So remember last week when I mentioned how I have been theming our dinners to prepare for our upcoming travels?
I wasn’t kidding.
It just didn’t seem right to be daydreaming about the beaches of Barcelona without sipping Sangria and feasting on paella.
I know that paella is technically not from Barcelona, but it was one of the few spanish dishes I knew how to re-create and it totally worked for my tastebud-traveling purposes.
I don’t know if this is authentic, but’s it’s pretty darn tasty. My sister worked in a Spanish restaurant for years, so I consider myself an unofficial coinsossor of tapas, tempernillo, and vegetarian paella. As someone who used to consume this dish on an almost weekly basis, this is about as good as it gets.
Isn’t it just the most beautiful looking thing?
Rice, vegetables, saffron broth, and tomatoes. Mmmm… I had to hide the rest of the pan so BL and I didn’t accidentally consume the whole thing.
A word on the rice: I used Arborrio rice in this, not Bomba. Before you throw a shoe at me, here’s my excuse. Sacramento is not ready for paella making. After heading to three different grocery stores to find this special short-grained white rice, I was 0 for 3.
And you know what? I really couldn’t tell a difference. I’ve heard of people using sushi rice and rinsing it a few times before hand, but I wasn’t in the mood for that kind of patience.
Another important consideration in paella making is a proper pan. A wide, shallow dish is best for this so break out your biggest sauté or frying pan and don’t overload it. I actually used my large grill pan and it worked perfectly. Next time I think I am going to try it on the grill as an alternative to our veggie burger outside dinners.
DK’s Vegetarian Paella
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 8 oz. jar roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
2 red peppers, seeded and chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 medium zucchini, chopped
3 large tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 pinch saffron threads
2 tsp. smoked paprika
1/8 tsp. cayenne papper
1 1/2 cups short-grain white rice (see above)
3 cups vegetable broth
pinch salt (will depend on how salty your broth is)
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
1 lemon, sliced
In a paella pan or large, shallow sauté’ pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onion, red pepper, and roasted red pepper to the pan and let brown and reduce, about 10 minutes. Add the zucchini, garlic, tomato, saffron, paprika, cayenne pepper and let cook over medium heat another 10 minutes until vegetables are soft. Add the rice, vegetable broth and stir once. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and let simmer for 20 minutes. Don’t touch! Once your stir it all together, trust that it will come together. Stirring is for risotto, not paella.
Top with chopped parsley and sliced lemons!
There are brownies, and then there are brownies.
These are the later. Spicy, adult brownies perfect for Cinco de Mayo or a random Tuesday night.
Have you ever had Mexican hot chocolate before? A few winters ago I bought a canister of hot chocolate that ended up being Mexican hot chocolate. A happy accident that I only realized after the first few sips. It took a little getting used to but now it is one of my favorite cold-weather treats. Since we are months from 50 below, brownies were the next logical step.
Cinnamon & a hint of cayenne pepper take these brownies from boring-lunch-box-favorite to I-might-eat-the-entire-pan-fantastic.
Thank goodness I served them to friends so I wouldn’t be tempted. Because really, aren’t baked goods infinitely better when shared with others? The base of these brownies comes from Chef Chloe’s newest book, Chloe’s Vegan Desserts. Since pretty much everything Chloe touches turns to delicious heaven, I highly recommend this purchase if you haven’t already bought it. It’s not for the faint of heart, lot’s of EB butter and sugar to go around, but sometimes you just need a brownie.
Cook these for the recommended 45-50 minutes. They will still be slightly gooey, that’s OK. They will set up after resting. Resist the urge to slice until they are completely cooled. Better yet- make them in the morning to come home to after work! Red wine and Mexican hot chocolate brownies make a surprisingly incredible combination.
Mexican Hot Chocolate Brownies
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (try Ghiradelli brand, they are the best)
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup Earth Balance buttery sticks
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup soy milk
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1 heaping tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9×13 pan.
Melt together the butter and chocolate chips, using a double boiler or in the microwave. Whisk until completely melted and smooth.
In a large bowl, mix together the sugar, flour, cocoa, cayenne powder, cinnamon, baking powder and salt. Whisk until combined. Add the melted chocolate and mix until combined. Add the soy milk and vanilla extract and stir until a batter forms.
Pour into the prepared pan. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes until done. Let cool completely and then slice into squares.
Recipe adapted from Chloe’s Vegan Desserts
Ready for Cinco de Mayo?
Whether your idea of celebrating includes Margarita’s on the porch, chips and salsa before tacos, or a full on fiesta, here are some ideas to get you started.
Cucumber Mint Agua Fresca. While fresh margarita’s are an easy option, why not try switching things up with a refreshing take on Agua fresca? Try it with gin or silver tequila.
Black Bean Sliders with Pineapple Salsa From Chloe’s Vegan Kitchen
Roasted Corn Salsa A nice switch up from tomato salsa. Mexican Hot Chocolate Brownies These are not your ordinary brownies. Rich, fudgy, with a kick of cinnamon and cayenne. Recipe posted tomorrow!
What’s on your menu for this weekend?
I’ve still got a few days to talk about Earth Day, right?
Sometimes I get it right for future post planning. Other times, not so much. Getting a round-up of appetizer favorites 2 weeks before the Superbowl? Excellent! The time I finally posted all my holiday favorites a day before Christmas… epic timing fail.
Well, here is another one to add to the list. My thoughts on Earth day and your diet, a good 5 days AFTER the holiday.
A dollar short and a day late. Or something like that.
Oh well, hopefully it’s not too late to chat about the subject because no matter what day it is, this is a pretty important topic.
I get asked about my dietary choices about 84329x per day so this is as good as a time as ever to chat about one of the biggest reasons I don’t do meat: planet earth.
Does it surprise you that our current food system is responsible for 1/3 of global greenhouse gas emissions?
I feel like this is one of those facts that we all “know”, we just don’t “know enough to change”. Or reduce. I’m not naive. While a good % of my clients are vegetarian, vegan or leaning that way- the rest are not. Not even close.
No worries, I don’t need to convert everyone to vegetarian or veganism. I don’t think that’s realistic and will lose the majority of folks on the way down. I am however a huge proponent of Meatless Monday, Tofukey Tuesday, or Vegan Before 6 campaigns. Simple ways that all of us can change our diets to help the earth, our health, and animals.
That’s really the main purpose of this blog/recipe corner. Making plant-based foods attractive, healthy and accessible. While reducing meat/cheese is one of the biggest impacts you can make to reduce your carbon footprint, it certainly isn’t the only one. In fact, our diets have just as much impact on the environment as the type of car we drive. Interested in decreasing your carbon footprint? Try one or all of the tips below:
- You bought it, you eat it.
About 25% of edible food is thrown away ever year! It’s enough to fill the Rose Bowl every single day. Planning ahead will help you reduce the amount of food you buy, so throw away less. If you find yourself with excess food, get creative! Most produce and made ahead meals can be frozen. You can throw extra produce into scrambles, stir-fry, pasta, or smoothies.
- Try to eat seasonally and regionally as often as you can.
Farmer’s Markets are a great source! If your food needs an airplane to get to you, it has a higher carbon footprint than local items. One of the biggest culprits: seafood and out of season produce. Not sure where your farmers market is located? Check out localharvest.org for a complete list of markets, CSA’s, and farm stands.
- Reduce your carbon footprint by reducing your consumption of beef and cheese.
Cows have a unique digestive system that generates methane, a greenhouse gas that’s 25% more powerful than carbon dioxide. Raising cattle also requires a significant amount of feed, water, and land. You don’t have to give up meat entirely to have an impact. If all Americans skipped meat and cheese once per week, it would be equivalent to taking 7.6 million cars off the road.
Not only are unprocessed foods better for you, they also contain less preservatives and wasteful packaging. Enjoy fruit, nuts, and seeds over processed snack mixes. Choose larger packaged options over small, individual sized servings. More bags, tags, and seals mean more waste in the landfills. A local co-op or bulk store is great for this! Bring mason jars or resuable bags and go to town on rice, quinoa, pasta, beans, and more. Not only do you save money in bulk, you also have the option to purchase only the amount you need. Perfect for trying out new recipes or tip #1!
What are your go-green tips? Let’s hear them!