Dessert first?!

Say what?! For the first time in a while I found myself lacking food pictures to show off as part of the What I ate Wednesday and Vegan Wednesday parties. What to do? Start with a dish I ate a while back [think: sometime at the beginning of the month]. Really, though, with this post you’ll know why I was tempted to go with dessert first. But I’ll go the way my parents’ taught me: first the ‘real’ food, then play foods. One of my favourite play foods at that …

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Time for a little bit of truth about my meals at my parents’ place before we get started on food: They’re a lot less exciting and creative than when at my place. Which is due to the fact that I reside in my parents’ guest apartment [they used to let it  to a woman but when she moved out and my siblings got older they moved out of the room we shared. And into ones of their own in said apartment]. The bad part is that the apartment isn’t stocked with any food – think no spices, flours, herbs, … – and borrowing them from my mum’s ktichen and running to and fro while cooking? Not so awesome.  Long story short: I’ve been using very basic ingredients. But nonetheless, I make sure to eat good food and plenty of produce. Hello, mum’s garden. Stuffed mushrooms on a bed of polenta were one of those easy creations.

Stuffed mushrooms

 

Breakfast? Same old, same old. I’m afraid to say goodbye to this after moving into my new apartment. No more grabbing my favourite from mum’s garden. Anyway, no need for a repeat picture here so we’ll skip right to yesterday’s lunch. Which has – thanks to above-mentioned lack of spices – been somewhat of a challenge these past days. Picture my excitement when I saw Davida’s recipe for Baked “Cheesy” Cauliflower requiring only a handful of ingredients. Plus featuring two of my all-time favourite foods: cauliflower and nutritional yeast.

On the mention of Davida: Happy birthday to everybody’s favourite maven! If you haven’t visited her blog and/ or tried any of her recipes yet I highly recommend you do. Stat. Why not start with this one?!

Davida's cheesy cauliflower

Davida will forgive me for adding garlic though it’s not listed in her recipe because, well, hardly a savoury dish is complete without garlic. And: heart-healthy. Which obviously isn’t the reason I’m obsessed with using it but I could always pretend in case of smelling 😉 ! Aside from this I subbed mashed chickpeas for the egg which obviously meant I didn’t get the same puffy texture Davida’s original had but I enjoyed it nonetheless. It’s similar to her cauliflower gratin I first tried way back but I think I like this dish even better.

If you – for non-understandable reasons – happen to dislike garlic [how can you??] I’m sure the sauce would be delicious even without it. You know I still think garlic makes it even better but yes. All of you will also forgive me for saying that while this was really good I was anticipating dessert all the while … Don’t worry. I’m not going to pull the old ‘I scream, you scream – we all scream for ice cream’ joke on you. I’m all for the bad puns at times but some are too old even for me 😀 .

Blueberry Swirl Ice Cream_spoon

What I’m going to say and do instead is give myself a pat on the back let you know I was all giddy while making this. See, I’ve had my ice cream maker for – [insert me trying to remember which Amazon account I used to buy it so I can track back the year] … a long time. Yet I only used it a few times back then – end of summer – and then moved out. The time in between is blurred [think ED and whatnot]. But now I’m reunited with this fine machine and will have it move with me. Homemade ice cream all year round? I’m not entirely opposed. For a start, I made up a Blueberry Swirl creation. No vanilla in there because my mum had run out. Major doozy. We ended up sprinkling it lightly [mum] respectively heavily [me] with cinnamon and that pulled it together. Given it was the first time I ever created ice cream not following a recipe I’m rather happy with how it turned out. Below hand-modelled by mum.

Blueberry swirl ice cream

Remember what I said about not eating dessert until after the ‘real’ meal? Blame my mum for me switching orders here. She came home from work asking for ice cream when I had just put Davida’s dish into the oven. But hey, who says you can’t have dessert first? This picture is solely for mum because ‘you should get one with the flowers!’. So there you go: mum’s flowers. Which yes, are pretty so we’ll ignore the fact the ice cream is more like blurred blueberry in the picture.

Eis_flowers

I hope you’re having a great Wednesday – maybe with a side of ice cream?!

 

Happiness-inducing today: Sitting outside in the sun with mum and dad chatting about everything.

Stay in touch!

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

 

 

Have you ever made ice cream at home? Let me know of any awesome recipes or flavour creations!

What are your favourite few-ingredient dishes to make when you’re running low on groceries/ cooking in a not-so-well stocked kitchen?

 

Everything’s sweet about [my] food…

If there’s lessons to be learned – I’d rather get my jamming eats in first so … [I’m still doing it]

It’s been a while since I gave you a whole half a day of food in my life*. Why not make today that day?! And that’s where the sweet part sets in. Granted, I actually started on a savoury pre-breakfast note with some mushrooms dipped in salsa but they didn’t make the picture. Long intros are only sidetracking from the actual posts, though, so I’ll get started with the food already. Thanks to Jenn as well as the Vegan Wednesday hosts!

*not to be confused with an actual full day because I still doubt I’d ever remember or want to snap pictures of every morsel that makes its way into my mouth. Sorry.

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If you – like me – have a slight overbuying tendency combined with a mum coming for a visit and surprising you with a huge punnet of blueberries you might suddenly find yourself with a few pounds* of berries. A few more than I could possibly eat all by themselves soon enough. For whichever reason cooked fruit seems to go down easier than raw so I decided to bake some of it. Starting your day with fresh local strawberries? Not the worst idea. I didn’t mention it yet but polenta – yes, the ingredient I used to snark at – has been making frequent appearances. Either my tastebuds changed a lot since last year or getting more relaxed around food and preparing it the right way [think: cooked in soy milk not water and with coconut butter/ oil stirred in]. While this wasn’t bad and in fact reminiscent of the semolina pudding I was fond of during my childhood I still prefer polenta the savoury way and oat bran for my first [sweet] meal of the day.

*German [500 g] not American [454 g] pounds which does make a difference when we’re talking about  not one but a few 😉

Polenta_Strawberry

In an attempt to clean out my cupboards I took care of an old favourite: frozen Alpro dark chocolate dessert. Seriously, if you haven’t tried freezing these: do yourself a favour! And here’s where things got [in] explicably #strangebutgood. Why, yes, mid-way through eating I remembered a store-bought ice cream favourite from years ago – Dark Chocolate Chili – and decided to spice up my snack. Anybody who’s been reading for a while and knows my fondness of  a certain bar of chocolate actually shouldn’t be too surprised. Chocolate and chili were meant to meet.

Chili_Alpro Pudding

[and I’m apparently five years old still making a mess when eating pudding – some things don’t change]

Lunch was a case of lacking creativity but I decided to pick up some phyllo dough at the store to see if what it’d inspire me to. Because everything tastes good wrapped in crispy buttery pastry. The result was a mix of sauteed bok choy,  mushrooms, tomatoes and – big surprise! – chickpeas covered in the cheesy pumpkin sauce I used in my  tortilla bake before. It was a good and delicious decision.  Phyllo, you can do no wrong.

Phyllo_pastry

You know my preference to end on a sweet note and oh do I have a recipe recommendation for you! Ever since Amanda posted her Banana Bread Mug Cake last week I’ve had at least one per day. Addicted?  Quite possibly. I’ve only been introduced to banana bread through the blog world because it’s not a classic over here. The first recipe I tried was Jenn’s browned butter [veganized in my case] chocolate chip version quite a while ago. So maybe I’m not the most trustworthy judge for banana bread authenticity. What I know, though,  is that this is a pretty awesome mug cake and I have no plans on ending the obsession soon.

 Banana bread mug cake

There you have it: the first half of my day in meals and sweet snacks. More chocolate in the form of several squares of Lindt followed so my salty tooth wasn’t beckoning overly in the second half of the day, either, which is unusual so I’m curious about tomorrow’s cravings…

Happiness-inducing today: the baby on its mum’s shoulder flashing me the cutest smile when I was walking behind the two for a few metres. Adorable.

Stay in touch!

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

 

Are there days where you’re predominantly going for either sweet or savoury food?

What are your favourite mug cake recipes?

Do you have a go-to no-fail recipe you turn to when not feeling creative? Wrapping whatever I need to use up in phyllo dough has yet to disappoint me.

Chocolate and chili: yay or nay?

 

 

Changing [the overall attitude and food]

Three reasons to  be happy today: it’s sunny outside, tomorrow is a holiday [at least over here – sorry for everybody else] and … it’s What I ate Wednesday! Jenn picked a good day to give us a mid-week break from any annoyances with food. Because yes, my mind’s been engaged in not so joyful happenings but now isn’t the time and place for that.

Several weeks after announcing the changes to my diet I felt it was time for a little update. I will admit that I had no certain expectations when reintroducing cheese. However, this seemingly small change somehow had larger impact of how I saw food in general. And it surprisingly didn’t have that much too do with cheese after all, either.

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While at my parents’ for Easter I ate more sugar and found myself more relaxed with it than before. I had more of foods I usually don’t buy for myself and despite all-around snackiness didn’t skip meals or avoided carbs like I had before. Because even though I didn’t mention it I still tried to avoid too many carbs [namely grains and potatoes] at lunch because they make in appearance in both breakfast and dinner for me every day. But who ever said that just because my snacks erred on the carbier [is that even a word?] side I had to skip them at meal times? Or that I shouldn’t eat x or y before a certain time of the day? Ridiculous workings of a frazzled brain.

Granola

Yet like I mentioned before carbs are my preferred source of energy. Without enough and the right of them I feel tired, become snappy and just not the person you want to be around. Until now I’d often excused my deterring from grains at lunch with their lengthy cooking time and my lack of planning ahead. However, my recent fondness of polenta and it’s conveniently short cooking time helped in that aspect. Seriously, somebody tell me to opt for something else when it comes to lunch. Because if not I’ll continue with variations on polenta [casseroles] until I get fed up with it again. Something I don’t see happen too soon looking at my recent lunches. At least I still switch up the vegetable part?! Maybe I need to rename my blog because I have yet another polenta bake recipe to share.

Cheesy Enchilada Polenta Bake

Cottage cheese, however, has become a current favourite. To my surprise my diet experimentation proved that a high-protein snack is best for me to avoid the after-work hangriness. More specifically PB & J Frozen Yogurt. Previously I’d grabbed chocolate or attacked my roommate’s granola box right after work. Which left me satisfied for approximately… Two minutes. Not that this kept me from stealing the big clusters from the box either way. I wonder if my roomie notices?? Maybe I should offer frozen yogurt in exchange…

frozen yogurt_homemade

It’s still a trial and error in finding what works best for me on any given day. Some days I’m hangry not matter what or the carb fears turn up again. But these recent steps and findings make me hope I’m back on track working my way forward again. Food should be a reason for happiness not fear. And with that I hope all of you are having a happy Wednesday!

Happiness inducing today: A small success for our whole office at work.

Stay in touch!

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

 

What are your favourite higher-protein homemade snacks?  While PB & J is a pretty amazing combo in my froyo as of now still I want to get experimenting with different flavours.

Do you have a favourite grain? Favourite way to use it?

Non-food wise: Tell me one reason why you are happy today!

 

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.

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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?

 

Making every lunch count

Let’s talk lunch today – and what better time to do so than What I ate Wednesday!

Not too long ago, still, lunch was hardly ever happening for me in proper fashion. I didn’t skip it per se but was constantly finding excuses to either make it consist of many small snacks or a huge pile of steamed vegetables. Lately, I’ve even been getting more daring with changing up my lunch pretty much every day and even creating my own recipes.

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This might not sound huge for some but the possibility of a meal failure and – the horror – “wasted” calories kept me from experimenting in the kitchen. That meant I was eating the same few staple meals over and over again. All for the sake of “feeling safe”. Granted, I do still need to work on some of my other meals and snacks but for now I’ll make every different lunch count as a step forward in recovery.

Asparagus quinoa II

Breakfast, however , is something I usually settle with and change up only once every blue moon. Don’t fix what isn’t broke, right? Seeing Michelle’s recipe for Apricot Baked Oatmeal, though, I decided it was time to test a new breakfast. Being a little rebel in the kitchen I didn’t follow along her recipe exactly but used it as a guideline mixing it up with other ideas found online.  While my blueberry baked oats were a long-time favourite these didn’t win me over completely. Not that they were bad but I prefer my oats a bit creamier  – some might say almost soupy 😉 – and that’s obviously not what these are meant to be. Still, adding apricots to oatmeal is a great idea worth giving a try.

Once again topped with nut butter and drowned in soy milk post-picture.

Once again topped with nut butter and drowned in soy milk post-picture.

In case you wondered after my last post: yes, polenta did indeed make another appearance. If you’re following me on Twitter you might have already seen me declaring my polenta success on Friday. Success? Yes, absolutely. The secret? Cheese.  I’d been hesitant to add it before – calories, sigh – even though I remembered my former favourite polenta dish having been a cheesy one. On a mission to challenge myself I did add cheese and  … delicious. I might have even gone so far to declare it one of the best lunches in a while. Well, had it not been for the stellar ones to follow come the weekend.

Cheesy polenta

Third time’s a charm.

As mentioned above I’ve actually gotten more adventurous creating recipes myself. One of those that I’d dreamed up in my head and finally put into practice were Roasted Red Pepper Cream Sauce Speltberries. Just as good as I’d imagined them – yet more proof it’s worth daring a little kitchen experimentation.

Red Pepper Cream Speltberries

No, I haven’t forgotten about my tease regarding last weekend’s baking shenanigans. There you go: Oreo-stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies – and yes, they’re vegan.

Oreo brownies

Happy Wednesday!

Happiness inducing today:  Seeing pictures of a friend’s first ever own apartment – so excited for her.

Which new recipes have you tried lately?

Do you enjoy creating your own recipes?