The Mills Restaurant, Marstons Mills, MA

28 06 2012

The Mills is one of those timeless breakfast spots. Off of the main Cape Cod drag and quaintly-decorated in an Americana fashion, it is a restaurant that could appear in any decade, in any quiet, rural community.

Nothing on the menu is going to absolutely blow your mind, but you’ll still be satisfied with what you get. I really enjoy their many steel-cut oatmeal options (something you don’t find in many breakfast places). You can get it with yogurt, fruit, nuts, honey, basically whatever you want. And on some days, they offer a breakfast specials menu that does step things up a notch; cream cheese pancakes with blueberries, lobster scampi omelettes, etc.

Chocolate Chip Banana Pancakes

The chocolate chip banana pancakes were delicious, but would have liked a bit more pancake for the $8 and change price tag. Also enjoyed this breakfast special; 2 poached eggs atop a  bed of bell peppers, onions and tomatoes. This isn’t four-star dining, but it is a simple, country breakfast that hits the spot and I respect it for that.

Poached Eggs Peperonata

Plus, when you’re done dining at the Mills, you can go for a dip or take a kayak out at one of the many ponds & lakes right down the street. My favorite summer adventure: paddling out at Indian Lakes, passing through the thin gap that leads into Mystic Lake and exploring the island in the middle. I guess I enjoy Cape Cod sometimes…

Mills Restaurant
149 Cotuit Rd.
Marstons Mills, MA, 02648
(508) 428-9814





White Bean & Mushroom Stew

25 06 2012

When I think of joining a CSA, I think of weekly bundles, overflowing with leafy greens, plump & fragrant fruits; coming home from my day at the farm, dirt under my toenails, my hair flowing free..blahblahblah.

It was my first CSA pick-up the other day, and sad to say, my expectations were not met. Cut to the farm. It is down-pouring. Me in a tank top, sans jacket, frantically pulling up basil plants by the root, trying to get out of there as fast as possible. Then sitting in the car, wondering how I’m supposed to justify spending $600 a season, when all I have to show for it this week are 3 garlic scapes, a quart of strawberries, a dozen eggs, and some mesclun. Feed a family of 4 for a week?? More like an hour.

I understand that it’s the beginning of the season and I cannot rush the garden, but c’mon; a girl can’t survive on garlic scapes and spring mix alone.

On a more positive note, I did manage to incorporate this weeks CSA into one great dinner. Smitten Kitchen’s Leek Toasts with Blue Cheese, with my scapes added, Mediterranean salad with a lemon/feta dressing, and this lovely bean, leek and mushroom stew from the Veganomicon.

It’s earthy and creamy, pretty much a full meal on its own, but taken to a whole new level when served up with the leek toasts.

Rustic White Beans and Mushrooms
Adapted from Veganomicon

2 cups dried white beans, soaked over-night
1 small onion, peeled and sliced into quarters
1 stalk celery, cut in 2
1 small carrot, sliced in half
1 tsp. dried thyme
2 tsps. dried tarragon
1/4 cup olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, peeled & minced
1 large leek, (white and light green parts only) thinly sliced
1 lb. mushrooms (whatever kind you want. I prefer a mix of mushies like shiitake, oyster, or cremini), thinly sliced
2 tsps. salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Drain and rinse the beans and transfer them to a pot. Add 4 cups of cold water, cover, and bring to a boil. Boil for about 3 minutes. Skim off any white foam from the top. Cover the pot and lower the heat to medium; add the onion, celery, carrot, thyme, and tarragon.

Simmer for about 45 minutes, until the beans are tender. Remove the onion, carrot, and celery. Lower the heat to low and continue to simmer while preparing the remaining veggies. The beans should resemble a very thick stew, not a soup. If there’s too much liquid, leave the pot uncovered and stir occasionally.

About 10 minutes before the beans are done, places the garlic and 2 tbs. of olive oil in a cold skillet. Heat the skillet over medium heat, allowing garlic to sizzle for about 30 seconds. Add the sliced leek and saute until soft, about 1-2 minutes. Scrape the leeks into the beans. Add the remaining 2 tbs. oil to the pan, allow to warm for about 30 seconds, then add the mushrooms. Sprinkle the mushrooms lightly with 1/2 tsp. salt and saute until most of the mushroom liquid has evaporated, anywhere from 8 to 12 minutes. When most of the excess liquid is gone, add the mushrooms to the beans. Turn off the heat and season the beans with the remaining salt (or more, if desired) and freshly ground pepper. Allow the beans to stand for about 10 minutes before serving.





Broccoli & Tofu Lo-Mein

23 06 2012

Well, my life almost changed drastically the other week. I found a job on Craigslist that I was totally under-qualified for, but thought would be right up my alley. I applied and was basically hired on the spot. Cut to me sweating as a sous chef for a new restaurant in a resort town on opening night. Me apartment-hunting in a part of the country I have always dreamed of living. Culminate in me declining the job and returning to my parents house in the town I grew up in.

Sometimes almost taking that giant life leap is just enough to make you have an epiphone on who you are and where you see yourself. Covered in flour, in my new chef jacket, I realized that I don’t want to be a pizza cook for the rest of my life. Even a glorified one.

So I’m taking a step back, back into my own kitchen, to focus on my recipes, my brewing, and my writing. Here’s hoping that from these things, I can salvage some sort of financially-stable career. Or at least help me into my own house because I really want a cat. All roads lead to cat.

Here’s one of my “I work all the damn time so have no time to grocery shop”-recipes. This lo-mein sauce is now my go-to stir-fry sauce; so easy and quick to make, with stuff that you almost certaintly have hanging around the kitchen. It’s savory, with the perfect level of heat, and drenches the noodles without becoming too absorbed.

Broccoli Lo Mein
Adapted from 365 Easy Vegetarian Recipes

8 oz. of whatever noodle you like (soba, rice noodles, whole wheat spaghetti, whatever)
1 tb. canola oil, divided
1 lb. broccoli, cut into bite-size pieces
1 lb. firm tofu, drained, pressed, and cut into 1-inch. pieces
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tsps. fresh gingerroot, minced
1 recipe of Lo Mein Sauce (see below)

Prepare noodles according to package directions. Drain and keep warm.

Heat 1 1/2 tsps. oil in a large, heavy pan over high heat. Add broccoli and tofu. Stir-fry about 3 minutes. Stir in garlic and ginger and stir-fry 1 minute. Transfer to plate and keep warm. Add remaining oil to pan and heat. Add cooked noodles and stir-fry about 2 minutes or until thoroughly hot. Toss noodles with Lo Mein Sauce.

Lo Mein Sauce

1/4 cup vegetable broth
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tsps. rice wine vinegar
2 tsps. sesame oil
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. sugar

Combine ingredients in an airtight container. Shake.





Red Potato Salad with Dill & Mustard

9 05 2012

It’s been about three months since we had to put my dog Zach down. It’s weird even referring to him as a dog. He was my life mate. Through Beanie Babies, puberty, punk rock, college, boyfriends, jobs, through everything I’ve ever gone through since I was 11 years old, I’d talk it all out with Zach. And now that he’s gone, life is just weird.

Apparently it’s kitten season on Facebook, because everyone and their mother has been finding a need to post new cat pictures. It’s making me really sad and anxious to find a new animal friend. I’m starting to get a little too attached to other peoples pets

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ryan and I are going to start looking for our own place once I get back from THIS. And then I will finally be able to get the kitty I’ve always dreamed of. The kitty OR TWO I’ve always dreamed of. And then life will begin to fall into place. Cats do that. But until then, I’ll still have Zach with me until my end of days.

I made this potato salad a few weeks back with a kale and ricotta frittata. All together, it was like a grown-up version of breakfast-for-dinner. I love different spins on potato salad, as well as anything covered in a mustard sauce so this recipe definitely fit the bill. Serve warm and try pairing it with an omelette stuffed with greens. Then go hug your pet.

Red Potato Salad with Dill & Mustard
Adapted from Vegetarian Cooking: A Commonsense Guide

6-8 red potatoes
1 tb. wholegrain mustard
1 1/2 tbs. chopped fresh dill
2 tsps. brown sugar
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil

Boil the potatoes for 20 minutes, or until tender. Drain and leave to cool slightly. When cool enough to handle, cut the potatoes into 1-inch chunks and place in a salad bowl.

Mix the mustard, dill, sugar, and vinegar together in a small bowl. Using a fork, whisk in the olive oil to make a dressing. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss the dressing through the warm potatoes and serve.





Chocolate Tofu Cheesecake

1 05 2012

I wish I had more time to make treats like this. I would bake a new treat every day. But alas, my cooking time is usually dedicated to making din and lunches for work. And alas, I am not a baker. I get so damned jealous of bloggers who post pictures of stacked cookies, moist and decadent bars, over-the-top cakes; all that dessert porn stuff. I just can’t do it.

Anything involving making a dough or a batter gives me terrible anxiety. It’s way too much pressure to know that I can completely ruin a dish by doing something like say..over-mixing. Don’t even get me started on pancakes. I have literally broken down and cried while making pancakes.

Fortunately, there were only a few tears shed while making this vegan chocolate cheesecake. I did it and I did it well. It’s smooth and creamy, rich and chocolatey with a great added nuttiness from the almond extract. My attempts at baked goods usually grow stale on the counter. This one was gone in a day. That’s gotta say something.

Chocolate Tofu Cheesecake
Adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Dummies

Filling:
1 1/4 lbs. firm tofu
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 oz. (3 squares) semi-sweet baking chocolate
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract
Pinch of salt

Crust:
1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 tb. sugar
1/3 cup margarine

Place the tofu in a clean sink, cover it with waxed paper and a heavy weight (I like to use a full tea kettle), and let it drain for 20 minutes. While the tofu drains, make the crust.

For the crust, combine the graham cracker crumbs and sugar in a medium bowl. Melt the margarine in a saucepan over low heat, and then add it to the crumb mixture. Stir until blended, and then press the crumbs into the bottom and sides of an 8-inch nonstick springform pan. Set aside. (Or you can use a ready-made 9-inch graham cracker crust, which holds the same amount as the springform pan)

In a food processor, blend the drained tofu, 1/4-pound at a time, with 1 cup of the sugar, adding 1/4 cup sugar with each addition of tofu. Process until the ingredients are well-blended.

Pour the tofu-sugar mixture into a bowl. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a double boiler or saucepan, melt the chocolate. While the chocolate is melting, place the graham cracker crust in the oven and cook for about 8 minutes; then remove, set aside and let cool.

After the chocolate has melted, add it to the tofu mixture. Stir in the vanilla, almond extract, salt, and the remaining 1/2 cup sugar. Blend well.

Pour the mixture into the graham cracker crust and bake for about 40 minutes. When the cake is done, it will be slightly risen on the edges with small cracks on the surface. The middle will not have risen, but it will be springy to the touch and will have a dry, firm appearance. Chill the cheesecake for at least 2 hours after baking.





Pasta Primavera

28 03 2012

I have become a gym rat. Not an over-committed, beefed-up zoomba nutzo, but I frequent the gym 3-4 times a week, in my first real attempt to get in shape. I have finally realized that you cannot eat your way to good health. You actually have to move sometimes. Ugghhhhhh.

So with some encouragement from my boyfriend, who just ran his first 5k this weekend, I went for a run. I’ve used an elliptical and a treadmill, but I have never put foot to pavement and gone for a real run. It started off…weird. Am I running towards something? Is someone chasing me? I became extremely self-conscious that every car that drove by knew I was an out-of-shape ass going on her first jog. Hands over mouths, stifling laughter, pointing, confident in their perfect physique.

I ran on. A mile and a half. Felt great afterwards. Alive, even. Day after, dead. I feel like I’m in the initial stages of Lou Gehrigs disease. Like literally, I cannot lift my legs.

UPDATE: Day after running and not being able to move legs, I wake up in the middle of the night with a 100 degree fever and an awesome case of night terrors/violent shivers.

Conclusion: Running is either terrible for the body or it purged some sort of demon inside of me. If I feel great tomorrow, then the latter is true. If I don’t feel better, then I give up and it’s donuts for breakfast because apparently exercise is pure evil.

I suppose I should talk about food now. This cookbook was a Christmas present from my parents during my first year of vegetarianism. Though it’s all pretty simple stuff, it’s still one of my favorites, mainly for the pictures. I love this primavera because it is packed full of veggies and doesn’t make you feel too guilty about eating a bowl full of pasta with cream sauce.

Pasta Primavera
Adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Dummies

1 tb. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 lb. asparagus, trimmed & cut into 3-in. pieces
1 medium zucchini, sliced and halved
1/2 lb. mushrooms, sliced
1 cup lowfat milk
1/2 cup vegetable broth
3 tbs. fresh basil, chopped
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
2 scallions, chopped
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 lb. hot cooked fettuccine
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil. Cook the onion and garlic in the oil over medium heat until the onions are translucent, about 7 minutes.

Add the asparagus, zucchini, and mushrooms, cover and cook over medium heat for 5-6 minutes, or until the asparagus is bright green and tender.

Add the milk, broth, and basil and cook over high heat until the liquid boils. Cook for about 3 minutes and then add the peas and scallions. Simmer for 1 minute.

Add the salt and pepper, and then add the pasta and cheese, tossing until the ingredients are well mixed. Serve immediately topped with a little more Parmesan.





Broccoli-Spinach Soup with Avocado Toasts

18 03 2012

I thought I was going to hate this soup. It reminded me of the stuff that I was eating during my detox, and I didn’t think I was ready to go back to eating all plant-based ingredients. But both me and my boyfriend ended up really enjoying it. The soup is light and really fresh-tasting, and the addition of tahini and parmesan add a bit of creaminess and tang.

My favorite part though were the little avocado toasts. They match the style of the soup perfectly. The lemon juice spritzed over everything really brings out the flavors.

I wish I could make this post a bit more interesting, but my mind is elsewhere. Boyfriend is gone for the weekend. I have a giant bed to myself and Game of Thrones all loaded up on the iPad. awyeah.

Broccoli-Spinach Soup with Avocado Toasts
Adapted from Whole Living magazine

1 tb. olive oil
1 leek, white and pale green parts only, thinly sliced
4 cups vegetable stock
1 bunch broccoli, chopped
6 oz baby spinach
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
2 tbs. tahini
Salt and pepper
4 slices rustic bread, toasted
2 avocados, sliced
1/4 cup sprouts
1 lemon, cut into wedges

Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the leek and cook until tender, about 4 minutes. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Add the broccoli and cook, covered, until bright green and tender, about 2 minutes.

Remove from heat. Stir in the spinach, Parmesan, and tahini. Let cool slightly. Season with salt and pepper.

Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender until smooth. Or use an immersion blender.

Top the toasted bread with slices of avocado and sprouts. Season with salt and pepper, squeeze with lemon and give it a drizzle of olive oil.