Saturday, December 15, 2018

Slow Cooker Vegan Stuffed Shells with marinara sauce, sweet potato, and spinach and tofu

This year for our work potluck, I wanted to make sure that Mame, who's vegan, had a proper main dish to eat. Nipps told me about putting mashed sweet potato instead of cheese in lasagna, and Stego told me how she does tofu for cheese. We only have a microwave at work, so I bring my slow cooker in and do my cooking in that. I fed all that into my homework machine along with one practice run, and it came out like this.

olive oil
an onion
two garlic cloves
two carrots
two celery stalks
two 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes
four bay leaves

Heat a few glugs of oil in a large saucepan over low heat. Chop all the vegetables, adding them to the pan as they're chopped. When they're all in, turn the heat up to medium-high and sauté until translucent. Add the tomatoes and bay leaves, reduce heat back to low, and simmer for an hour until sauce is thickened; take out the bay leaves. I used my stick blender to blend the sauce into a rough puree, somewhere between chunky and smooth.

This can be made well ahead of time and kept in the fridge or I suppose even in the freezer until you're ready to put everything together.

Sweet Potato
enough small sweet potatoes to make four cups mash

Here's a thing I learned from Serious Eats: for the sweetest sweet potatoes, go low and slow. They actually recommend a sous vide, which I don't have, so I just bake at the lowest my oven goes, which is 265 degrees.

Put the sweet potatoes in a baking pan in the oven and then just forget about them for a couple three hours. When they're soft (they'll also be sticky and sweet), take them out of the oven and let them cool. I snipped off the ends with kitchen scissors and then cut them open from end to end, then scraped the insides off the skin into a bowl. Mash.

This also can be done ahead of time and kept in the fridge, probably not the freezer though.

Spinach and Tofu
1 lb frozen chopped spinach
1 box firm tofu
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk

Omg, still going... okay, cook spinach according to package directions, I do mine in the microwave. Let cool before squeezing as dry as you can with your hands. Break the tofu into pieces and squeeze that dry, too. Mix the spinach and tofu in a bowl and set aside for a sec.

Now you're just going to make a bechamel sauce: melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat, sprinkle flour over melted butter and whisk until smooth. Add milk a little at a time, whisking constantly until smooth. Cook until thickened, about five minutes, and season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg; you want it to be almost overseasoned, because you're going to add the sauce to the spinach and tofu. You might not use all the sauce, just enough to make a thick paste consistency.

This also can be made ahead and kept in the fridge.

(Obviously since I was making this vegan, I used vegan butter and almond milk. If you don't care about that, just use regular butter and milk. Or for that matter, ricotta.)

a 12 ounce box of jumbo shells

Cook the shells for half the time on the package directions, I did mine for eight minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water, just so they're cool enough to handle them.

Stuff the shells first with the sweet potato, then with the spinach and tofu, assembly-line style.

This is another stopping point, you can keep the stuffed shells for a few days in the fridge too; that's how I did: I brought one container of marinara and one container of shells to work. Also my slow cooker, which I brought in over the weekend.

Putting it together!

Spread a layer of marinara on the bottom of the crockpot, arrange a layer of shells—I eventually figured out that in a ring works best—then spread a layer of marinara over the shells. Repeat until the crockpot is filled, ending with a layer of sauce. I have a good amount of marinara left, and spinach and tofu, that can be used up for something else.

Cover and turn the slow cooker on HIGH and let it all cook for about three hours.

That's it! A very good party dish.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Pumpkin Spice Au Lait

Holy smokers, I made thie pumpkin icebox cake from Peanut Butter Fingers, and it was good. I made mine in a 9 x 5 loaf pan, which I prefer for icebox cake, then you get sort of a viennetta-looking thing that's easy to slice; the next size down might be even better, I think that would just fit the biscoff cookie. But, I cut down cookies to fill in the space and ended up using exactly one package of cookies, so there's that.

ANYWAY. I have a pint of pumpkin whipped cream left over and you can see what I did. It's super good. So, here you go:

3 cups whipping cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
3 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

I made my own powdered sugar by blitzing a half cup of regular sugar and a half teaspoon of cornstarch in my rocket blender. I hardly ever use powdered sugar and then it just sits around taking up space and being messy, so.

Whip the cream however you whip cream, gradually adding powdered sugar, until the cream forms soft peaks. Add pumpkin and cinnamon and whip until combined.

Plop that on your coffee. Don't say I never gave you anything.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Wire Balls

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Ha it's a good Sunday when the top thing on my to do list is "finish wire balls," I recycled a bunch of old notebooks and pulled out all the spirals because I wasn't sure if they could be recycled, and then I was like Now what. I had an idea in my head like you know those twig balls that are in centerpieces sometimes? Like that, but recycled wire spirals.

Now what? Haha!

I could wind Xmas lights around them and have light balls. I could wind plants around them and have plant balls. I could just put them on my table in my new office just as objets d'art.


Saturday, May 26, 2018

Happy Birthday Odie!!!!!!

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six! #domokun #domo

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