Food Talk Wednesday #2

Are you in for another episode of Food Talk Wednesday? Good because that’s on the menu today. If I was one of those bloggers who can make even soup [don’t tell me you haven’t had the soup phenomenon happen to you yet if you’re a (food) blogger!] look awesome. However, I’m not. Actually, I might have the potential to improve but my impatience once food appears in my focus – at least when my stomach agrees it’d be nice to get its fill – is incredible. Spending more than five minutes to get a shot of whatever it is we’re talking about? Well, I don’t think so. That’s why for now – and when I say for now it means I’m not giving up hope of my patience increasing one day – you’ll have to make do with more talk than food. But there is some of that after all so let’s get started.

Food Talk Wednesay_logo

Confession: Post- and occasionally also pre-breakfast snackage these past days has always included a handful of these. So writing this post on Wednesday morning I can confirm that yes, I’ve already had some today.

Erdnusslocken_flips_peanut
Erdnussflips, friends. Also known as: ridiculously addictive peanut curls. While plain old potato chips don’t exctite me much at all these are my kryptonite. They’ve been since I grew up – when my dad still thought it was funny to call them worms. Mmmh, appetizing. Looking back, it’s only natural I developed a nut butter addiction. Hm … now I wonder how dipping these into peanut butter would taste … <- Read: it will happen today. But first, breakfast.

oatmeal_breakfast_swirl
Remember my Tupperware oatmeal? I’ve reverted back to the slightly classier style of serving them in a pot again. In case you’re new here: that’s the way I roll and no, I don’t grab a huge spoon and eat them straight from the pot. It just keeps the remainder nice and warm while I’m scooping out smaller servings into a bowl. Also, that swirl would be soy creamer and only for decorative purposes – I still add almond butter post-picture but by now you should know my ways.

It’s essentially the same concept for lunch. I wouldn’t absolutely need to assemble this impromptu Polenta Chili Casserole into a casserole dish. But it looks so much fancier all nicely layered pre-serving. Don’t ask about the mess when scooping out individual servings, though [yes, I eat the whole dish].

Polenta chili bake

Okay, for those who asked and also because you can’t tell what’s in there exactly. This is the messy just-plated version. Yes, I’m aware it looks like [insert unappetizing noun] but oh my does it taste amazing. In fact so much so that I’ll post the recipe once I get some at least a little better pictures. It’s quickly become one of my go-to dishes and I only repeat those I really like. It’s vegetarian comfort food at its best. Maybe I’m using that phrase a little more often but it really is.

Polenta bake_cottage cheese

Dinner escaped the camera [read: I forgot a out a picture until I was about halfway through and then didn’t bother anymore because it was dark in anyway] but given I snacked a lot throughout the day and none ends without something sweet …

Lindt Chili chocolate

Chocolate. Four squares of one of these bars because nobody’s truly satisfied after one.  Also, I should add that this is by no means everything I ate all day. I’m a serious snacker and if I wanted to picture every nibble and bite I’d end up with 384758 pictures in one What I ate Wednesday. I hope this will still be considered playing by the rules by Jenn and Arman.

Enough banter now, go and enjoy your Wednesday that’s hopefully sunnier than around these parts [read: the sun’s hiding].

 

Happiness-inducing today: Calling one of my best friends who lives too far away for a spontanous visit but it makes us all the more thankful for the invention of telephones.

Stay in touch!

Twitter: @MissPolkadot21
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What’s your favourite kind of vegetarian chili?

Are you satisfied by eating a single square of chocolate? I feel I might be taking after my dad who can inhale a whole bar. It might not have gotten that far for me since I tend to actually savour it but half a bar can happen. Chocolate comes from a bean so it’s technically a vegetable, right 😉 ?

 

 

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Why I’m no professional food blogger

Hello there,

Are you all curious about the title? Allow me just one more second to thank Jenn – and potentially a whole new bunch of loyal What I ate Wednesday participants acting as additional hosts – for bringing back the weekly food party. I already find it somewhat hard to join – as in: remember to take pictures of my meals – regularly but dedicating hours upon hours of work on moderating the link-up deserves a round of applause for our hosts. Or just a hunk of cheese.

About that title now? Well, do you ever eat something that’s OMG so delicious I need to share it with everybody? Good, me, too. But more often than not, I either a) lack any pictural proof of said food because I ate it too fast, b)I was too lazy to break out the camera or c) see below.

WIAW_new2015

 

Breakfast doesn’t show any exhibits of the absence of any and all food blogger requirements. Okay, some [my perfection side included] might argue with that sentence but in general? Not too bad. Stove-top vegan vanilla oatmeal with a pear, chocolate drizzle – oh, and almond butter added post-picture. Always almond butter. Why post-picture? Because I don’t like to add it all right away, then take my first spoonful of oatmeal and break apart the almond butter swirl, essentially loosing it as it mingles with the oats. Call me weird, it’s okay.I also need to work on my chocolate syrup drizzling skills but that would be delving into nitty-gritty details already.

Pear vanilla oatmeal

Lunch is by far my most non-food blogger-esque [do you like my neologism?] meal of the day. It’s the perfect example of disregarding all rules – proper lighting, setting out props, using clean, fresh dishes*. Nevertheless, this chili polenta bake with cheese was too delicious not to show it. Once I manage to actually follow a few food blogger rules and get proper pictures there might be a recipe post coming up.

*no, I don’t eat from dirty dishes, don’t worry. What I mean to say is I always have to take a first scoop of any dish hence the plate I’m about to use isn’t spotless anymore.

[Worst food blogger rule broken below: shooting with flash. I cringe.]Chili polenta bake_2

And apparently I needed to document my own little #cheeseporn. I can’t hold a candle to Meghan and Heather but was quite content all that melty goodness. Everything’s a little better when you add cheese. Especially polenta which way back I used to look down at but now? Give me all the polenta. It’s seriously funny how our palates change with time and – when it comes to food – proper preparation.

Chili Polenta Bake_cheese

And apparently I needed to document my own little #cheeseporn. I can’t hold a candle to Meghan and Heather but was quite content all that melty goodness. Oh yes, I like cheese and I cannot lie. On a slightly more serious note I will admit I still feel pinges of slight guilt in admitting this [to myself only because nobody around cares]. If vegan cheese was readily available around where I live I’d probably opt for it. But given it’s not and my cheese cravings have been through the roof real cheese it is.

Chili polenta bake_plate

Back to the pictures: the one above is proof that impatience is my worst trait when it comes to taking them. In my defense the light in my apartment is any [food or else] photographers nightmare so getting proper shots of anything is a pain. But it doesn’t help when I’m basically starting off hungry and once the food is plated can’t eat it fast enough. Planning is everything.

Maybe I should have also planned on how to end this post because you know I like those sweet endings. How about going with Throwback Thursday a day early [because Throwback Wednesday doesn’t have that ring to it] and showing you an old picture of when I was testing for Kristy’s cookbook? Her Chocolate Truffles were perfection. Thanks to my mum for hand-modeling in the picture below.

Truffles_keepin' it kind recipe tester

And that’s a wrap. Cheese and chocolate – what’s not to like?! I hope your Wednesday is going well so far and fuelled by some delicious food.

 

Happiness-inducing today: A hot shower on a dreary day. It’s the simple things in life.

Stay in touch!

Twitter: @MissPolkadot21
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Bloglovin’: Let’s get living

 

How much time do you usually set aside to take pictures of your meals for WIAW posts?

Stovetop or overnight oatmeal? I used to be a huge stovetop-only person but lately the cold oats have been more appealing ín the morning. If we’re talking oat bran for dinner, though, it absolutely has to be hot. No way around this here.

 

 

The little things that make life better.

I’m a firm believer that waiting for the big and bold happenings to make us happy is an almost surefire guarantee to keep us unhappy. Oh, the irony. If we only ever hang around wondering why we didn’t win the lottery or why that guy has yet to notice us we miss out on many occasions to smile. How this all relates to What I ate Wednesday? Well, the way I see it food shouldn’t be the only thing making us happy but if it’s one of them that’s pretty good in my book.

wiaw fall into good habits button

The little thing at breakfast: perfect setting and food. Kabocha that has that irresistible flaky-dry texture, the right balance of sweet- and starchiness. My favourite tea from one of my new favourite mugs. A side of brain food [to any Germans: Das Kreuz mit den Worten in Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazin is my love-hate brain food of choice. So difficult. So addictive.]

Kabocha_breakfast

If you’re less quirky than me/haven’t jumped on the squash-for-breakfast train yet [why not???] this could be the perfect bowl of oatmeal. And maybe a side of sudoku or a cross-word puzzle. Yes, I’m a granny there but I can’t go without these.

I might be the very last one to figure out how to break the soup-for-lunch-at-work spell but I bought my first set of microwave dishes on a whim the other day. There’s no looking back. This is my personal lunch revolution. Even with my self-proclaimed soup lady status I can’t pretend I was too happy slurping them anymore after a few weeks. These wonderful dishes have allowed me to bring casseroles of all kinds to work and actually make me look forward to lunch time. Okay, I did before, too, but the perspective of hearty polenta-topped chili is much more alluring than a less chew-able stew. The dish below is an adapted version of my Polenta Chili Bake.

polenta chili_microwave bowl

This week’s snack number one: Crack. Pure, high-quality crack. The kind that you can only keep in your apartment at the most immense safety measures. We’re talking hidden in the back of your pantry, consumed only with closed blinds so the neighbours won’t see you. Okay, to lift the fog and back up a little: I won Meghan’s giveaway for some homemade granola straight from her kitchen recently a while ago forever ago. The reason I only received it right now is not the fault of everybody’s favourite Cleveland blogger [trying to remember if I know any other Cleveland bloggers who might get angry reading this …]. I asked Meghan to hold off shipping the granola until I had moved into my new apartment. Because first I had to try eat up some of the cereal, granola, what-not-all I’d been hoarding pre-move and then settle into the new place.

Granola_1

After a few bites I can safely tell you I will definitely not enter another granola giveaway at Meghan’s. Because I clearly hated this one. Kidding. The reason I [pretend] I won’t is because somebody else deserves to be treated to this deliciousness. It is SO ridiculously good – crack, remember? – that I refused to let my mum who was visiting the day I picked it up pack some as a snack for the road trip back home.

To be fair, though, I offered her some before which she enjoyed.  But a whole container as a snack? No way. Another fun bit I should add is my mum had a handful from the jar – by the way: how pretty did Meghan pack this up?? – and thought it was trail mix. That’s what Meghan meant when she called her nut: oat ratio high. And she was sweet enough to customize it for me nixing the walnuts and using a mix of cashews, almonds and peanuts. So so good. Oh, I mentioned that before?!

Granola_Meghan_2

For anybody who doesn’t live in Meghan’s immediate neighbourhood, is too impatient to wait for another giveaway or simply needs this granola in their lives – trust me you all do! – here’s the recipe. It’s vegan, too, for anybody stopping by from Vegan Wednesday. I hope sharing recipes for crack isn’t criminal.  If you don’t hear from me again I might have gottten arrested and in that case I hope you’ll send me granola care packages.

That’s it from me for today’s food inspiration but you might not even read this anymore as you’re already in your kitchen baking granola …

Happy Wednesday!

 

 

Happiness-inducing today: Finding that some essentials I needed to pick up at the store were on offer. Nothing like a good deal, right?!

 

Stay in touch!

Twitter: @MissPolkadot21
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What are some little things that make your life better?

Are you a crack granola addict, too? What’s your favourite recipe?

Dishing up the details

Sometimes a picture truly says more than a thousand words. At other times, however, there’s more to a picture than it could possibly tell. Because I know you came for the food I’ll stop talking in riddles and get to the point: For today’s What I ate Wednesday I’ll not only show you recent meals and snacks but some more about the stories behind them. Here’s to the what I ate  [the dish] and its whereabouts or little itty bits hidden in the photos [the details].

WIAWbutton_1

The dish: A typical workday lunch of quick vegetable chili.

Legume_chili

The details:  This one had both chickpeas and kidney beans, corn, zucchini, broccoli and my favourite spices [cumin seeds and cayenne pepper among others]. Did I ever mention I kind of liked chili? Yes, I guessed so. However, this chili didn’t quite like me back. No we’re not looking at the beans here. Rather, it’s an unsuspecting ingredient that’s making rare appearances in my diet: bell pepper. Ironically, it’s at the same time what took this chili from average to awesome for me. Because of this I’ve decided that half a pepper distributed in between two servings won’t cause me any pain. Did I mention I’m stubborn? My stomach should know better than to rebel.

The dish: Pumpkin Spinach Tortilla Lasagna.

Pumpkin tortilla lasagna

The details: Never let its unassuming appearance fool you.  Now I could probably talk about how tortillas had become the new polenta in my life. But what you actually need to know is that the vegan cheese sauce in this dish is unreal. If the lasagna itself wasn’t delicious, too, I’d probably just keep making huge batches of the sauce and eat it all day. By the spoonful.

Pumpkin tortilla lasagna 2

And you will want to, too. But I feel I can’t share two tortilla bake recipe in consecutive weeks and maybe I’ll decide the next dish is worthy sharing, too. Decisions, decisions.

The dish: Pistachio Vanilla granola.

Pistachio Granola

The details: not just any but my first homemade granola without following a recipe. I’ve tried other bloggers’ recipes before but never my own. Actually, what I went for was not granola but exclusively granola clusters. I don’t know about you but I’m all about the big clusters in granola. The reason why my mum threatened me she wouldn’t buy granola again when I was younger. Do you think it might have had anyhing at all to do with the fact she had to eat the leftover crumbles…??!

Granola

But I digress. Back to this granola. It’s not overly sweet, has a buttery taste from coconut oil and crunch from added crispy grains. Simple but delicious. On top of that the process of making it held a life lesson for me. Just so much: Learn from my mistakes and don’t try to simultaneously bake granola, get some laundry done and pack your bag when you need to leave for a work appointment in 35 minutes. At least I scented of freshly baked granola when I arrived there just in time…?!

Speaking of work: I’m writing this post on Tuesday night so I’d better call it quits now and get some beauty sleep in to look fresh and relaxed for Jenn’s mid-week party tomorrow/ today.

Happiness inducing today: An new magazine my boss handed me assuming it might be of interest – and it was.

Stay in touch!

Twitter: @MissPolkadot21
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Your turn: Tell me about one dish you at this week so far and the details a picture wouldn’t tell!

Have you ever made your own granola? Let me know any favourite recipes!

 

Playing with recipes [Polenta Mushroom Chili Bake]

Hearty vegan cocoa chili with a meaty texture from added mushrooms layered with slices of creamy polenta. Healthy comfort food at its best.

When I first started out cooking I’d follow recipes to a T even if that required buying an ingredient I wouldn’t regularly get and probably not use again afterwards [cue pantry shelf warmers]. These days, however, I agree with the food wisdom that recipes are really just guidelines that can either be followed or played around with. For me, it tends to be the letter. Don’t have a white onion? Use a red one. Out of wheat flour? Sub spelt. Or when a dish is seriously good but – just because that’s the way your mind works like – you need to add that one ingredient for a little something-something extra.

Polenta bake_V

I’ve mentioned before that I’m all about textures and a huge fan of mushrooms. Needless to say when I feel like adding some more body or dare I call it stick-to-your ribs ‘meatiness’ to a chili they’re my go-to. Same applied here. About the zucchini? Consider it the strange but good part of this recipe. The actual reason, though, is my need for some greenery in every lunch. Yes, the mushrooms are technically the vegetable part of this recipe but since they were my ‘meat’ here 😉 I needed that extra green to complement the decidedly hearty chili.

Polenta bake

Okay, now please forget what I just said about recipes as guidelines. This does not apply when it comes to polenta. I’m not easy to please when it comes to this little grain/ corn. Polenta prepared with just water and a pinch of salt? Bo-ring. It’s all about adding more flavour and (!) creaminess. Not necessarily with the need to get out the cream or cheese though if that tickles your fancy: go for it. I chose to keep the dish vegan here by cooking my cornmeal with some non-dairy milk and adding just a bit of coconut butter for an extra rich flavour. If you decide not to listen to me and just cook your polenta in water: fine. Just don’t come complaining to me about how tasteless it is ;).

My tweak to this recipe is that you don’t need to bake the polenta. Which is an added bonus because you can prep the polenta in advance and keep it in the fridge. Then just slice it when you’re ready to assemble the dish – making it a weeknight-compatible casserole.

Polenta bake

Don’t let the seemingly long ingredient list intimidate you. A lot of them are spices and at least salt and pepper don’t actually count as ingredients. I know at least Davida will agree. This dish comes together much faster than you might think and still looks just that smidgen fancier than your average bowl of chili.

Polenta Mushroom Chili Bake [adapted from Coffee & Quinoa]

For the polenta:

  • scant 1/4 cup of polenta/ cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup each water
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk [I used soy because that’s what I had on hand but any unsweetened should work or just cow’s]
  • dash of salt
  • pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp coconut butter

 

For the chili:

  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  •  6 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced thinly
  • 1/3 cup each kidney beans and chickpeas
  • 2 tbsps of corn
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp coriander
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • 1/8 tsp of smoked paprika
  • a pinch of cinnamon
  • 1 tsp dark cocoa powder
  • 1 piece of 99 % chocolate [or a chocolate with at least 85% cocoa], chopped roughly
  • 1 tsp of chia seeds
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup grated zucchini [optional]
  • optional: grated parmesan

 

Start by preparing your polenta [at least 2.5 hours in advance]:

  1. Bring water/ milk to a boil. Add salt and stir in polenta. Reduce heat and stir until the polenta has thickened.
  2. Stir in the nutritional yeast, coconut and pepper to taste.
  3. Pour into a small bowl, smooth out the top and set aside to cool.

For the chili:

  1. Saute the onion until it begins to brown. Add the garlic and saute another minute.
  2. Pour in the tomato sauce, spices, cocoa and chocolate.
  3. Let the chili simmer on low to medium heat for about 20 minutes, stirring every now and then to ensure it doesn’t burn.
  4. Remove chili from heat and stir in the chia seeds. Let the sauce thicken slightly.
  5. Meanwhile, turn the bowl of polenta upside down to pop out the molded block. Slice into four even rounds.
  6. Layer about half of the chili in your baking dish. Add the shredded/ grated zucchini.
  7. Top with the polenta slices and the remaining chili as well as the cheese if using.
  8. Bake for about 20 minutes at 180 °C/350 °F.
  9. Serve sprinkled with nutritional yeast.

Notes:

I kept this recipe vegan but also gave the dish a try adding cheese on top. It’s delicious both ways.

Chili_Polenta Bake

I’m linking up with Laura, Kierston and Healthy Vegan Fridays today.

Happiness inducing today: Chatting with my colleague while working on a rather boring task.

Stay in touch!

Twitter: @MissPolkadot21
Pinterest: MissPolkadot21
Bloglovin’: Let’s get living

 

Do you follow recipes closely or just use them as guidelines?

What is your favourite dish featuring polenta?

 

 

Seasonally [in]appropriate cravings

Something is very very wrong about this Wednesday and we’re not talking about the weather. Unless you’re one of those people complaining about too much sunshine but then again we probably wouldn’t be friends. Kidding. Maybe. But I digress. What’s wrong is that – unlike last week – we’re not heading right into another long weekend :(. Very right, though, is the fact that Jenn is hosting our weekly virtual foodie party no matter what.

WIAWbutton_1

Something else that might not seem totally right? The answer to the question of whether or not I’ve kept up with my Pinterest challenge: yes, I did. But the Easter break in between that I spent at my parents’ may or may not have ever-so-slightly taken the wind out of my challenge sails. As in: food wasn’t as much of a big deal during the weekend, I hardly cooked or baked – but ate – and my camera took a good nap. Nevertheless, I tried one recipe that was so good I had it for lunch multiple times already and consider it a new favourite:

Coffee & Quinoa_chili

Spring, summer, fall or winter: In my opinion chili is a year-round food [and if you feel differently I’m fine with that but won’t let you convince me elsewise ;)]. Actually, I tried this recipe before even sharing the link in my post on Sunday.  And yes, as you can see I included the polenta. In case you remember me and polenta aren’t best friends. Or weren’t?! I’d actually bought a new bag a few days before stumbling upon Erica’s recipe because I had a random craving for cornmeal. Now that I’ve had it multiple times lately I feel it might become a staple for me again. Either way, this chili recipe is one of the best I’ve ever had. If you’ve never tried chocolate in chili before you absolutely have to. It adds a great depth to the dish enhancing the deep flavour and it complements the spices perfectly.

Continuing with my [probably] seasonally inappropriate chili cravings I came up with a Polenta Mushroom Chili Casserole based on Erica’s recipe myself. A thick layer of polenta slices, mushrooms adding a great ‘meaty’ texture, two kinds of beans because one’s not enough and a good sprinkle nutritional yeast [or cheese] on top. Recipe coming soon.

Chili_Polenta Bake

Can I count making the same recipe twice as continuing my challenge? Because they were just that good I simply had to make Ashley’s incredible brownies once more for Easter. One of the few times my mum actually had no obligations against me baking a vegan dessert. Or how else would I explain the disappearance of a batch in less than two days? Despite two non-vegan cakes and the usual overabundance of food at my parents’.

edible perspective_brownies

Seasonally appropriate where my snacks, though. Because I failed to take any pictures of the ice cream happenings on the weekend I’ll end this post on a sweet note with a blogger-approved favourite recent snack: Banana softserve. Why mess with bowls when you can eat it straight from the blender?

banana_softserve_II

Grab a snack to prevent getting too hungry when heading over to Jenn’s What I ate Wednesday or the Vegan Wednesday boards.  If it’s between me and you: banana softserve might not be the best option here. Because the little sweet something above was polished off in about five minutes [at max]. Still delicious.

Happy Wednesday everyone!

 

Happiness inducing today: The scent of lilacs on my walk.

 

Stay in touch!

Twitter: @MissPolkadot21
Pinterest: MissPolkadot21
Bloglovin’: Let’s get living

 

What was the best dish or snack you ate throughout the Easter festivities?

Is chili seasonally inappropriate or a year-round dish? As I said: there’s no convincing me elsewise but I’m still curious to hear you answers (:.

Does anybody actually bother transferring banana softserve to a bowl?