIAW you’ll know I talked about some progress I made but also noted I was still not there. One of the main struggles I have in terms of meals is breakfast. Yes, everybody’s favourite meal. Just not mine. When I wake up there have been only a few options I’ll decide between for months. Safe options that – while delicious – for the most part need to fit the criteria of holding me over for a while. Let’s just say that breakfast hasn’t been the time for changes and experimentation. Until Monday …

Breakfast October 004

Pancakes? Me? Nah, they won’t saturate or satisfy me at all ony leading to constant snacking right after breakfast: my exact thoughts before. But waking up yesterday I didn’t feel much of an appetite at all. Former [read: a year or so ago] me would have taken this as an invitation of skipping the first meal of the day altogether. Now, though, with a healthier attitude I finally decided enough was enough and to not just have breakfast like usually but try something new. Maybe it was daringness or I just couldn’t resist anymore after Heather posted another awesome looking pancake recipe. But after some veganizing and ingredient subbing action [get on board with the canned pumpkin already, Germany!] I’m glad I did. Not only did I conquer another fear meal [breakfast] and food [pancakes] but it showed me once more that many fears are needless. No, I did not suddenly turn into a fluffy pancake nor was I hungry immediately afterwards. Sorry, though, to all pancake fiends out there [as in: basically the whole blog world]: I’m still not a convert. These were nice for a change but I’ll continue my search for the perfect all-year/non-kabocha breakfast.

PancakesIn previous days such  breakfast changes [note: there were twice as many pancakes and almond butter joined the party after the camera had left the site of crime ;)] would have required cutting back at other meals and in no way trying something new for lunch, too. Sticking with this old habit, however, would have made my breakfast challenge seem incomplete. Also, I had a few cravings that I wanted to turn into a recipe. Enter twice-baked spaghetti squash with [vegan] Pepperjack cheese.

Twice-baked

Believe me I’m just doing you a favour in not showing the aftermath of lunch. The delicate squash shell was victim to some not so pretty cracking apart. Another blogger-inspired meal, by the way. Thanks to Amy for inspring me to give spaghetti squash another try. In between last week’s spaghetti squash casserole and this dish I’ve discovered a new-found appreciation of this pasta-like member of the pumpkin family.

Nothing could stop me from snacking, either. While I’ve been feeling the need for a change sometime soon, truffles have still made an appearance. Along with numerous other random nibbles, bites and – obviously – dinner. Somehow, though, I always end up losing the motivation to take pictures of every single morsel that ends up in my mouth throughout the day. Maybe sometime in the future …

Truffles

Maybe some of you feel like joining the ’empty plate’ edition next week? And does anybody happen to know who started the trend?

Questions upon questions but for now:

Happy Wednesday!

Happiness inducing today: Once more the wonderfully sunny autumn weather.

*One more note: Sorry for not keeping up with replying to your comments on my last posts. I’m currently not at my place and promise I’ll get back to them once I’m back!

Inspire me: what are your favourite chocolatey snacks? I’m not a fan of dried fruit/nut balls but any ideas aside from those would be awesome.

What is your favourite meal of the day and the best dish you had for that meal recently?

And the random question of the day [because Sunday clearly wasn’t the right time to ask]: Do you make your own nut butters? Which food processor do you use? I’ve been pondering the purchase of a Vitamix for ages and feel like it’s time for a decision.

Going for the goals [October]

Where did time go? I swear we must have skipped a few weeks or at least days because it can’t be almost mid-October already. Right …? Not to whine about the weather or winter approaching faster than we know it – at least not today. But I’d been meaning to post my goals for the month earlier today and … well. Better late than never, right?

Going for the goals

Let’s see how I did with last month’s goals first:

Get more sleep: Woops. I don’t like admitting it but: no, not really. I’ll get to the reasons and my plan to work against them in a minute.

Dry brush every day: Check! It’s all kinds of amazing and I don’t see myself give up on it again anytime soon. Not only did it help me wake up in the morning but my skin is now smoother than ever and (!) my blood circulation improved noticably. I’ve had troubles with that before and it’s a lot better already. Definitely something I can recommend and it doesn’t take much time at all.

Read at least two books: No. I tried but even though I got a pile of different books from the library none really caught my interest. Two chapters in this one, four from another – altogether I might have read a read a whole book in total but didn’t find the one. Quite disappoting when you can’t find a good one but I just started The Book Thief and that seems quite promising already.

Write surprise letters: Check! This one was my favourite. Once I’d gotten the hang of it again it was just amazing. Dare I even say it’s addictive? Fingers crossed I’ll get replies from the people I wrote. In fact, I’ve decided to keep up this goal during the months to come. My only trouble was that I didn’t even have the addresses of some people I wanted to write – and some of them might be reading this :). Let’s just say that some letters might still be on their way –  a few thousand miles aren’t a day’s journey.

Get more creative in the kitchen: Yes! I stopped counting but I’m rather sure I managed to try at least four new recipes a week and came up with some of my own. Another goal I want to keep up in October.

 

My goals for October

 

[Finally] get more sleep

Sheep_September

After failing on this in September I really need to make more of an effort. The key to this one will definitely be unplugging before bed. Reading blogs or writing posts late at night is not a good idea. This is going to be a huge goal so I’d be happy already if I managed to shut down the laptop earlier most nights. Baby steps ;).

Become more mindful of my snacking

As much as I enjoy snacking it has gotten out of control lately. While I can go without snacks for a while throughout the day my evenings are snackceptional in a bad way. If I was actually ‘hungry’ for a snack: okay. But more often than not I find myself munching non-stop even if I think I don’t need it. Basically, I want to eat more intuitively again.

Set up a [blogging] schedule

Not only to prevent happenings like today’s delayed goal post but for life in general, too. Ironically, having more time at the moment does not result in me getting more done – even though I’m usually a planner. Quite the opposite because there’s always still ‘tomorrow’ to get things done. I’m not happy with this and want to become more productive in all areas of life. Blogging will be one part of this in terms of spending less time doing it but keeping up a regular schedule.

Do the Photo A Day challenge.

I’m sure many of you will have heard of this before. I’ve been meaning to take part in it forever but somehow never managed to stick with it for a whole month. I’m off to a good start already and will randomly throw in a collage of pictures in my posts to keep myself accountable.

Fingers crossed for my October goals to work out better than last month’s!

Happy Friday to all of you!

Happiness inducing today: An amazing run outside.

Bloggers: How do you manage your blogging schedule? I could really use some advice on how to work out this one.

Do you have any goals for October?

Any other over-snackers? Tips of how to be more mindful?

From [blog] page to plate

Get out the WIAW party hats – and scarves! Fall has truly arrived and I’m no longer in denial. The upside is getting to wear one of my favourite knitted dresses again and lighting scented candles for a cozy atmosphere. And speaking of those I could totally use the onset of the season to go shopping for some more of both 🙂 … But you came here for the food so food it is.

Finally another What I ate Wednesday that follows a theme [unintentionally but I like it]: Cooking the books blogs. When I set my goal of trying at least four new recipes a week I knew what was going to happen. Despite picking up several new vegan cookbooks from the library – already disregarding those I own – I didn’t have more than a glance at the recipes. Half-heartedly pondering some I might try but then … going back to the blogs. But as this means I’m still sticking with my goal which I feel is falling into good habits. Thanks for inspring some good habits, meals and lots of foodie fun, Jenn!

wiaw fall into good habits button

Yet another aspect of the blog world I enjoy are the many creative recipes right at my hand. No hours of searching that one recipe you’d meant to try – only to find it was from a book you had to return already or left at your parents’ [and keep forgetting to take back with you …]. Granted, having a bazillion blogs and even more recipes to choose from doesn’t make things easier right away. But chosing recipes based on what I have on hand and some other criteria makes it a little easier. If it was Sarah peeking into my pantry or me intuitively intuitively knowing she’d be of help: her creamy squash casserole came right in time. Actually, I made it the very day she posted the recipe. But as it was dark outside already I had to use flash [shudder] and so I naturally needed to have it again to show you a nicer picture. Obviously ;).

Sunday's version on the left, Saturday's [overexposed] on the right.

Sunday’s version on the left, Saturday’s [overexposed] on the right.

Do you remember when I said kabocha stew was my go to when being unable to decide on a new recipe? In my defense I needed to use up some ingredients like edamame that had been sitting in my freezer for … a long time. And it was good.

Kabocha Edamame Stew

With cauliflower on offer and craving for comfort food I finally tried Davida’s Cauliflower Gratin. I’d been eyeing it for a while but roasting the cauliflower required planning ahead – something I’m not that good at … As you’ll notice in the pictures I was once again not able to stick with the recipe as written. Not only did I add some bok choy on its last legs but I also subbed crunchy amaranth for the chip/breadcrumb topping as I had neither on hand. And you really can’t go wrong with some amaranth crunch.

Cauliflower gratin

Potato gratin was a classic at our house when I grew up and eating this cauliflower version brought back childhood memories. Especially since I had it with some green beans from my mum’s garden. From its short ingredient list and simple preparation you might not expect it but this dish was so rich, cheesy and just … amazing.

The reason I enjoy using other bloggers’ recipes is the chance to get in contact with the recipe creator, give feedback and let others know when I enjoyed a dish. Not something you’d be easily able to do when trying a cookbook recipe – unless it’s one written by a blogger. Because I know that – at least for myself – I’m likelier to try a dish many others are recommending. Is it just me feeling that way?

Gratin

Not trying to use this as a shameless plugin but as part of the goal was to create some recipes myself and because I like a sweet ending to WIAW posts here’s my Fig & Kabocha Casserole once more. Can you say even more puffed amaranth?! I apparently like it :).

Spoonful

Happiness inducing today: Some silver linings on the horizon of job search. Not putting too much hope into it yet but still.

What is your preferred source of recipes: cookbooks or blogs? Why?

Which is the last blog recipe you tried?

Are there any fall favourites you’re especially looking forward to? For me it’s not just the dress and candles but walks/hikes through the woods, too. Hopefully happening soon when at my parents’ again.

Would you like some kabocha with your kabocha?

Alternative title: Trying to eat all the kabocha around while it’s in season and working on that pumpkin glow.

Okay, okay, I can’t deny that Fall’s offically taking over with leaves changing, the need to wear scarves again … and – to see the upsides as usual – the most amazing of Fall produce. Let’s celebrate What I ate Wednesday with the best vegetable of the season [and some really good sidekicks]. Thanks for hosting despite having your little one to care for, Jenn!

wiaw fall_Kabocha

Not to bug you too much with them but haven’t been able to get enough of my truffles lately. So if I’m supposed to show you what I’ve been eating the past week I have to include them. Sorry. Pre-breakfast chocolate? Can’t say I didn’t like it.

Truffle

Truffles aside, though, I’ve been having a lot of fun finally not only saving recipes to Pinterest  countless documents on my laptop but actually making them. And as you might guess from the post title there has been a lot of kabocha.

It's all about finding the perfect one  - and this one didn't disappoint.

It’s all about finding the perfect one – and this one didn’t disappoint.

First off was the Banana Kabocha Stew from my link post on Sunday.  Playing around with the recipe as usual I subbed my favourite legume for the black beans. Because I had a can to use up and to make up for last week’s chickpea-less WIAW – sorry I forgot to celebrate the birth of your little chickpea in style, Jenn! The pictures don’t do Carolyn’s delicious recipe any justice. If you had a look at the recipe you’ll notice that, yes, there’s something missing. I decided to do you a favour and take the picture before adding the cocoa – don’t leave it out. So back to the pot it was after the quick photoshoot because if the dish was great before the cocoa powder took it to the next level. Rich, flavourful and satisfying.

Kabocha Banana Stew

Keeping up with my goal of trying new recipes I opted against a repeat the next day [which actually happened to be yesterday] and spontaneously decided to have these Kabocha Squash Rancheros I’d been eyeing for a while. Or better yet: a modified version suiting the ingredients I had on hand and fulfilling my “I’m ready to chew my arm off” need. That’s why I steamed the kabocha [I know – roasting would have been ten times more flavourful and I’ll keep it in mind for non-hangry days] and used kidney beans instead of black ones once again. To be fair, though, black beans aren’t as readily available around here so I didn’t have any more on hand after my truffle-making.

Kabocha Rancheros

Inspired by this girl I also bought the first figs in a long time. Previously I couldn’t warm up to this fruit considering it – sorry! – watery, tasteless and a waste of money. However, while there might be some bad ones it’s really about how you prepare them. And Amy’s idea of using them as a pizza topping was absolutely amazing. Neither eating eggs nor having almond flour on hand I used my go-to pizza recipe changing up the toppings.

Fig Pizza

To end on a sweet note here’s my second batch of Jenn’s Banana Bread. Once more my pictures can’t hold a candle to hers but I’ll just repeat my mantra: it’s the taste that counts in then end – and that got a thumbs up once again.

Banana Bread

Happy Wednesday!

Happiness inducing today: The best run in a while after listening to my intuition and taking several rest days in a row.

Which were some of the last blogger-inspired recipes or foods you tried?

Are you good at sticking with recipe or put your own spin on them? However good my intentions might be: I can’t help but play around with just about every recipe I try.

Fellow kabocha fans: How do you pick the best kabocha at the store?  Any advice on what to look for? I’ve found there to be immense differences in taste and consistency – it’s a bummer whenever I get a ‘bad’ one.