Kitchen Questions: How Do Vegetarians Get Their Protein? And Other Common Questions

If you’re one of those people that is skeptical of a vegetarian diet, then let me alleviate some of these concerns for you. I’m also going to talk about some of the benefits of a vegetarian diet. Some people are hesitant to switch to a meat-free diet and lifestyle simply because it is the “fear of the unknown.” That’s what this blog post is for. It’s an attempt to answer some questions and make people feel better about the possibility going meat-free or reducing the amount of meat in their diets.

Long-time readers of my blog may be wondering why I am posting something like this. Are you a vegetarian? I am not. However, I’m slowly making the switch to a more plant-based diet and working on cutting out certain meats and other animal products. For example, I have not consumed cow’s milk directly from the jug in years. Instead, I use almond or soy milk. In baking, that’s a different story — at least for now. The reason why I compiled this information is to have a resource for those who are curious about making the switch to a more “flexitarian” diet or a plant-based one.

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Kitchen Experiments: Making Vanilla Extract

A couple of weekends ago, my partner and I finally put an idea of ours into action. We would try our hand at making our own vanilla extract. This is something both of us wanted to do for a while, but life always caused delays to it actually happening.

We were first inspired to do this separately, getting the idea from different chefs. He is a fan of Claire Saffitz’s YouTube channel and I became obsessed with a TV chef on Discovery+ who also uses her own vanilla extract. Additionally, I first stumbled on this idea from one of Ina Garten cookbooks where she details the steps to making one’s own bottle of vanilla.

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PW Recipe 5 – Macaroni and Cheese

Sometimes you just have a strong desire to just eat “bad” food. “Bad” as in not-that-great-for-you food. Well, that hankering happened for me over the weekend. I was in the mood for macaroni and cheese. It had been months since the last time I had a good, baked mac & cheese. Luckily for me this desire also came with the ability to make another Pioneer Woman recipe. This recipe also came from my favorite cookbook of hers: Recipes From an Accidental Country Girl, her first one.

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Magnolia Bakery Handbook Recipe #10 – Chocolate Banana Pudding

Over the Labor Day holiday, we had some people over the house. It was mainly just family, but, as you could have guessed, I had to make the dessert. I was really in the mood for banana pudding but I also wanted to make something beyond the traditional vanilla –especially since most of the people who came to the little get-together are chocolate-lovers.

It took me almost no time at all to realize that the Magnolia Bakery Handbook had a recipe for chocolate banana pudding and I was sold! Simple and delicious, but also something a little different than the regular banana pudding.

In the recipe, it asks you to use the chocolate Nilla wafers, but I wasn’t able to find them, so I used the regular vanilla and it worked just fine. Plus I find that store-bought, chocolate cookies are not really chocolate-tasting. So, for me, personally, the vanilla Nilla wafers probably were for the best. Since the chocolate Nilla wafers would have added a bit more chocolate flavor, I did use extra mini chocolate chips.

Also to bring out the flavor of the chocolate, I took a page out of Ina Garten’s cookbook and added about a half teaspoon of espresso powder to the whipped cream. This provided a subtle hint of coffee-flavor, but not too much to overwhelm the flavor of the chocolate. And better still, the caffeine didn’t keep anyone awake past their bedtime!

Since I’ve made banana puddings a couple of times before, Ina’s recipe and one from the Magnolia Bakery Handbook, I didn’t take too many pictures. But, I do highly recommend this dessert. It’s the perfect twist on the classic, but without changing too much or making you go crazy. As usual though, banana pudding won’t keep in the fridge for more than 2 days. After that the wafer cookies become too soggy — but, to be honest, I’ve never had my puddings last longer than a day after being served!

Kitchen Updates

My family has decided to take a little trip out of town. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to join them, due to work commitments. But, while I won’t be able to get away, I will be able to cook a lot while I’m home by myself.

Now that I’ll be responsible for my own meals over the next seven days or so, I am going to use my day off today to figure out what types of meals I wish to make. Of course, I will need to include some baking in there, too! In fact, I have been recipe testing a chocolate chip cookie recipe and I’m getting closer to the finished product! Hopefully by the end of the month if will be up on the blog.

I recently purchased some lighting instruments for my food photography. After I made the cookie recipe last night, I decided to play around with some things. This was one of the shots my friend and I took.
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My Birthday and the Cake!

My birthday was earlier this week, and as hinted at in last week’s post, I decided to bake my own cake!

After many recipe page views and checking a handful of different food blogs, I finally settled on one! I ended up going back to a tried and true baking blog, Sally’s Baking Addiction. This website features so many options to chose from, that it took a while to narrow it all down. I eventually decided on German Chocolate Cake!

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It’s June!

Wow!

I can’t believe it! What happened to May? It appears that, to date, May was my least active month on the blog. There was a reason for that: things started to open up, activities began again, and my time became more constrained. However, some of the things I had lined up for this summer have fell through, which is too bad for me, but it’s great for the blog!

I have a personal goal for June: 6 recipes made during the month.

To be honest, doing two will be easy since my birthday is just around the corner. I will, obviously, be making my own cake. I’m also making cupcakes for a work thing next week, as well.

I am going to try to include at least one savory recipe in the mix, but, as you may have noticed, my focus on been on baking.

What Cake Am I Making For My Birthday?

It actually took me quite a while to find one that appealed to me. I knew I wanted to branch out a bit and make something outside of the Barefoot Contessa and Magnolia Bakery canon (even though the latter has some amazing cake recipes). After some searching online, I decided to stick to a tried and true baking blog: Sally’s Baking Addiction.

After paging through recipe after recipe, and one mouth-watering photo after another, I finally made my decision!

What cake is it?

It’s a surprise. You’ll have to wait until next week to find out!

Barefoot Contessa Recipe 48 Chicken Piccata

This recipe can be found in Barefoot Contessa At Home

Last week, dinner was a simple chicken dish. And I have to say, I think I like Ina’s recipe for Chicken Piccata better than any I’ve had at a restaurant before! The simplicity of this recipe makes it a stellar recipe for weeknights. But it’s also elegant enough to serve for a special occasion.

Chicken Piccata, in Ina’s version, is simply breaded chicken cutlets in a lemon sauce. I did make a few changes so the recipe would be healthier (and less messy) but I think the general idea still comes through.

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Barefoot Contessa 46 Herb-Marinated Loin of Pork

This recipe can be found in Back to Basics, page 126.

For dinner last week, I decided to tackle my first of what will eventually be many Barefoot Contessa pork recipes. To be honest, pork has never been my favorite meat. The texture, to me, is in between chicken and steak and since I’m not a big fan of steak (or beef in general), pork has always hard to swallow.

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Barefoot Contessa Recipe 42: Couscous with Toasted Pine Nuts

This recipe can be found in How Easy is That?, page 195.

Even though Salmon with Melting Tomatoes had a built-in side dish, I still needed one more thing to truly round out the meal. Enter: Couscous with Toasted Pine Nuts.

I still had some pine nuts from when I made gremolata a few weeks back. At least that’s where I think I used the pine nuts originally. I can’t really remember. So many recipes. But I wanted to use them up since I didn’t really know how long they would “keep.” I was storing them in the fridge since they are nuts, after all. And since nuts have oil, they can spoil! (Thanks Rachael Ray)

Luckily this recipe used them all up. Sadly, I will have to buy them again at some point and fork over almost $10 for like 5 ounces of nuts. But that’s a story for another time.

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