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.