Speedy, Speedy… Run, Run!

The sun has been shining in Portland for the last several weeks. I suppose I am willing to embrace the warmth a bit even though I often prefer cloudy days. The approach of summer means eating lunch outside, enjoying the longer evenings of light, and lots of outdoor recreation. Quicker meals become a necessity when the weather creeps into the upper 70’s and 80’s. Here are two meals I enjoyed recently that came together in less than an hour and tasted as though they had been tended to much longer than that:

3552738703_e287cec592

Rotini with Roasted Red Pepper, Broccoli & Pecans

The above meal (recipe here) is courtesy of the super talented Sara from The Innocent Primate blog. There are so many creative recipes on the site (especially for smoothies!!!) as well as useful information on detoxing, drying herbs, and keeping healthy. Beautiful photos and menu ideas are also in abundance at The Innocent Primate blog; go and visit if you haven’t yet!!!

I love how quickly this meal comes together. The ingredients are likely to be in your kitchen already and you can adjust seasonings to suit your tastes. Pecans and broccoli provide a lovely texture, roasted red peppers add sweetness, and a drizzling of olive oil finishes it off. Very simple, very delicious. Thanks for sharing the recipe Sara!

And:

3552738695_4ed675af1f

Baked Polenta Squares with Greens and Marinated Portobellos

I don’t have a recipe for this meal. Here is what I did though: 

1. Made a batch of polenta and baked it until firm and golden on top

2. Marinated portobellos in a blend of Braggs, sesame and olive oils, balsamic vinegar, agave, freshly ground black pepper, rosemary, and cayenne (for heat!) – this may look like a horrendous mixture, but trust me, it’s yummy

3. Sauteed the porotobellos with the marinade

4. Added fluffy kale to the saute pan

5. Piled the goodness on a plate

6. Ate the food

See? Easy as heck! And, if you have leftovers:  portobellos make tasty sammies, polenta can be cubed and baked into croutons for salad, and greens can be added to pasta (such as the meal above).

I mentioned outdoor recreation at the start of this post. It has been an ongoing joke of mine with Tim that while we are hiking a rattlesnake will slink out of the tall grasses and snap at my ankles. It’s never happened (thankfully), but last weekend we walked within a few feet of a rattling rattlesnake! Yipes! Luckily he was making noise and warned us of his presence. We were both startled, but facsinated at the same time. Here is a photo Tim took before we hiked past the evil rattler (giving him quite a wide berth):

3544466665_e4a9f57d43

You might be thinking, “Why hike a trail with rattlers Amy”? Well, here is why:

3545267912_e5cb4aa3fd

A gorgeous view of the Columbia River Gorge at the top of Coyote Wall (the hike we chose)

3545267916_b7b53e23ac

Mt. Hood still covered in snow

3545267920_83f0a4c7c7

Spring wildflowers (lupine and balsam root)

Pretty! Plus, we had no idea that snakes were lurking on the trail. It’s cool, we enjoyed complete solitude at the summit and sat eating lunch, soaking up the sun, and watching peregrine falcons and other birdies fly around. I hope that the sunshine sticks around because days like the above are my favorites. I hope everybody enjoys the weekend ahead!

A Cookie Recipe

Tonight for dinner I made the Big Quesadillas with Black Beans, Broccoli, and Portobello Mushrooms from Vegan Express (sorry, no photograph). This was a lovely combination of flavors, especially when topped with the Instant Roasted Red Pepper Sauce (also from Vegan Express). Served with some tortilla chips, salsa, and fruit, this was a mighty filling meal.

I also made cookies. Awhile back, I tried to start my own vegan cookie company called…Cookie Addict (see a pattern?!). But, I lost motivation and I am a terrible self-promoter, so that idea soon fizzled away. Being an avid baker, I still make the cookies I had planned on selling. These particular cookies are called Lemon Zingers. I created these when my cookie-muncher-of-a-boyfriend demanded (oh so politely) a lemony cookie. They are topped with a lemony icing and are crazy lemony all the way through. I think they taste equally great without the icing, but the cookie-muncher says “If they don’t have the icing, they aren’t Lemon Zingers.” With that said, please try this recipe and let me know how they turn out for you.

Lemon Zingers

1/2 cup Earth Balance (or other vegan margarine), softened
3/4 cup unrefined sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 egg replaced (I use Ener’G Egg Replacer)
1/4 teaspoon lemon extract
Zest and juice from one small lemon
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Beat the margarine and sugar until fluffy. Add your replaced egg and  extracts. Blend some more (a stand mixer or hand mixer work well here). Add lemon juice and zest. Beat some more. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Combine the two mixtures and beat until a nice dough forms. I use a 1 1/2 tablespoon-sized cookie scoop to drop these onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment. Bake for about 9-11 minutes. My oven is temperamental, so keep an eye on yours!

For the icing, whisk together 1 cup of powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract. I always add some extra lemon zest, so you can too. Spoon a small amount of icing onto cooled cookies, and spread to cover cookie top. Eat and be happy. These are LEMONY.