Friday, February 29, 2008

Spicy Caribbean Ginger Stew and Gingered Pumpkin Scones

The flavor of ginger has recently become one of my favorites! It goes really nicely in stir-fry dishes, mixed with green beans, and in desserts. I originally planned to serve this soup with crusty bread. But plans changed when I decided to make these scones for breakfast.
The soup was really easy. I used an extra clove of garlic and probably double the amount of ginger it called for. For the seitan, I used White Wave Chicken flavored wheat meat. The soup is spicy but not over the top!

The scones were also very easy; ready in about 45 minutes, start to finish. I used 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour and 2 cups spelt flour, Earth Balance Buttery Sticks for the butter, a few extra "sprinkles" of ginger powder, and a 15 oz can of Pumpkin Pie Mix for the pureed pumpkin. (It was a little under in amount for what the recipe called for but it is what I had in the kitchen and it worked!!)

The meal had a great combination of spicy and sweet ginger flavor!

**Update** John did not agree with the combination of scones ("They are for breakfast!!!") and soup. So, the scones are being eaten with coffee/tea at breakfast or for a snack and crusty bread will be purchased to eat with the remaining soup!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Information about Chocolate

I haven't been baking much lately, so yesterday when I was at the grocery store, I wandered down the baking aisle to see what the vegan selection was. I found some Bakers Unsweetened Baking Chocolate Squares that are 100% Cacao! I felt so confident that this meant they were 100% vegan that I bought them. When I got home I wanted to check for sure and found this great site, All About Chocolate, that gives a list and little description of many different varieties of chocolate and their "vegan" status! Look for a posting of something in the area of “chocolate goodness” soon!!!!


My friend Susan gave this recipe to me a few years ago. It is delicious "as is" or can be made into a variety of flavors: sun-dried tomato, roasted red pepper, black bean, curried.
As a simple appetizer, I cut whole wheat tortillas or pita bread into triangles. A pizza cutter works nicely for this. Brush a little olive oil on top, sprinkle with seasonings and bake at 350 for about 6 minutes.

1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 large garlic clove
pinch of ground cumin
pinch of ground nutmeg
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp tahini
1 tbsp water
3 tbsp lemon juice
3/4 tsp salt
Add all ingredients to a food processor and blend smooth.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Veggie Pot Pie

The first words out of John's mouth were, "This is a keeper!" I made a few adjustments to the recipe. I was a little confused with the directions. First, it said to cook the veggies and then it said the potatoes should be raw. I decided to steam everything (potatoes included) for 8 minutes before adding it to the crust and this worked wonderfully! I also added 3 celery stalks and half an onion to the veggie mix. I used frozen corn and peas.

For the crust I used whole wheat flour and Earth Balance shortening. It turned out flakey and crisp. And the perfect amount for both top and bottom to be thick enough to hold everything in. I followed the tip to cover the edges of the crust with foil to prevent burning and it seemed to work nicely, no burning!

Sesame Parmesan Cheese

I had a craving for chicken caesar salad today. Fortunately, we had a box of Trader Joe's Chicken-less Strips in the freezer. They're a bit bland but a touch of salt and pepper livens them up. I heated 5 tbsp olive oil and 2 tbsp white wine vinegar and added garlic to sauté. This was the dressing. I poured it over chopped romaine lettuce and tossed with the chicken. For color I also added a little diced red pepper. But I just couldn't get over the fact that something was missing! A chicken caesar salad is not complete without parmesan cheese! Luckily, I found a recipe in the cookbook Vegan Homestyle that turned out to be delicious. It had all the right flavor for what was missing: salty, a bit chewy, and rich. I did not have onion powder so I diced a few slices of real onion. It came out a little bit more "pasty" but was easy to crumble over the salad with my fingers.
Sesame Parmesan
1/2c sesame seeds
1/2c nutritional yeast
1T onion powder
1t salt
1/4t garlic powder
Toast the sesame seeds in a dry frying pan. Be careful! They toast very quickly and are easy to burn. Cool. Add all ingredients to a food processor and blend until fine.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Raspberry Vinaigrette

While John was unloading the dishwasher today (I love him so much!), he made a comment about a piece of tupperware we own. He claimed it was worthless! But, it reminded me that I had made a really yummy, fruity salad dressing a few weeks ago and forgot to posted the recipe! This, of course, explains why there is no picture attached! Anyway, the recipe was easy to follow and the tupperware referred to above was fabulous for shaking it up in between uses and storing and pouring it! I poured the dressing over both romaine lettuce and spinach, adding walnuts one time and pinenuts and "chicken strips" another. Both were excellent lunches!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Zucchini Scramble Breakfast Burrito

I started to follow this recipe for a Zucchini Scramble but strayed quite a bit when it came to seasonings and the it really isn't this recipe at all...the recipe provided more of an inspiration!

Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a non-stick skillet. Add 1/2 an onion, chopped and 3 garlic cloves, minced (I love garlic!!!)
I added 1/2 a red pepper, a large handful of ripped spinach, and 1/2 a zucchini chopped. For seasonings, I used salt and pepper. To this I added Scrambled Tofu (I love this recipe and my "secret" to getting John addicted is adding a few sprinkles of turns the tofu yellow and looks exactly like scrambled eggs!!!!)
We had two tortillas in the house, one Healthy Hemp Tortilla and one Brown Rice Tortilla. On the tortilla I spread a few tablespoons of refried beans mixed with taco seasoning and a few tablespoons of the Best Cream Cheese Ever (the last of the same batch I made forever ago!) The tortillas baked for a few minutes and then were topped with the Zucchini Scramble. It was all topped with a mixture of a mashed avocado and lemon juice. Much better than my first attempt at breakfast burritos! And such a nutritionally complete and filling meal!
On the side are garlic fries. The same recipe I made and posted a few weeks ago. They were just as appetizing as last time!

Barbequed Tempeh and Zesty Quinoa

Tempeh is a nice alternative to tofu. They are both made from soybeans but Tempeh has a different look, taste and texture. The consistency is more of a bean loaf than the smooth texture of tofu. I sliced strips and added them to a mixture of green peppers and red onion sautéed in olive oil with lots of salt and pepper. I cooked it until the Tempeh lightly browned on both sides; then added about 1/2 a cup of Annies Barbeque sauce.

The Zesty Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah :-) turned out so flavorful with a few adjustments. Instead of using olive oil to sauté the onion and garlic, I used the oil from the jar of sun-dried tomatoes. I also substituted the dry white wine for Marsala wine in equal amount (simply because I had Marsala wine and no white wine!) I did not roast the cashews, just sprinkled raw, crushed on top.

I added the spinach leaves and Annie's Goddess Dressing last minute because it looked too "red" on the plate! The coolness of the spinach and dressing was a good addition to the rich quinoa and tangy barbeque sauce.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Roasted Garlic Potato Soup and Apple Crisp

Delicious and lots of leftovers. I found this recipe at Lauren's Vegan Journal, a blog I get a lot of ideas from. I made the same adjustments as her: almond milk, veggie broth, and extra garlic. I served it with green beans (same recipe as posted previously with tomato soup) and a tossed salad with red pepper, avocado, and Annie's Goddess Dressing.

We had a dinner guest (with an amusing combination of sarcasm and traditional manners!) I didn't want to appear rude photographing the meal and asking him to wait to eat until I got the perfect shot! The soup was very creamy because the potatoes are blended but a few are reserved and served on top. I used red potatoes, which gave the soup a sweet flavor. Prep time for the meal was about an hour and a half including washing, peeling and chopping all the potatoes and other veggies.

For dessert, I made Apple Crisp in ramekins. The recipe was for 6 ramekins. I was cooking for 3 so I made my best attempt at using only half the amount of each ingredient. I also made a few substitutions: whole-wheat flour instead of all-purpose, Sucanat instead of dark brown sugar, Earth Balance Buttery Sticks instead of butter, and Granny Smith apples instead of the combination the recipe calls for. I think we cut the apples a bit too thin because they cooked down and turned so soft it was almost like eating apple sauce. But then again, what is wrong with applesauce topped with a sweet, granola like topping?!!?

Orangey Tofu Stirfry

This recipe fit perfectly into the quick and scrumptious category. We had a charity poker tournament to attend tonight raising money for Play Pumps in Africa. I was so happy that this recipe was sweet and savory from the orange juice because it helped me resist the chocolate cupcakes that were at the tournament to celebrate our friend Kelly's Birthday.

I juiced 3 oranges with my Jack LaLanne Juicer. (Best thing I ever bought from an infomercial!!!) In addition to broccoli and water chestnuts, I added mushrooms. Under the stir-fry is Jasmine Rice.

I didn't follow the directions of the recipe exactly; they seemed a bit drawn out to me. Basically, I sautéed the veggies and tofu in olive oil. Then separately mixed the marinade and poured it over the veggies. I let it all cook for about 10 minutes and it was ready!

As for the poker game, John was the final winner and $800 was raised; all thanks to Kelly and Emily's!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Seitan and Mushroom Stroganoff

After my last two postings, one frozen and one ordered, I was ready to make something myself for dinner! When I got home John already had the mushrooms washed and sliced which saved a nice chunk of time. I have wanted to try this recipe for a while and finally had all the ingredients. It is fun for me to mimic traditional meat centered recipes and wonder how close they really taste! John was very excited about the gravy. It was creamy and peppery and very rich ( I think from the tahini). It came together quickly and we decided on steamed broccoli as a side dish. And the best part.....leftovers!!!
I followed the recipe pretty dilegently. Instead of "garlic granulse" I used garlic powder. For the seitan strips, I used White Wave Seitan Chicken Style Meat. The pasta is Garden Time Organic Fancy Ribbons.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Tofurky Feast

Normally I am not excited about eating food frozen and boxed but John came home a few weeks ago with a vegan Tofurky meal. I stuck it in the freezer and thought about saving it for Thanksgiving, forgot about it and then came across it this weekend. I have to say, it was really yummie! I think I had that feeling people get for that one meal per year of turkey and all the fixin’s! Anyway, it took all day to thaw but came together very quickly during the cooking process. It also made for a nice lunch the next day.

I added potatoes, carrots, and onion to the roast in a foil packet. A quick mixture of soy sauce, oil, and thyme was poured over the combo and baked. The gravy was a matter of dumping the contents into a sauce pan and heating up. The round things are potato dumplings. They were may favorite part: a little apple, cranberry and mashed potato in a dumpling-like shell. They just needed a quick boil and then sautee.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Pizza Research Institute

This was actually our second vegan pizza from PRI. The first time we ordered the "Chef's Choice" which contained about 15 different fruits/veggies. John loved it. I did not care for the sweet flavor that the fruit contributed. This time, we ordered the olive, artichoke heart, and spinach pizza. When we got home from picking it up I dove right in and it only took one bite for me to taste the "never forgotten" flavor of cheese! There accidentally was mozzerella and feta on the pizza....I would have been suspicious if I had not heard John order it vegan over the phone! I think deep down he wanted me to say we could keep it "just this once!" But we took it back and returned it for an even more delicious vegan pizza! They make a smokey cheese sauce along with lots of veggies and a rich tomato sauce. I felt great not eating the cheese. John agreed it made him feel better also.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Vegan Snickerdoodles

Okay, I started with the goal of making Snickerdoodles. I found a recipe that was non-vegan and made a few adjustments. First and foremost, the cookies were delicious!!!! Very moist and chewy, sweet and pretty with a crackled top.
They did NOT taste or look like snickerdoodles though. I substituted the sugar for Sucanat. A wonderful substitute for sugar when baking but it has a very distinct molasses, and a darker brown color. Next time, I will use white sugar if I want that "Snickerdoodle" flavor. Otherwise, this is a wonderful cookie for those that enjoy the flavor of Sucanat (molasses!!!)
1 cup Whole Wheat flour
1 3/4 cup White Spelt flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup Earth Balance Butter spread (I love the non-hydrogenated kind)
1 1/2 cup sugar (Use white sugar if you want authentic tasting snickerdoodles!!! I substituted Sucanat)
Equivalent of 2 eggs (I used Orgran No Egg)
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
Cream together butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar, the egg substitute, and the vanilla. Blend in the flour, cream of tartar, soda and salt. Shape dough by rounded spoonfuls into balls.
Mix the 2 tablespoons sugar and the cinnamon. Roll balls of dough in mixture. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets.
Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until set but not too hard. Remove immediately from baking sheets.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Tomato Soup and Green Beans

I wanted to try a soup with Silken Soft Tofu as the base because a) I had half a box that needed to be used and b) It sounded like a good idea. I pureed the tofu in a processor and added 2 cups of water. Lots of seasonings including ground cayenne red pepper, garlic powder, salt and pepper, veggie broth, and oregano. The rest is a 28.2 oz can of diced tomatoes, a can of tomato paste, a can of Great Northern beans, celery, onion, potatoes, and Tofurky Italian Sausage. It was creamy and spicy. The beans and sausage gave it a great "stew" consistency. It made perfect leftovers for lunch.

The green beans were an attempt to copy a menu item from El Vaquero. We have ordered them two times and each time devoured the entire plate of at least a pound of green beans!
After cleaning and snapping the ends off, I added the beans to boiling water and cooked for 3 minutes. Removed, drained, and covered in ice to cool quickly. (Blanching them makes the green so bright!) The sauce is a few splashes of sesame oil, olive oil, Bragg's Liquid Amino Acids, salt and pepper, red pepper flakes, and chopped almonds heated until it looks caramelized. Cook until bubbly and mix with cooled beans. I could eat these every day!!!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Best Cream Cheese Ever

My friend Debbie gave me this recipe. I don't remember the name of the cookbook or author. I will update the post when I figure that where credit is due!
This is the recipe that I followed exactly. Mine was a huge disaster in the beginning. It was extremely bitter with the lemon flavor. I had to triple the rest of the ingredients minus the lemon juice to balance it out and make it edible. I am not sure why because Debbie's turned out fantastic recipe "as is." Next time, I will only use 1/4 cup of lemon juice and taste. Anyway, because of the tripling of all ingredients, I have a ridiculous amount of this stuff! I am going to have to get creative finding ways to use it.

1 1/4 cups pine nuts
1 1/4 cups raw sunflower seeds
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice (I will only use 1/4 cup to start out next time)
3/4 tsp. whole black peppercorns
3 cloves garlic
1 3/4 tsp. sea salt

Put it all into a blender and blend until very smooth. Add a very small amount of water to make smoother, only if necessary.

Scrambled Tofu and Garlic Fries

John has this crazy idea in his head that I start projects and never finish them. So when I told him I was getting a little behind on my blog, he gave me the "not surprised" look. Whatever! I haven't been posting daily but I have been keeping track of a few things I made that were awesome....and I am also planning to host my first vegan brunch!!!!!! Due to limited space, 4 people will be the max number of invites but seriously, that is a great number to cook for. More to come on that later.

This was my second attempt at Scrambled Tofu. Huge success! John (an egg-lover!) said it was just as good as eggs. I went for a spicy, mexican type theme. To the scrambled tofu I added turmeric, garlic, 1/3 cup nutritional yeast, salt, pepper, paprika, and garlic powder. For the veggies: zucchini, onion, red pepper, spinach, and avocado slices on top. And finally, the secret ingerdient: Soyrizo. It is a meatless soy chorizo. I do not ever recall eating chorizo in my life so I don't have anything to compare it to...but John was pleased with the new flavor it added to breakfast.

On the side, Food for Life: 7 Sprouted Grains bread (after the photo I added Earth Spread and blueberry jam!) and my version of Garlic Hashbrowns.
4 red potatoes
a splash of olive oil
seasoning salt
garlic powder
2 tablespoons diced onion
salt and pepper
I cut the potatoes as thinly as my patience would allow! Coated them in the olive oil and seasonings in a baking dish and baked for about 45 minutes at 350. I will be making these again!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Ginger Broccoli "Beef"

This meal was just OK. I will season the "beef" before adding it to the recipe if I ever make it again. The box claimed "lightly seasoned" but it wasn't enough for me! I put it over brown rice.
The beef is from Trader Joe's: Beef-less Strips.
The veggies: onion, red pepper, broccoli are sauteed in a few splashes of sesame oil and olive oil. Additional seasonings include fresh ginger and garlic, salt and pepper.
I was shocked at how bland I felt it all tasted together. Slightly disappointed but will give it another go with additional spices in the future. Maybe a splash of Bragg's Liquid Aminos!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Marsala Seitan and Vegan Mac and Cheese

The seitan is "Chicken-Style Seitan Seasoned Wheat Gluten" by White Wave. It is sauteed with mushrooms, Marsala wine, olive oil, salt and pepper. Excellent flavor, texture, and very filling. Simple steamed broccoli is on the side. That concludes the enjoyable part of the meal!!!

The mac and cheese was a HUGE disappointment. I had such high hopes. The texture was creamy and thick and the color looked exactly like cheddar cheese. But the flavor was almost bitter-like. The worst part of all was that the recipe made a full, 13x9 baking dish. So I was eating this for over a week at lunch time. I will be much more cautious about "cheesey" recipes! Small portions until I find something I like. I have since located recipes that give me hope! I will post a recipe when I find one I like.

Creamy and Spicy Thai

My days have been so busy lately that by the time I get home at night, I am more tired than hungry! But I have found a few recipes that are either quick and tasty or at least leave a ton of left overs so I don't have to get lunches ready for the next day!

Feeling very hungry for vegetables (and fighting off John's pleas for Thai take-out) I transformed a dish that we used to make containing fish sauce into a vegan stir-fry served over Jasmine Rice.

For the veggies:
2 potatoes, 1 eggplant, a couple handfuls of snow peas, chopped cabbage, 1 carrot, and 1 onion. All cubed and/or chopped stir-fry style.
For the seasoning:
2 garlic cloves, a piece of fresh ginger, 1/2 tablespoon of each red and green curry paste, 2 teaspoons lemon zest, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, and one can of coconut milk.

Sautee the onion in peanut oil. Add the seasonings including coconut milk. Bring it to a boil. Add the veggies and let them cook until they are the consistency you like. We like things crisp so it only takes a few minutes!

My all time favorite recipe for rice is here. In the beginning we tried to eat before it sat for the full 40 minutes. Then one night we were behind on the rest of the meal so it actually did sit that long. Wow! What a difference! We now start the rice before any of the veggies are even washed to make sure it has the full time.