Thursday, February 23, 2012

Vegan Gnocchi Dinner, KICK ASS, and the Best Breakfast Sandwich EVER

Last night John and I finally got a night at home together!  You'd think we'd have all kinds of time together since we live together & all, but sometimes we don't get as much quality time as we'd like. 

So last night I made us a yummy dinner, and we watched the movie Kick Ass.  It was my first time seeing it, and I thought it was pretty great.  I'll get into that later though! 

First thing's first - dinner! 

I had bought all of the fixin's to make this awesome recipe from Real Simple Magazine.  I knew John would love it 'cause it's super yummy & hearty, but not a ton of fat / calories (if you make it the vegan way). ;) 

Gnocchi with Sausage & Spinach
Adapted from Real Simple Magazine Recipe
Made vegan by yours truly! Serves 4 - takes about 20-25 minutes total to make.  I love how quickly this one is ready to go!

    2 9-ounce packages refrigerated gnocchi or one 17.5-ounce package shelf-stable gnocchi
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
    1 pound fake sausage (I used Gimme Lean "ground sausage" - it's vegan!)
    1 clove garlic, finely chopped
    1 5-ounce bag baby spinach
    1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
    1/4 teaspoon black pepper
    1/4 cup unsalted veggie broth (optional)
    3/4 cup (3 ounces) grated vegan Parmesan, plus more for serving (I used this kind)
(all vegan substitutions found at Natural Grocers / Vitamin Cottage)

Cook the gnocchi according to the package directions. Drain, reserving ¼ cup of the cooking liquid (instead of reserving the cooking liquid, I used 1/4 a cup of veggie broth instead).

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.

Add the sausage and cook, crumbling it with a spoon (the technique that seems to work best with the VERY sticky vegan sausage is to just stab the heck out of it with a wooden spoon.  John loved all of the noise I was making...ha!), until browned, 5 to 7 minutes.

Wine is also very helpful during the cooking process. :)  Aren't these wine glasses the cutest too??  I found them at Marshall's a very long time ago.  They always make me happy. 

Add the garlic, spinach, salt, and pepper and cook, tossing frequently, until the spinach wilts, about 3 minutes.

Add the gnocchi, the reserved cooking liquid (or vegetable broth), and the Parmesan and toss. Divide among individual bowls and sprinkle with additional Parmesan.

And there you have it!  It was SO delicious, and something a little different than our usual fare.  Also the leftovers are going to be fantastic over pasta or rice.  YUM. 

And on to the movie!!  We decided to watch Kick Ass - it came out in 2010, and it has been in our Netflix instant queue for a while so we finally decided to start it up.  John has already seen it before, but he liked it a lot & didn't mind watching it again. 

Initially, I wasn't terribly impressed.  It lulled at times, and definitely didn't play out like your typical superhero movie.  But that's because it's NOT a typical superhero movie.  It's really about normal people (well, somewhat normal), trying to do extraordinary things.  They don't have super powers, they just want to do right by the world.  I think that reality really comes out when Kick Ass first fights off some gang members beating up a guy.  He gets pretty beat up, but he fights back - tooth & nail.  A lot of people wouldn't even do that.  Just the trouble he caused made the attackers give up.  Sometimes that's all it takes - standing up for someone no matter what the consequences.  He needed the superhero outfit to get up the courage to do it, but it's still pretty commendable, although most people would probably see it as pretty stupid. 

And then there's Hit-Girl.  OH how I LOVE Hit-Girl!!  She is a crazy knife-wielding killer bred by a paranoid father (who is also pretty darn crazy himself).  You may not agree with the bloodbath that seems to follow in her midst, but as a character, she was AMAZING.  

I tried to explain it to John, and I'm going to try and do it again here.  In a lot of action films, there is a girl / woman in there somewhere who kicks some serious ass.  It's great seeing a strong and powerful woman whoop some sorry bad-guy's asses.  My big problem though, is that they always have to have some kind of sexual edge.  They have to be sexy and gorgeous at all times, and they usually use their bodies or sexuality in some way to get in the door, or lure in the bad guy.  There's always some kind of sexual allure that they have to have. 

Well, Hit-Girl is like, 10-years old.  If they had tried to make her sexual, this movie would have never been made.  And you know what?  She's BAD. ASS.  She strikes fear into the hearts of 30 grown men....all at the same time.  They know that she will win, and they're terrified of her!  And she didn't have to be sexy to do it.  At one point she did lure them into a false sense of security with her innocence, but I guess sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.  I was just thrilled to see a character that was a strong young woman that is not afraid of anything - and she didn't have to use sex appeal to get done what needed to get done. 

*stepping off my soapbox now.... 

Anyway, after thinking of all of that, I really enjoyed the movie, and would highly recommend it!  

On a COMPLETELY different note, last night before I left work I was inspired by a post I found through Pinterest about the Best Egg Sandwich You Will Ever Have.  It was inspired by the girl from Smitten Kitchen - who makes some of the yummiest looking food I've ever seen!  

 Photo from Smitten Kitchen.  See what I mean about the best looking food EVER?

Anyway, this morning I decided to give the quick & easy recipe a try.  And guess what.  It turned out to be CRAZY DELICIOUS!  I'm totally not surprised though.  Here is how mine turned out!

It's really super simple to make, it's kind of ridiculous.  Mine is missing the top half of my English Muffin because somebody (*ahem - JOHN) saw my lovely buttered muffin sitting on a plate and said "oooo what's this?" and took a HUGE bite out of it!  Sigh, boys.  I just let him finish that half.  

Anyway, you just beat 3 eggs with a splash of water (I used soymilk), and dump it into a large pan over medium-high heat.  While it sits, you drop a slice of cheese in the middle (I used vegan swiss cheese), and any other fixin's you want (I added some thinly sliced zucchini).    

When the egg is just about cooked, you fold the edges over (click this link for full step-by-step pictures), give it one more flip, and it's done!! 

The cheese gets melty and amazing, and it's the perfect breakfast sandwich.  I may or may not be having this every morning for the rest of my life. :)  Yes, it was that good!  

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