Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Crepas Fiestas

A few weeks ago all lovliness broke loose in my home.  The sink would not drain (thanks to mounds of melting snow), the burners on my stove would not light, and then the boiler broke.  After about a week of a non-draining sink, the dishes were quite piled up.  I ran the dishwasher a couple times, but it always backed up into the sink.  I lit the burners on my stove with a lighter, and the dog was so cold during the night that he jumped into bed with us (not very fun with an 80 pound dog). 

Well, the burners started magically working again when I made tea while waiting for the repair man.  Wahoo!  And the sink began to drain after I poured almost an entire extra large sized bottle of draino down it and the snow ceased melting for a few days (last resort after many home remedies).  The repair man fixed our 30+ year old boiler in about an hour and told us never to fix it again, shedding light on our insane utility bills during the winter.  All is well that ends well.

I made a version of crepas fiestas from Vegetarian times during this fiasco.  Why I chose to make something with so many dishes while my sink didn't work is beyond me.  Perhaps because I bought the ingredients when my sink still drained and was determined not to let them spoil (ingredients from my cheating days).  The photo above gives a slight glimpse into my kitchen that week (after a load of dishes had already been washed).

I made them in more of a lasagna style after realizing that my crepes were a bit too small to stuff.   I also topped them with guacamole (this is the same week that I had about an entire avacado a day in an attempt to satisfy my cravings for them).   So, if you have some time, this recipe was absolutely delicious! 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Vegetable Dumplings

My grandma always used to make this dish when we visited. It was one of her many dishes I loved, and always asked for it over the venison steaks my grandpa hunted or fish freshly caught. I realize now the error of my ways and that I should have heartily enjoyed fresh, local, more humanely treated meat growing up. Alas, I was a picky child somewhat. But man she made the best chili, salsa, canned applesauce, and many other goodies like jam. I had one jar of her applesauce this summer and shared it with the hubs, he said it was the best applesauce he ever had. I had better pick her brain for the recipe soon.

Originally, this was obviously Chicken and Dumplings. I have tried it adding faux chicken (blech) as well as beans (to me it ruins the texture) and ended up sticking with the basics: veggies and dumplings. I have also experimented with various dumplings from homemade to Bisquick (grandma's original biscuit recipe). Today's version is my fail-safe, easy-peasy recipe. Feel free to substitute your favorite biscuit recipe, use almond milk to make it vegan, and use your own combination of frozen veggies (grandma uses canned but I prefer to avoid the added salt).

I also love to add fried onions or shredded cheddar cheese to the biscuit batter, onions or garlic would be nice flavorful additions, as well as probably 1 tsp or so of thyme or rosemary or sage. This is comfort food. And the best on cold winter nights. And good for mildly picky eaters as the flavor overall is quite bland and highlights the key ingredients while leaving room for improvement/experimentation. 

Veggie Dumplings
3 T olive oil or butter
3 T flour
1 pkg frozen mixed veggies (i generally use a succotash mix)
4-6 c vegetable broth
1 batch mixed but not baked all-purpose mix biscuits
salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil over medium high heat, adding frozen vegetables once heated. Saute for 1-2 minutes, then add flour and mix well. Once incorportated and cooked for 1-2 minutes, add vegetable broth (enough to cover veggies by about 1 inch). Bring to a boil and drop biscuit mix on top of vegetable mix. Cover with lid and reduce heat to low until most of liquid is absorbed (25-35 minutes).

That's it. Easy-peasy. Growing up we boiled chicken on the side, shredded it and added it with the veggies. Beans are helpful for protein but I am not a fan of the texture for this, I think it is a personal thing. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


(apologize for the negligent photo, i was hungry and impatient for a good photo with my weirdly acting camera that probably needs a tune-up.  The flowers are oh so pretty though!)

I miss summer.  And boxes of vegetables so graciously picked up by my friend G.  And salsa, and fresh tomatoes, and eating dinner on the front porch after a nice run in shorts. 

So last night, I cheated on winter and her vegetables.  I bought a cucumber, avacadoes, and an orange pepper, and used frozen spinach and canned tomatoes.  And it was lovely.  Not as robust as peak in-season veggies, but tasty.  Please forgive me for relenting to my desires and betraying fresh, local, winter produce.  I just couldn't take another root vegetable or frozen peppers. 

I watched Guy's Big Bite on television at my parents Sunday.  Temptation at its finest.  I loved the idea of a spinach tostada despite his topping, which seemed to negate the lowered carb "tortilla".  So I devised a topping of my own, atop Guy's Spinach tostadas.  

Tostada Topping

2 avacadoes, diced
1 can roasted tomatoes, drained
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cucumber, diced
1/2 orange pepper, diced
1 jalapeno, finely chopped
2 green onions, diced
juice of 1 lime
4-5 cubes frozen cilantro (about 1 tsp each)

Mix together, and it gets better if it sits overnight.  Spoon over spinach tostadas.  ( I did not add, but perhaps 1 tsp of cumin would be great).