With all of the fun that comes along with summer, I’ve been eating out entirely too much lately, as you can tell if you’ve been reading my recent posts.  But that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been cooking a couple nights a week too.  In fact, in addition to my usual go-to dinner options (spaghetti; brown rice w/chickpeas & veggies; etc), I’ve actually been experimenting quite a bit! Here’s a round-up of all of the things I’ve cooked for my first time recently.

And make sure to scroll all the way to the bottom so you don’t miss my recipe for Chocolate Hummus (seriously!).

Mac & Shews 

      

This creamy, vegan casserole from the Post Punk Kitchen marks the first time I’ve ever:

  • Soaked cashews:  This was big for me. It was sort of like an initiation into the world of vegan and raw cuisine.
  • Made a roux: A roux is a cooked mixture of (wheat) flour and fat(margarine).   It’s used as a thickener in classic sauces and gravies. 

I left out the recipe’s optional nutritional yeast though, since that simply would have been too many firsts for one day!

       

While this vegan casserole was nothing like macaroni and cheese, I loved the comforting creaminess and the subtle taste of sauerkraut.  Mac and Shews would make a wonderful fall dish served with veggie-brats and a side of stewed apples.  (And hopefully by then I’ll have a bigger food processor…it took about a dozen batches with this little one to get the onions, sauerkraut, and cashews pureed).

Noodle Salad with Peanut Mmm Sauce

After months of seeing her name everywhere and reading countless rave reviews of her “recipeas” ranging from Dough Balls to Chickpea Tacos to Tamale Pie:

  • I finally tried my first Mama Pea recipea!

I chose her “Noodle Salad with Peanut Mmm Sauce” to start, because I wanted to try to replicate the Thai Peanut Noodles I had at Blind Faith Cafe.  Mama Pea’s version was almost that good, but considering that I can whip this up faster than I can drive to the restaurant (in less than 30 minutes) – I know this is something I’ll be making again and again.

I highly encourage anyone to check out Mama Pea’s recipeas on her blog (which is as hilarious and heart-warming as it is delicious).  She also recently published her first book, Peas and Thank You, which is at the very top of my birthday list, and likely will make it to the top of the New York Times list too.

     

Southwestern Salad w/ Chipotle-Ranch Dressing & Agave-Chili Tortilla Chips

A while ago, I won a copy of Ann Gentry’s new cookbook Vegan Family Meals from a give-away on BasilMomma’s Blog (thanks, Heather!).  It took me a while to get around to trying a recipe from this book, but I am sure glad I did.  This salad’s Chipotle-Ranch Dressing is out of this world, and a new favorite of ours.  I only regret that I couldn’t find the recipe online anywhere, so I’m unable to share the details.  This recipe involved quite a few Kitchen firsts:

  • The first time I used canned Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce - and it certainly won’t be the last. Even just a spoonful adds such a burst of heat and smokey flavor. Delicious!
  • Though I’ve loved jicama for years, I’d never prepared it at home before.  It sure has a tough skin, but once that’s off, it’s surprisingly easy to dice up.
  • And it’s the first time I brought Daiya vegan ‘cheese’ and Vegenaise into my kitchen, though I’ve had them at restaurants before.  I was very happy with the Vegenaise and don’t think I could tell the difference between it and my usual Hellman’s.  The Daiya was a different story – I wasn’t a fan of it at all, but I think maybe it will grow on me once I get used to it.

Despite burning the Agave-Chili Tortilla Chips (with still 10 minutes to go on the timer), and spending over an hour on kitchen prep, this salad was actually worth the effort.  Although the book is titled “family meals”, this really tasted more like a “restaurant meal” to me.

  

Chocolate Hummus

Last, but definitely not least, I recently discovered Chocolate Hummus in the July issue of Oprah Magazine.  Yes, seriously, Chocolate. Hummus. (though I definitely didn’t need any more temptation to eat hummus by the spoonful…)

  • This is clearly the first time I ever made chickpeas for dessert!

And Chocolate Hummus is surprisingly delicious!  I’ll admit it, I can very faintly taste the chickpeas behind the explosion of chocolatey flavor, but this recipe is a winner and even Mike agreed.  In fact, I ate at least 6 spoonfuls as I sat here writing this.

   

(adapted from Oprah Magazine)

  • Ingredients
    • 1 can of Organic Chickpeas, rinsed and drained
    • 5 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 4-5 Tbsp raw sugar
    • 3 Tbsp water
    • 2 Tbsp canola oil (or if you have coconut oil – totally experiment with that!)
    • 1 Tbsp real maple syrup
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • Dash of cinnamon
  • Directions
    • Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.
    • Have fun experimenting with this recipe – maybe even add a little bit of Peanut Butter!
    • Serve on graham crackers, ‘Nilla wafers, pretzels, a banana, or simply with a spoon :-)

I’d love to hear from you!

What are some of your recent Kitchen Firsts?