Monday, January 31, 2011

Baja-Style Tempeh Tacos

We had our friends over for dinner this weekend, and I made Veganomicon's Baja-Style Tempeh Tacos. They are essentially the vegan take on fish tacos. The tempeh is marinated in a chile-beer marinade, then grilled and served on white corn tortillas with cilantro sour cream and slaw. They were pretty delicious. I am not sure if I can post the recipe online without the authors' permission, so if you are interested in the recipe you can get it here:

It is money well spent! I am sure you can find the recipe online somewhere. In fact, while I was trying to find pictures of this dish (there is not one in the cookbook), I came across a site that posted the recipe.

Sauteed Squashes and Garbanzo Beans with Herbed Couscous

This is one of my favorite dishes to make for lunch. It takes 15 minutes, is light, healthy and full of nutrition.

Sauteed Veggies
Serves 1

1/2 medium zucchini, cut into half moons
1/2 medium squash, cut into half moons
a few thin slices of onion
1/2 cup garbanzo beans aka chickpeas
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp dried basil
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and saute about 3 minutes. Add the zucchini and squash; sprinkle with a little salt and saute, tossing often, until just tender about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the chickpeas, garlic, and spices and cook until heated through, 2 to 3 minutes. Serve over herbed couscous.

Herbed Couscous
Serves 1

Cook 1 serving of couscous according to package directions. Before serving, sprinkle in a little thyme, basil and butter. Fluff. 

Pizza Pot Pies

Mmm, pizza in a pot pie, yum! I started making these a few years ago when I saw a show Giada de Laurentiis did. All the veggies and sauce are packed inside and covered with a delicious piece of crust, it just doesn't get any better than that. It is especially delicious served with a side of homemade ranch and Caesar salad. Throw in any veggies, meat and/or cheese substitutes that you like on a regular old pizza and voila, you have a pizza pot pie.

Pizza Pot Pie
Serves 3-4
Special Equipment: 3-4 ramekins or pot pie tins
Total Time: 1 hour, half of it inactive

1 recipe Pizza Dough
1 recipe Marinara Sauce

1 cup broccoli florets
1 cup red bell pepper, diced
3/4 cup onion, diced
3/4 cup olives, sliced
1/2 cup pineapple

Place veggies and pineapple in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.  

    Marinara Sauce
    Makes about 5 cups
    Total Time: 15-20 minutes

    2 tbsp olive oil (I love olive oil, but if you want to cut the fat, use less)
    3-4 cloves garlic, minced
    1 28-oz can Muir Glen Organic Crushed Tomatoes with Basil
    1 tsp dried thyme
    1 tsp dried oregano
    1/2 tsp salt (plus another small pinch or so to taste)

    Preheat saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the oil and garlic, and saute for about a minute, until fragrant, being careful not to let it burn. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer. Simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
    When marinara sauce is ready, add about two cups of the sauce to the veggie mixture and mix well. Add more sauce if you like it saucier. Fill the ramekins with the mixture. Set aside.

Total Time: 10 minutes

1 package active dry yeast (2 teaspoons)
1 cup warm water (105° to 115°, no more)
3 cups all-purpose or bread flour or whole wheat flour or a mixture of any or all of them
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus a little for coating

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar and salt; sift together. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the olive oil and yeast mixture into it. Stir until it begins to form a ball, then turn it out onto a clean, floured surface and knead for about 4 or 5 minutes. Your pizza dough should be a smooth, elastic ball. 

From here you can, lightly oil the ball and the inside of a large glass bowl. Place the dough in the bowl, cover, and let it rise in a warm place until doubled, about an hour. For better crust, punch down the dough, reshape into a ball and let it rise again. You can refrigerate or freeze the dough at this point.

Or you can divide the dough into 4 equal portions. Roll out the pizza dough and cut circles with a pairing knife that are 1-inch wider in diameter than the ramekins. Place the circles of dough over the filled ramekins and press down to seal, making sure to pull the dough over the edge of the ramekin. Brush the top of the pizza dough with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Cut a small slit in the top of the pizza dough with a pairing knife. Bake until the pizza crust is golden, about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before serving.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Sweet and Sour Tofu

Ever since I came across Lauren Ulm's VeganYumYum blog years ago, I have been making this sweet and sour dish. I used to love sweet and sour chicken when I was a kid. Although, I never really liked the chicken and would only eat the breading around the edges leaving the chicken in the middle intact. Even as a kid I never really like meat...or dairy. Just ask my mom. She used to make me sit at the kitchen table until I finished drinking my milk. Guess who won that battle? Me. I would sit there all night if that is what it took to not have to drink that nasty glass of milk. Yuck! She still tells this story to this day. And it is still entertaining to anyone who listens because they all say they can see me sitting at that table, arms folded, silently biding my time.

Anyhow, back to dinner! I just love this meal. I think it is really the pineapple that I love the most. Shannon loves the tofu and exclaimed tonight that this is her favorite meal. I think I have said this before: she says this about every meal! It never gets old, though. I think it is sweet that she loves my cooking so much. This recipe comes straight from VeganYumYum with some adaptations.

Choose whatever vegetables you have on hand or like with stir-fry, they will work in this dish just fine. I used carrots, celery, onion, red pepper and pineapple. Stir-fry in a wok for a few minutes on high heat and mix in with the tofu and sauce.

Crispy Sweet and Sour Tofu
Serves Two
1 Tub Extra Firm Tofu, pressed
2 tsp Ener-g Egg Replacer + 4 tsp water, mixed
1/4 Cup Cornstarch
1/4 Cup Peanut or Canola Oil (or you can dry fry to nix some of the fat)
3 1/2 Tbs Seasoned Rice Vinegar
1/4 Cup Water
3 tsp Sugar
1 Tbs Tamari
1 Tbs Ketchup
1 tsp Molasses
1/4 tsp Ginger Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
1 1/2 Tbs Cornstarch + 2 Tbs water
Slice the tofu into triangles or small cubes. Smaller = better for this recipe, since smaller pieces won’t have a tendency to break when you toss them, and they have a bigger surface area to volume ratio (read: they’ll be crispier).
Toss tofu with the egg replacer/water mixture until coated. Then toss in cornstarch until each piece is coated and dry, adding more cornstarch if needed.
Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet or wok. 

While oil is heating, mix sauce ingredients except for the cornstarch/water into a small sauce pan and whisk over medium heat until sugar and salt is dissolved. Add cornstarch mixture and whisk until the sauce thickens. If you leave the sauce unattended now it will thicken and burn, so keep an eye on it. When thick, turn off heat and set aside.The sauce thickens extremely quickly after adding the cornstarch mixture.
Place tofu in the hot oil, being careful not to burn yourself. You don’t want the tofu to be crowded or the pieces will stick to each other, so fry it in batches if needed. Fry for 3-5 minutes until golden on the bottom, then gently turn and brown the other side.
Drain tofu from oil (in the sink like you’d drain pasta, being very careful), and place tofu in a large bowl. Pour sauce on top and gently toss to completely coat. Sauce should be thick and sticky – it shouldn’t pool at the bottom of the bowl.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Spicy Chik'n Salad with Avocado Ranch

Maybe you are wondering to yourself, "Self, why is she posting a salad?" Well, note to self, this is no ordinary salad. This is a fill-you-up, cannot-stop-thinking-about-how-good-that-was salad. You may even want to have a repeat of it later in the week, who knows! It it just that good. Boca recently veganized all of their Chik'n products. Yay Boca!

Spicy Chik'n Salad
Serves 1 as an entree or 3-4 as a side salad

1 Boca Spicy Chik'n Patty
3 cups of mixed greens (I used romaine and field greens)
1 carrot, peeled and sliced
1 rib of celery, sliced
1/4 of an avocado, sliced

Cook Chik'n Patty according to package directions. Assemble salad. Cut patty into slices or dices. Top salad with patty.

Avocado Ranch
Makes 1 cup

1 cup Vegenaise
1/4 of an avocado, mashed
1/2 tsp dried dill
1/2 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic salt or 1 clove garlic, minced
Fresh ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients. Use an unsweetened milk substitute to thin out the dressing or serve as is. You will never buy store bought ranch again!

Baked Tofu with Mashed Potatoes and Kale with Carrots

I typically use this meal as a stand-by meal because it can be made from start to finish in about 30-40 minutes, and I usually have most if not all of the ingredients on hand. Super simple and quick to make, delicious, healthy and kid friendly all bundled up into one yummy dinner.

Baked Tofu
Serves 2-4

1 cup breadcrumbs
2 tbsp old bay seasoning
1 tsp egg replacer + 2 tbsp water
1 tub extra firm tofu, drained and pressed, cut into 4 rectangles

Preheat oven or toaster oven to 350 degrees. In a dish, combine breadcrumbs and old bay seasoning, mixing well until incorporated. In a separate dish, mix together egg replacer and water. Dip a piece of tofu into the egg replacer mixture, then into the breadcrumbs, coating the tofu thoroughly. Do this with all four pieces. Bake for 15-20 minutes until lightly browned.

Mashed Potatoes
Serves 3-4

4 medium size red skin potatoes, skin-on, diced
1/4 cup vegetable broth
3 tbsp Earth Balance butter
Salt and pepper to taste

Boil potatoes for 15 minutes or until soft when pierced with a fork. Drain and place back into pot. Add remaining ingredients and mash with a potato masher or mixer.

Serves 3-4

3-4 tsp flour
2-3 tsp oil (I used olive oil, but you can use canola or vegetable)

1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup onion, finely minced
1/4 cup celery, finely minced
1/4 cup carrot, finely minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup vegetable broth
1 tsp dried rosemary
Salt and pepper to taste

Create a roux by combining the flour and oil, mixing until it forms a thick paste. Add more oil and/or flour to get the correct consistency.

Heat olive oil in a medium sauce pan over medium-low heat. Add onion, celery and carrot and saute about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic and saute 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add roux to pan and cook until slightly browned. Add vegetable broth and whisk until incorporated. The gravy should begin to thicken. Continue stirring frequently. Add rosemary, salt and pepper. Remove from heat.

Kale and Carrots
Serves 2-4

1 bunch kale, stems removed, roughly chopped
2 carrots, peeled and sliced

Lightly steam kale and carrots for approximately 7-8 minutes. Sprinkle with a little salt or soy sauce.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Veggie Lasagna

I have been having a hankering for pine nut cream sauce. Why, I do not know. It is delicious, like light your taste buds up, delicious. This pine nut cream sauce is usually the topping for Veganomicon's Moussaka, and I thought it would go perfectly with my homemade veggie lasagna. After prepping and tasting everything, I did not think I was going to be hungry enough to eat dinner, but when I bit into that first bite, I was in awe. Wow, what a great flavor combination. The cream sauce literally takes 1 minute to whip up and is well worth buying a $5 bag of pine nuts for.

Veggie Lasagna
Serves 4-8
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

1 recipe marinara sauce
1 recipe tofu ricotta
1 recipe pine nut cream sauce (recipe to follow)
1 box no cook lasagna noodles
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 medium yellow squash, diced
1/2 yellow onion, diced
3 cups baby spinach, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your favorite large skillet over medium heat. Add oil and onion. Saute onion for about 7 minutes until fragrant and translucent. Add the zucchini, squash and garlic to the skillet. Saute approximately 3-5 minutes until tender. Add spinach and saute until wilted, approximately 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Marinara Sauce
Makes about 5 cups

2 tbsp olive oil (I love olive oil, but if you want to cut the fat, use less)
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 28-oz can Muir Glen Organic Crushed Tomatoes with Basil
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt (plus another small pinch or so to taste)

Preheat saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the oil and garlic, and saute for about a minute, until fragrant, being careful not to let it burn. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer. Simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Feel free to cover if you like; I love the smell of it cooking so I never cover mine.

Tofu Ricotta
Makes 3 1/2 cups

1 tub extra-firm tofu, drained and pressed
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
Pinch of coarse salt
Pinch freshly ground black pepper
2 packages fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
2 tsp olive oil (optional)

In a large bowl, mush the tofu up with your hands until it is crumbly. Mush with hands again squeezing through your fingers until it reaches the consistency of ricotta cheese. This will take about 2-5 minutes. Add the lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper, and basil. Mush until all ingredients are mixed. You want it lumpy but cohesive so if it is not sticking together, add a teaspoon of olive oil.

Pine Nut Cream Sauce
Makes about 1 1/2 cups

1 pound soft silken tofu
1/2 cup pine nuts
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 1/4 tsp salt 
1 clove garlic
1 tsp arrowroot powder or potato starch
Pinch of white pepper if you have it, if not black is just fine

In a food processor or blender, blend the pine nuts and lemon juice until pasty in consistency. Add remaining ingredients and blend until creamy smooth.

Bringing it all together:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a 9x9x2 square pan, pour a little bit of marinara sauce to coat the bottom of the pan. Lay two sheets of lasagna down. Scoop a third of the ricotta mixture and spread evenly across the surface of the noodles. Scoop a third of the vegetable mixture and spread evenly across the ricotta mixture. Generously spread a layer of sauce. Add another layer of lasagna noodles. Scoop a third of the ricotta mixture and spread evenly across the surface of the noodles. Scoop a third of the vegetable mixture and spread evenly across the ricotta mixture. Generously spread a layer of sauce. Add another layer of lasagna noodles. Cover with ricotta and vegetable mixture and a layer of sauce. Finally, add one more layer of lasagna noodles. On top of the noodles, pour the pine nut cream sauce. It will be a nice, thick layer of sauce. 

Place pan in oven, uncovered. Cook for 35-40 minutes until the top is lightly browned a few cracks have formed in the topping. Allow to cool 10 minutes before slicing and serving. 

Friday, January 21, 2011

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

If you have never had vegan chocolate chip cookies, you are missing out! I honestly have to say that they are ten times better than regular chocolate chip cookies. It is a little taste of heaven...or 6 or 7 tastes. And you can even eat the raw cookie dough because there are no eggs. This might also come as a shock...are you ready for it...there is NO butter in these cookies. You say, "No butter? Well how can that be? You can't make cookies without butter." And to that I reply, YES YOU CAN! Vegans know how to do it. Especially this one vegan by the name of Isa Chandra Moskowitz, one of my veg heroes. She is amazing and so is the food she creates. I have 3 of her cookbooks...thanks to various family members! Shannon made these the other night and they turned out absolutely perfect. You can even see a bit of her shadow in the picture. Thanks babe! Enough congratulatory talk you say, show us the cookies!

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes two dozen two inch cookies or about 16 three inch cookies
1/2 brown sugar
1/4 white sugar
2/3 cup canola oil
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk (or your favorite non-dairy milk)
1 tablespoon tapioca flour
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cups chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease two large light metal baking sheets.
Mix together sugars, oil, milk and tapioca flour in a mixing bowl. Use a strong fork and mix really well, for about 2 minutes, until it resembles smooth caramel. There is a chemical reaction when sugar and oil collide, so it’s important that you don’t get lazy about that step. Mix in the vanilla.
Add 1 cup of the flour, the baking soda and salt. Mix until well incorporated. Mix in the rest of the flour. Fold in the chocolate chips. The dough will be a little stuff so use your hands to really work them in.
For 3 inch cookies, roll the dough into about ping pong ball size balls. Flatten them out in your hands to about 2 1/2 inches. They will spread just a bit. Place on a baking sheet and bake for about 8 minutes – no more than 9 – until they are just a little browned around the edges. I usually get 16 out of these so I do two rounds of eight cookies. Let cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack.
For 2 dozen two inch cookies roll dough into walnut sized balls and flatten to about 1 1/2 inches and bake for only six minutes.

BBQ Tempeh Ribs with Mac & Cheese

This is one of Shannon's favorite meals. She requests it frequently. We had this at our friends' Jen and Ryan's house, and it has become a staple of our monthly menu. Their nanny Katelyn made gluten and dairy free macaroni and cheese, and it was the bomb (I posted this recipe earlier this month)! They also made the barbecue sauce homemade and it was to die for. If you do not want to make the barbecue sauce at home, I recommend Famous Dave's. It is pretty darn good in a pinch. The sauce really is very simple to make once you get past the ingredient list. I am a fan of making things as homemade as possible so give it a try...I promise it will be a rewarding experience making your own barbecue sauce! I served this meal with a big green salad and some sauteed organic swiss chard. Thank you Jen, Ryan and Katelyn for a wonderful meal!

Sweet and Sticky BBQ Sauce
Makes about 3 cups

1/4 cup Earth Balance butter
1 sweet onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup filtered water
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp vegan worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp yellow mustard
few dashes of hot sauce

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Saute onion and garlic for 15 minutes until onions have cooked down and are nicely browned. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to bubbling. Simmer for 15-20 minutes until sauce becomes a nice deep red color. Strain sauce to remove onions.

Barbecue Tempeh Ribs
Serves 2-3

1 recipe Sweet and Sticky BBQ Sauce
1 pkg Tempeh, cut into 1/2 inch strips

Transfer two-thirds of the sauce to a large skillet and add sliced tempeh. Cook over medium heat until bubbling. Cook 10-15 minutes until sauce has thickened and reduced, basting regularly. Add remaining sauce to pan, cook a few more minutes and serve. 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Chocolate Mousse served in Edible Chocolate Dessert Cups with Raspberry Sauce

The name says it all-YUM! These were incredibly decadent, delicious and SUPER easy to make! I found this recipe while searching for this new vegetarian cooking show on the Cooking Channel. I made them for dessert for our friend Jeana's birthday celebration last night. My mousse turned out more like melty ice cream because I made the absent-minded mistake of buying Lite Coconut Milk. Do NOT buy coconut milk with water as an ingredient like I did-it totally messed up the consistency. However, you cannot go wrong with chocolate and coconut milk so even though the consistency did not come out correctly, it was still super delicious! Also, a few notes that might be helpful: you will need a pastry brush, chill the coconut milk and the mousse must be refrigerated overnight.

Here is the video of Chef Chloe Coscarelli teaching her friends how to make the chocolate cups and mousse. Here is the link to the recipe:

Pasta with Summer Sauce

What sounds better in the dead of winter than summer sauce? My great friend Rachel made this once, and we loved it so we make it even in wintertime with so-so tomatoes. This post is short and sweet because I have like 2 or 3 more posts to make. I have been slacking! I took the pictures, I just have not posted them to the blog. Tonight, I will post. Tomorrow, I will make more food!

Pasta with Summer Sauce
Serves 3-4
Total Time: 30 minutes

1/2 a box of whole-wheat pasta
2-3 tbsp good olive oil (I will admit to using almost a 1/4 cup of olive oil in this recipe)
5 ripe tomatoes on the vine or 6-7 roma tomatoes, coarsely chopped in a food processor
1/2 of a yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup loosely packed cilantro
Salt to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions.

While the pasta is cooking, heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large saucepan over low heat. Add onions, cover with a tight fitting lid and sweat until onions have a translucent and soft texture. Increase heat to medium-low and add garlic. Saute garlic for 30 seconds to one minute until fragrant. Add tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Simmer for about 15 minutes, add remaining olive oil, and season with salt to taste. Roughly chop cilantro and add to sauce.

Drain pasta and drizzle with a little olive oil to keep pasta from sticking together. Top with sauce and serve with salad and homemade garlic bread.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Stir-Fry with Tofu

I have not posted in almost a week, so I am redeeming myself by making two posts today. I have not posted because we have just been eating BLT sandwiches with soup, baked potatoes, re-dos (cream of potato soup) and leftovers. I figured maybe those were not post-worthy meals, hence no recent posts. Tonight I am making stir-fry with tofu and brown rice and listening to my Pandora The White Stripes station. Strange combo, I know...I was just in the mood for The White Stripes. What I really love is that they have been tossing in some Racounteurs, too. I saw them in concert with my friend Kellee several years ago, they rocked it! Hi Kellee!

Stir-fry is a simple, quick throw together meal. I just use whatever vegetables are in my fridge and create some type of sauce. Sometimes it is sweet and sour, sometimes it is just a simple sesame-soy dressing and tonight it is a brown sauce comprised of the marinade used for the tofu. You really can use anything you want to marinate the tofu in-it will take on whatever flavors you meld it with. Tonight I chose tamari, hot chili oil, dark sesame oil, a touch of rice wine vinegar, garlic and ginger.

Stir-Fry with Tofu
Serves 2

1 tbsp peanut, canola or vegetable oil
1 carrot, peeled and cut on the diagonal
1 rib celery, cut on the diagonal
1/2 cup red bell pepper, seeded and cut into slices
1/2 cup broccoli florets
1/4 cup onion, sliced
8 ounces extra-firm tofu, drained and pressed, cut into 1 inch cubes
1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce
1 tsp hot chili oil or garlic chili paste
1 tsp dark sesame oil
1 inch piece of ginger, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup vegetable stock
1 tsp potato or corn starch mixed with 2 tbsp water

Mix together tamari, chili oil, sesame oil, ginger and garlic in a dish with a lid. Place tofu in with marinade and mix together. Marinate anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours. 
Heat oil over medium high heat in a large skillet or wok. Stir in onions and cook for 1 
minute. In the same wok, stir-fry carrots, broccoli and bell pepper for 2 minutes. Add the celery to skillet and stir-fry another 2 minutes. Remove vegetables from wok and set aside.
Add tofu to hot wok and cook about 4 minutes. Remove from wok and set aside. In the same wok, add garlic and ginger and cook for 30 seconds. Add stock, soy sauce, sesame oil, and chili paste. Bring to a simmer. Cook for 2 minutes and stir in cornstarch mixture. Simmer until sauce thickens. Add tofu and vegetables back to sauce. Toss to heat through. To serve, garnish with scallions, cilantro, sesame seeds or serve immediately with brown rice.

Quinoa Salad

Today I made quinoa salad for lunch. I have been craving a big bowl of this all week! Something about the mixture of fresh herbs and nutty, creamy quinoa...mmm! I fell in love with quinoa the first time I tried it at Watercourse Foods, a vegetarian/vegan restaurant in Denver. Since that day, I have made it almost the same way every time. I should add a little variety, but I like it made this way. I have used a different quinoa recipe to stuff pattypan squash, and it was oh so delicious. What a super healthy meal! I will make that recipe in the very near future and post it so you all can try it. Stuffed squash is a delicacy, I tell ya! And so easy to make.

If you have never heard of quinoa, it is an amino acid-rich (protein) seed that has a fluffy, creamy, slightly crunchy texture and a somewhat nutty flavor when cooked. Not only is quinoa high in protein, but the protein it supplies is complete protein, meaning that it includes all nine essential amino acids. This is another food I like to tell my meat eating constituents about when the "where do you get your protein" question comes up. I am still baffled by the fact that people actually believe that meat is the only source of protein in one's diet. The meat, cheese, milk and egg industry would absolutely have you believe this myth. It is only when you start to educate yourself about the food that you put into your body that you come to realize what you are actually eating and its ability to nourish your body. 

If you are reading this, I want to challenge you to educate yourself about the food that you put into your body and why. Most people eat meat, cheese, milk and eggs because that is what they were raised on and do not know any differently. Those 4 products are the cause of the top 3 diseases in America: heart disease, cancer and stroke. True carnivores do not have clogged arteries, high cholesterol, hypertension, atherosclerosis, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and the list goes on. These diseases are caused by consuming animal proteins the body is not physiologically designed to process.  Human beings are NOT, I repeat, NOT carnivores. We are  herbivores. Plain and simple-it is science. Human beings possess NO qualities of a carnivore. If you would like to challenge me (a friendly challenge, of course), shoot me an email or leave a comment. I have been doing this for 10 years and I know my stuff, so bring it on! Get to intimately know the food you are putting in your body. I guarantee it will help you change your life.

Quinoa Salad
Makes 3 cups cooked

1 1/4 cup water
1 cup quinoa
1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, loosely packed
1/4 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, loosely packed
Juice of one lime
Pinch of salt to taste (optional)
Dash of olive oil to moisten (optional)

Add 1 cup quinoa to 1 /4 cup of boiling water. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 12 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes, and fluff. Let cool.

Finely chop the herbs. Add all remaining ingredients into quinoa and mix well. Because of the herbs and the lime juice, this recipe does not necessarily need salt. If you have leftovers the next day, after the salad has sat in the fridge, it will dry up a bit and need some olive oil or additional water to moisten it. Eat within two to three days at the most or the black beans will go bad. There is nothing like the smell of rotten black beans, take my word for it!

*This is a gluten-free recipe

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Biscuits and Gravy

One of my favorite things to do on the weekend is get up and make breakfast. I usually have a hankering for biscuits and gravy seeing as it is my favorite breakfast food! I like to make everything from scratch. Something about the weekend makes me want to get my hands dirty. This breakfast took about 40 minutes total to make. I hope you all have a wonderful, fun-filled weekend!

Potatoes O'Brien
Serves 2
Total Time: 20 minutes

2 tbs Earth Balance butter
2 tbs olive oil
1 medium to large russet potato, skin-on, washed and diced
1/4 cup green pepper, diced
1/4 cup red pepper, diced
1/4 cup onion, diced
1/2 a jalapeno, minced

In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, melt 1/2 tablespoon of the butter with 1/2 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the onion and saute, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and just beginning to caramelize, 5-7 minutes. Do not allow the onion to scorch. Add the red and green peppers and saute until beginning to soften, 3-5 minutes longer. Transfer to a serving bowl and set aside.
Add 1/2 tablespoon each of the remaining butter and olive oil to the same pan. Add the cubed potatoes and cook, turning to brown all sides, 5-7 minutes. If the potatoes are too dry, add a little more butter or oil. 
Return the mixture to the pan. Raise the heat to high so that it quickly warms through. Remove from the heat and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Makes 4 small biscuitsTotal Time: 20 minutes

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp cold butter
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp cold soy milk

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Using a fork or a pastry blender, blend the butter into the dry ingredients. Add soy milk and stir. Turn out onto floured surface and knead 1-2 minutes Add more flour if dough is sticky.

Roll the dough out and cut into rounds. Place on ungreased baking sheet and bake 12-15 minutes.

Just a note about the biscuits: these biscuits are dense. They are not light and fluffy. I like dense biscuits with my biscuits and gravy. If you want a fluffier, lighter biscuit, use a buttermilk biscuit recipe such as Bisquick.

Black Pepper Gravy
Serves 2Total time: 15 minutes

3 tbsp flour
1-2 tbsp vegetable oil
3 cups vegetable stock or non-dairy milk (I use 2 parts stock to 1 part soy milk)
Lots of freshly ground black pepper (1-2 tbsp)
Salt to taste

Heat a skillet over medium heat. Prepare a roux by mixing about 2-3 tablespoons flour with enough vegetable oil to make a heavy paste (about 1-2 tablespoons of oil).  Add oil and/or flour to get the correct consistency.  Stir and cook the roux for a couple of minutes over the medium heat, then slowly add about a cup of stock or soy milk to the mixture, stirring continuously to avoid lumps.

Contiune to simmer the gravy over medium heat and add more stock or soy milk as needed (this may require several cups of stock or milk).  If you accidentally add too much milk, just add a bit more flour (not more than a teaspoon at a time).  Also, the longer you cook the gravy, the more it will reduce and thicken.

Add salt and pepper to taste. I like a lot of black pepper in my gravy to make it spicy. Halve the warm biscuits and pour gravy mixture over them and serve.  

Friday, January 7, 2011

Hummus Platter

I was craving something light and fresh for dinner and hummus is one of Shannon's favorites. I received a pressure cooker from Shannon's dad in our not-so-secret-Santa gift exchange, and tonight was a perfect night to break that puppy in. Oh, it is so beautiful, shiny and new! I had not soaked my beans the night before as suggested, so they took about 3 times longer to cook (which was only 30 minutes) than they would have had I soaked them. Buying dried beans and cooking them on my own is somehow incredibly satisfying. You cannot beat canned beans when it comes to convenience, but dried beans are way cheaper. Plus, not having to recycle two aluminium cans when all is said and done makes me feel good.

I am a recycling fanatic (ask anybody!), and I try to purchase goods whose packaging can be recycled. Even then, I try to reduce the amount of recycling we accumulate by buying less processed foods, buying in bulk, and bringing my own containers as well as reusable grocery bags to the store with me. It is estimated that the US uses 100 billion plastic bags a year; that is 12 million barrels of oil just to produce plastic bags for human use. Second only to cigarette butts, plastic bags are the most common type of ocean refuse. So, please, if you do not already, start bringing your own reusable grocery bags to the store with you.

Thank you for reading my public service announcement...on to the recipes! If you do not want leftover hummus within the next couple of days, halve the recipe.

Serves 4
Total Time: 10 minutes

2 15-ounce cans of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed or 1 cup dried garbanzo beans
2-3 cloves garlic
3 tbs sesame tahini
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup water, more or less for desired thickness
1/2 tsp kosher salt, more to taste
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of paprika

Place half the chickpeas and olive oil in a blender or food processor. Pulse several times, stopping to stir with a rubber spatula. When the mixture is almost pureed and creamy, add the remaining chickpeas and oil, lemon juice, tahini, garlic, and a little salt. Pulse, stopping to stir several times, until the mixture is very creamy. Season with salt and pepper. You can chill before serving or eat as is. Place in a bowl, dust with paprika and drizzle a bit of olive oil on the top.

Olive Tapenade
Makes 1 cup

1/4 of a red bell pepper, roughly chopped
1/2 of a carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled
1/2 can black olives

Place first three ingredients in a mini food chopper and pulse several times to mince. Add olives and pulse until mixture is finely chopped.

Serve hummus and tapenade with fresh cut veggies and a baguette. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Pasta Primavera

We are running seriously low on groceries so as I scanned the fridge in my mind, I came up with a super simple dinner idea. Pasta Primavera. It requires virtually no standing time in the kitchen! Now that is my kind of recipe. Don't get me wrong, I love intricate, time-involved recipes, as well. But not tonight. We were on a super short time frame as Shannon got home at 4:30p and had a meeting to attend at 6p. Jesse took a late nap today, so I started dinner at 5p and it was done by 5:38p. I apologize for the less than appetizing picture. Since I started this project, I have realized that lighting and location are everything to capture even just an ok picture. I promise to work on my picture taking skills.

Pasta Primavera
Serves 2
Total Time: 30 minutes

1 zucchini, cut into thin strips
1 yellow squash, cut into thin strips
1 carrot, peeled and cut into thin strips
1/4 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup broccoli florets
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tbs olive oil
1 tsp dried Italian herbs (I used thyme, oregano, basil); Herbes de Provence would be great if you have it
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
1/3 pkg or box of pasta (I used spaghetti but farfalle would be great)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

On a large heavy baking sheet, toss all of the vegetables with the oil, salt, pepper, and dried herbs to coat. Bake until the carrots are tender and the vegetables begin to brown, stirring after the first 10 minutes, about 20 minutes total.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until cooked to your liking: al dente takes about 8 minutes, tender takes about 12 minutes. Drain, reserving less than 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid.
Toss the pasta with the vegetables and fresh garlic in a large bowl and enough reserved cooking liquid to moisten. Season the pasta with salt and pepper, to taste. 
These were the only vegetables I had on hand. Bell pepper and cherry tomatoes would make a great addition to this recipe.

Sunnie's New Home

I decided to do a mid-day, non-food post. My Mom and Terry got Jesse a princess playhouse with tunnel for Christmas this year. Our black lab, Sunnie, has decided to move in. I thought I would share a picture with you all because it is just so darn cute. I usually put the playhouse away everyday, but she has been going into the house while we eat dinner every night, so we have been leaving it up for her. I was thinking that I should take her shopping at some local home furnishing stores so she can decorate the interior, maybe a lamp, a rustic wooden dog bed, a mini-fridge. A mailbox might be nice...

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Spicy Tofu Goddess Bowl

It has been a long day with the one year old, so this is going to be a short post. Tonight we had our favorite Goddess bowl. Quick, easy, healthy, delicious and satisfying. If you are feeling a little less Asian, skip the dressing it calls for and add your favorite. Sometimes I like to use Eco-Goddess's Goddess dressing It is so delicious! We have also had it with roasted garlic balsamic vinaigrette and avocado ranch. Not together, of course, but hmmm...that might actually work.

Spicy Tofu
Serves 6

1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce
1/4 cup hot chili-garlic sauce or hot chili oil (use less because this makes it really spicy!)
2 tbs dark sesame oil
1 block extra-firm tofu, drained, pressed and cubed

1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce
2 tbs lemon juice
1 tbs fresh ginger, minced
1 tsp hot chili-garlic sauce or hot chili oil
1 cup cooked brown rice or quinoa
3 1/2 cups mixed baby greens
1 bunch swiss chard or kale, steamed
1 pkg sprouts
2 carrots, peeled
1 cucumber, sliced
1 avocado, peeled and sliced
1 tbs sesame seeds (I was out of black so I used white)

To make Spicy Tofu: Whisk together soy sauce, chili sauce and sesame oil in bowl. Dip tofu in chili mixture. Cook on medium-high heat for 10 minutes, or until browned, turning once.

To make Salad: Whisk together soy sauce, lemon juice, ginger and chili sauce in bowl. Mound rice or quinoa in bowls. Top with greens. Shave strips of carrots over top with vegetable peeler. Top with tofu, cucumber, sprouts and avocado. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, and serve with sauce.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Cream of Potato and Broccoli Soup

For all of you who do not live in Colorado, it was cold today! I mean bone-chillin' 20 degree weather that takes you 30 minutes to get warm again, cold. Now, it gets much colder than that here but on very rare occasions, and I think this had to be the coldest day we have had this winter. Brrr! I had to run some errands today, and at each place I stopped, whomever was helping me asked if it was "still really cold out there." Yes, indeed. So, what is better on a cold day than soup? Nothin'! Ever since I found this cream of potato soup on Vegan Dad, Shannon has requested it repeatedly-it is now a regular on our menu repertoire. I am a sucker for requests (Raquel knows this best...hi Raquel!). I am finally out of my cold funk and decided to hunker down in the kitchen for 45 minutes and make this delicious soup.

I recommend not forgoing the nutritional yeast if you can help it. Make an effort to swing by a health food store to pick some up. It is super cheap and very nutritious. A common question I get asked by meat eaters is "where do you get your B12?" My answer to them is nutritional yeast is an awesome source of not only B12, but also protein (14g per ounce), fiber (7g per ounce), other B vitamins. I like using this answer because it usually eschews the "where do you get your protein" question that inevitably follows. I have a jar of nutritional yeast that I keep in my fridge and use it in anything from soups to gravies to popcorn (in lieu of butter) to salad dressings. It comes in the form of a yellow powder that has a bit of a cheesy flavor to it.

I have tweaked this recipe quite a bit from Vegan Dad's. I am not a fan of soy milk or really any soy products in general-I use them very sparingly and only purchase organic, non-GMO soy products. His recipe called for 3 cups of plain soy milk and an additional 1/2 cup of soy creamer. I made cashew cream instead and it turned out fantastic! Did you know that two handfuls of [raw] cashews a day gives one the therapeutic equivalent of a prescription dose of Prozac (Dr. Andrew W. Saul). Brilliant, just brilliant! I served it in these sweet bamboo bowls that my mom gave me...thanks Mom! You cannot see it in the picture, but the bowl is orange, so cool!

Cream of Potato and Broccoli Soup
Serves 4
Total Time: 45 minutes

2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 medium yellow onion, small dice
1 medium shallot, minced
2 stalks celery, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4-5 medium red potatoes, skins on, small dice
1 1/2 cup vegetable broth
1 cup filtered water
1 1/2 cups raw cashews
1 1/2 cups filtered water
1 head broccoli, cut into small florets
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
Ground black pepper to taste

Place raw cashews in 1 1/2 cups of water and let soak.

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Saute onion, shallot, celery and garlic for 5 minutes until softened. Add potatoes and saute for 2 minutes.

Rinse the cashews and blend them with 1 1/2 cups of fresh water to create a cream.

Add broth, cashew cream and 1 cup water to the pot (should cover most of the potatoes, add more if needed). Bring to a rolling boil, lower heat, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until potatoes are soft.

Remove half of the soup from the pot and blend until smooth. Return to pot along with the broccoli. Return to a rolling boil and cook 5-7 minutes until broccoli is cooked (soft, but not mushy). Add the nutritional yeast and season with salt and pepper.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Vegan Mac 'n Cheese and Black Eyed Peas with Greens

Growing up, my Mom (hi Mom!) had this tradition of making us eat a spoonful of black eyed peas on New Year's Day to bring good luck. Ever since I moved out on my own, I get a call every year asking if I ate my spoonful of peas. This year, I decided to do something a little different with my spoonful of peas. I added some minced garlic, jalapeno and beautiful swiss chard to brighten up my peas...not to mention homemade vegan macaroni and cheese, Shannon's favorite. Thanks, Mom, for passing on a family tradition!

Once again, I forgot to take a picture of our meal. However, I did upload one from the VegNews website for the mac 'n' cheese. Happy New Year to you all. May this new year of life bring you happiness, abundance, joy and much love.

Black Eyed Peas with Greens
Serves 2
Total Time: 15 minutes

1 15-ounce can black eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 jalapeno, minced
1 bunch swiss chard, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon soy sauce or tamari

In a medium skillet, saute garlic and jalapeno in a small amount of oil over medium-low heat for one minute or until fragrant. Add peas and greens; saute until greens are tender, approximately 5-7 minutes. Add soy sauce and mix together.

VegNews Vegan Mac 'n' Cheese
Makes 6 servings
Total Time: 1 hour

  • 4 quarts water
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 8 ounces macaroni

  • 4 slices of bread, torn into large pieces
  • 2 tablespoons + 1/3 cup non-hydrogenated margarine

  • 2 tablespoons shallots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup red or yellow potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1/4 cup carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1/3 cup onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup water

  • 1/4 cup raw cashews
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
In a large pot, bring the water and salt to a boil. Add macaroni and cook until al dente. In a colander, drain pasta and rinse with cold water. Set aside. In a food processor, make breadcrumbs by pulverizing the bread and 2 tablespoons margarine to a medium-fine texture. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a saucepan, add shallots, potatoes, carrots, onion, and water, and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and simmer for 15 minutes, or until vegetables are very soft. In a blender, process the cashews, salt, garlic, 1/3 cup margarine, mustard, lemon juice, black pepper, and cayenne. Add softened vegetables and cooking water to the blender and process until perfectly smooth. 
In a large bowl, toss the cooked pasta and blended cheese sauce until completely coated. Spread mixture into a 9 x 12 casserole dish, sprinkle with prepared breadcrumbs, and dust with paprika. Bake for 30 minutes or until the cheese sauce is bubbling and the top has turned golden brown.