Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Green Smoothies



I went to the Portland Farmer's Market today to stock up on supplies for Green Smoothies. Since reading the book Green For Life, John and I have really enjoyed replacing a meal with a green smoothie. Of course, we get a lot of critics. It is amazing how friends become "nutrition experts" as soon as you start following a dietary pattern that is healthy. But when was the last time a friend reached out to you with concern for your health while eating a cheeseburger or a greasy piece of pizza! It is completely warped.
Anyway, the key to sticking to the Green Smoothies is variety. Mixing different greens with different fruits. I have also been adding a product by Vega called Smoothie Infusion. It adds a bit of powdery texture but loads of nutrients. My plan is to finish this package of the product but, in the future, I will just add flax seed to the smoothies because we already drink the original Vega daily and the Smoothie Infusion is a bit pricey.
So, today I bought peaches, apples, blueberries, strawberries, carrots, arugula, kale, and lettuce all organic and all for a whopping 20 bucks! I will post some of the smoothie creations I come up with very soon!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

La Bamba Casserole



I love this recipe and make it often. It came from a Cooking Light magazine, not vegan but easily converted. I substitute the ground turkey for Yves Meatless Ground, vegetarian refried Black beans for the fat-free it calls for, and Vegan Cheddar for the cheese top.

For this batch, I tried a new Cheddar cheese substitute made from Rice Milk. The mozzarella melts nicely so I decided to give the cheddar a try. unfortunately, it did not melt nicely but I enjoyed the flavor.

Flax Seeds


I read an article on the WebMD website that gave its opinion on the book titled Skinny Bitch. It is a very funny, highly informative book written by a vegan and animal rights activist. The article on WebMD irritated me beyond believe, for many reasons. One quote in the article particularly bothered me.
"And when you eliminate all animal products, you miss out on valuable nutrients only found in animal products, like omega-3 fatty acids."
It is completely untrue that omega's are only found in animals, particularly fish. If you do happen to find a piece of fish that is free of mercury, PCB's and other toxins, you are still consuming animal cholesterol, animal fat, and animal protein (that started as a plant protein before it was eaten by the animal). Apparently, Yale researcher and author David Katz, MD, the sadly mistaken person quoted here, has never heard of flax seed.

Blueberry Coconut Granola and Coconut Milk


My latest obsession is Coconut Milk. I have been drinking it after yoga class, adding it to my granola, and making hot chocolate with it. I also have used it in baking and as a substitute anytime something calls for milk.

My girl Miriam is going through a detox, and I have signed on partially. We both decided that granola would be a good option for breakfast. I used my traditional recipe but loved a substitution she made. Since her detox includes no sugar and oil, she substituted the maple syrup and oil for applesauce! Her batch was definitely less sweet and flavorful but developed a nice, crisp, healthy tasting granola.

I added dried blueberries, pecans, and coconut to mine. I also substituted Agave Syrup for Maple and added a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Farmer's Market Flowers



I went to the Farmer's Market with Miriam last week and only bought flowers!!! They were so beautiful and a large bouquet, enough to fill two vases was $10.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Louie's Cannelloni, No Baloney!


I finally made the Cannelloni's from the October 09 VegNews. I think they turned out fantastic! And, as far as I know, our dinner guests enjoyed them as well. They were served with a tossed salad that included mixed greens, artichoke hearts, chickpeas, red and yellow bell pepper, and cherry tomatoes. For dessert, we ate Frankie's Finger-Licking-Good Lime Cheesecake, also from the October 09 VegNews magazine.

The recipe for the Cannelloni's is as follows:
For the sauce: 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 medium yellow onion minced, 5 garlic cloves minced, 1/2 tsp dried fennel seed, 2 tsp dried Italian seasoning, 1 28oz can diced tomatoes, 2 15oz cans tomato sauce, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, 1/2 cup red wine, 1/2 cup fresh basil chopped, 1/2 cup fresh parsley chopped.

For the filling: 2 15oz cans white hominy drained and rinsed, 8 oz silken tofu, 1/2 cup bread crumbs, 3 TBSP fresh parsley chopped, 1 small package frozen chopped spinach thawed and drained, 1 lb vegan mozzarella shredded and divided, 2 packages cannelloni cooked and drained. (I made crepes instead).

1. In a large sauce pan over high heat, add olive oil. Saute onion and garlic until onions are translucent. Add fennel seed, Italian seasoning, and stir for one minute. Add diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, salt, pepper, and wine. Reduce heat to low and stir in basil and parsley. Let simmer, stirring occasionally, for about an hour.

2. In a food processor, combine hominy, tofu, bread crumbs, parsley, and 1/3 cup of the sauce until the consistency of ricotta is reached. Transfer mixture to a medium bowl and add spinach and 1/3 cup of the vegan mozzarella, and stir to combine.

3. Preheat oven to 350. Coat the bottom and sides of a 9x13 pan with a small amount of sauce. Fill pasta tubes with hominy mixture and arrange in pan. Cover cannelloni with sauce, then top with vegan mozzarella. Cover pan with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly. Serve with extra sauce on the side.

The dessert did not turn out as fantastically as I would have hoped. I definitely would not call it a cheesecake in front of non-vegan people if I ever made it again. People get an expectation in their mind of what something should taste like, and when it doesn't taste like that, they become disappointed. The pie had a good flavor, refreshing and creamy but had two flaws, one my fault and one not. First, I burned the crust. Second, after it sat in the fridge for a day, the agar agar re-formed its original consistency and tasted like little pieces of rubber. Not appetizing and resulted in me tossing the pie into the garbage!
Here is the recipe:
1 package silken tofu, 8oz non-dairy cream cheese, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, 4 tsp lime zest divided, juice of 3 limes, 2 tsp agar agar flakes, 1 prepared pie crust, 1 1/2 cups non-dairy whipped cream.

1. Preheat oven to 350. In a food processor, combine tofu, cream cheese, brown sugar, vanilla, 3 tsp lime zest, and lime juice until smooth. Add agar agar and blend for about 1 minute.

2. Add tofu mixture to pie crust and bake for 30 minutes. Turn off oven, and allow cheesecake to sit in oven for another 40 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool, then top with non-dairy whipped cream. Sprinkle with remaining lime zest and serve.

I made a pie crust using one package of Amaranth Graham Crackers, 6 TBSP Earth Balance butter, and 2 TBSP turbinado sugar.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Ziti with Tuscan Porcini Mushroom Sauce and Rosemary Bread


I am getting ready for our dinner party tomorrow night (I love having people over for dinner and calling it a "dinner party!") and am making the Cannelloni's that I mentioned in my crepe posting. To go along with the Cannelloni's, I thought a loaf of Rosemary bread would be nice and remembered making this bread in the past. It turned out OK last time, but I thought maybe I could make it again, and do it even better this time! This recipe is an attempt to imitate Romano's Macaroni Grill Rosemary Bread. I have only eaten at a Macaroni Grill one time but did like their bread. I was extremely happy with how it came out this time. I used King Arthur's Unbleached Bread Flour, turbinado sugar, and Earth Balance Butter. I followed all other directions, including making 2 round loaves of bread. For the dinner party though, I am going to make rolls in the shape of knots.

To go along with my "test" bread, I followed a recipe from Cooking Light called Ziti with Tuscan Porcini Mushroom Sauce. I made all the typical substitutions to veganize it including veggie broth instead of chicken and Sesame Parm instead of Parmesan cheese.

On the side,
Lemon-Balsalmic Butter Kale
. I leave out the raisins and use Earth Balance Butter.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Sesame Ginger Tofu and Roasted Veggies



I marinated the cubed tofu in a combo of fresh garlic and ginger, and a jar of Drew's Soy Ginger dressing for about 2 hours. I then spread it on a baking sheet, sprinkled sesame seeds on top and baked it at 350 for about 20 minutes.

For the veggies, I included a portobello mushroom, broccoli, a red pepper, 3 small carrots, a large green onion, and 4 whole garlic cloves. The dressing consisted of these ingredients, not really measured: white wine, olive oil, Bragg's liquid aminos, salt and pepper, a slight dollop of mustard, and whole basil leaves. This baked at 475 for about 35 minutes.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Spinach and Mushroom Crepes


The latest addition of VegNews (such an excellent magazine!!!) has a recipe for Louie's Cannelloni, No Baloney! It looks so amazing and we are having a few people from John's work for dinner this week so I think it will be a hit. The problem, I can't find Cannelloni at the grocery store. I do find Manicotti but after a little research, although they are often confused, they are not the same. A little more research found that Cannelloni and Crepes are very similar. So, before I attempt this recipe for guests, I thought I would give vegan crepes a try to see if it was a possibility.
I followed this recipe simply because it was the first to show up on a Google search. It doesn't have egg substitutes and includes very common, simple ingredients. I used almond milk instead of soy. I also added about a tablespoon more water to the batter after 3 very thick crepes were finished. It helped so much! My biggest challenge was feeling like I was getting the batter thin enough in the pan. The recipe says it will produce 16 crepes. Mine made 6! I am not sure how it would be possible to get 16. But, I was extremely happy with the 6 that came out! The flavor was sweet, doughy, and melt-in-your-mouth fresh.
My friend Miriam left me some tiny tomatoes and basil before she left town so I thought it would be nice to create something for the crepes out of these ingredients. I started with olive oil and half a red onion. I added 2 large garlic cloves and 1 large Portobello mushroom chopped. I sliced the tomatoes in half and chopped the basil and added these along with salt and pepper and a handful of spinach. This sauteed on low while I made the crepes.
I sprinkled Sesame Parm inside the crepe before wrapping them up.
I feel confident in making the Cannelloni's now that I am comfortable making crepes!

Eggplant "Parmesan"


My friend Miriam gave me an eggplant before she left town and I desperately wanted to use the leftover Bechamel sauce from the Vegetable Pot Pie I made a few days ago. The recipe I followed took quite a while to put together but it was absolutely delicious and worth the time. I cut the eggplant slices as thin as I could possibly get them (much thinner than 1/4 inch as the recipe suggests). Instead of soy parm, I made a batch of Sesame Parm. The only adjustment I made to the tomato sauce was a double dose of garlic and a few whole, fresh basil leaves. And, I used the leftover bechamel sauce instead of making the cheese sauce. For the bread crumbs, I toasted 2 Ezekiel 4:9 Hot Dog Buns at 350 for about 25 minutes. I added the buns and 1/4 cup Sesame Parm to the food processor until it resembled bread crumbs!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

"Chicken" Salad Sandwiches



I needed a favor from John during his lunch break, so I bribed him with tasty sandwiches! Safeway has this "English Muffin Bread" that is surprisingly vegan and so moist and delicious. The "chicken" is from the company "It's All Good", of which I am addicted. 4 slices come in a package, I used 2 packages and heated them in the microwave for 2 minutes per package. I used the exact same recipe that I used for the potato salad I made a few weeks ago but substituted chicken for the potatoes . I added avocados to the sandwiches and they were awesome.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Vegetable Pot Pie


Usually I am able to search for a recipe online and add a link to it (saving me the time of typing the recipe out!)but this recipe is from the latest addition of VegNews and I made it within the first few days of receiving the magazine in the mail. So, it seems others haven't posted it online yet. Maybe I am the first!
We had a small dinner party that included this Veggie Pot Pie and a delicious side salad full of fresh veggies. For dessert, I made another batch of Carrot Cake Cupcakes. It was all very delicious. The crust was flaky and because the potatoes were boiled ahead of time, they became soft and slightly mashed in the veggie mix. The rich, creamy Bechamel sauce made a huge batch so I have leftover for another dish sometime in the near future. Here is the recipe:
For the vegetable filling: 4 tsp coconut butter, 3 cups onion chopped, 1 1/3 cups carrots 1/4 inch diced, 2 cups mushrooms, 1 tsp paprika, 1 tsp dried basil, 1 tsp dried marjoram, 1 tbsp salt, 3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, 1 cup peas, 2 1/2 cups potatoes 1/4 inch diced and steamed for 15 minutes.

For the Bechamel sauce: 3/4 cup cashews, 3 cups water, 2 tsp salt, 1 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard, 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg, 6 tbsp coconut butter, 1/2 cup barley flour.

For the crust: 2 cups barley flour, 1/4 cup tapioca flour, 1 tsp salt, 6 tbsp coconut butter, 11 tbsp water.

1. Preheat oven to 375. For the veggie filling, in a large saute pan, melt coconut butter and add onion. Saute for 5 minutes. Add carrots and mushrooms and cook for 3 minutes. Add paprika, basil, marjoram, salt, and pepper and saute for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the peas and steamed potatoes. Set aside.

2. For the Bechamel sauce, in a dry blender, grind cashews into a super fine powder. Add water, salt, mustard, and nutmeg. Blend until smooth. In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, melt coconut butter, then add barley flour. Cook for 3 minutes, until roux is bubbly and begins to brown. Stir in cashew cream mixture and cook 10 minutes, stirring regularly until thickened. Pour sauce over sauteed vegetables and stir to combine. Spoon into a 9x13 baking dish.

3. For the crust, in a large bowl using a fork, stir together the barley flour, tapioca flour, and salt. Blend coconut butter into flour mixture until it resembles a course meal. Slowly add water and stir very lightly. On a floured board, roll out crust into a 1/3 inch thick rectangle. Carefully cover vegetable and sauce mixture with crust, then slice 10 vent holes into the top of the crust. Bake for 40 minutes, then increase the temperature to 400 for 10 additional minutes to brown the top. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before serving.
(I didn't get a picture during the first serving so this picture is a leftover piece that has been microwaved! Still yummie but not as pretty.)

Sweet Cinnamon Biscuits


A really quick version of a cinnamon roll but still with the soft gooey center! I have no idea how I got the recipe card originally but it is from a company called "Grandma's Kitchen" and it is dessert card 26. The recipe is also posted at recipezaar.com. It is not a vegan recipe but was easily converted. Instead of 2 cups all-purpose flour, I replaced one with barley flour. I used Safflower oil instead of vegetable and soy creamer instead of buttermilk. For the butter, I used Earth Balance and I did not pour milk over the biscuits after they were finished baking. I didn't think soggy biscuits sounded good, but maybe?!