Wednesday, June 29, 2011

"Tastes Like Bacon" Raw Soup

Yeah, I kid you not. That was my hubby's comment after his first bite of Gena's raw Avocado Soup with Lime. "Hmmm...tastes like bacon!" I had to laugh. I mean, how many men would take a bite of a raw avocado soup and say it tastes like bacon?!?! Only my hubby. That's why I love him :) And, considering that I used to call him "Sizzle-lean" back in our college days because he always smelled like bacon after visiting his parents, I consider this high praise. I mean, the man knows his bacon!

Funnily enough, I did not consider bacon when I took my first bite, but after he said that, I could sorta see where he was coming from. The soup does have a whole lot of avocado (giving it a nice, creamy, fatty base), smoked paprika, salt, and miso going for it. All of these things together can, in tandem, evoke a sense of bacon (I love that, by the way. Sense of bacon. I'm going to trademark that.) I definitely detected it more in the bites that didn't have the mango salsa in them (duh). I actually liked this soup a whole lot more the next day, after the flavors had melded a bit. I often find that raw soups are better the next day. I did a total cheater mango salsa and just used frozen mango (defrosted) and some sliced scallions. Worked like a charm.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Perfect Potluck Pasta Salad

Ahh, summertime...there are so many things I love about it. I love the fact that it is light outside at 5:30 in the morning. I love that it is still light outside at 7:30 at night. I love the warm weather, I love being outdoors, I love growing my herb garden, and I love eating al fresco. Especially when I get invited to a fun cookout with friends!!

On Saturday evening, my friend Allison and her husband hosted us and some other friends for a fun, casual cookout/potluck on their backyard deck. Their deck overlooks a gorgeous yard, and the weather was simply delightful. It was a fantastic evening!

I brought my favorite summer potluck dish to share - my very own chickpea-veggie-pasta salad that is always a hit with everyone, vegans and omnis alike! It's also a recipe I'm very proud of, because it is one of the first recipes I ever created and posted on VegWeb. I'm so happy I was able to take a previously seafood & mayo-laden dish and transform it into a vegan, veggie-laden dish that is truly healthy and hearty!

It's pasta (I use Trader Joe's brown rice rotini), veggies, and mashed chickpeas, tossed with a light Italian dressing spiked with a little bit of Vegenaise, dill, mustard, salt, and pepper. It's so easy to put together and it's something I can make a meal out of if there are no other vegan options available.

Here's the recipe!

Main Dish Delish Summer Pasta Salad
Serves 4 as an entree, 6-8 as a side dish

1 box (13-16 oz) of pasta of choice (I prefer brown rice rotini or whole wheat rotini)
1/2 small onion, finely chopped (white or red onion)
4 stalks celery, chopped
1 bell pepper (any color), chopped
1 medium cucumber, cut into quarters and chopped
1 large tomato, chopped (grape tomatoes also work well)
1 cup vegan Italian dressing
1/4 cup Vegenaise
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 teaspoon dried dill weed
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
freshly cracked pepper, to taste
1 16-oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

Cook pasta according to box. While the pasta is cooking, finely mince the onion and wash and chop the celery, pepper, cucumber, and tomato. You want nice chunks of the veggies. Add veggies to a large bowl.

After the pasta is done cooking, drain and rinse under cold water to cool the pasta. Add cooled pasta to the veggies.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the Italian dressing, Vegenaise, dijon mustard, dill weed, salt, and pepper until smooth. Add to pasta and veggies.

Finally, add the chickpeas to the medium bowl and mash with a potato masher until crumbly. Add chickpeas to the veggies and pasta and mix well. Serve immediately or chill if desired.

You know why this recipe is so great? Let me count the ways:
1) It makes a ton.
2) It only takes about 30 minutes to make.
3) It's loaded with fresh, raw veggies.
4) It doesn't make a lot of dirty dishes.
5) You can make it ahead of time - in fact, it tastes even better the longer it sits!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Arame Bowl

I made another Bowl from Appetite for Reduction tonight. Tonight's rendition was the Nori Bowl, which Isa lists as brown rice, steamed broccoli, azuki beans, Carrot-Ginger Dressing, and shredded nori. Since I had leftover Carrot-Ginger Dressing from the other night, throwing this bowl together was a breeze. All I really had to do was cook up some brown rice, steam some frozen veggies, and find a substitute for nori, since my hubby doesn't like it :) I had a bag of arame in the pantry, so I soaked a big handful for about 5 minutes, drained it, and boom, it was ready to go.

I assembled my bowls as follows: some torn baby spinach, then brown basmati rice, steamed stir-fry veggies (I used a 1-lb mix from Trader Joe's that had broccoli, red pepper, onion, mushrooms, sugar snap peas, water chestnuts, and baby corn), azuki beans, arame, and the Carrot-Ginger dressing:
 Before I mixed 'em all up:
 Post-mixing, with my chopsticks (sorry for the bad lighting):
It was pretty yummy - not my favorite, but nice and healthy. Sometimes I don't care so much if something is super tasty, as long as it is healthy and nutritious. This one definitely fit the bill. My son even ate a few strands of arame, which is cool. I was prepared to tell him it was "black spaghetti," but I didn't have to resort to that! :)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Another Easy (Lazy) Dinner

I just wasn't in the mood for any hard-core cooking tonight. I didn't have anything on my menu, anyway (I'd left Thursday open as "leftovers/freezer meal"), so I just wanted to make something quick and easy with ingredients I already had on hand. I began flipping through Appetite for Reduction for some inspiration and decided to make the Tamarind BBQ Tempeh & Sweet Potatoes. I had tempeh, I had sweet potatoes, and I had all of the sauce ingredients, so that's what I made. I had a big hunk of cornbread in the freezer, too, so I took that out, put some frozen brussels sprouts on the stove to steam, and, voila, dinner was served:

This dish was so easy to make - all I had to do was whisk together the sauce (garlic, ginger, broth, arrowroot powder, ketchup, tamarind concentrate, agave, tamari, olive oil, liquid smoke, and some chili powder) and toss it in a pan with some cubed tempeh and sweet potatoes. Bake for about an hour, tossing a couple of times, and it's done. Easy-peasy. I was glad I had some cornbread in the freezer, because BBQ food always makes me want cornbread, and I wasn't exactly in the mood for baking today. Everything tasted great, cleanup was a snap, and hubby really liked it (my son loved the tempeh, but not the sweet potatoes, for some reason??) I'll make it again, for sure.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Quick, Easy, Yummy!

Today was one of those days when I just couldn't get my mojo. I woke up tired, didn't have the energy to exercise, and just felt exhausted. A trip to the library with my son was about all I managed to accomplish today. I was so, SO glad that I happened to have a really easy dinner scheduled!

When I made the Caesar salad dressing the other day, I doubled the batch so I'd have some leftover. I used it tonight to top a Mediterranean Bowl from Appetite for Reduction.

Isa's recipe suggests bulgur, roasted cauliflower, chickpeas, and her Caesar Chavez dressing. I wanted to substitute millet for the bulgur, since it is a bit more nutrition-packed than bulgur ('s delicious!) I got a pot of millet going on the stove, tossed a pound of frozen cauliflower in the oven to roast, and seared some fresh zucchini and frozen broccoli in a pan with a little bit of olive oil. Then I started to assemble my bowl: fresh baby spinach, then the hot millet, roasted cauliflower, seared broccoli & zucchini, chickpeas, some jarred roasted red pepper, and the dressing. Honestly, this dinner was easy as pie to make and it tasted fabulous. I'm becoming a big believer in homemade dressings and frozen veggies - you can pair these with any grain and any bean and make a healthy, hearty dinner in no time flat!
I'll be making yet another AFR bowl later this week...can't wait to see how that one comes out!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Summer Rolls

It was a complete coincidence that tonight's dinner was Nectarine and Basil Summer Rolls from Vegetarian Times - I mean, what could be more appropriate for the first official dinner of summer than Summer Rolls? I totally didn't plan it that way, but I think it's a fun co-inky-dink :)

I was laughing as I was making dinner, because my hubby wandered into the kitchen and said, "We've had these before, right?" I said, "Yes, hon, I usually make them once (just once!) every summer!"I think the reason why I only make them once every summer is because I don't ever have rice paper wrappers on hand, and they take a bit of prep to get ready. However, this year I decided to switch out the rice paper wrapper in favor of a good old collard leaf and make collard rolls. You know what? It worked great! I'll definitely make them more often now because I often have collards on hand.

The recipe calls for nectarines, avocado, basil, and watercress leaves rolled up in rice paper wrappers and served with a tangy, succulent almond butter-rice vinegar-maple syrup-soy dipping sauce. The sauce is amazing - I could probably drink an entire bowl of it. But I've discovered over the years that my tummy is particularly sensitive to having both avocado and nuts in the same meal. This is an important principle of food combining that I have learned to obey. I substitute coconut butter for the almond butter because coconut is a much better combination with avocado. It also tastes freakin' DELISH mixed with the rice vinegar, maple syrup, and soy (I substitute tamari). Yumbles.

Here's a collard leaf, stacked with basil, sliced nectarines, avocado, and some baby spinach:
 Here's a whole bunch of 'em:
 And here's one all sliced up and purty:
 I also made a salad and topped it with quinoa and Carrot-Ginger Dressing from Appetite for Reduction. Here's the dressing (looks sorta like baby food, doesn't it!)
 Salad with baby spinach, celery, radishes, orange pepper, quinoa, cucumber, and the dressing:

For my afternoon snack, I had a Blueberry Cardamom Breakfast Smoothie:

It's one of my favorite smoothies and I'm not sure why I haven't made one in so long! I love everything in it - blueberries, bananas, cardamom, and cinnamon. It's so simple, yet so brilliant! And what a lovely color. It hit the spot this afternoon!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day Feast

Happy Father's Day! I am blessed to have the best Dad in the whole wide world (in my humble opinion). He is the kindest, sweetest, most gentle, and nicest person I have ever met in my entire life :) I love you, Dad! In fact, I admire my Dad so much that I married a man just like him - my sweet husband P! Love you too, babe! :)

Since my son is only two and isn't quite capable of doing much for Father's Day (other than saying "HAPPY DADDY B-DAY DADDY" to my hubby this morning), I wanted to take the matter into my own hands. I did a lot of prep work yesterday so we could spend more time today having fun and less time cooped up in the house. Mission accomplished! Dinner prep only took 30 or so minutes and we were able to spend most of the afternoon kayaking on the pond and hanging out in the backyard.

Our dinner was Jamaican Tempeh Patties with mango chutney, mango & black bean salad (adapted from Veganomicon, some Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy, and Charming Chocolate Cupcakes from How It All Vegan!

Making the tempeh patties was a breeze tonight, since I had already made the dough and the tempeh filling yesterday. All I had to do today was roll out the dough, fill them, and bake them. Easy as 1-2-3!

After I rolled out the dough, I cut it into circles:

Added the spicy tempeh filling:
 Folded it over into a half-moon shape:
Crimped the edges with a fork to seal:
 And put them on a greased baking sheet:
 While they were baking, I threw together the mango-black bean salad (it also has red bell pepper and scallions):

Some golden brown patties with the salad:
 Served with some chutney and beer on the patio:
 The lime chutney was NASTY!! so we opened a jar of mango chutney too. The mango was much better!
And for dessert, cupcakes!

Hubby said he had a great day. That makes me happy! :) I got to talk to my Dad via Skype too, which was great!! Love you Dad, Love you Hubby!!!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Mamma Mia!

I don't know how it happened, but I ended up spending 5 hours straight in the kitchen today. I totally hadn't planned on it and, to be honest, I'm a little bummed that I ended up spending such a beautiful day stuck in my kitchen. I did have some company, though - the Mamma Mia! soundtrack, played on repeat. I listened to it 4 times through - that's how long I was in the kitchen! Of course, I would have been done faster if I hadn't had to stop and get down with my bad self every time "Dancing Queen" came on :)

So, there are two reasons I was in my kitchen all day: one is that I wanted to make the Sanctuary Chef Salad from Appetite for Reduction, and the other is that I wanted to get some prep work done for tomorrow's special Father's Day meal for my hubby. I just had no idea that the salad would take me over 3 HOURS to make! Yeah. The salad required me to make 4 different recipes! Herb-Roasted Cauliflower, Eggplant Bacon, Basic Baked Tofu, and Sanctuary Dressing. I had to chop, season, and roast the cauliflower; slice, marinate, and twice-bake the eggplant; press, marinate, and bake the tofu; and make the dressing, which required many steps itself - blanching silken tofu, then blending it with a bunch of other ingredients in the food processor. Then I had to chop and wash some romaine lettuce, slice some radishes and red onion, and shred some carrot. All of this would have been somewhat okay if the salad had totally rocked when it was all done and put together. But no. I was really disappointed with the salad. Sigh. Oh well. I'd been wanting to make this salad for a long time, so at least I can cross it off my list. And now I don't have to spend another 3 hours in the future making this salad! See, bright side!! And my hubby liked it. Well, he said he liked it but that was after I told him that he better say he liked it since I'd spent 3 hours making it! :)

Here are the components, ready to be assembled in the salad:

Chopped romaine lettuce, Basic Baked Tofu, Eggplant Bacon, Sanctuary Dressing (in the jar), Herb-Roasted Cauliflower (next to the dressing), shredded carrots, sliced radishes, sliced red onion, and grape tomatoes.
 Here's the salad before I added the dressing:
 And here it is, all dressed.
I liked the Herb-Roasted Cauliflower on its own, but not so much in the salad. It got kinda soggy in a wet-crouton-y kind of way. But by itself, it was pretty tasty. I'll definitely make the cauliflower again. The salad? Never. Again!!

I also did some prep for tomorrow's dinner. I decided to make the Jamaican Tempeh Patties from Vegetarian Times and the Charming Chocolate Cupcakes from How it All Vegan! My hubby loves both of these recipes, and I haven't made either of them in a while. Today I made the dough and cooked the tempeh for the patties, so all I'll have to do tomorrow is assemble and bake the patties. I baked the cupcakes and made the frosting today, so they'll be all set for tomorrow. These cupcakes hold a special place in my heart - they were the first vegan dessert I ever made, and this was the first vegan cookbook I ever owned. They are still my favorite cupcakes ever!! They are sooo chocolately and delicious. Here they are, fresh out of the oven and unfrosted:

I'll frost them before I go to bed tonight. But how yummy does these look? They get an awesome, almost-crunchy top to them, which I love. I also usually stick a knife through the middle so some of the frosting can get inside, just like a Hostess Cupcake. Yum.

Friday, June 17, 2011

White Bean and Walnut Bruschetta

Seeing as I haven't gone grocery shopping in approximately 10 days, my refrigerator was starting to look pretty bare this morning (except for some of the great northern beans I cooked on Monday, which I still haven't finished!) I decided to do my menu planning for the week and figure out some ways to use up the rest of the beans. I know people swear by freezing their home-cooked beans, but I've just never enjoyed the texture of frozen beans - they always taste mushy to me. I'd rather use them fresh or canned, but that's just me.

I knew I had half a frozen baguette languishing in my freezer, so I thought I would kill two birds with one stone and make a family favorite for dinner which would use both the beans and the baguette - the White Bean and Walnut Bruschetta from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan. ED&BV is one of my favorite and most-used cookbooks. I know I've been cooking up a storm from Appetite for Reduction lately, but that's partly due to the fact that AFR is one of my newer cookbooks. I've had ED&BV for almost 4 years now, and at last count, I had made almost 80 recipes from it. I love Dreena Burton's cooking philosophy - she emphasizes fresh vegetables, beans, whole grains, natural sweeteners, and alternative flours (such as barley, oat, spelt, and buckwheat, rather than just using wheat flour all the time). I found her infant/toddler feeding tips in Vive Le Vegan! to be enormously helpful when my son started solids, and she's just a cool person in general. Even though she's a big-time vegan cookbook author, she's still nice enough to be friends with me on Facebook! :)

The White Bean and Walnut Bruschetta is one of those recipes that looks so fancy, but it is SO easy to make. I think it took me 20 minutes from start to finish! It's simply white beans, chopped tomatoes, fresh basil, garlic, walnuts, salt, and olive oil, mashed and spread on toasted slices of baguette. We had it with a simple side salad drizzled with some quick homemade agave-dijon-flax dressing.

Here's the bruschetta topping:

Spread on some pre-toasted baguette slices:
 Then back into the oven for a few minutes to warm through:
And finally drizzled with some EVOO:

This would make a lovely party appetizer, but my hubby and I love to just eat it as a main dish with some salad. We told my son these were "little pizzas" and he gobbled them up (once he figured out how to pick them up LOL)!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Muffins and Gnocchi

My hubby was away traveling for a few days, so my son and I got to have some fun dinners, like Old-Fashioned Chelsea Waffles and Tofu Scramble from Vegan Brunch and a Moroccan stir-fry meal with rice cooked by my good friend, Allison. She was kind enough to invite us over for dinner last night so I didn't have to cook. Thanks Allison! :)

On Monday, I cooked up a huge batch of quinoa and great northern beans for the Romesco bowls we ate Monday night. I still had some quinoa kicking around yesterday, so I decided to bake some Almond-Quinoa Muffins from Veganomicon. I've been wanting to make these muffins forever, but I never had leftover quinoa hanging around - until now!

These muffins were amazing - and healthy, too! They had flaxseeds, agave nectar, whole wheat pastry flour, almond flour, cinnamon, cardamom, quinoa, and chopped dried apricots in them. No refined flours or sugars! The cooked quinoa gave the muffins a very fun, slightly crunchy texture. I baked them while my son was napping, and when he got up, he ate not one, not two, but THREE muffins! His assessment: "Yummy Mommy. Good job, Mommy!" I couldn't agree more - they were delicious!

My hubby came home today so I made him one of his favorite dinners. It's also really easy to make (bonus, cuz I've been feeling really tired today!) It's Gnocchi with Fava Beans from Vegetarian Times.

Spinach gnocchi, fava beans, roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, garlic, tomato sauce, and sun-dried tomatoes, with a side of steamed spinach. Quick, easy, hearty, and toddler-approved. What more could you ask for? :)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Romesco Bowl

Hey y'all...just a quick lil' post tonight. Continuing with my apparent quest to make every recipe out of Appetite for Reduction, I made the Romesco Bowl this evening. The Romesco Bowl is simply a bowl of quinoa topped with some white beans, veggies, and Romesco Dressing. The Romesco Dressing is a tangy, flavorful topping of blended red peppers, toasted almonds, and other seasonings. For my veggies, I used steamed broccoli, steamed green beans, and some baby spinach that I cut into chiffonade.

I wasn't sure if my son would go for the tangy dressing, so I just made his bowl with the quinoa, beans, and veggies, and topped his with some olive oil, flax oil, and nooch. He said "mmm mmm" a lot so I think he liked it :)

I've had a good but tiring day, so I'm off to watch the Bruins beat the Canucks (hopefully!) Good night!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Puttanesca Scramble and Two-Step Southwestern Stew

This weekend was supposed to be sunny and pleasant. This weekend ended up being chilly, gray, and drizzly :( Boo! However, we didn't let it stop us from getting outside. In fact, both my hubby and I thought it would be a perfect time to go kayaking on the pond near our house!

My son is stubborn and independent...just like his Mommy and Daddy! He insisted on handling the paddle by himself quite often during our hour-and-a-half outing. It gave my hubby the opportunity to wave and pose for pictures while my son handled the rowing duties. Sometimes it's hard to believe my son is only 27 months old! We're so happy that he loves being outside and active.

All that unexpected kayaking made me super hungry! I was already starting to think about lunch options before we even got off our kayaks. I knew we didn't have any leftovers from last night, so no luck there. I was craving some tofu or tempeh - something, well, meaty! - after all of that paddling around. By the time we got back to our house, I was a starving, raving lunatic so I grabbed a container of tofu and my copy of Vegan Brunch and looked for the quickest, easiest tofu scramble recipe I could find. I struck gold with the Puttanesca Scramble, which could be made in approximately 15 minutes with mostly pantry ingredients. It has tomatoes, capers, and olives, and it was deliciously salty and succulent. I didn't have quite enough fresh tomatoes, so I subbed in some jarred roasted red peppers. My hubby and I finished off the entire batch in one sitting, along with a side of steamed spinach. It was fabulous and couldn't have been easier to make!

Thankfully, I had already prepared the brown rice and Green Onion-Miso Vinaigrette for last night's dinner, so throwing together the Sushi Roll Edamame Salad from Appetite for Reduction took almost no time at all. And it was really, really great - spinach, shredded carrot, shredded cucumber, sesame seeds, avocado, edamame, and brown rice, drizzled with a tasty dressing. Unfortunately, for the life of me, I cannot locate the pictures I took (??) I'm positive I took pictures. I think they went to lost-photo-land, though :( Sad me. The salad was gorgeous!

I do have pictures of tonight's dinner, though - Two-Step Southwestern Stew from Vegetarian Times, and Grandma's Cornbread Made Vegan from VegWeb. I had already made the cornbread a few weeks ago and stuck it in the freezer, so all I had to do was pull it out and let it thaw out for a few minutes. This cornbread tastes great fresh or frozen, so I often will make extra and freeze it.

This stew takes 15 minutes to make - it's simply some fresh zucchini and onion, along with canned diced tomatoes, hominy, and kidney beans. It's great for those nights when you want something quick and nutritious! My son gobbled up his stew and lots of cornbread, so I'll be making this again :)

Friday, June 10, 2011

Pizza on the Grill It is one of life's greatest pleasures. I love all kinds of pizza, and we usually make it every weekend. When the weather gets warmer, my hubby and I team up and make some killer grilled pizzas! This is a Fig, Spinach, Basil, and Cashew Goat Cheez pizza. The cashew goat cheez is a spin on Gena's Raw Curried Cashew Spread, where I change up the spices (subbing oregano and basil for the curry, cumin and cinnamon), add more lemon juice, and stir in a good amount of white balsamic vinegar. It's tangy and delicious and goes perfectly with the fig jam! I use the Grilled Pizza crust recipe from How to Grill and it comes out perfectly every time.

After the dough has risen and been stretched, we lay it on the preheated grill and spread some olive oil on it:

It starts to puff up right away!
 After several minutes, it's time to flip the crust and add the toppings. Look at those grill marks!
 I have to work quickly to get the toppings on before the crust gets overcooked. I spread some fig jam on first, then top it with dollops of the cashew goat cheese:

 Next I add handfuls of baby spinach and some fresh basil leaves:

 Then we let it cook a few more minutes until the spinach starts to wilt a bit. Then we take it inside, slice it up, and devour!

Grilled pizza is pretty easy to do and it's such a nice change from regular pizza. I also like to do a simple Neapolitan-style pizza with fresh sliced tomatoes, basil, olive oil, and Daiya vegan mozzarella. I'm sure you'll be seeing that one on my blog some time this summer!