Tuesday, March 30, 2010

It's 'Chick' to have Balls

I used to think that meatballs were such a childish dish. That's weird, because growing up, we never had them. It wasn't until my later years that I started to get into balls. That sounded a little off. In my early 20's I became a fan of spaghetti and meatballs or a meatball sub. Once, we went to well known Italian restaurant in De Pere, Pasquale's and I ate a whole frickin' meatball sub. Yes, that is embarrassing on multiple levels...

As a vegan, I love making 'balls'. I don't care for any pre-packaged fake meat of any kind. There are way too many chemicals, extra packaging and aren't that nutritious. If I have a craving for a bean burger or whatever, I'll make it from scratch. The only thing that I'm not sold on is wheat gluten. Most home made recipes call for a little or a lot of it. I can't tell if the strings of wheat gluten make me feel light headed when I'm mixing it or if I get light headed from eating it. Sometimes I feel like I'm totally buzzed after having just a bit of seitan. It's hard for me to tell if I like it or not...

Anyway, I bought some chick peas to make falafel this weekend. I didn't get around to it and after thinking about it, falafel is a lot similar to an Italian meat ball. Just with chickpeas, right? Right! And I made it work!

We had a bunch of leftover vegetables that I wanted to use up in a pasta dish and rolled out some 'chickie' balls. These gluten free and soy free balls will only make you smile. They're easy to make, easy to clean up and pack a bunch of flavor. The sunflower seeds add a nice ground meat-like texture that's really filling, and not too heavy.

Chickie Balls
1 cup chic peas
1/4 cup ground sunflower seeds
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
4 tablespoons chic pea flower
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano and basil
1 1/2 dried parsley
salt n' pep

In a food processor process the sunflowers until a few chunks remain. Remove from the processor and set aside in a bowl. Next, process the chic peas with about 1/4 cup of water until smooth. It's okay if there are some bigger pieces, it helps to add a nice texture. Scoop the chic peas out of the processor and mix with the sunflower seeds and balsamic vinegar. Stir in the spices and chic pea flower. Add enough flower so when you form the balls they stay together and are not too crumbly. Place on a greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 until crisp.

These would be pretty tasty in a sandwich, too. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Lazy Sunday madness

When it comes to sports, poor Bakie's can't catch a break. His Pop is known to be a little vocal when watching any sporting event. Throughout the football season lil' Bakes will hide behind me or find a comfortable shelter away from all the action. I defiantly don't blame him. Listening to grown men clap, jump, yell and hug watching a game is bad enough, when I have to listen and watch it, it makes me want to hide, too. He stayed strong through the Olympics and is now being a good sport watching NCAA Championship. I'm going to get him some earmuffs for the World Cup this summer, they'll be much needed.

I would have opted to finish watching Twin Peaks this afternoon, but basketball won... That's more than fine 'cause I made a huge batch a popcorn to accompany our lazy Sunday afternoon.

My mom was about to toss her old air popper, the PopCorn Pumper a few years ago. I immediately claimed it and have been giving it plenty of corn to pop. Air poppers are great! They're perfect for any popcorn lover that enjoys healthier options. I usually melt a lil' Earth Balance in it's little melting area and toss whatever seasoning I want on top - Garlic and Cayenne, Salt n' Sugar, Cajun spice and nutritional yeast or just plain ol' butta' n' salt. However you like to season your air popped corn, I guarantee it's healthier for you and for the environment.

If you don't have an air popper and are interested in popping your own, start by popping some over the stove. Not only is it fun - it is! But, it's fast and easy! Microwave popcorn is a thing of the past! Once you taste how good stove popped or air popped corn tastes, you'll never go back to some crummy disposable bag of blah.

How do you like to pop your corn?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Raise your glass and let's Roast!

Boy o' boy am I in love with roasted vegetables. I've always loved the taste of them, but recently fell back in love with them this week. I've certainly done my fair share of roasting vegetables - intentionally and unintentionally. But, right now, I'm really into intentionally roasting up some goodness in the kitchen!

I went to visit my sister in Madison, Wisconsin and picked up a beautiful medley of baby potatoes at their indoor farmers' market. I need to say it, I'm ecstatic for spring and the farmers market in Green Bay to start! It was great to get some good local snacks and the potatoes I ended up roasting were just delicious.

One of my girlfriends came over for din-din and I roasted pretty much everything we ate. Once you've established a relationship with your oven and how long to cook things, roasting is a super easy technique to use when entertaining. I staged everything out and put things in at the right time. It gave me and my BFF plenty of time to catch up and giggle over some brews.

If you're looking to entertain with minimal involvement, roast! Roast your veggies and you'll have more than enough time to clean up your kitchen and enjoy good conversation with your guests. I promise the picture above of my messy kitchen was a breeze to clean up!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Spring's on the way!

Spring break is over. I'm heading back to school later this afternoon. I've got my game face on for the rest of the semester. Believe me, it's scary.

Minus my concerns about school, I am absolutely in love with life right now. Spring is coming! It's finally beginning to warm up and things are beginning to sprout. I am so excited to start planting the garden and for warmer weather. It feels so good to get outside again. Another and obvious reason why I love spring so much is knowing that grill season is starting. I guess grilling knows no season. But, when the weather is warm and friends can gather in the backyard and have some cocktails, that's grill season. Right? What do I know, I'm usually the person having a cocktail, I leave the grilling to Baker's daddy.

Last night we got together with some family for a birthday gathering. The spread definatly felt like summer - spinach salad, potato salad, asparagus, grillables, etc. So good. Everyone brought something that was pretty dang tasty. I'd never made a potato salad until last night and the one I made was actually good! That's why I'm blogging about it. :)

Potato Salad to make Your Mom proud
4 potatoes - boiled
2 celery stalks
1/2 cup or more raisins
1 avocado
1/2 cup chic peas

3 tablespoons tahini
1 1/2 - 2 tablespoon spicy brown mustard
1 tablespoon maple syrup
juice of lemon
salt n' pepper

Boil the potatoes. Drain and dice when cooked. chop up the celery, avocado and toss into a bowl. In another smaller bowl, whisk the tahini dressing. Add more lemon or water to make it to meet a dressing-like consistency. Coat the potatoes evenly and serve with a huge smile.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Luck o' the Irish

Happy St. Patrick's Day! This year, I'm trading in my traditional Harp larger for a cup of tea and a relaxing evening in. Sure, this might sound lame for an Irish gal - but wait - I got season one, disc 2 of Twin Peaks from Netflix today. No way am I going out to cause a ruckus when I can watch Twin Peaks! People, come on!

For din-din I thought of making a shepherds pie but the weather has just been too nice to make anything heavy. I opted for some roasted asparagus, lima bean pesto pasta with sun dried tomatoes and peas. I tried to make the meal as green as I could!

Be safe and have an excellent night celebrating!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

When in Rome

I've been recovering from vacation... We went to the Dominican for a friends wedding, which was beautiful. Beyond the wedding, it was quite the experience. We had interesting and delicious meals, met interesting people from all over and got bit by mosquitos. Well, I did. I came home with more mosquito bites than a tan, it rained 85% of the time! Boy, did those bites itch! I'm pretty sure I don't have malaria... Without any more details, it was an adventure and I'm grateful to be home with my lil' Bakies and cooking again.

Power lines in Santa Domingo


the beach in Las Galaras