Homemade Vegan Ravioli: Fail (Take Two)

Allow me to preface this post by saying that I recently became the owner of an iPad. While I love it, it’s quite the learning curve for me and I’m not really sure yet what I’m doing. Hence, the previous post was published with a picture and no words. And let’s be honest, I’m a word person. So bear with me while I figure out how to post blogs on the iPad. I feel like someone’s 86 year old grandma who was just introduced to a computer for the first time (i.e., I have no clue how this confounded thing works).

Also, I type really, really slow on this thing. Like Chase slow. It’s annoying. (You know what else is annoying? People who go to Redboxes with no idea of what they want to rent so they stand there and read the plot summary to every friggin movie in the box completely oblivious to the line growing behind them. Oh, and it’s raining. Just wanted to put that out there.)

Anyway.

So I tried to make homemade ravioli tonight. VEGAN homemade ravioli, which means no cheese was involved, which is sort of the whole point of ravioli, no? I mean, in it’s basic form it’s really just another excuse to eat cheese. Alas, I live with The One Who Won’t Eat Cheese Anymore Cause He’s Weird.

So anyhow I found this recipe for vegan cheeseless ravioli (why, God, why?) and decided to just go for it. TWO HOURS later, this is what I had:

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And this is what my kitchen looked like:

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Here’s what the other side of my kitchen looked like. Oh and look! There’s Trent ordering pizza, cheeseless for him of course:

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Anyway, I learned some valuable information from my first venture into ravioli making.

1. Don’t do it on a weeknight; it takes way to long (at least for me it did).
2. Always put cheese in it. I think this is why the ravioli failed; it turned against me because I kept the best part away from it and it got pissed at me. It was probably thinking, “What the hell is this moron doing? She’s ruining me, ruining me I tell you!!!”
3. Make the raviolis thinner and smaller. Big, thick raviolis are just weird and chewy.
4. Drink while making raviolis. By the time you finish, you’ll either be drunk or well on your way to it, and chances are good they’ll turn out edible at the end regardless of their size, thickness, chewiness, and cheeselessness. Well maybe not that last one.
5. Say you have a cramps and make someone else clean up the mess. You did go to all that hard work after all to prepare a nutritious and vegan meal for them.

Ciao.

Homemade Vegan Ravioli: Fail

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Books That I’m Not Ashamed to Have Read

OMGZ.  I just found this blog yesterday, and I’m laughing nonstop.  Like literally giggling to myself uncontrollably while trying not to piss myself.  Now, if you never read the Sweet Valley High (or Babysitters Club, Goosebumps, Christopher Pike or anything else that falls into this category of 80s/90s trash fiction) books, then you probably want to stop reading now because you won’t get it.  You just won’t, and that sucks for you, and you better go check out your copy of SVH #1, Double Love RIGHT NOW.  But for the rest of you who at one time (or, like me, still do) enjoyed reading worthless garbage (I use this term loosely, friends), please continue.

Okay, so if you didn’t follow the link above, basically it’s this blogger who is recapping the entire Sweet Valley High series.  All of Jessica and Elizabeth’s exploits are being re-told through the eyes of someone who’s not 11, which makes for a hilarious return to Sweet Valley, the land of Pascal perfection.  Because, seriously, I LOVED those books, and they just made perfect sense to 11-year old me.  Actually, I really just wanted to be Elizabeth (not Jessica because she was always such a bitch), and have pretty blond hair and toned legs and a perpetual tan and a lawyer dad and a cute boyfriend that rode a motorcycle but wouldn’t crash it while I was on the back and put me in a coma….anyway, these books just spoke to me.

And so did many others.  Reading that blog made me really nostalgic for my old faves, so I put together a list of some of the ones that were read and re-read so many times that I think they finally flagged my library account to put a limit on how many V.C. Andrews books I could check out at a time.

Anyway. #1

Let’s start with V.C. and her IN-FREAKING-SANE story about the Dollangangers.  First of all, where did she come up with that name?  I mean…Dollanganger?  Wait, it just occurred to me that it’s probably some sort of tie-in to the Dopplegänger theory, since the family members, as I recall, look very much alike.   Anyway.  I could not put this book down when I first read it, and the same goes for the 17th time I read it.  It’s just nuts.  And I love me a nutty story.

So the story is told from the perspective of Cathy, who’s this super beautiful pre-teen destined to be the world’s best ballerina.  She lives with her mom and dad, older brother, and younger twin brother and sister and they have a perfect life.  This all changes when her dad tragically dies in a car wreck, and her mom, who is basically this helpless nitwit that has relied on her good looks to get everything in life suddenly has to fend for herself, and her looks ain’t payin’ the bills if you know what I mean.  Oh, real quick, she’s a blond, just like the SVH twins…why is it that authors always make the blond characters stunningly beautiful?  What about brunettes?  Why are there no beautiful brown haired chicks?  Just wondering.

Anyway.

So the mom is like, “oh dear, what do I do?”  And, like a complete idiot, decides to take her four kids and move into her parents’ mansion.  I should mention that her parents hate her for doing something REALLY, REALLY BAD (i.e., married her frickin’ uncle) years ago and they tell her that sure, she can move in with them, but they’re going to lock her kids in a room while they’re there.  Um, what?  So anyway, as readers, we don’t know this whole bit about the kids being locked up, and we don’t even have a clue until we meet Grandma Evil Bitch.  Okay, so fast forward like 16 chapters….mom’s been off living it up, eating in fancy restaurants, flirting with dudes, and traveling the world, while the 4 kids have literally been confined to a single room that adjoins the attic.  FOR YEARS.  Grandma E.B. brings them food everyday, but wait! The food is being poisoned by THEIR OWN MOTHER.  Arsenic, baby.  Yep, she’s trying to off her own kids so she keep doing exactly what she’s already been doing.  Whatever. Okay, so the kids are getting sick, especially the little twins, and it’s really pretty heartbreaking.  Meanwhile, Cathy and big brother Chris, now teenagers with raging hormones, have developed an unnaturally close bond that results in them banging, and this is the part that I just couldn’t wrap my mind around as a 12 year old.  Actually, I still can’t, but back then I remember thinking, “Okay, wait a minute.  Did they just do it?”  And then I reread that passage like 25 times because I couldn’t freaking believe it.

So the book wraps up soon after that.  I think it kind of needed to…I mean, a brother and sister just did the nasty.  As an author, where do you go after that?  Anyway, the little boy dies (I cried…a lot) and Cathy and Chris devise an escape plan and get the hell outta the crazy house.   I’d like to say they never looked back, but Cathy can’t let it go, so V.C. pumps out four more books.  All of which I read multiple times.

#2

So Stacey has a secret.  And judging from the cheery smile on her face while she’s hanging in the candy store, it’s a pretty serious one.  Psst……she has diabetes.  Looking back on that now, I’m laughing.  I mean, TONS of kids today have diabetes thanks to the shitty food their parents feed them, but back then, diabetes was not as common, especially in children.  At least I don’t think it was.  When I read this book in 3rd grade, I was all, “GASP!!!  Nooooo!  Stacey has a DISEASE?!?!”  And it was all truly shocking to me.

Also, look at the cover picture.  Stacey was supposed to be the super stylish and pretty one of the bunch.  I really don’t think the illustrator captured that.

Anyway.

I have to dig waaaaay back for a plot summary of this book, because let’s be honest….3rd grad was a long time ago.  Here’s the gist of it, as I recall: Stacey is the treasurer (?) of the Baby-Sitters Club, which consists of 4 middle school girls who…take a guess at what they do.  Go ahead, I’ll wait.  Got it?  Yes, that’s right, they baby-sit.  Anyway, Stacey’s the newest member of this super elite (not) club, and she’s been missing meetings and generally not acting like a responsible Baby-Sitters Club member.  Her friends are like “what is up with Stacey?” but she doesn’t want them to know that she has diabetes.  Apparently, this is pretty top-secret stuff.  Finally, she tells them, they put on their sad faces and make sympathetic noises, and there’s a happy ending.  Not that kind, pervos….these are CHILDREN’S BOOKS.

So here’s what I got from this book when I first read it:  I wanted to have a disease of my own.  Stacey got soooo much attention from it! Then I thought about it some more and decided that any disease where I couldn’t eat Fun Dip and Pop Rocks would SUCK, so I changed my mind.

#3

Wow.  Christopher Pike could write one hell of  a good story.  I’ll never forget the day I discovered his books….that was the day my relationship with R.L.  Stine came to an abrupt halt.  I never got Goosebumps driving down Fear Street again.  Get it?  Ha. Ha. Ha.

Anyway.

So this was one of my favorite Christopher Pike books.   It’s about this teenage girl named Shari who mysteriously dies at a friend’s party.  Everyone thinks she committed suicide, but guess what y’all?  SHE DIDN’T.  Duhh duhhhhh…cue the spooky music.  Okay, so Shari doesn’t want everyone thinking she killed herself, especially since she was MURDERED.  Duhh duhhhh DUHHHH!  She makes it her mission to find out who killed her and why, and along the way she does creepy stuff like attend her own funeral, spy on her friends, and enter their dreams.  Weird, huh?  I won’t tell you the ending of this one because I actually don’t remember it because I want you to read it for yourself and enjoy this classic page-turner by Christopher Pike!

Okay, last one. #4

I need to talk about this cover picture real quick.  Can someone please tell me what is up with this little girl’s hair?  It’s like Cher meets Billy Ray Cyrus circa 1992.  This even bothered me as a kid.  This girl is a little a-hole in the book, and I thought her hair looked really bad way back then.  It still does, in my opinion.

Okay, so also check out the super creepy ghost.  That’s Helen.  And you better just wait till she comes…..shit’s gonna get real.  So here’s the deal: Molly has recently moved into an old house with her brother, mom, stepdad, and stepsister Heather.  Heather’s a real bitch and even though Molly tries to get close with her, Heather ain’t havin’ it.  Pretty soon, she starts talking about this ghost she’s been hanging out with, and Molly spies on her to find out the truth.  Well guess what?  Heather is for rillz; she’s not making it up.  There is a ghost, and she’s not very nice, as they find out when she destroys all the rooms in their home except for Heather’s and her dad’s.  She also gives Heather a locket, which has some significance at the end  of the story.  Okay, so later on the parents leave the house for awhile, and Heather leaves to meet Helen in the cemetery that is conveniently located near their home.  And seriously, where else would you meet a ghost, right?  Molly follows them, and it’s a good thing too, because suddenly Helen isn’t so nice anymore.  She lures Heather to a pond to try and drown her.  What?!  Where did that come from?  Honestly, I don’t know…..I do remember being soooo surprised when I was a kid, and soooo pissed at Helen too.  It’s just like a ghost to win your trust with lockets and destroying your sib’s room, and then suddenly turn on your ass and try to drown you.  Ugh.  Anyway, Molly saves the day by dragging Heather out of the pond.  Helen chases them, Molly throws the locket at her (because that’s what you do with a charging ghost), Helen is distracted, and Molly and Heather fall into a pit of some kind that contains the bones of Helen’s parents.  Here’s where the story got iffy.  I mean, there’s just a pit with bones in it?  And no one knew about it?  What?  So once the girls are rescued by their frantic parents, the bones are properly buried and Helen can now take it easy and stop haunting little girls and gifting them with antique jewelry.  Whew.

I seriously did love that book, though, when I was a kid.  I’m pretty sure that’s where my obsession with the supernatural began.

And oh my gosh!  The wikipedia tells me that Jennifer Love Hewitt is directing a movie based on this book.  Whee!  I will totally be seeing this one in the theater!

Okay.  So that’s my list of some of the books that have shaped me and made me into the incredible person I am today.  What’s on your list?

Ratatouille with Couscous and Brussels Sprouts

I made this for dinner last night.  While I was cooking it, the kids kept asking, “Hey Mom, what’s for dinner? Hey Mom, what’s for dinner?  Hey Mom, what’s for dinner?”  This is very normal.  I get asked that question multiple times every night, and sometimes I answer.  Other times I just ignore them.  But anyway, they ask over and over again because they are genetically wired to not listen to me.  Like most children, they have a recessive don’t-listen-to-mom gene embedded in their DNA.  And like most mothers, I have a I-will-ignore-you-if-you-ask-me-26-times gene in my own DNA.  Besides, if I would’ve said, “Lovemuffins, we’re having ratatouille, couscous, and Brussels sprouts,” they would’ve just given me a blank stare before finally exclaiming, “You’re cooking our movie?!”

Anyway.

Here’s what-all you need:

For the ratatouille:
Olive oil
Garlic, minced
Eggplant, chopped
Parsley
Zucchini, chopped
Onion, thinly sliced
Tomatoes, chopped
Celery, chopped
Parmesan cheese, grated
(Note: The original recipe that I was using did not use celery, and it did call for bell peppers and mushrooms.  I didn’t have these, but I did have the celery so it got added to the mix.  This seems very versatile, so you can use whatever vegetables you have on hand.)

For the Brussels sprouts:
Brussels sprouts, fresh or frozen
Garlic, minced
Olive oil
Butter
Vegetable broth
Salt and pepper

For the couscous:
Couscous
Water
Butter

Once you’ve gathered up all your shiz, preheat the oven to 350 and spray a casserole dish with Pam.  And why is this called Pam anyway?  Who decided to call sprayable oil by a woman’s name?  It’s just weird.  But whatever.  In a large skillet, heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil and saute the garlic and eggplant for about 10 minutes.

While that is cooking, chop the remaining vegetables.  I realize the following picture is unnecessary and anyone reading this knows what chopped vegetables look like, but I delight in the unnecessary.  I also think that freshly chopped vegetables in neat and tidy rows looks really pretty, and it appeals to my aesthetic sensibilities.

After the eggplant mixture is done cooking, spread it in a single layer in the casserole dish, then top with a layer of the Parmesan, then the zucchini, then the cheese, then onion and celery, then cheese, then the tomato, then the cheese.  I really love cheese, fyi.  Oh, and add salt and pepper as you see fit.  Here’s what it’ll look like when you’re done:

Now, what’s wrong with this picture?  Can you see it?  Yes!  There is a crucial ingredient missing on one half of this dish, and that’s because Trent has gone mental and is now a vegan.  Thanksgiving is going to SUCK for him.

Okay, so stick this baby in the oven for about 40 minutes.  While it’s going, turn your attention to the Brussels sprouts.  If you’re using fresh ones, re-slice the core ends, then cut an X into each one.  I have no idea why this needs to be done, but do it.  After all the sprouts have been x’ed, put them aside.  Heat about a tablespoon each of olive oil and butter in a saucepan, then add the garlic and cook until browned.  Toss in the Brussels sprouts, stirring to coat them.  Add 1/2 cup of vegetable broth, salt, and pepper, and put a lid on and cook them for about 12 minutes or until tender.

Okay, so couscous only takes a few minutes to cook, so save this for the end.  I have no picture of the couscous, but all you do is bring water and butter to a boil, then add the couscous, put a lid on it, and remove it from heat.  It’ll be ready in five.  So. Freaking. Easy.

This actually tasted really good, even though it doesn’t look great in the picture.  I don’t think it does, anyway, but I swear it was good.  Two out of three children approved, my dad (who’s with us for Thanksgiving) really liked it, and Trent gave it an affirmative grunt.

Success.

Veggiladas

Hi y’all.  I did some cooking last night, but you’ll notice that my usual series of pictures documenting the whole process isn’t here.  Why? you ask.  Well, the simple answer is because I didn’t take them.  See how that works?  I don’t take a bunch of pictures, and then you get a post (which is shocking in and of itself) without a bunch of pictures.  Amazing, huh?  I did take one final picture, but the quality is probably a little iffy since I used my aging Blackberry to snap the photo.  Lame, I know, but oh well.  Let’s talk about food.

So a couple weeks ago I was browsing recipes online, and I came across this one.  Hmmm, I thought to myself, that sounds interesting.  So I printed it off, stuck it in my massive, unorganized pile of recipes, and promptly forgot about it.  Then I had a dream the other night where me and this other mom I know went to a Mexican restaurant and I ate an entire vat of salsa and like 4 bags of chips and she was horrified and said her kid can’t play with my kid anymore (isn’t that mean?).  Anyway, when I woke up, I remembered the enchilada recipe.   So here’s what I did.

First, there is no way in hell that I’m going to use instant mashed potato flakes.  Not that there’s anything wrong with them (there is, actually), but I would rather just make my own mashed potatoes from real potatoes that I peel and cut myself.  Just a personal preference.  I also prefer now to make my own tortillas.  If you think this sounds time-consuming and difficult, you’re wrong.  It’s actually very, very easy, though you do have to give the tortilla dough an hour to “rest.”  Or whatever.  Anyway, it’s worth it.  Homemade tortillas taste 9 bajillion times better than store bought.

Anyway.

Ingredients for veggiladas (note: I have altered the recipe above, which I almost always do because I think I have better ideas than everyone else):

For tortillas: masa harina, water, salt
For enchilada filling: potatoes, butter, milk, salt, pepper, chopped onion, carrots, bell pepper, green chilis, olive oil
For topping: red enchilada sauce, grated cheese, green onion and cilantro to garnish if you wish.  I wished.

Okay, step 1:  Turn your oven to 425 and get all your ingredients out. We’re gonna tackle the tortillas first (if you’re making them yourself) and then go to the mashed potatoes (if you’re making them yourself, and if you’re not, then I’m pretty sure you’re committing some sort of mortal sin).

Step 2: Mix the masa harina, water, and salt in a medium sized bowl.  The dough should be moist but not sticky, and it should feel kind of springy.  I use Bob’s Red Mill masa, and it has the instructions on the back.  Pretty sure it’s 2 cups of masa, 1.5 to 2 cups water, and a 1/2 tsp. of salt.  After it’s mixed, cover it with a damp towel and set it aside for an hour.

Step 3: Put potatoes on to boil for the mashed potatoes.

Step 4: While potatoes are cooking, mix the chopped carrots, onions, bell peppers, green chilis with some olive oil (about 1/4 c.) and salt and pepper.  Spread this out in a thin layer on a baking sheet (spray it with Pam first) and then stick it in the oven for 20 – 30 minutes, stirring it once halfway through.

Step 5: Enjoy the small amount of downtime that you have while everything is resting/boiling/roasting by watching Vampire Diaries and thinking to yourself that Elena should really see if Stefan and Damon would be interested in a threesome.

Step 6: Check your potatoes; if they’re done, mash ‘em.  Check your veggies in the oven; if they’re done, take ‘em out. Turn your oven down to 350.  Grate some cheese and pour your enchilada sauce into a shallow bowl.  Mix your veggies into your mashed potatoes and set them aside.

Step 7:  Tortilla time.  Heat a skillet; while it’s getting hot, take your tortilla dough and roll it into 3-inch balls.  If you have a tortilla press, do whatever its instructions tell you to.  I have no idea what that would involve since I don’t have one, and I rely on a trusty ziploc bag (that I’ve cut apart so I basically have 2 squares of plastic) and a rolling pin.  The trick with tortillas is in the thickness of them.  If they’re too thin, they rip and fall apart.  If they’re too thick, they’re just weird.  Okay, so take your dough ball, stick it in between the ziploc squares, and roll it out to about 1/8 inch.  Slap the tortilla in the hot skillet, and cook on each side for 30 to 60 seconds.  Do this until all the dough is gone.

Step 8: Pour a little of the enchilada sauce in the bottom of a casserole dish.  Take a tortilla, dip it in the enchilada sauce that’s in the shallow bowl, then lay it in the casserole dish.  Fill it with the mashed potato mixture, top with a bit of cheese, then roll that mofo up and make sure it’s seam side down.  Do this with the remaining tortillas, and then pour the rest of the sauce over all them and top with cheese.

Step 9: Put the casserole pan in the oven and bake for 20ish minutes, or until the cheese is melted.  Top with green onions, cilantro, sour cream, whatever you like.

Step 10: Commence stuffing your face.

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