Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Rice Dal and Pizza

One day I found a website... and tried two of the recipes onnit within 24hrs, because they're simple and called for ingredients I had all of, but would never have thought to combine. The first one was fried egg and mushrooms which came out amazing. Despite being like the first time I've fried an egg in a few years, still trying to get used to it. Cursed with breaking the yolks, and still being too worried about it. Also I had heard some australians on my cooking shows cook shrooms for breakfast, but never known what spices or anything else they used. This is def a fave now, especially with crispy potatoes too. MMMMN!

The second recipe I tried that day was kidney beans and pears which I put with some jasmine rice. It was quite different, but good and filling! We'd had pears that had been sitting around with nobody wanting to deal with, so it was purrfect timing too.

Here's that rice, topped with carrot strips, sunflower seeds, and kelp seasoning sprinkled on top. Tier 2 has my usual fave creamy red lentil soup with red pepper and carrots. Also in the corner(though on accident) is a parrot shaped jelly sucker that was way cute, I bought it for the boy and one with a tiger for the girl.

Later that weekend I ordered up all of my free pizzas and fed the kids, then got one last one for myself to say goodbye to gluten. We have an awesome pizza place, and tis near one of our friends so hopefully I'll be able to go get their gluten free with vegan cheese ones sometime! *drools a little thinking about it*

Also, I just had to do this and take the pic because my sister was laughing saying it was cute "she actually put PIZZA in the PIZZA dish!" cuz usually I'll stuff it with pasta or rice or something and she shakes her head about it. LOL.

The little ducky here is full of oil and vinegar that I make to dip breadsticks in, and put on the pizza crusts at end. I'm disappointed in those ducks though, 2/3 of them had their poor little beaks crack open on the first use! And the third one might too, I just haven't used it yet to see. WTF? Grrr!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Backlog, Party Times

I haven't been home much for the last few weeks.. a lot of pics to post have built up because I haven't been able to upload them here. If only my laptop wasn't so dead and blue screened, ehh?

They probably won't be posted in the right order, not sure I have the energy to remember and explain what was in each one. But I will get to fixin it, hopefully. o_0

The face dish is a goulash with spiral pasta, soy crumble meat, and veggies semi strategically arranged. The right side of it is actually a few brussel sprouts in garlic sauce, then some squash covered them so you don't even really see that here. On the left is mandarin oranges around a watermelon and candied ginger salad(in middle cup) black olives and a boiled egg that kindasorta resembles an elephant shape. Cmon, tis like looking at clouds, use your imagination. *whistles*

I know, I still needa find a "simple bento cuteness guide for the artistically impaired" but hey at least it's balanced and has lots of bright variety!

In gluten free news, I've tried Hodgson Mills Baking Mix, and totally loved it! The other brand of pancake mix I had before, it smells wonderful like muffins, but doesn't cook like pancakes no matter what for me. They flopped, stayed flat and texture wasn't right no matter what, seemed light/airy and not fluffy or filling like they should be.

The HM mix though, they were thick and browned up beautifully! Thank goodness, I'm so happy. Yeah yeah, give a girl cake...even just pancakes...and sometimes that's enough for a simple girl. *sniffles*

The box also had a lot of other recipes on it, not just pancake and waffles. For my uncle's birthday party at the last minute I decided to try the brownie recipe, twenty minutes before guests started to arrive. Originally I had chosen to just skip having any kinda sweets for myself, we had several cakes and red velvet cupcakes for everybody else already. But then I got selfish and NEEDED chocolate too.

It worked out great, the whole house smelled like fresh brownies, and everybody wanted to try them and were amazed when told they were gluten free saying they would never have known. Then there was one lady who made me repeat it again in shock since she's so used to just not eating when she's out at places because of her celiac, and then I told her the other food there that was safe.

I'd bought grape leaves stuffed with season rice that reminded me of a greek flavored variety of sushi. I'd also gotten some veggie burgers and udi's buns, but didn't seem I even needed them that night. And we had made some crock pot pork in "Sweet BBQ Sauce" from a recipe on my bottle of hoisin sauce which was actually marked GF so even though it wasn't something vegetarian that I could have, I knew everything in it should be OK for her. She got to eat a plateful of dinner instead of just seeing it, yay! Later on we sent some of the last brownies home to a couple who are also gluten free and couldn't make it for the party.

I didn't think to take pictures in time. These cupcakes were from the week before, when his son and some of our friends had their birthdays. They were made from the Betty Crocker cake mix.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


WOOOOT! Finally got my goodies to play with! Disregard the kitten who is just not as amused with my excitement over this haul, lol. She's all "I do not approve." while parking her tail onto the Just Bento Cookbook as if she can stop me by keeping the recipes out of reach. Pfffbt, I'm not afraid of you, little queen!
Well, usually... let's not mention the times when I *do* get afraid of her.  She can be evil, just trust me.
Mebbe I will name the new bento box after her, think that will appease her highness?
Lalalala, moving on.
See all the shinies, ain't they cuuuuute? *squees gleefully for awhile more*
I ate my dinner last night with a pair of the new chopsticks, then went and bought more rice and nori tonight so I'll be able to make my sushi and some riceballs shaped like the kitty and fishy, bwahaha!
In other news, the gluten free mishaps are really keeping me down for the count. Blah. The past few days, many many unmentionable things to deal with.
And I went out to the vegan diner, they had a nice GF menu online when I looked so I had high hopes of being able to be safe and have options there. Wound up being thoroughly disappointed. I guess they don't have the GF menu printed cuz when I went to order the sghetti since it had a nice little mark saying the noodles could be swapped for brown rice noodles.... he informed me that the soy meatballs had wheat in them. WTF why would you mark that option then... he went to double check for us, but didn't point out any other more friendly menu items so I went with the only one I knew, a wrap changed to be in corn tortillas.
I do not like corn tortillas for most things, never have. It was messy and not filling. Somehow I felt like MORE of a horrible outcast in a flipping vegan diner(I've been vegan for over ten years, and was there back when this place first opened) than I did at the old fashioned hamburger joint we went to last month, they have a "build it on a salad instead of bun" option and were surprised when I didn't ask for MORE changes to the order, gah.

So I snuck my back up lunch out while picking at my disappointing plate and tried to combine them into something more meal like. I'd had to pack whatever veggie leftovers I could in a rush, and it didn't travel too well during the day. Here's how it came out halfway through, heh. Mashed potatoes with soy bacon bits mixed in, scooped some out of the middle and filled it with mushroom gravy. Then there's some salad with sunflower seeds, brussel sprouts with olives. And then the messy leaky beans, I'd hoped to have veggie dogs to slice into them but haven't been able to find the nonwheat ones.
Oh well. Win some, flop some, eh? I'll just have to learn and try again! ;)
I guess I'm going to have to get over feeling weird and rude for taking my meal into resturaunts with me sometimes, just so I know I'll be able to have at least something to eat, and can still go out with people.
Just when I start to get comfortable with finding and trying new places, this has to happen! Curse my luck. Tis just so ironic and cruel.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Coming Soon/ To do List
I've been having a frustrating time of it the past few tries at tortillas(hello too thick hockey pucks, that crumble and are gritty when reheated) They fell apart in the toaster when I thought they were so thick and hard it would work, had to shake it out upside down to get all their bits out.
And then the expensive bread mix this morning that had me crying over it, telling me to "knead and shape into buns with hands" when it was just too sticky. Even adding a ton of rice flour (that I didn't want to do knowing it would just ruin it anyway) wouldn't help it to not be an annoying glue. But that was all I had to work with, so I tried then finally poured it into a loaf pan to bake.
Originally I had WANTED a loaf of bread, but since all the recipes I could find using that brand were all for flat breads, pizzas, and crackers and not actually bread.. all of which sounded awesome, just not what I was needing it for. I decided to try following the box's directions exactly for my initial experience with it. This means it's the first time I've used eggs in years. 
It came out and had risen some, just wouldn't brown at all, I told it that it wasn't pretty enough for a picture. So I left it on the counter cooling while cooking beans hoping for some toast to put them on. After having my back to it ten minutes I turn around and it had collapsed on it self. I've never seen something fall quite like that.
When I could stop laughing and crying I told it that it would probably have made great pita bread. As I tried cutting a slice of it, I found the center was wet and gummy... it made me worry about the eggs and I tried baking it again, twice as long but it didn't do anything, barely darkened and middle stayed iffy. I guess it's just from the rice dough and not eggs.
Mostly just able to nibble the edges and may cut them off to salvage skipping the middle. No good slice of toast. No sammiches. Boo.
I really don't have the energy for all this.
So I'm just going to make this little note to self about the different things I want to post here, recipes I need to get down and learn never to forget.
My first week trying to make stuff without wheat flour was unexpected, unplanned, hilarious, and miracously kinda sucessful when I improvised after all of the recipes I tried flopped. The downfall is that I didn't write down exactly what method and measurements I came up with for the good attempts and apparently don't remember it, now I really need to recreate them and save it for future.
1) Rice Tortillas - My first try was from an allergy book I have, it wanted you to make it in a blender(and I unfortunately don't have one) and "whiz it between POURING each batch" which sent my warning alarm signals into overdrive, but I decided to give it a go just in case. By the sounds of that, I could tell they would be too thin and more pancakes than tortillas if they came out. They were like really bland delicate(white and shiney, looked like fried eggs minus yolk, lol) crepes that didn't stay together to be flipped. Total flop.
That batch I added some corn masa to and made sure to use fresh that night. They weren't foldable at all. So then I came up with my own idea, after reading indian recipes awhile and seeing one that heated the flour and water in a pan, then shaped into flatbread as soon as it was cool enough to handle. I wasn't using the same ingredients or anything, I just thought the idea sounded like it could be useful. So I experimented, and came up with tortillas that even browned up in spots. They kept a soft texture, and I put them in a sandwhich baggy on top of my round tupperware full of hummous and dipping veggies. It worked well, and at the time I didn't yet realize how lucky that was!
2) French Toast Donut Sticks - One night with a sweet tooth hunger I decided to mix the few flours I had together for some sorta cake... but taste testing the batter I could tell the chickpea flour was too overpowering for that to work, and decided to try cooking it like pancakes, seeing if it could be turned into savory wraps somehow.
Then tasting the first one made me think of french toast, so I adjusted it accordingly with that in mind and they came out like a cross between those dunkin donut sticks and french toast. I'm wondering if they'll work for waffles to handle easier... They were really yummy and wonderful, being able to grab and go would make them even more amazing. The thought of much more experimenting being needed on these, testing to get them to work in different ways makes me drool a little here.
3) Sandwhich Bread - I have GOT to find a way to make some again, ACK!
4) Peach Cobbler - I almost nearly forgot this, I improvised and made one that came out quite lovely, it was much approved of and would be divine with coconut ice cream next time.
I need to remind myself that there HAVE been hits and not just misses like this.
Eventually I'll get to posting those recipes, hopefully soon.
And even sooner than that, I'll post a few more food pics I still have, and I took some of my new little dishes today for bento supplies too. Then of course I needa finish setting this site up, and get links put on ut, but Ima probably be lazy about that for now. Too much to do.
This top picture isn't something I made, it just happened to be too cute, it was a grilled portabella "burger" that my sister had for lunch one day. ;)

Monday, May 14, 2012

Bento Style, Corn Soup w/ Rice Noodles and Chocolate PB Pie
Okay so for starters these aren't REALLY bento or asian for the most part, it's just about getting used to the same sized small dishes(these ones are also glass, not quite bento friendly, tho they fit and I actually HAVE put them into my knapsack and taken them when needed) and making myself think about packing differently in the future. I also can't make them pefect or too bright with fresh produce, or anything only found at asian stores due to this town not having ANY asian stores. Yeah. So can't do too much of that YET. This will be for plotting it out for how to better do it in the future though. XD

I'm a soup lover, I just love so many of them. They're wonderful, ideally when I can I'll have a soup day each week where I make up a big pot. Now I've been doing my version of ramen, making up a quick broth with dehydrated vegetables as a soup base then toss in a few frozen veggies and add rice noodles. This can be great for nearly instant veggie noodle soup when I'm sick, or fancied up or spiced out with different things. In this case I actually had some leftovers from an old recipe I've done for years originally called "chinese corn soup" and decided to try just throwing some noodles in with it. Tis got cute lil pearl onions cooked in it, and sprinkled with my sea weed seasoning.

Then there's the other dish with dessert, a rich thick chocolate pudding that I topped with a peanutbutter frosting and let chill. It sliced and stuck together like a pie. Some of it I just layed on top of a crunchy cliff bar(it tasted like a graham crust but better) and ate that way, then crumbled the second bar up to mix in with each bite instead.

This is just how those dishes look like closed and stacked up all ready to go and tuck in.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Bento, Soyrizo Saute, Black Bean Pineapple Rice, Millet Polenta  

This is just a semi-bento meal of mine, the round has cold stuff, and the plate is warmed up stuff that was originally meant to be wrapped in a tortilla, but alas, my gluten free fail! I couldn't even manage to find corn tortillas at the stores I went to that week, only flour. So I wound up with this. It was still a very yummy feast though! Also I had it all with a cup of cherry limeade.. mmmn.

1) Soyrizo, and sauteed squash, zucchini, onions, etc  - I had planned to put this in quesadillas, wound up just melting the daiya cheese over it all instead
2) rice with black beans and pineapples - the rice was soaked trying out this method and then cooked with chipotle and cilantro in broth
1)  Millet "polenta" with my sausage spice blend(first recipe on this page, that I found doing a search for "best millet recipe" after all my previous attempts have failed and ended in the range of "If millet is cooked improperly it can become very dense, hard, and useless." side of things. The key was in soaking it first, otherwise it never softened up for me.) I cooked some into patties and they were awesome! But too delicate for bento really, and best warm. They reminded me of a cross between potato cakes and polenta. The tastetesters said they reminded them of Bread Stuffing with my seasonings that way.
2) Elbow pasta(a brand made from brown rice) in a hummous(homemade and raw, it had a different almost meaty and filling texture, then I made it less creamy, with extra spices added for this.)
3) Caribbean-Sweet-Potato-Salad -this is something my roomies found and altered one night, we made it a whole theme.
What they ended up with was as follows: 
Potatoes, diced 1/2" cubes.  
Boil until just tender but not mushy. Strain in collander, then immerse in cold water to stop cooking...leave just until about room temp; salt to taste. 
Saute mild chiles (we had hot bananas, but Anaheim or Poblano would work) with red onion until just soft; 
add pineapple diced 1/4" and saute just until hot. 
Add to potatoes, along with fine chopped red or orange bell pepper. 
Dressing: Lime juice, coconut milk, olive oil (about a 2:2:1 ratio)... add garlic (paste or chopped) and finely chopped cilantro. About a teaspoon or 2 of dijon mustard in the dressing Sweeten dressing to taste with sugar or agave syrup ( I used agave). Toss with potato mixture. Enjoy!
Gluten Free Veganish Almond Joy Cake
Challenge Berfday Cake!
So for the past year I've had many birthday cake plans and themes... it was all set in my head what I wanted to do.
The original plan was to try making vegan Baked Alaska, I had the cake recipe decided months in advance and several different flavor/theme combos. I was even wondering about attempting possible vegan meringue alternatives. Then considered a detour from that and make one look like an oversized Snoball, all pink and squishy on outside, then BAM layers or cherry sorbet and my handmade coconut icecream inside!
My plan is that I'll be "turning 21 again" from here on out, every year I'll go back in time and stay, instead of getting older. I don't feel this old, and people still mistake me for a teen. For some reason I'm not really that comfy being older than my man, must be younger than my boyfriend. LOL.
But, yeah, I was wanting to go out drinking because I never really got to ever do that. I even looked up vegan jello shots recipes! I've never even been carded really, except a month ago when I went out and Bestest BF in the Whole World ordered a spiked cherry vanilla slushy for me. I gave them my card but really she was asking to see his, so I'm not sure that technically counts either. Gluten free even effects drinking and I'm not ready to deal with checking what's safe yet, so scratching that.
Suddenly this having to go gluten free deal threw me the big nasty curveball. Attempting a complicated vegan cake like that was one thing, but then adding gluten free to it when you just aren't used to working with gluten free ingredients yet, and can't even find half of them at stores or afford the ones you do find, is entirely not in the same realm as far as challenge and possibility. So not happening.
After much reading and searching of recipes, and to this day not being able to find where the all important xantham or guar gum may be in the stores I can get to.(seriously, every GF baking recipe requires it, the flours don't work without it, and tis in ingredient lists on so many processed foods everybody uses daily, if you ever read them)  To do any baking now I'm going to need like five types of odd flours, some kind of gum, various unprouncable type names, and a lot of experimenting time. One question I actually asked people after much frustration was "Why's it got to sound so complicated, I just want to bake, not become a chemist here!!"
Ugh. Whenever I finally have my own kitchen one day, instead of sharing with six other people, maybe this will get better... right?
It was either going to be not having a birthday cake at all, or having to buy an expensive one from somewhere. I eventually discovered that Betty Crocker(booo, hiss, going against my nature) had GF cake mixes, but according to their website the only grocery store in my town that carried it was the one that closed 4 months ago... argh. It being internet, I couldn't count on that being entirely accurate.. they didn't even have it updated that the store in question was no longer open, so it might not be the only option out there, right?
I'm sort of an whole foods nut, I like basic recognizable ingredients and as little overprocessed food as possible. Hence an anti blowing money on "mixes" type of girl... and I knew this one was gonna be expensive, like twice the price of usual ones(plus the reviews and recipes told me it'd take two boxes instead of one to be able to make it look like their picture) which I'd normally only consider if they were really on sale. With just a few days to go, I finally found a super Target that had a lot of GF options, and both of her cake mixes to choose from. I spent more than half my month's grocery money there.
Baking from scratch is so easy and convenient for me usually, I've never seen the point in boxed ones, I know that probably doesn't sound like it makes sense to most people. I don't consider something a recipe if it calls for a "box of such and such mix" that's just an advertisement... there's a lot of people that get paid really well to spend time coming up with those, but whenever I pick up a cookbook and every baking recipe looks like that, it frustrates me to no end and I wanna throw the book. 
I like being able to make stuff from scratch damnnit...and I'm a baker. I'm the one almost everybody I know comes to asking about making bread or sweets for some reason, like they're scared to try doing it without me, and I never could understand that. Sure I've made a lot of my own bread, tortillas, and pitas, but it's not like I'm some expert. My sister asks me to come and assist whenever she wants to try baking anything. An aunt never used her bread machine for years, and I found recipes and showed her how to make them. I gave my mom a bread machine and let her borrow an "Easy Breadmaking" cookbook I have... which ironically enough I'm going to be using more than I ever have before now because it has GF info and breads.
Thus ... I can't believe I hafta resort to such drastic torturous measures just to go stalk down a box of Betty Crocker. I'm not sure I ever used her mixes before in my life, actually. I dont know this bitch, I dont wanna know this bitch, and now I hafta grovel to her. /sobs paying ten dollars just for silly boxes of processed packets. grrrrumble. for one cake! zomg. not to mention all the rest.
Anyway, the reworked theme was going to be to look like a Giant-Ding-Dong-Cake like this.
I even have all sorts of cute theme ideas to go with that.. thinking maybe some cupcakes and fortune cookie slips or something. "Ding Dong, the witch ain't dead!" and a Ding Dong Ping Pong with little Pong(yay I'm a 3D pong addict) paddles and ball, Etc.
Of course I didn't follow the box directions exactly, I wanted to make sure it would be super moist and added extra of my flaxmeal egg subsitute, some coconut oil, AND applesauce. Also the dry powder when I opened it looked more purple-grey  than brown like a devils food cake should... it made me laugh. I had to put it beside the can of cocoa powder to show the difference( I'll find a pic of the comparison later to add to this.) then added some in to fix it up. Made two test cupcakes to try and they seemed fine, that's when I decided on the flavors to add.
 When I cut the layers I filled the center with some of the cream cheese, coconut flakes, and almond slivers. Also I sliced some toasted coconut macaroons and put some in the middle and all around the sides of the cake. For the chocolate frosting I just made up my fave pudding/ganache extra thick, it comes out rich and not that sweet, and this time I added some almond extract in.
I decided to buy a cheaters tube of cream cheese icing(yesh despite the name, tis still vegan too)  with a tip on it, and go with Almond Joy flavors instead. Sadly the tip I bought wouldn't smoothly do the right look for loops, so I let my neice go to town making dollops on it instead of the ding dong curls. She refused to let me have "21 again" on the cake... and I refuse to put the real we just kept it simple. LOL.
Everybody loved it, and it made a lot more than I expected. YAY!

Tags: Gluten Free, Vegan, cake

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

This is my new kitteh bento mission page, because I'm facing more challenges, health issues making me vegan for most of my life, and now having to go gluten free too. One rough day out, standing at an intersection waiting to cross a street and eyeballing all the dining signs around me, wondering WHERE might be a safe place to dawned on me that sushi should be a perfect gluten free option, right?
Of course once I got home and online before I could even check email, I happened to see a news story about an ecoli outbreak mostly from sushi places. Rut Roh. That WOULD just be my luck.
A few nights later, I was up at 4am making my first mini faux spicy tuna rolls and packing them into a nice little lunchbox to take out the next day. And so it began. Ironicly enough, now I'm up at 4am unable to sleep, and writing about it. I just wish I'd thought to take pictures of those first few packed snacky snacks from that week, now I want to have a blog to put them, and the things I plan to make later when I have more supplies.
They advise you upon having to go gluten free, to give up breads and such completely before trying the alternatives. Your body actually goes through withdrawal, tis really really annoying and horrid. Better than being sick, but drives a girl plain batty. I reckon that starting to eat more asian food for awhile would be the best plan of action during this phase of adjusting, it's almost perfect.
 So I decided I'm going to use these new curveballs thrown at my diet as a chance to learn and explore new ways of cooking(because no matter how many different and odd styles you may know, there's always more to try out there!) and finally get into my dreamed of obsession with the bento cuteness that I've always had such a longing for.
For years I've had to deny myself giving in whenever I look at so many things I'd love to get and play with, because I know how such adorable boxes will turn into more and more, then take over my kitchen and all cooking thoughts so quickly.
Though I've refrained from delving into the super cute, or splurging on buying supplies, I have been fortunate in that my mother was once a Tupperware Lady, hence I've accumulated a LOT of very useful little dishes that are convenient for these purposes. I've also spent the past 16 years or so mostly cooking for just one, or for kids, that probably gives me an advantage and leaning to this too.
I'm also soooooo lucky to finally have a mate who wants me to cook for him and is willing and asking for me to cook these things. This will probably be VERY entertaining to watch, as I'm going to be attempting to cook meat for the first time in my life. And not able to taste test it myself during the learning process either.. stay tuned for hilarity to ensue. :P