Saturday, July 20, 2013

Gardein Mandarin Orange Crispy Chicken with Sauteed Rice & Green Salad

Hubby and I are officially moving out of NY in a little over a week.  Needless to say, things are quite busy here.  Packing, packing and more packing.  Seriously, where did all of this stuff come from?!  Also, the weather here, as I'm sure it is in most places, is hideously hot.  I love being in the kitchen, but this weather makes me want to take a nice long break.  I would be absolutely happy to eat giant salads everyday, but I have a hubby that works like crazy and goes to the gym everyday and needs some heartier food.  Also, since we are really getting down to the wire, I am trying to use up all of the ingredients in my fridge and freezer.  Have I ever mentioned that I have the refrigerator that came with the apartment, plus an additional refrigerator/freezer combo and a small chest freezer I bought a couple years ago?  So there was quite a bit of stuff to go through. 

I discovered a package of Gardein Mandarin Orange Crispy Chicken that I bought a couple months ago when it was on special hanging out in the freezer.  I usually like to save those kinds of items, silly as it seems, for when I feel like I'm going to need them.  Today was definitely one of those days! Way too hot to deal with being in the kitchen for an extended period of time.  So I just cooked the chicken according to the package directions, made a big green romaine lettuce salad and sauteed some leftover rice I had in the refrigerator with some olive oil, onions, broccoli, tamari and red pepper flakes.  Simple, quick and filling.  Just what the hubby wanted.  I'm in trouble though - as soon as he finished his dinner, he decided he wants pizza tomorrow.  Really babe?  I'm wondering if he realizes I'm going to have to turn the oven on to like 450 degrees for an extended amount of time.  We'll see if that really happens!

Gardein Mandarin Oreange Crispy Chicken with Sauteed Rice & Green Salad:

I love how I didn't notice till now that hubby is standing in the
back of the picture.  Too funny!


Sunday, July 7, 2013

Vegan Divas

About a year and a half to two years ago, I worked as the executive pastry chef for a company called Vegan Divas.  I was going through my computer a couple days ago, when I came across many pictures from back when I worked there.  And while I had intended to post them way before, I realized I just never got around to it.  And since it goes along with the theme of cleaning out the apartment (since we are moving in a few short weeks!), I'm also cleaning out the computer.

While there, I added several dishes to the menu, which are pictured below.  There are also pictures of a few of the larger orders I did.  That was a crazy time when I was the only baker for the company and had revolving interns working as my assistants.  Tons of work!  But you can enjoy the end result of that work:

A recipe I introduced: vegan carrot cake with vegan cream
cheese frosting.

A special order item: lemon raspberry coconut roll-ups.

A finished rack of iced and glazed donuts.

Hundreds of packages of portioned out chocolate pudding!

A giant order packaged and ready to be delivered.

Giant bowl of coconut macaroon filling.

Portioning out the macaroons.

Some of the macaroons before baking.

Lots of brownies!

Giant order of scones, packaged.

A recipe I created: special order for 18 vegan cheesecakes!  And
the crusts all had to be pressed out by hand!



Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Mushroom Barley Soup ala Risotto

The countdown is on for Hubbs and I to move.  It is officially 4 weeks from today that we will make the drive from Brooklyn to Michigan.  Now is the time to start going through things and getting rid of stuff that isn't going to make the journey with us.  Since living in NY, I've invested in a small chest freezer as well as an additional refrigerator/freezer combo other than the one that comes with the apartment.  I have been teaching so many classes and doing so much testing that I simply needed more space.  Now that the time is drawing near, I'm trying to empty out the freezers and use up everything in there.  Mostly we have a lot of frozen fruit left and some baking chips, gluten free flours, etc.  That is until I discovered a ziploc baggie of mushroom stems.  Soup - the perfect answer!  Now I realize that this is not the perfect weather for soup (high 80's and crazy humid), but I could literally eat soup everyday, multiple times a day.  So I decided to make mushroom stock from the mushroom stems I saved every time I purchased a package of mushrooms.  It makes an amazingly delicious stock.  After going through my pantry as well, I came across half a bag of barley that needed to be used up.  What better way to use the mushroom stems and barley then by making Mushroom Barley Soup? 

I think the last time I ate this soup, that I can recall anyway, was in second grade when we made stone soup, which was actually a barley soup with stones speckled throughout.  Pretty gross to think of now, but it was pretty awesome back then!  This recipe, which I used the Candle Cafe's cookbook as a reference, turned out very tasty, but stupid me got busy packing more and more stuff into boxes, left the pot on the stove over low heat, and ended up not with a soup, but rather, almost a risotto.  But it was still quite tasty!

Mushroom Barley Soup ala Risotto:

Quite tasty.

Serves: 4-6

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cup medium diced carrots, about 3 medium
11/2 cups chopped celery, 2 stalks
1 cup medium diced onion, 1 medium
1 1/2 cups sliced crimini mushrooms
3 cups mushroom stock
3 cups filtered water
2 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup barley, rinsed
2 bay leaves

1.  In a large pot over medium heat, add the olive oil.  Allow it to become hot, then add the carrots, celery and onions.  Stir and allow to cook for about 5 minutes, till softened. 
2.  Add the mushrooms and gently stir, trying to keep them whole. 
3.  Add the rinsed barley, stirring to coat with all of the ingredients.  (This is to keep the grains separate.  If you were to add them with the stock at the same time, they would clump together more.)  Once the barley is dry, add the stock, water, salt and pepper and bay leaves. 
3.  Allow the soup ingredients to come to a boil.   Reduce the heat and allow the soup to simmer for about half hour, stirring periodically, until the barley is cooked all the way through. 
4.  To make it into the "risotto" I ended up with, cook it for about double the time over low heat.  ;)