Monday, August 10, 2009

Boozy Bananas with Spiced Chocolate Sauce

Another way to spiffy up bananas.

Serves 2-3

Chocolate Sauce
3/8 cup heavy whipping cream
3 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

2-3 small bananas
1 1/2 tbsp. butter or buttery spread
1 1/2 tbsp. packed brown sugar
1 tbsp. rum
1/2 tbsp. tequila

Ice cream

1. Make the chocolate sauce by combining the cream, chocolate, cinnamon, and cloves in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cook over low heat until the chocolate is melted. Do not allow the mixture to boil. Stir in the vanilla and remove from the heat. The sauce can be made up to 4 days ahead. Just cover and refrigerate it until ready to use.

2. Cut the bananas crosswise in half. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Increase the heat to high and add the bananas and brown sugar. Cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the bananas are soft and the sugar has created a syrupy sauce. Add the rum and tequila and boil 1-2 minutes or until slightly thickened.

3. Scoop ice cream into bowls and surround it with the banana mixture. Drizzle with the chocolate sauce and enjoy immediately.

Banana Sundaes with Mexican Chocolate Sauce from the August/September 2001 issue of Cooking Pleasures.

Citrusy Carrots with Ginger Ale and Honey

These are the fantastic carrots referenced in the chickpea patties post.

Quick pause for an advert: Reed's make fabulous ginger beer :) I highly recommend it if you're looking for a high-fructose corn syrup-free soda. The only disappointment is their stuff has honey so it's not vegan.

Serves 2-3

1/2 pound carrots, sliced
1/2 cup ginger ale (pref. HFCS-free)
1/2 tsp. minced fresh ginger
1/2 tbsp. honey
1/2 tsp. orange zest
1/2 tsp. lemon zest
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Juice of 1/2 orange
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 F.

1. Steam or boil the carrots for 5 minutes or until slightly softened. Drain. Pour the ginger ale, honey, ginger, zests, orange juice, and lemon juice over the carrots. Bring this mixture to a boil and then transfer everything to an oven-safe dish.

2. Bake for about 35 minutes until the liquid reduces. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Ginger Ale and Honey Braised Carrot Coins from The Whole Foods Market Cookbook.

My Changes:
*Steamed carrots prior to baking.
*Added lemon zest.

Chickpea Patties

In case you haven't noticed, I'm not one for fake meat. I'm actually not even sure I understand why other vegetarians/vegans go for processed meat substitutes. We gave up meat.. why on earth would we want to eat that?
Besides, have you ever read the ingredient list on one of those packages? They read like the contents of a cupboard in a science lab. I'm all for science and progress, just not in my food!
Not wanting to eat hydrolyzed whatever, I prefer to make stuff from ingredients with names I can pronounce. I think this may just be a new favourite in the realm of meat substitutes.

I actually had this while DH was having oven-fried chicken. We had the same sides (potatoes mashed with goat cheese and some lovely carrots - entry coming soon). Our plates looked very similar :) Unfortunately, I was starving by the time I was done cooking and completely forgot to take a photo... I was also going to make a mustard sauce to go with these. Can we say brain fart?
(I own 3 cameras... you'd think I'd be better at taking blog photos...)

Serves 4 (1 cutlet each)

1 cup cooked chickpeas
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup vital wheat gluten
1/2 cup panko
1/4 cup vegetable broth (or water)
2 tbsp. soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp. lemon zest
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. dried sage
Extra oil for frying

1. Give the chickpeas a spin in the blender or food processor until they are mashed and no whole chickpeas remain. Transfer the smushed beans to a bowl and add the rest of the ingredients. Knead with your hands for 3-4 minutes until strings of gluten have formed (i.e.: it all starts to stick together and it becomes "elastic" when pulled apart).

2. Heat the frying oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat. While the oil heats up, form the chickpea mixture into 4 cutlets by flattening and stretching them. Place the cutlets into the skillet and cook 6-7 minutes on each side until lightly browned (turn once).

Chickpea Cutlets from Veganomicon.

Orange Muffins - Two Ways

I recently got some crystallised ginger to make some Grasmere gingerbread but have been experimenting with using it in other recipes. It worked really well in these new twists on a muffin favourite of mine.

There are two sets of ingredients but the method section is the same.
Each set of ingredients yields 12 muffins.

These are great served warm.

Orange-Cranberry-Ginger Muffins

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup sweetened dried cranberries
1/4 cup crystallised ginger, chopped
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup apple-sauce or canola oil
1 tsp. grated orange rind
1/2 cup freshly-squeezed orange juice
1 banana, well mashed or 2 eggs
Cooking spray
1 tbsp. turbinado sugar

Orange-Ginger Muffins

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup crystallised ginger, chopped
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup apple-sauce or canola oil
1 tsp. grated orange rind
1/2 cup freshly-squeezed orange juice
1 banana, well mashed or 2 eggs
Cooking spray
1 tbsp. turbinado sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line a muffin tin with unbleached paper liners.

2. Combine flour and the ingredients up to nutmeg in a large bowl; stir with a whisk. Make a well in the center of the mixture.

3. Combine brown sugar, oil or applesauce, orange rind, juice, and eggs in a separate bowl; stir with a whisk.

4. Add the juice mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Spoon batter into the muffin cups. Sprinkle the batter with turbinado sugar. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffins comes out clean.

Based on Orange-Cranberry Wheat Germ Muffins from the January/February 2008 issue of Cooking Light.

My Changes:
*Used crystallised ginger in place of some or all of the dried cranberries.
*Replaced half of the cinnamon in the orange-ginger version with ground ginger.

Avocado-Tomato Rotelle

I love it when avocados are cheap ;)

This has a great, almost no-cook sauce. In fact, I bet this would make a fantastic pasta salad.

Works well as a quick lunch or dinner.

Serves 2

4 oz. rotelle (wheel-shaped pasta)
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium tomato, diced
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 large avocado, diced
1 tbsp. chopped fresh basil
Parmesan cheese

1. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain.

2. While the pasta cooks, heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat and then cook the garlic for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, salt, and pepper and cook 5 minutes or until warmed through.

3. Toss the tomato mixture with the pasta and then add the avocado and basil. Sprinkle with cheese just before serving.

Avocado-Tomato Rotelle from the July 2006 issue of Cooking Pleasures.

Avocado-Tomato Stack

I've made the dressing for this two different ways so I'll include both.

Avocado-Tomato Stack with Cilantro-Lime Dressing
Serves 4

1/3 cup fat-free milk
1 tsp. vinegar or lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
3 tbsp. sour cream or plain yoghurt
1/2 tsp. lime zest
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/8 tsp. ground cumin
Dash of crushed red pepper flakes
4 medium tomatoes, sliced
1/4 cup red onion, very thinly sliced
1 small avocado
Freshly ground black pepper

Avocado-Tomato Stack with Lemon-Basil Dressing
Serves 4

1/3 cup fat-free milk
1 tsp. vinegar or lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
3 tbsp. sour cream or plain yoghurt
1/2 tsp. lemon zest
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/8 tsp. dried oregano
Dash of crushed red pepper flakes
4 medium tomatoes, sliced
1/4 cup red onion, very thinly sliced
1 small avocado
Freshly ground black pepper

The method is the same for either dressing.
1. Make buttermilk by combining the milk plus the lemon juice or vinegar. Mix and then let this stand for 10 minutes. To make the dressing, add the buttermilk plus the next seven ingredients (through red pepper flakes) to the bowl of a food processor. Process 30 seconds or until well blended. Cover and chill.

2. Layer 1 tomato slice on each of 4 plates. Top each piece with a little red onion and some avocado. Repeat these layers three times, ending with avocado. Drizzle each stack with dressing and sprinkle with additional black pepper, if desired.

Based on Heirloom Tomato and Avocado Stack from the June 2008 issue of Cooking Light.

My Changes:
*DIY buttermilk.
*Used additional sour cream in place of mayonnaise.
*Used full-fat sour cream (not low-fat).
*The lemon-basil dressing idea was suggested as a variation in the original recipe. However, when I tried it, I added in the oregano in place of the cumin called for in the cilantro-lime/original version.
*Used regular vine-ripened tomatoes (in this economy, you use what you have!) Would like to try it with fancier heirloom ones, though. :)

Dinner-Lady Carrots

I love Jamie Oliver. He speaks my language. ;)
The name of this recipe made me giggle but I feel a need to do a little translation so you're not thinking "what the heck is a dinner lady and why is she being included in these carrots?"
"Dinner" is what the English call lunch (in the part of England I'm from, we refer to the evening meal as "tea" not to be confused with the drink).
A "dinner lady," then, is what English school children call a school cafeteria worker.
Apparently Jamie Oliver saw a group of dinner ladies making carrots this way (sans wine, of course!) and that's how they got their name.

Serves 4

1 lb 10 oz carrots (~2 cups), peeled and thinly sliced
1 tbsp. non-dairy, non-hydrogenated spread
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
The zest and juice of 1 orange
A handful of fresh parsley, chopped
1 tsp. dried oregano
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil
A small wineglass of white wine
3/4 cup vegetable broth

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
Spray a baking dish non-stick spray or rub it with some canola oil or buttery spread.
Steam or boil the carrots until crisp-tender.

2. Mix the garlic with the orange zest, parsley, and oregano. Scatter a bit of this over the oiled dish. Add a layer of carrots to the dish along with a pinch of salt and pepper. Drizzle the layer of carrots with olive oil and then sprinkle with some of the parsley-zest mixture. Continue these steps until you run out of carrots.

3. Pour in the orange juice, wine, and enough broth to cover the carrots. Lay a sheet of wax paper over the carrots (tuck in the edges). Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the carrots are cooked.

Dinner-Lady Carrots from Cook with Jamie by Jamie Oliver.

My Changes:
*Giving the carrots a quick steam prior to layering and baking them. When I made them without this step they refused to soften up!
*I added a bit of dried oregano.
*Used Earth Balance in place of butter to make a vegan version of the recipe.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Proof I'll use avocado for anything...

Another winner in the vegan cupcake category. :) These aren't too much different from the other vegan chocolate cupcakes I've made (I really do need to branch out and try other flavours of vegan cupcake) but they have an ingredient that makes them pretty special - AVOCADO!

Yes, my favourite fruit stars in these hunks of chocolately love.
The avocado works as a great substitute for the egg and most of the oil/butter. Since I knew we wouldn't be eating them all at the same time, I skipped a glaze or icing but I'll put a link at the bottom to the original recipe that includes a glaze idea. In the meantime, I'll be working on coming up with a vegan-approved topping that doesn't involve tofu...

Will have to try these again soon using applesauce in place of the oil and adding some semi-sweet chocolate chips (with the tofu-free glaze, of course!) :)

Makes 12 cupcakes

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. aluminium-free baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
1 avocado, pitted and peeled (i.e.: scooped out of the shell)
1 cup pure maple syrup
3/4 cup plain non-dairy milk
1/3 cup canola oil
2 tsp. vanilla extract
12 unbleached muffin tin liners

1. Preheat oven to 350 F and line cupcake pan with liners.
Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large mixing bowl. Use a whisk to combine them.

2. Puree the avocado in a food processor or blender until smooth. Add the maple syrup, milk, oil, and vanilla extract and continue to blend until the mixture is creamy. Use the whisk to combine this concoction with the dry ingredients.

3. Spoon the batter into the prepared cupcake pan. Bake 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool and then decorate if desired.

Here's a link to the original recipe "Glazed Chocolate-Avocado Cupcakes" from the September 2008 issue of Vegetarian Times. You can find the glaze recipe there.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Menu Plan: August 8-14

Saturday - Chickpea cutlets, smashed potatoes with goat cheese and chives, and ginger ale and honey braised carrots.

Sunday - Black beans in chipotle-adobo sauce, grilled zucchini with corn-radish relish

Monday -
Zucchini-tomato gratin (the Italian version) with pasta

Tuesday -
Garbanzo gorma, cauliflower with curry sauce

Wednesday - Havana black beans, cilantro-lime rice

Thursday - Stuffed shells

Friday - Coconut-curry soup

*Moroccan oranges
*Bananas with Mexican chocolate sauce
*Mayan-spiced chocolate pudding
*Bananas in sweet coconut milk
*Coconut rice pudding
*Orange-cranberry-ginger muffins
*Orange-ginger muffins
*Vegan chocolate cupcakes with avocado

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Zucchini-Tomato Gratin (South-of-the-Border Style)

This is actually based on a recipe with an Italian flair.
I had planned to make this last night but didn't squeeze it in so tonight I had part of a zucchini that needed to be used up as well as an avocado that needed to be used. I decided the Italian flavours of the original recipe wouldn't work very well with my tomato-cilantro-avocado soup but I could manage switching this up a bit to make it work. Hey, I may be English but I've lived in San Diego for the best part of 20 years. I know Mexican food flavours. :)

Here's the result of my recipe tweaking. It worked out really well and made a nice accompaniment to the soup. The only disappointment was that the big flavours of the cilantro and jalapeno overpowered the mild tomato and zucchini. But, I suppose if you have someone who turns their nose up at tomato and/or zucchini, this may just work out OK for you. ;)

**If you leave off the panko, this is gluten-free.**

Serves 2

2 tomatoes, sliced
1 zucchini, sliced into rounds
1/2 tsp. olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp. black olives
1/8 cup chopped cilantro
Small amount of jalapeno pepper, chopped (about 1/2 tsp.)
1/8 cup panko
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1/8 cup sharp cheddar, shredded
1/8 cup mozzarella, shredded

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Saute the zucchini until golden.
Mix the panko and oregano in a small bowl then mix in the cheeses.

2. Layer half of the tomato and zucchini slices in a baking pan. Top with half of the garlic, olives, cilantro, jalapeno, and panko mixture. Season with black pepper. Repeat with the remaining tomato and zucchini slices and then the remaining garlic, olives, cilantro, jalapeno, and panko-cheese mix. Add more black pepper if desired. Cover with foil and bake 10 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 15-20 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

Based on Zucchini-Tomato Gratin from the July /August 2009 issue of Vegetarian Times.

My Changes:
*Used cilantro in place of basil.
*Added jalapeno, panko, oregano.
*Used cheddar and mozzarella mixture in place of Parmesan.
*Used black olives in place of kalamata olives.
*Skipped the step involving salting the tomatoes and zucchini (worked out fine without doing this).

Mexican Rice Soup

This is a lovely light soup. Perfect for a summer evening.
It goes together very quickly once the broth has been prepared (and even that doesn't take long).

The shorter-grained rice and avocado give this soup a nice creaminess without making it heavy.

I actually made this a while ago and paired it with avocado bruschetta. Tonight, I had it with zucchini-tomato gratin. Both meal combinations worked really well together.

Serves 6

Ingredients: Broth
1 tbsp. olive oil
3/4 cup onion, finely chopped
2 cloves, garlic, crushed
3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 tbsp. grated lime zest
Juice of 2 limes, squeezed
1 tsp. dried oregano
3 cups water

1/4 cup short- or medium-grain rice
1 cup tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/3 cup frozen corn kernels
1 avocado, diced (approx. 1 cup)
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1. Make the broth first. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and saute for 5-7 minutes. Add in the garlic and continue to saute for another minute. Add the veggie broth, zest, lime juice, oregano, and water. Cover and reduce the heat to medium-low. Allow the broth to simmer for 10 minutes then strain it, discarding the solids and returning the liquid to the pan.

2. Add the rice to the broth and bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-low heat. Cover the pan and allow the rice to simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and corn and add salt and pepper to taste. Simmer an additional 10 minutes.

3. Pour the soup into serving bowls and garnish with the avocado, green onions, and cilantro.

Based on Mexican Rice Soup from the September 2008 issue of Vegetarian Times.

My Changes:
*I actually used 1/2 avocado for 1 serving. :) What can I say? I love the stuff. I placed part of it on the bottom of the bowl before pouring the soup in and then added the rest on the top.
*Added the lime juice.
*Skipped the tortilla strips. I thought about breaking up tortilla chips but couldn't get the effect I wanted. (The original recipe called for 1 tortilla to be cut into thin strips, baked, and then used to garnish the soup).

'Shroom Fra Diavolo

A vegetarian version of Shrimp Fra Diavolo.

This was yummy, it just didn't look very appetizing so I skipped the photo!

It needs a bit more "heat" so I'll experiment with adding more crushed red pepper next time.

Serves 2

2 portobello caps, cleaned and stems removed
1/2 tbsp. olive or canola oil
4-5 button or cremini mushrooms, cleaned, stems removed, and chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1-1 1/2 cups marinara sauce
1/4 tsp. (or more) crushed red pepper
1 tsp. capers, drained
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 servings uncooked pasta

1. Brush grill grates with oil and preheat grill to medium heat. Grill the portobello until slightly darkened and softened (I didn't time it... 5-6 minutes). Once grilled, slice the mushrooms and then cut each slice in half.
Cook the pasta according to package directions.

2. While the portobello grills, heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chopped cremini or button mushrooms and the garlic. Saute for 5-6 minutes until softened.

3. Add the marinara sauce, capers, red pepper flakes, black pepper, and salt to the sauteeing mushrooms. Bring to a simmer. Once simmering, add the portobello slices and cook 7-8 minutes until everything is cooked through.
Serve over the cooked pasta.

Based on Shrimp Fra Diavolo from the October 2007 issue of Cooking Light.

*Used portobello mushroom in place of shrimp.
*Sauteed button mushrooms with a little garlic.
*Added capers.
*Will add sliced kalamata or black olives next time.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Time for Tea

These are one of those quintessential English tea-time treats.
I can remember making these in home economics in primary and secondary school and they have been a life-long favourite of mine.

I recently re-stumbled across an old recipe and then found another recipe (with a yummy addition) so I decided it was time to get back to my roots!
Both recipes I used were English and I didn't think to go back and measure in cups after I weighed everything. I'll have to do that and come back when I have a bit
more time.

These are very quick and easy to make.

Best enjoyed with a cuppa. Translation: hot black tea, preferably with a little milk and, as some Brits like, a bit of sugar.

Proper English Flapjacks

*Note: These are best made with real butter so you get the real sticky toffee taste. However, I do believe they are vegan if you make them with a buttery spread such as Earth Balance.
Yeay! :) (That's the sound of vegan ex-pats rejoicing!)

*Quick edit: I think these may also be gluten-free! Oats are one of those iffy items on GF lists but I know you can find them that are GF.

*Note #2: While I highly recommend getting the proper Lyle's Golden Syrup, you can sub honey or maple syrup if you can't find it. (Lyle's and maple syrup are
vegan but honey is not).

100 grams butter (about 1 stick plus 1 tbsp)
100 grams light brown sugar
1 tbsp. Lyle's Golden Syrup
150 grams rolled oats

1. Preheat the oven to 325 F. Grease a 7-inch square pan really well (these are extremely sticky so make sure you grease the heck out of that pan!)

2. Place the butter, sugar, and Golden Syrup in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and cook gently over low heat until the butter has melted. Remove from the heat and stir in the oats. Transfer to the prepared baking pan and bake 30-35 minutes until golden brown and bubbly.

3. Let the flapjacks cool for about 10 minutes before cutting them into rectangles or squares. Leave in the tin until they are completely cooled.

Based on Flapjack recipe from Wyndham School Home Economics 1st Year Recipe Book (lol... that was my secondary school home ec book from 7th grade! Yes, I'm almost 32 but I still have it! Bit of nostalgia...) and Susan's Southsea Flapjacks from Fresh Mama's (a cookbook put together by a work parent and some of her friends).

Summer Evening Pasta

Recipes like this make me wish I had a green thumb (apparently, that trait is not genetic). As great as this was with store-bought stuff, I bet it would be three times as nice made with seriously fresh, straight-from-the-garden tomatoes and basil.

The no-cook sauce and quick prep time make this an especially wonderful dinner for a summer evening. Lovely with a salad and a glass of white wine.

Serves 2

2 ripe, really fresh tomatoes, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 tbsp. fresh basil, minced
1/8 cup red onion, finely chopped
1/2 tbsp. black or kalamata olives, chopped
1-2 tsp. capers, drained
1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp. sea salt
Freshly-ground black pepper
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/2 pound short pasta (wagon wheels, butterflies, penne...)
1/2 cup cooked white/navy beans

1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Add the pre-cooked beans during the last few minutes of cooking time just to warm them through.

2. While the pasta cooks, place half of the tomatoes in a large bowl along with the onion, olives, capers, and basil.

3. Place the remaining tomato chunks into a blender or food processor bowl. Add the oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, and garlic. Puree until smooth. Transfer this mixture to the bowl with the tomato-caper-basil mixture.

4. Once the pasta and beans are ready, drain and add them to the bowl with the tomato mixture. Toss well and serve immediately.

Pasta with Salsa Cruda from Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favourites.

My Changes:
*Added capers and olives.
*Added the beans for extra protein.

Smoky Portobello Burgers

This may just be my new favourite thing to do with a mushroom! Absolutely lovely!

My husband won't touch mushrooms with a 10-foot pole but I bet normal meat-eaters would be more than happy to eat these! :)
They are vegan if you skip the cheese so they make a great option for grilling if you're having a mixed crowd over.

You can make these into "slider-style" sandwiches using baby portobellos and dinner rolls.

Serves 4

4 regular-sized portobello mushrooms (or 8 baby portobellos)
3 tbsp. olive oil, divided
2 tbsp. BBQ rub (see below)
2 medium-sized onions, thinly sliced
1 tsp. herbes de Provence
1/2 cup BBQ sauce (I love this homemade one)
3/4 cup shredded cheese
4 sesame hamburger buns (or 8 dinner rolls)

BBQ Rub:
(this will make about 3/4 cup of rub. It will keep in the fridge if stored in an airtight container).
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/8 cup paprika
3 tbsp. freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp. sea salt or kosher salt
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

1. Prepare the BBQ rub by mixing all the ingredients together. Toss the mushrooms in a large bowl with 1 tbsp. of the oil and the BBQ rub. Set aside.

2. Heat the remaining 2 tbsp. oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and herbes de Provence and cook for 30 minutes or until golden. Remove from the heat.

3. Rub grill grate with veggie oil. Heat the grill over medium-high heat. Place the mushrooms stem-side down on the grill. Brush the tops with BBQ sauce and grill until soft and charred around the edges. Flip and grill a few minutes more. Place a little cheese on the stem-side of each mushroom and grill until the cheese is melted.

4. While the cheese melts, grill the buns. Assemble by placing one mushroom on each of the bottom buns and then top with the sauteed onion mixture and the top bun. Add a little more BBQ sauce to the buns if desired.

Smoky Baby Portobello Sliders from the July/August issue of Vegetarian Times.

*Used regular-sized mushroom.
*Used cheddar in place of gouda (I bet this would be fantastic with blue cheese!)

Baked Bananas (with Rum!)

The only thing better than cooked fruit: fruit cooked with booze. ;)

Makes a fantastic quick dessert. Great served with ice cream (or you could be good and serve it with fresh berries).

I'm 99% sure this is vegan if you make it with the non-dairy spread.

The photo does not even begin to do this justice...

Serves 2

1/2 tsp. butter or non-hydrogenated non-dairy spread
1/2 tsp. freshly-squeezed lemon juice
1 tbsp. maple syrup
1/2 tbsp. rum
Pinch of ground cinnamon
2 ripe (but firm) bananas, peeled and sliced in half lengthwise

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.

2. Melt the butter and then mix it in with the lemon juice, maple syrup, rum, and cinnamon.

3. Put the bananas in a shallow dish then spoon the buttered rum mixture over them. Bake about 8 minutes or until soft.

4. Remove the bananas from the oven and then preheat the broiler. Broil a couple minutes until the sauce turns into a glaze. Garnish with fresh berries if desired. Serve with ice cream, frozen yoghurt, or non-dairy ice cream.

Bananas Baked with Buttered Rum from The Occasional Vegetarian.

The only change I made was to use mango rum in place of the dark rum called for in the recipe. (I was home alone and couldn't reach the good stuff in the back of the liquor cabinet so I grabbed what was available).
The mango rum worked out great but I'll have to try this with some of the yummy Appleton run we brought back from Jamaica...

Avocado Bruschetta

The Argentinean chimichurri sauce puts a Latin twist on the ever-popular Italian appetizer.

Fast and easy to make!

Serves 2-3 (as a side dish or appetizer)

1 tbsp. freshly-squeezed lemon juice
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1/2 tbsp. garlic, crushed
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp. dried Mexican oregano
1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
1/8 cup olive oil
1/8 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/8 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 avocado, cubed
2-3 1/2-inch thick slices of good bread (ciabatta, French baguette, Italian), toasted

1. Combine the lemon juice, vinegar, garlic, salt, red pepper, black pepper, and oregano in a small bowl. Whisk in the oil and then stir in the cilantro and parsley. Carefully fold in the avocado chunks. Spoon the mixture onto the toasted bread.

Avocado Chimichurri Bruschetta from the September 2008 issue of Vegetarian Times.

I don't remember changing anything (I made this over a month ago) but I'd love to try adding some tomato to this next time.
*I'll try to remember to take a photo next time, too!*

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Pasta Shells with Spicy Tomato Sauce

This is a fast and easy, slightly spicy pasta dish.

Serves 2

4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup onion, diced
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
2-3 tomatoes, cut into small chunks (keep the seeds)
1-2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/3 pound small pasta shells
1 cup cooked black beans
1/2 cup frozen corn
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

1. Heat the olive oil over low heat in a medium skillet. Add the onion and garlic and saute until the garlic begins to turn golden, 2-3 minutes. Add the jalapeno and saute an additional 1-2 minutes.

2. Add the tomatoes, 1/2-1 tsp. salt, and pepper. Cover partially and cook until the tomatoes begin to fall apart (10-12 minutes). Stir every few minutes.
Add the beans to the sauce during the last 2-3 minutes of the sauce cooking time.
While the sauce cooks, cook the pasta according to package directions. Add the corn to the pasta during the last few minutes of pasta cooking time.

3. Drain the pasta and add it to the sauce. Toss to combine. Garnish with cilantro and season with additional salt if desired.

Pasta Shells with Spicy Tomato Sauce from The Occasional Vegetarian.

My changes:
*Added onion.
*Added corn and black beans.
*Used regular vine-ripened tomatoes in place of plum tomatoes.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Chocolate Brickle Cookies

These are the real reason I made that toffee. ;)
They disappeared before I had a chance to take a photo... guess that's just an excuse to make more!

About 5 1/2 Dozen Cookies

1 1/2 cups rolled oats
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 cup butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
3 tbsp. shortening
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup milk chocolate chips
3/4 cup toffee bits

Preheat oven to 350 F.

1. Pulse the oats in the food processor until finely ground. Whisk the oats with the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.

2. Beat the butter, brown sugar, sugar, and shortening in the bowl of a stand mixer at medium speed for 2 minutes (or until blended). Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Reduce the mixer to low speed and beat in the flour mixture. Stir in the nuts, chocolate, and toffee bits.

3. Scoop tablespoons of the batter onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Flatten to ~1/2-inch thick. Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.

Chocolate Brickle Cookies from Cooking Pleasures magazine (unfortunately I forgot to write down the date before ripping it out of the magazine so I'm not sure which issue this was from...)

English Toffee

Not really sure why this is called English toffee... It's nothing like what I call toffee! lol ;) Toffee to the English is soft and chewy, not crunchy. Oh well, this stuff is still fanbloodytastic. :)
It's like a Heath bar without the chocolate. Of course, if you wanted a home-made Heath bar, you could just pour melted chocolate over the top or throw a cut-up chocolate bar on it while the toffee is still warm.

You'll want a decent candy/deep-fry thermometer for this. They're not expensive and are worth having since they come in very handy during the holiday baking season! :)

Makes 1 1/4 pounds

1 cup unsalted butter (use the real stuff)
1 cup sugar

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chunks/chips
1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

1. Combine the butter and sugar in a heavy 2-quart saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Cook until the candy thermometer reaches 300 F.

2. Quickly spread the mixture into a 15x10x1-inch pan.
If you're using chocolate, sprinkle it over the top now. Let it sit 5 minutes and then spread the chocolate over the toffee. Sprinkle with nuts if desired.

3. Cool the candy completely and then break it into pieces.

**To prevent your toffee from separating, fight the urge to stir! I know, it's tough! :)
In the beginning, stir occasionally until it reach 260-265 F. Then pretty much quit stirring (only a few times) while it continues cooking up to 300 F.
You will need to stir from time to time to prevent it from burning, but try to do it as little as possible.

English Toffee from Land O'Lakes Baking: Trusted Recipes.

Curried Udon Noodles

This meal included two firsts: My first attempt at making a meat substitute (seitan) and my first time trying out udon noodles.

This dish can be quite spicy. If you're not much into heat, use a mild curry powder and omit the hot pepper.

Overall, this was really yummy. I'm not really into fake meat, though... I quit eating meat; why would I want to eat fake meat? :) I do like to try new things, though, so I gave the seitan a shot. It definitely tasted OK (I never really was a red meat fan, though) but it had this odd chewy texture. I think I'll stick to beans in the future. :) I am pleased to say that hubby did try a piece and thought the flavour was almost spot-on.
So, to wrap all that up, if you're looking for a half-decent meat substitute, this might just be it!

Plan ahead:
There's quite a bit of prep that goes into this but once you have all the ingredients together, the final product goes together very quickly.
Prep and bake the seitan early in the day (or the night before). Let it cool and then store it in the refrigerator (in the liquid you baked it in) until you're ready to use it.

Makes 6 cutlets


6 cups vegetable broth
3 tbsp. soy sauce

1 1/4 cups vital wheat gluten
1/2 cup cold vegetable broth
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tbsp. olive oil

2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 tsp. grated lemon zest

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1. Prepare the broth by bringing the 6 cups of veggie broth and 3 tbsp. soy sauce to a boil in a saucepan. Turn off the heat and keep it covered until your ready to use it.

2. Place the vital wheat gluten in a mixing bowl. Mix the 1/2 cup cold veggie broth, 1/4 cup soy sauce, oil, garlic, and lemon zest together in a large measuring jug. Pour the wet mixture into the flour and combine using a wooden spoon.

3. Use your hands to knead the mixture for about 3 minutes or until the dough is elastic. Divide the dough into six equal pieces (you can do this by rolling it into a log and then slicing it into circles).

4. Take each of the six pieces of dough and stretch them into oblong cutlet shapes (about 1/2-inch thick). You'll need to put some elbow grease into it. :)

5. Pour the heated veggie broth-soy sauce mixture into a 9 x 13-inch baking dish/casserole. Place the cutlets into the broth and bake them for 30 minutes, uncovered. Turn them over and bake an additional 20 minutes.

These are now ready to be used in any recipe calling for seitan.

Curried Udon Noodle Stir-Fry
4 servings

*I used dry udon noodles for this since all the fresh ones I could find were junk. Seriously... the ingredients were really scary! Not to mention non-vegetarian. :(
I live in a part of San Diego where you can find TONS of great Asian ingredients so I never thought I'd have so much trouble finding decent fresh noodles... sigh. Maybe I need to try one of the Asian markets next time.

I found the dry ones in the Asian section of the grocery store, near the rice and panko (they were hiding on the bottom shelf - if you can't find them, look down!)

1/2 pound fresh or dried udon noodles

Curry Roux Sauce
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 tbsp. unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. curry powder
1/2 tsp. garam masala
1/2 cup vegetable broth
2 tsp. sugar

Udon Stir-Fry
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 large yellow onion, sliced into thin strips
1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced into thin strips
1/2-1 cup carrots, thinly sliced
1 hot pepper (I used a jalapeno), seeded and sliced very thin
2 seitan cutlets (see above), sliced into thin strips
1/2 pound broccoli florets, cut into bite-sized chunks
1 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup vegetable broth
2-3 tbsp. soy sauce

1. Cook the udon according to the package directions. Drain and rinse well with cold water.

2. While the udon cooks, make the curry roux. Combine the flour and 2 tbsp. oil in a small saucepan. Cook the mixture over medium-low heat (stir it constantly) until it's a nice caramel colour and it smells toasty. This can take up to 10 minutes. Stir in the curry powder and garam masala then cook another minute while continuing to stir constantly.

3. Use a wire whisk to stir the vegetable broth into the curry-flour mixture. Add the sugar and cook the roux, whisking constantly, until a thick sauce forms. Remove from the heat and set aside.

4. Heat 2 tbsp. of oil in a large skillet or wok. Cook the onion in the hot oil for 5-6 minutes until softened and translucent. Add the ginger, bell pepper, carrot slices, hot pepper, and seitan. Stir-fry for 5 minutes. Add the broccoli and peas and stir-fry 4-5 more minutes until the broccoli turns bright green.

5. Add the udon noodles to the veggies and sprinkle the mixture with soy sauce. Stir-fry an additional 2-3 minutes (2 chopsticks or spatulas will make your life much easier).

6. Whisk 1/4 cup of the veggie broth into the curry roux. Pour the sauce over the udon-vegetable mixture and stir so everything is coated. Stir and cook 2-3 minutes until the sauce is simmering and the noodles are warm.

Serve immediately.

Seitan Cutlets from Veganomicon. No changes.
Curried Udon Noodle Stir-Fry from Veganomicon.

Changes I made to the stir-fry:
*Jalapeno in place of hot red chile.
*Added peas.
*Added sliced carrots.

Buttermilk Biscuits

Or scones as I like to call them. And, yes, that is pronounced "skon" (rhymes with on), not "skown" (rhymes with own). ;)

Super easy.

8 biscuits

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp. aluminium-free baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup cold butter
3/4 cup buttermilk (or 3/4 tbsp. vinegar/lemon juice plus enough milk to make 3/4 cup. Let stand 10 minutes)
1 tbsp. butter, melted

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a large mixing bowl. Cut in 1/2 cup butter with a knife or fork. Rub with your fingers until it resemble coarse crumbs. Stir in the buttermilk until the flour mixture is just moistened.

2. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead about 10 times or until smooth. Roll out the dough to 3/4-inch thickness. Use a biscuit cutter or a glass to cut into biscuit shapes.

3. Place the biscuits 1 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Brush with the melted butter. Bake 10-14 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve warm.

Perfect Buttermilk Biscuits from Land O'Lakes Baking: Trusted Recipes.

Minty Chickpea Salad

I had this with the veggie skewers. It made a really refreshing summer salad.

Serves 2

1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/8 cup olive oil
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (1/2 cup dried)
1 medium tomato, seeded and chopped
1/2 cucumber, peeled and diced
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 green onions, finely chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/8 cup mint, chopped

1. Whisk together the lemon juice, oil, and salt. Add the chickpeas, vegetables, and herbs and stir well to combine.

Minty Chickpea-Vegetable Salad from the July/August 2009 issue of VegNews.

My changes:
*Green onions in place of scallions.
*Cilantro in place of flat-leaf parsley.

Vegetable Skewers

I have about 6 zillion things to blog from the last month so bear with me... :) Maybe I can figure out how to only publish a couple each day.

I love food cooked on skewers! When I taught pre-kindergarten I used to make fruit kabobs with my class all the time. Yum! Amazing how sticking fruit on a stick can get kids to eat it! lol :)
Note to self: Remember to get some great rosemary stems so I can use those to make skewers.

**Plan ahead. The vegetables will need to sit in the vinaigrette for at least one hour (or overnight) prior to grilling.**

Serves 2-3

Ingredients: Rosemary-Dijon Vinaigrette
2 tbsp. white wine vinegar
2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 green onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 tbsp. grated lemon zest
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary

Veggie Skewers
12 button or cremini mushrooms (stems removed)
1/2 red or green bell pepper (or a mix of both), seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 red onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 yellow squash, cut into 6 rounds
1/2 zucchini, cut into 6 rounds

1. Prepare the rosemary-vinaigrette. Whisk the vinegar, mustard, green onion, lemon juice, and zest in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil and mix until the mixture emulsifies. Stir in the rosemary and then add black pepper and salt if desired.

2. Toss the veggies in the vinaigrette. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour or overnight.

3. Rub grill or veggie basket with vegetable oil. Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Thread the veggies onto 6 pre-soaked skewers. Grill the skewers 3-4 minutes per side until veggies are softened.

Based on Farm Stand Vegetable Skewers with Rosemary-Dijon Vinaigrette from the July/August issue of Vegetarian Times.

My changes:
I omitted the red potatoes and sugar snap peas that were called for in the original recipe (last-minute decision to make this!) I'll have to try those next time.
I used white wine vinegar in place of the sherry vinegar.
I used a green onion in place of a small shallot in the vinaigrette.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Gah... Duped Again!

So I'm adding agave nectar to my list of no-nos...
Just when I thought I'd found this great, after-taste-free, vegan-approved sweetener I find out it was probably all lies.
Here's a link to the article that was sent to me by a friend who shares my love of all things natural and un-processed.

Agave: A Triumph of Marketing over Truth

They plug stevia at the end a bit so I feel a need to add that I read stevia has its own set of issues. It really should only be used in moderation (at least they do mention that in the article) and (of course) I'm all for avoiding those fake stevia things that seem to be popping up now.

What a shame... At least there are still things like honey and maple syrup. I'll be sticking to those along with organic evaporate cane juice!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Veggie Stacks

A great way to use up veggies that are taking over your garden (I'm jealous!) or your farmer's market finds.

The tart gremolata provides a nice contrast to the sweetness of the produce that is brought out in the grilling process.

Switch up the veggies as desired to use up what you have on hand!

Serves 2 (2 stacks each)

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/8 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. grated lemon zest

Grill rub (see below)
1/2 of a medium-sized eggplant, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch thick slices
2 portobello caps, stems removed
1 yellow squash, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch thick slices
1 zucchini, cut
lengthwise into 1/4-inch thick slices
1 tomato, cut into thick slices
Shaved Parmesan (optional). Obviously, it won't be vegan if you add this.

Grill Rub (this will make about 3/4 cup of rub. It will keep in the fridge if stored in an airtight container).
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/8 cup paprika
3 tbsp. freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp. sea salt or kosher salt
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

1. Prepare the gremolata. Pulse the parsley, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, and zest in a food processor. Chill while preparing the veggies.

2. Heat grill to high heat (see tip below). Coat grate with vegetable oil.

3. Sprinkle the veggies with the grill rub (I only used the rub on one side of each piece). Place the eggplant and the portobello cap on the grill first and cook 2 minutes. Add the zucchini and squash and cook 2 minutes more. Turn veggies 45 degrees and cook 2 minutes more. Flip and cook another 2 minutes and then turn them 45 degrees and cook an additional 2 minutes. (If you're not bothered about fancy grill marks, cook 'em for 4 minutes on one side and 4 on the other).
Add the tomato during the last few minutes so it doesn't just complete disintegrate. :)

4. Layer them however you like. Here's how I stacked mine:
1 piece of eggplant on the bottom
Half of the portobello cap
Zucchini slices
Squash slices
Eggplant on top
Drizzle the gremolata over the top of each stack and then add a couple pieces of shaved Parmesan if desired.

Here's a handy guide for figuring out how hot the grill is!
Hold your hand 4 inches above the grill grate and count until your palm feels hot.
*2-3 seconds = high heat
*4-5 seconds = medium-high
*6-8 seconds = medium
*9-10 seconds = medium-low

This is based on Summer Vegetable Stacks with Gremolata and Classic BBQ Rub from the July/August 2009 issue of Vegetarian Times magazine. I also found that grill temperature guide in this issue.

My changes:
Grill rub - I didn't have celery seed so I subbed coriander (same amount).
Veggie stacks - I used a portobello mushroom in place of tofu (original called for 1 16-oz. package of extra-firm tofu per 4 servings). I also added zucchini and tomato. The original recipe didn't use the grill rub, I just thought that would be good on the veggies.

The June Gloom Cure-All

Here in San Diego we often have overcast skies (caused by the marine layer) during the late spring/early summer. In May, we call it "May Gray." In June, it becomes "June Gloom." Yes, living in paradise is awful! How do we manage to live through this for 2 whole months? ;)
These muffins just might be the magic elixir that takes away all the dreary yuckiness that comes with living by the coast!
No matter the weather, these sunny muffins are sure to brighten anyone's day.

Note: I used cow's milk and dairy yogurt to make these but they are extremely easy to convert back to a vegan baking recipe since they are already egg-free. Just sub non-dairy yogurt and milk.

Makes 12 muffins

1/2 cup plain or vanilla yogurt (they are vegan if you use non-dairy yogurt)
1/2 cup fat-free milk (again, vegan if you choose a plain or vanilla non-dairy milk)
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract (omit if you use vanilla yogurt)
1 tbsp. ground flaxseed (a coffee bean grinder is a great tool for grinding these)
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup crushed pineapple, squeeze out and reserve all the juice (do not use fresh pineapple, it will interfere with the leavening process)
1/3 cup pineapple juice
1/2 cup finely shredded carrot
1 generous tsp. grated orange zest (from 1 large orange)
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. aluminium-free baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin or line with unbleached paper liners.

1. Whisk the yogurt, milk, vanilla if using, and ground flaxseed together in a large bowl.

2. Squeeze the pineapple really well to ensure that you've removed all the juice. Add the pineapple pieces to the bowl along with the reserved juice, carrot, orange zest, raisins, cranberries, and coconut. Whisk thoroughly.

3. Sift in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, and salt. Whisk just enough to moisten all the dry ingredients but do not over-mix.

4. Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin tin and then bake for 24-26 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the muffins comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes in the tin before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Carrot-Pineapple Sunshine Muffins from Veganomicon.

My changes:
I subbed 1/4 cup raisins and 1/4 cup cranberries for the 1/2 cup raisins called for in the original recipe.
I added 1/4 cup shredded coconut.
I added 1 tsp. vanilla extract since I used plain yogurt.
Changes to try in the future: Use half whole-wheat flour, half all-purpose. Add in some cardamom/sub it for the cinnamon. Sub fresh grated ginger for ground ginger. Actually make them vegan with almond milk and non-dairy yogurt. Try them with golden raisins/try mixing it up with other dried fruits.

These do not rise much (in fact, they're pretty flat!)
Feel free to fill those muffin cups full of batter (the batter, by the way, tastes great!)

Wild Rice Salad

I had this with that fabulous carrot-ginger soup! Yum! :)

Serves 6

8 cups water
12 ounces wild rice (or a wild rice blend)
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/3 cup pecans, chopped
6 green onions, sliced
1 cup diced tomatoes
1 cup raspberry vinaigrette dressing

Raspberry Vinaigrette Dressing (Makes about 3 cups)
1 pint (2 cups) raspberries (you can use frozen, just defrost before using)
2 green onions, sliced
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup white wine vinegar

1. To prepare the dressing, Puree the raspberries, green onions, and mustard in a food processor or blender until smooth. While the machine is running, pour in the olive oil and puree for about 30 seconds. Add the vinegar and combine well. Store in the refrigerator.

2. Cook the rice according to package directions or until tender (I bought mine bulk/had no directions! Since it was a blend, it only took about 30 minutes. Wild rice will usually take 50-60 minutes to cook). Drain any excess water and set aside to cool.

3. Transfer the cooled rice to a mixing bowl. Add the cranberries, pecans, parsley, green onions, tomatoes, and dressing. Toss to combine.

Wild Rice with Pecans and Cranberries from The Whole Foods Market Cookbook.

Carrot-Ginger Soup

I really wasn't sure what to expect from this and actually thought I might not like it. I was proven wrong and now I can't wait to make it again! I'd like to try it chilled next time.

The mild carrots are really set off by the spicy ginger!

An immersion blender is a great tool for pureeing just a small amount of this soup if you divide the recipe.

Serves 6

1 tbsp. canola oil
4 medium onions, sliced
1 3-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
6 cups vegetable broth
8 large carrots, peeled and roughly cut into evenly sized pieces
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, if desired

1. Heat the canola oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Saute the onions until translucent. Add the chopped ginger and saute an additional 2 minutes.

2. Increase the heat to medium an add the broth and carrots. Simmer until the carrots are tender. Season to taste. Puree.

From The Whole Foods Market Cookbook.

I didn't make any changes to this but there is a note at the bottom of the recipe saying "Reduce the vegetable broth by half and replace the remaining half with orange juice, apple juice, ginger ale, or sparkling cider." Definitely something to think about for next time!
I might also add some crushed pineapple to a chilled version.

Best Egg Salad I've Ever Tasted!

Seriously, it really is the best-tasting egg salad I've had. If you'd like, you can make it the way the Moosewood book suggested and leave out most of the yolk. That way it has much less fat and cholesterol than a regular egg salad.

Makes 2 sandwiches
This is also great on crackers or on top of a bed of lettuce. I'd love to try it stuffed into an avocado or tomato.

2 eggs, hard-boiled, cooled, and then diced
1/2 stalk of celery, diced
1/8 of a red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 tbsp. sweet or dill pickle, minced
1 tsp. capers, drained
1/8 cup red onion, chopped
1/2 tbsp. fresh dill, minced (or 1/2 tsp. dried)
1/2 tbsp. fat-free plain yogurt
1/2 tsp. prepared horseradish
1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
Freshly ground black pepper to taste, if desired
Bread or rolls
Lettuce, tomato, sliced green onion, additional Dijon mustard as sandwich garnishes

1. Stir together chopped eggs, celery, capers, bell pepper, pickle, onion, dill, yogurt, horseradish, and mustard.

2. Serve as a sandwich on bread/rolls or as a salad.

Based on the Egg Salad recipe from the Moosewood Low-Fat Favorites cookbook.

My changes:
I used yogurt in place of mayonnaise. I thought about making my own mayo but just couldn't be bothered... heh :) Least I'm honest!
I added the capers. I also used sweet pickle in place of dill pickle.

Waldorf Salad with Bulgar

The flavours in this salad will excite each and every one of your taste buds! There is really a lot going on from the sweet apples and nutty bulgar to the tart lemon juice and peppery parsley.

I served this along side an egg salad sandwich. Made for a great lunch!

Serves 2-3

1 cup bulgar
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1 medium-sized apple, cored and diced (leave the skin on)
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup strawberries, sliced
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup apple juice
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

1. Prepare the bulgar first. Place the grains plus 1 cup of boiling water into a heat-proof bowl. Cover and let the bulgar sit for 20-30 minutes or until all the water has been absorbed. Set aside to cool.

2. Once cooled, transfer the bulgar to a mixing bowl and add the remaining ingredients. Toss everything well and serve.

Based on Wheat Berry Waldorf Salad from The Whole Foods Market Cookbook.

My changes:
I used bulgar (cracked wheat) in place of wheat berries.
I added the strawberries and used a mixture of cranberries and raisins in place of just raisins.
I subbed white wine vinegar for apple cider vinegar and used sparkling cider in place of apple juice (slightly out of desperation ;)

Friday, June 26, 2009

Samosa Stuffed Jacket Potatoes

Proof that potatoes do not need to be slathered in loads of butter, cheese, and sour cream to taste good! (Not that I don't enjoy the occasional butter-, cheese-, and sour cream-slathered potato but I usually prefer less artery-clogging food).

These were lovely! I made them as twice-baked potatoes but the original recipe called for making them as potato skin-style appetizers (yes, now I'm thinking I need to plan a Bollywood movie night so I can make these yummy things as part of the menu!)

As I made them, they make a great meal on their own or with a salad (I should have planned better and bought stuff to make a chutney for them...) or make them as potato skins and have them as a starter for a curry dish.

Excuse the crappy photo... hubby left for Texas this morning and took my camera leaving me to take this with my phone. The finished potato was really pretty; this does not do it justice.

I bet you could make these the night before, wrap them up and keep them refrigerated, and then just heat up for lunch the next day.

Makes 2 twice-baked potatoes or 4 potato skin appetizers

2 Russet potatoes, scrubbed, baked, and cooled
1/8 cup non-dairy milk, veggie broth, or water (I used broth)
A little non-dairy, non-hydrogenated margarine (1/2-1 tsp.)
1 1/2 tbsp. canola oil
1/2 cup carrots, cut into small dice or shredded
1/2 cup onion, cut into small dice
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. fresh ginger, grated
1/2 tsp. ground mustard
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. curry powder
1/4 tsp. turmeric
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/4 cup frozen peas (leave them frozen)
Juice of 1/4 lemon
Extra canola oil for brushing the skins
Cilantro and/or green onions as a garnish (completely forgot I was going to add those until now)

1. If you are making twice-baked potatoes, slice off the top of the potato leaving three sides intact. Scoop out the potato flesh and place it in a bowl. Be careful not to break the skins. Set the skins aside.
If you are making potato skins, slice the potatoes in half and then scoop out the filling. Again, be careful not the break the skins. Set the skins aside.

2. Mash the potato filling with the milk, water, or veggie broth and margarine until it's the consistency of mashed potatoes.

3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and carrots and saute until the onions are lightly browned and both veggies are soft (7-10 minutes).

4. Add the garlic and ginger and saute for another minute. Add the mustard, coriander, cumin, curry powder, turmeric, and salt along with a little splash of water. You can add more water if it looks too dry. Stir well.

5. Add the onion-carrot mixture to the mashed potato filling and mix well. At this point, I poured a little water into the skillet to pick up more of the spice mixture. I added the frozen peas to the skillet/water and gave them a quick stir. Drain the peas and then add them to the potato mixture. Add the lemon juice and stir to incorporate all the ingredients.

6. Brush the outside of the skins with a little extra canola oil and then scoop the potato mixture into each skin. Press gently so you have the entire potato shell filled.

7. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro and sliced green onions if desired.

If you're going to eat the skins, try to find organic potatoes. Potatoes are on the "dirty dozen" list of items with high concentrations of pesticides.

Based on Samosa Stuffed Potatoes from Veganomicon.
I made several changes:
*As mentioned above, I made mine as twice-baked potatoes.
*I added the margarine and curry powder.
*The original called for peanut oil. I just used canola.
*Original recipe called for yellow mustard seeds and coriander seeds and to add these to the skillet prior to adding the onion and carrot. I just used ground mustard and ground coriander and added them with the other spices.
*The original said to add the potato filling into the skillet and heat it through. I skipped this and just added the stuff from the skillet into the potato filling in a bowl. I also decided to throw a little water into the empty skillet and swish the peas around in that to try to get a little more of the spices.

Chocolate-Raspberry Cookies

So chewy! So chocolatey! So free of rubbish you shouldn't be eating! All this and vegan, too!

These are really fantastic cookies. I can't wait to make them again with different flavours of spreadable fruit (cherry, apricot, orange marmalade with Grand Marnier or Cointreau... whatever!)
I may even add some chocolate chips or chopped nuts next time but, really, they wouldn't need them.

I didn't take a photo since my camera just landed in Texas but these cookies look remarkably like these ones: Double-Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

Makes about 2 dozen cookies

1/2 cup raspberry preserves
1 cup unrefined sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 tsp. pure almond extract (or amaretto)
1/4-1/2 tsp. Chambord (optional)
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the raspberry preserves, sugar, canola oil, vanilla, almond extract or amaretto, and Chambord.

2. In a separate mixing bowl, sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt together. Add the dry ingredients to the wet in three batches, mixing well with each addition. You may need to use your hands to kneed the dough with the last addition.

3. Roll the dough into walnut-sized balls and then flatten them with your hands into discs. Place them on a prepared cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes. They don't spread so don't worry about placing them far apart on the sheet.

4. Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool for 5 minutes on the sheet and then transfer them to a cooling rack to cool them completely.

Chewy Chocolate-Raspberry Cookies from Veganomicon.
The only change I really made was to add Chambord and a little amaretto when I ran out of almond extract (!) :)
I can't wait to try different flavours of these cookies!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Banana and Black Bean Empanadas

Bored with banana bread? Want a new way to use up those ripe bananas? Then you have to try these!

I actually made these a while ago and never got around to blogging them. They were just so fantastic, I can't leave them out! :)
I had this version of the Argentinean pastry as a meal with rice and a big salad but they would make great appetizers.

Note: The crust needs to be refrigerated for at least one hour (up to overnight) so plan ahead for that.

Makes 12 empanadas (6 servings)

1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. chili powder
4 tbsp. non-dairy, non-hydrogenated margarine cut into small cubes (Earth Balance)
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce (Make your own if you have time!)
1 tbsp. white wine vinegar

1 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup onion, chopped
1 cup cooked black beans
1 clove garlic, smushed or finely diced
1 cup peeled, diced bananas (the riper, the better!)
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. ground coriander
2 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
1 tsp. hot sauce

1. As mentioned above, you'll need to make the crust in advance. Here's how:
*Sift flowers, salt, and chili powder together in a bowl. Use your fingers to mix in the margarine like you would if you were making a pie crust.
*Whisk the applesauce, vinegar, and 1/3 cup cold water in a separate bowl.
*Add the applesauce mixture to the flour until a dough forms. You can add up to 1/4 cup more cold water if needed.
*Knead the dough on a floured surface. Form a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, chill.

2. While the dough chills, work on the filling. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Saute the onion in the oil for 4-5 minutes (until soft). Add the black beans and garlic and reduce the heat to medium. Cook the bean mixture for 3 minutes.

3. Add the bananas, cumin, cayenne, and coriander to the bean mixture and cook for 2 minutes or until the bananas just begin to break down (this smells amazing!) Remove from the heat and stir in the cilantro and hot sauce.

4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, prepare a cookie sheet by spraying it with cooking spray, and lightly flour your work surface. Divide the dough into 12 balls and roll out each ball into a 6-inch round (about 1/4-inch thick).

5. Fill each dough round with a couple tablespoons of the filling and brush the edges with water. Fold the dough in half to make a semi-circle and press to close the edges. Use a fork to crimp the edges/seal the empanadas.

6. Place the assembled pastries on the cookie sheet and chill for 10 minutes. Once chilled, bake them for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool slightly before serving.

From the March 2009 issue of Vegetarian Times magazine.
I honestly didn't change anything from the original recipe... (except the cooking temp. - original called for 400).
I may try adding some chopped avocado next time or maybe even adding a little cocoa powder to do some sort of mole-esque thing. Watch this space! I love to experiment! ;)

Been a while...

My schedule went a bit nuts (and to be quite honest, I got a bit burned out on the blogging) so I quit for a while. Now that I'm on summer break (and have a bit more time on my hands), I can blog again. :)

I'm pretty excited about this week's menu so hopefully I'll have plenty to write about in the next week or so.

June 26-July 2
Friday: Samosa-Stuffed Potato (lunch). Summer veggie stacks with salad and quinoa for dinner.

Saturday: I have a CPR/first aid class all day so I have no idea what I'll be eating...

Sunday: Spicy chickpea patties and salad for lunch. Carrot-ginger soup with a wild rice, walnut, and cranberry salad for dinner.

Monday: Tropical gazpacho for lunch. Quinoa, black bean, and citrus salad for dinner.

Tuesday: Egg salad sandwich with a Waldorf salad (supposed to be with wheat berries but I'll sub in barley or something). Vegetarian (actually may be vegan) French onion and a salad for dinner (maybe leftover Waldorf!)

Wednesday: Farm stand veggie skewers with homemade buttermilk biscuits and veggie couscous.

Thursday: Tomato-bulgar soup and (I'm going to give polenta one more shot!) savoury tomato-pesto polenta.

I'm also planning on making chocolate-raspberry cookies and carrot-pineapple muffins.

As usual, the order may change around a bit... :)

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Chickpea Burgers with Two Relishes

Is "relishes" really even a word..? lol :)

I actually made this a couple weeks ago and then my schedule went nuts and I've had no time for blogging!
It's a good thing; I've been going to lots of tai chi classes and I also found a netball club here to play with. Nice to be back on the court even though I am really rusty. That's what I'd be doing right now if my bio bomb students at work hadn't given me this cold... boo :(

These little chickpea numbers were so tasty! I can't wait to make them again. I think next time, I'd like to try them with black beans. Yum!
I served these with lavender-rosemary roasted potatoes in place of fries.

This would be enough for 2 (1 patty each)

1/3 cup dry chickpeas (use canned it you prefer)
1 egg white
1 tbsp. sour cream
1/8 cup onion, diced
1 small garlic clove, minced
Small amount of lemon juice (about 1/4 lemon worth)
1/8 cup panko
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. Mexican oregano (dried)
1/4 cup freshly-shredded pepper-jack cheese, divided (1/8 per patty)
1/2 tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tsp. olive oil
Sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper

1 large tomato, seeded and chopped (divided so you have 1/2 tomato in each of two bowls)
2-3 Kalamata olives, sliced
1/4 tsp. olive oil
1/8 tsp. red wine vinegar
1/2 avocado, diced
Juice of 1/4 lime (or use some of that lemon from above)
Chopped fresh cilantro (1-2 tbsp.)
Sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste

1. If you use dried beans, you'll need to start by soaking these. I prefer to quick-soak mine. Bring them to a boil in enough water to cover them by 3-4 inches. Once they are boiling, immediately remove them from the heat and let them sit, covered, for 1 hour. Drain, rinse, and cook as usual.

2. I decided to make the relishes first to allow the flavours time to meld together. I made two different ones - an olive-tomato relish as well as an avocado pico relish. Both were fantastic!
To make the avocado pico:
*Mix the tomato (1/2 tomato), lime (or lemon) juice, cilantro, and salt and pepper to taste in a small bowl. Allow this to sit in the fridge for 1 hour.
To make the olive-tomato relish:
*Mix the other 1/2 tomato, olives, olive oil, red wine vinegar, and salt/pepper to taste in a small bowl. Refrigerate until ready to use.

3. Make the patties! Put the chickpeas, egg white, sour cream, onion, garlic, and lemon juice in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until well-combined (it should be chunky). Add the salt, pepper, cilantro, and cumin and pulse until combined. Transfer this mixture to a mixing bowl and stir in the panko and cheese.

4. Form portions of the mixture into two 1-inch thick patties. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the burgers and cook for 6-8 minutes per side or until golden. Flip once during cooking.
Serve with the relishes and, if desired, avocado slices (I just can't get enough avocado!)

I found this recipe on the Savory Safari blog; the author of that blog was inspired by a recipe for veggie burgers at 101 Cookbooks.

My changes:
*I used pepper-jack in place of cotija cheese. I also grated my cheese as opposed to slicing it and then mixed it in with the bean mixture rather than placing the slices in between two halves of each patty.
*I added the cilantro, cumin, and oregano.
*I used sour cream in place of mayonnaise.
*I added a relish :) The avocado-pico was my idea. I thought it would work well with the flavours in the patties.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Menu - February 15-

Sunday - Bow-tie pasta with kasha and veggies.

Monday - Balsamic lentils with beans and mushrooms. Based on this recipe; I'm using beans and mushrooms in place of the sausage.

Tuesday - Cheese-stuffed chickpea burgers with lavender-rosemary potatoes. Chickpea burgers will be based on this recipe but I'm using pepper-jack cheese since we already have that in the fridge!

Wednesday - Three-cheese penne florentine (made with either homemade cream of broccoli or homemade cream of spinach). Based on this recipe.

Thursday - Pineapple-Peanut Stew.

Friday - Pasta alla puttanesca.

Saturday - Cumin lentil soup with a side of quinoa fritters.

Lots of pasta ;)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Ancient Grains with Veggies Pilaf

This was really tasty but a bit of a pain to make... probably due to the fact that you have to cook each grain separately and I only own two saucepans. LOL.. I used to have a bunch but purged all the old crappy Teflon ones so now I'm down to two non-huge stainless steel ones. Plus, I needed one for DH's dinner.. The time it takes is worth it just for the amazing amount of protein in this dish!
At least I know for next time to make them all in advance!

You could really use any combination of grains and veggies that you have on hand. Rice would also work. In fact, the original version of this recipe called for brown rice; I chose to use quinoa instead in an attempt to cut back on cooking time.

The pilaf is really filling so I'd say this amount would feed 2; 4 as a side-dish.

**Note: Soak the spelt for at least 6 hours prior to cooking.**

1/8 cup whole spelt grain
1/2 cup water

1/8 cup bulgur
3/4 cup water

1/8 cup quinoa
1/4 cup water

1/6 cup couscous
1/4 cup water

1-2 tbsp. olive oil
1/8 cup onion, finely chopped
1/2 stalk celery, diced
1/8 cup carrots, finely diced
1/8 cup sweet potato, finely diced
1/8 cup parsnip, finely diced
1/8 cup mushroom, diced (I used portobello; any mushroom would work)
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1/8 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 green onion, sliced
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
Fresh ginger (as much as you like; I think I used 1/2 tbsp.)

1. Start with the spelt. Drain the soaked spelt then add it to 1/2 cup of water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil then lower the heat and let it simmer, uncovered, for 25-30 minutes or until it is cooked through. Spelt will not get too soft/it remains quite firm.

2. Cook the bulgur by bringing 3/4 cup of water to a boil. Add the bulgur grains and then reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer 10 minutes or until cooked through.

3. Cook the quinoa by boiling 1/4 cup water. Add the quinoa grains and then lower the heat and cover. Simmer 10-15 minutes or until the water has been absorbed and the white "germ" is visible.

4. Cook the couscous. Bring 1/4 cup water to a boil. Add in the couscous, cover, and remove from the heat. Let the pan sit for 5 minutes or until all the water has been absorbed.

After each grain is cooked, set it aside while the other grains and the veggies cook (you can combine them in one bowl).

5. Heat 1-2 tbsp. olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Saute the onion, garlic, carrot, parsnip, mushroom, celery, and sweet potato until tender. Add the grains then add the soy sauce, green onion, ginger, and parsley. Cook and stir until everything is warmed through.

This is based on the recipe "Ancient Grain Pilaf" from The Whole Foods Market Cookbook.
My Changes:
I added the parsnip, sweet potato, ginger, and mushroom. I used green onions in place of scallions and used quinoa in place of brown rice.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Iron, Lion, Zion

This is an amazing source of iron (hence the Bob Marley rip-off post title!)
It was Marley's birthday on February 6th so we can think of this as a belated memorial meal or something. lol

The iron sources in this meal include the spinach, the sun-dried tomatoes, and the walnuts. OK, so the walnuts aren't a great source but they do have some! Besides, they have many other benefits ;) Plus, the vitamin C in the spinach, tomatoes, and lime juice helps with the absorption of the iron.

The cookbook I got this from said something along the lines of "Kids love this dish!" Um, yeah, maybe little hippy kids who actually eat spinach... how many of those do you know? Well, if you read my blog, you may know more than I am giving you credit for. ;)
If you can't convince your kids that spinach really is tasty, you can substitu
te in broccoli. That is, if you can convince your kids that broccoli is tasty! :)
I'm sure they were talking about the cute little pasta stars... I'm sure ALL kids love those! Heck, I'm 31 and I love cute little pasta shapes!
Oh! While I'm on shaped pasta... I saw this boxed mac and cheese (Annie's) the other day and the pasta was in the shape of peace signs. Had me written all over it! :)
See, I even took a photo of the dry pasta stars... 31 going on 5...

Serves 2 (could serve 4 as a side dish)

2/3 cup dry stellini pasta (that's the tiny stars; you can sub in the alphabet letters if you can't find stars)
1-2 tbsp. of olive oil
1/4 cup onion, diced
1-2 large cloves of garlic (I used one huge one but I love garlic more than is considered normal so I'll add two next time)
1 portobello mushroom cap, sliced
2 cups spinach, washed, dried, and chopped up
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped up
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1 tbsp. lime juice (or lemon juice)
1/2 tsp. lemon pepper seasoning (salt-free if you can find it)

1. Grill or broil the mushroom slices until tender. While the mushrooms are grilling, cook the pasta according to the package directions (about 8 minutes). Drain, toss with the lime juice and set aside. Let the mushrooms cool slightly and then dice them up.

2. Heat the oil in a large saute pan over low heat. Add the onion and then the garlic and let it cook very slowly so the garlic doesn't burn. Stir often! Once the garlic and onion are golden-brown, add the spinach and raise the heat to medium.

2. Cook until the spinach is wilted (1 minute or so). Stir in the pasta and mushroom pieces and cook until the mixture is warmed through. Toss in the lemon pepper seasoning, walnuts, and sun-dried tomatoes. Add additional lime juice as desired.

Serve immediately.

This is based on the recipe Garlic Spinach Stellini Pasta from The Whole Foods Market Cookbook.
My changes:
I added in onion, the portobello mushroom, the walnuts, and the sun-dried tomatoes.

Thanks to the British Vegetarian Society for the information on iron.
Information Sheet - Iron
Information Sheet - Nuts and Seeds