Monday, August 4, 2008

The Weekend and Recipes to Come

Weekends are all about being therapeutic for me after a long work week. There is nothing more relaxing and refreshing for me than doing Yoga on Saturday and Sunday, hitting the sauna, taking a long nap, cooking, eating, and maybe catching up on a movie that I ordered from Netflix. I had the most invigorating Yoga class on Sunday, and after I cooked dinner, I had planned on blogging, but I was just too relaxed. Since today is my day off from exercising, I will post the recipes tonight, so look for them. But, for now, here's a quick summary to hold you over:

This weekend I decided to make Baked Polenta topped with a Mushroom Marinara Sauce and a side of Roasted Carrots and Red Peppers. This was my first time making polenta, and although I did have a little bit of trouble with it, I was very happy with the outcome. Since I have become a vegan, I have purchased a few vegan and vegetarian cookbooks, but what is interesting is that all of the current ideas I have for recipes are influenced by my non-vegetarian cookbooks.

I'm a big fan of using the food that I have in the house to substitute or add to a recipe if possible. This way, I don't have to go out and purchase other items, and I can use all my creativity into making these recipes my own. I usually decide on the type of dish that I want to make by looking through my pantry, then I flip through my cookbooks for ideas, (or search on the internet) and finally end up condensing my ideas into a fresh and delightful animal-free recipe. Sometimes this takes a couple days. I actually thought long and hard about how I was going to cook the polenta for about a week. I would write ideas down during the day in my notebook, and then visualize it and make changes in my head while I was laying in bed. By the end of the weekend, I had a pretty good idea of what I was going to do.

I first became inspired to make polenta from a recipe that Heidi Swanson has on her site, 101 Cookbooks, called Baked Polenta Fries. They looked delicious, and I knew that I wanted to make polenta, but I wasn't quite sure how I wanted to make it or what to make with it. She talks about using dipping sauces, but I wanted this for a dinner, so I knew that I wanted vegetables to be involved. I flipped through my Everyday Italian cookbook and didn't see a vegetable dish that really grabbed me. Plus, I had never made polenta before, and I kept on reading that many people enjoy it with marinara sauce, so I wanted to be safe and follow that trend until I became familiar with the flavor. My decision to make a mushroom based marinara sauce for the topping came from a conglomeration of what I had in my pantry, and two sauce recipes from Everyday Italian. I thought that just the polenta and sauce wasn't enough nutrition, so I decided to add roasted vegetables on as a side dish.

I was especially happy with how this recipe turned out, and now that I have an idea of what polenta tastes like, it has opened a whole new world for me of new dishes that I can make with it such as appetizers and casseroles. Be on the lookout for this recipe either later tonight or tomorrow morning so you can enjoy it too!

PS. My awesome camera broke, so I have been stuck taking pictures with my camera phone or photobooth. I wish I had better pictures for you, but these will have to do for now!

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