a big claim

Sometimes it's hard to tell a story; here, on this blog, usually because it boils down to "Danielle and Daniel hang out and make delicious food," and while I enjoy that story, I feel like I've told it many times.

So let's begin somewhere else: taco night. Taco night has always been one of my favorite nights, and aside from ordering tacos at local chains, I haven't had one in a long time. Becca and I talked about it once, I seem to remember, but it never came to fruition. I thought about just having one myself, but taco nights are not really a solo activity.

Dear reader, I actually wanted to be telling you about pumpkin gnocchi right now, but alas and alack, the supermarket was out of pumpkin puree (and I really didn't want to go through the effort of pureeing my own pumpkin). There we were, in the supermarket, trying to figure out what to do for a delicious dinner.

We finally wound up in the Mexican food section, deciding on tacos, and gathered our ingredients. Later, in the kitchen, Daniel asked if I wanted to take pictures, "in case you want to blog about it." I didn't think I would be here telling you about tacos. I mean, they're just tacos, right? Wrong. In this case. The filling for these tacos surpassed my wildest expectations, as well as - I know this is a big claim - any previous taco nights.

Seriously. It was that good. Because we made a huge batch, a second taco night needed to be arranged. Immediately. (It's tomorrow. What a good birth-week!)

Daniel's Amazing Taco Filling

1 package veggie "beef" crumbles
1 can refried black beans
1 bell pepper
1/2 white onion
about 1/2 can chipotle peppers
a couple cloves of garlic

First, chop up the bell pepper, onion, and garlic. You'll want fairly small pieces so that they incorporate into the filling. You can chop the chipotle peppers now, too, but you'll want to throw in some of their juices once you start mixing everything together.

Next, pour some oil into a pot that will be able to contain all the ingredients. Start by browning the "beef" crumbles slightly, then add the onion and the bell pepper. When the onion and bell pepper are almost done, add in the chipotle peppers and the garlic. After a minute or two, add in the refried beans. Cook until hot.

Now all you have to do is grab your other taco condiments (we used salsa, guacamole, and both regular and vegan cheese) and you're ready to make your tacos! Yum.


starting to change

Change is on my mind a lot, lately. It's autumn, first of all, so even though the forecast for tomorrow is 90F (ugh), the breeze is still cool and the leaves are starting to change. Autumn is a good season for change, after all - but then again, what season isn't?

There are plenty of changes happening within my circle of friends, but the one that concerns this post is really Daniel's veganism. See, I have long had plans for making ice cream. These plans have never really come into fruition for one reason or another (usually my own laziness, let's be honest) - and technically they still haven't.

I found the recipe below on a blog I read regularly, and promptly sent it to Daniel, figuring he'd be interested in it. And he was, along with the suggestion that around this we create an elaborate vegan meal. This meal was to include plantain empanadas with refried beans, chipotle mashed potatoes, and some sort of stir fry.

Well, dear readers, there's a reason you're not reading about any of those today. I mean, they were all fine - and the latter two were certainly very spicy - but the empanadas, which were the most complicated, aren't really worth the complications. They basically caused Daniel and I to swear off baking with plantains, especially after they nearly destroyed my (tiny, granted) food processor and actually destroyed one of my spatulas with the frying.

(Note: the chipotle mashed potatoes were pretty awesome. To make these, simply make mashed potatoes and then stir in as much of a can of chipotle peppers as you'd like. Easy!)

The dessert, though - that turned out pretty much perfectly. Granted, it is a little weird: all the flavors go together, but the fact that it's frozen is just, well, weird. Don't let that stop you from trying this, however, because it's still quite tasty!

Avocado Ice Cream



holding on

Despite the fact that the forecast is predicting temperatures in the 80s this week (and the week after), I am resolutely holding on to Autumn. After all, mornings and evenings are still cool, and the breeze still carries autumn with it, even with high temperatures.

So I made bread.

Even though by the afternoon the heat was in full force, I made bread with my windows open. It felt good to make something again. When Andy came back from New Mexico, he asked me what I'd been baking over the summer. "Nothing," I told him, somewhat abashedly. Aside from the complicated emotional pattern I had fallen into, there was also the fact that my time was spent hanging out with friends who were coming back, who were going away. There was no time for baking.

Bread is one of my favorite things to bake. I know that yeast scares people, but I can't imagine why. Maybe I've just been lucky - I've never really had any problems with yeast. My own patience, sure, but not actually working with yeast. You'll also remember how much I love quick breads. This bread is somewhere in between the two. It rises in the oven, getting the yeast from beer, so you cut out that step of leaving the dough somewhere to rise for an hour or two.

Plus, it makes your kitchen (or whole apartment, if you're me) smell absolutely delicious. And it tastes pretty good, too!

Cheddar-Dill Beer Bread
adapted from here

I used Blue Moon for the beer here, which is a Belgian-style white. Feel free to use whatever beer you think would go with cheddar and dill, though!

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp baking powder
2 tsp dill (dried)
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
2 12-oz. beers

Open one of the beers. Take a sip. Preheat the oven to 375

Mix all the dry ingredients and the cheese (or, everything except the beer) together in a large bowl. Slowly pour in the beer, mixing as you go. If the dough hasn't come together entirely, pour in a little from the second beer until all of the flour mixture has been incorporated. Enjoy the rest of your beer.

Pour the dough into a greased loaf pan; I used a 9-inch pan for this, which worked out well. If you've poured in a little of the second beer, remember that the bread will rise higher from the extra yeast in the beer. It's important to take this into consideration. Bake for 45 minutes.

Let the bread cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then outside the pan for another 10 minutes. Enjoy!



The wind is ushering in autumn, and I can feel everything changing. Whatever else 2010 has been and will be, it is certainly a year of great change in my life.