Sunday, February 28, 2010

Potato-Tempeh Casserole, Pancakes & Berry Sauce

Morning

No Asian Presence on Food Network?

Why is that?  I understand that audiences demand delicious Latin American and Italian food, but as my boyfriend said, if people only knew about Thai curries, Thai food would join the ranks of ethnic comfort food in big cities and small towns alike.

People also want to understand how to prepare healthy food and vegetables.  I'm not talking about tuna sandwiches and canned or frozen ingredients tossed together, but real, whole foods that people like myself simply aren't quite comfortable with.  But it's as if Food Network is scared to take the risk.  I'm so grateful for the knowledge that Food Network has made available to us, but the network needs to branch out.  I'd go so far as to say Food Network has a responsibility to provide viewers with recipes for food that keeps us "lifestyle disease"-free.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Tofu & Black Bean Tacos with Mexican Rice

This dinner was so yummy and flavorful.  You can't see the stuff inside the tacos, but I sauteed tofu with shallots, red chilies, jalapenos, and tons of spices.  I made the rice in my new rice cooker, which I'm loving.  I just cooked it in tomato soup, salsa, and tomato paste along with cumin and all the other usual Mexican spices.  The guacamole in the tacos is my favorite part of any Mexican meal.  It was all so good, but next time I'll leave out the green peas, since they were an odd, sweet Italian flavor in the otherwise spicy Mexican rice.  You can see I'm horribly lazy about including recipes.

Chickpea Salad

Tastes just like tuna salad but BETTER.  The secret is pulsing the chickpeas in the food processor to give them that chunky tuna texture. This is based on Colleen's (below) recipe for "Better than Tuna Salad."  You can watch Colleen prepare it here.

Here's my take on it, which is pretty much the exact same except I used more mustard, seeds instead of nuts, and fresh lemon juice.

Chickpea Salad:
2 cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 c veganaise
1-2 Tbsp dijon mustard
1 red bell pepper
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 celery stalks, peeled and diced
2 Tbsp fresh parsley
1/2 c pan-toasted nuts (I used pumpkin seeds.)
squeeze of fresh lemon juice
S&P to taste

Pulse the chickpeas in the food processor (or mash them with a fork) just enough to get them chunky and flaky (like canned tuna), then transfer to a bowl.  Add chopped veggies.  Stir in mayo/mustard combo and lemon juice.  Season with S&P.  Stir in parsley and nuts last.  Serve over greens or in a sandwich.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Colleen from Compassionate Cooks

A huge influence in the vegan world, and by far the most knowledgeable and passionate vegan advocate I know of. Check out her podcast or her website.  I kid you not, she might just convince you.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Panang Curry with Tofu

















This post will be cryptic as I am typing with one hand.  Tonight, I attempted panang curry.  This required a scavenger hunt at the farmers' market.  The dish turned out okay but not quite "there."

Just now, I had a revelation about what I'd done wrong, and went back to the kitchen to try again.  Chopping chillies for the panang curry paste, I chopped a chunk right off my middle finger.  It started bleeding like crazy.

My boyfriend ran upstairs and returned with the first aid kit and patched me up.  I then started putting things away, and dropped the salt dish which shattered all over the kitchen floor.  My boyfriend informed me that the kitchen was closed.

I started crying, and rubbed my eyes with my good hand, infusing my eyeball with red chili residue.  My boyfriend told me to please go to the sofa and sit down.  Pics to come.

PS: Panang Curry is best eaten here.
PPS: I found this website, which I wish I would have found before I attempted to "wing" panang curry. :)

My Birthday Burger

My brother-in-law made delicious grilled portabella burgers for my birthday, which we celebrated on Friday.  He grilled marinated mushrooms, onions, peppers, and beef burgers for himself.  He also grilled the buns, which were some sort of seed-topped, homemade-tasting, delicious things he got from Fresh Market.  We added avocado, spinach, and a homemade roasted garlic herbed vegenaise.  Side of baked sweet potato fries.  Dessert of vegan ice-cream my sister and her husband bought just for me.  Add my niece, Abby, crawling all over me, and I was in heaven. :)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

I Love Him :-)

Vegetable Stock

I will never buy store bought stock again.  Why would I do that when I can make my own with veggies that I'm not going to use or stems from bunches of herbs?  It requires absolutely no thought, just throw it all in a pot of water and simmer for an hour. Then use right away as a base for any dish, or freeze.  Homemade stock is the difference between, for example, a lentil dish that taste like a lentil dish, or one that tastes mouth-watering.

Light, Refreshing Salad

I normally think that carrots contribute little to no flavor to salads, so I leave them out.  But I made a salad today that worked for carrots.  Here it is:


















So - by the way, Google, please fix your dang blog formatting issues, I give up - anyway... as I was saying.  This salad has:

arugula
sweet onion
cilantro
parsley
green olives
pumpkin seeds
carrots
lemon juice
hemp oil

It is packed with flavor, but simple enough to let the carrots contribute without confusing.  I slice them with a vegetable peeler; I don't like them grated or chopped in salad.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

:(


Find out more at Meat.org.

Pretty Oatmeal

I love this oatmeal because not only is it delicious, but it looks so beautiful.  It has a real rustic, homemade look because, well, it is homemade, and you can see all the little chunks of fruit and specks of cinnamon... so pretty!

Anyway, I'm eating it right now for breakfast.  Here's the recipe... wait.  This is so hard, because I rarely measure ANYTHING!  Here's my estimate, so you'll have to do what looks right.  Here's what you need.

So, thats:
1 1/2-2 c almond (or rice) milk in a pot
1 c oats
chopped apple (or peaches, berries, or any other fresh fruit)
raisins (or cherries, or any other dried fruit)
cinnamon
blackstrap molasses (or maple syrup, whatever)
earth balance butter
vanilla extract
toasted salted nuts

Bring the milk to a simmer, add the oatmeal, raisins, and apples, reduce heat and simmer until it starts to thicken, turn off heat, stir in cinnamon, molasses, earth balance, and vanilla.  Let it sit.  When thick to your liking, serve with a little almond milk and nuts sprinkled over top.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Vegan

I don't think it's wrong to eat meat, dairy, or eggs.  Especially when people rely on these foods for survival, as many people in the world do and have done.  But here, in the United States, many of us are fortunate enough to be selective about what we put in our mouths.  If we educate ourselves on the source of our food as well as the effects of that food on our bodies, we might make some different choices.

I will never knowingly buy another Monsanto product, for example.

I'm also trying a vegan diet.  I hesitate to declare that, because I know the stereotypes that come to mind.  But avoiding stereotypes is a losing battle, isn't it?  After all, I'm blond and southern.  So who cares.

Vegan makes sense for me.  As a little girl, my heart ached at the thought of an animal or person hurting.  Some may call that a bleeding heart; but I'm glad I have the luxury to act on compassion.  In addition, my fascination with vegetables and clean, nutritious food began at a very early age.  I loved the colors, the lightness, the simplicity and the purity of healthy food.  Combine that with my passionate hatred of injustice and the current corruption in the food industry, and a diet based on grains and vegetables suits me well.

Alicia Silverstone, in her new book The Kind Diet, says she "walks lighter," both literally and figuratively. Anyone who takes action in his or her own small way, to reinforce his values, can experience that lightness.

I'm not saying I'll never eat meat, fish, eggs, or dairy again.  But if I do, I'll be conscious of their source.

Banana Pancakes

More experimenting this morning!  I was seriously skeptical, but these turned out wonderful.  They have a slightly moister, chewier texture than your typical pancake, with a melt-in-your-mouth crispy crust.  They still manage to be light and fluffy, the way pancakes should be.
1 scant cup self-rising flour
2 tbsp cornmeal
3 tbsp ground flax seed
2 tsp cinnamon
2 bananas (1 mashed for batter. 1 halved lengthwise, with half chopped for batter, and the other half pan-seared for garnish)
1/4 cup applesauce
1 cup soy milk
1 tsp blackstrap molasses
peanuts, chopped, pan-roasted, and salted

Mix the wet and dry ingredients separately, then combine.  Add milk or flour as needed to get the right consistency.  Heat griddle to 350.  Use ladle to add batter to griddle.  As soon as you add the batter to the griddle, sprinkle each pancake with peanuts.  Cook on about 350, flipping when edges start to bubble.  Garnish with the pan-seared banana half.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

My Boyfriend's Sick Sense of Humor

Four days after declaring myself a vegan and cooking dish after yummy vegetarian dish, I open the cabinet to take my usual inventory, and see THIS.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Beautiful Quote!

The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow Roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars, and in the middle, you see the blue center-light pop, and everybody goes ahh...
Jack Kerouac

Monday, February 8, 2010

Whole Wheat Cinnamon Rolls

I made cinnamon rolls on Sunday morning, starting with a basic recipe and tweaking it to make it to make it a little more special, with things like rum-soaked raisins, rum-infused icing, and a banana puree filling.  I also replaced the butter with applesauce and banana puree, and used vegan-friendly ingredients.  The cinnamon rolls turned out delicious!  And insanely healthy, as far as cinnamon rolls go.  If you make these, be ready for a slightly different dough texture due to the whole wheat flour.  But that is a small price to pay for a soft, warm, gooey cinnamon roll that is actually nutritious.  Here's the recipe.

WHOLE WHEAT CINNAMON ROLLS

Dough:
1 tbsp active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
3/4 c warm soy milk
1/4 c applesauce
1/4 c molasses
2 Ener-g eggs
1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp salt
3 c whole wheat flour

Filling:
2 pureed bananas with 2 tbsps soy milk
1/2 c brown sugar
2 tbsp cinnamon
1/4 c rum-soaked raisins

Icing (simply blend the following three ingredients):
2 c powdered sugar
1/4 c rum (from soaking raisins)
3 tbsp soy milk

Stir yeast into warm water.
Add next 6 ingredients, blend.
Slowly add flour, stirring, until dough forms.
Turn dough onto oiled surface and knead for 15 seconds.
Place ball of dough into oiled boll and cover with a tea towel for 1 hour or until dough has doubled in size.
Roll out 8x12.
Smear with pureed banana mixure.














Sprinkle with cinnamon and brown sugar.
Sprinkle with rum-soaked raisins.






















Roll up.
Slice into 12 buns.
Place, touching, in 9x12 parchment-papered pan.














Allow to rise 45 minutes.
Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.
Let cool and top with icing.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Sweet Potato, Chickpea, and Cilantro Soup

Omg. Omg. I just created the most delicious, freshest combination ever!  I didn't want to go to the grocery store but needed something quick and healthy to eat.  So I did the whole "clean out the fridge" thing.  Here are the principles I operated by:

1. I am tired of using store-bought stock.  It is full of sodium and goodness knows what else.  So I've made an effort to use water and flavor it with fresh ingredients, or make homemade stock.  So in this case, I was thinking about how to flavor the liquid for the soup without using a can.

2. I wanted veggies.

3. I wanted flavor.

Here's what I came up with, using the only vegetables I had in my kitchen.

1/4 green pepper, diced
1 sweet potato, diced
1 clove garlic diced
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
fresh spinach
handful of frozen green peas
a couple orange peels (just use a carrot peeler and peel off a couple pieces)
a little salt and ground pepper
lots of fresh chopped cilantro
about 1/2 cup white wine (doesn't matter if its from an old bottle, as long as it is remotely drinkable)
water to cover

Saute peppers for a couple minutes on low, with a little olive oil, sea salt, and pepper.  Add sweet potato and cilantro and cook for about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes more, stirring so the garlic doesn't burn.  Add white wine, turn up heat, and reduce wine.  Add chickpeas, orange peel, and water to sufficiently cover and simmer for about 20 minutes.  Stir in spinach and frozen peas and heat through.  Remove from heat and stir in more fresh cilantro.

The soup is bright, light, simple, yet flavorful... and very good for you.

Lessons learned:
1. Be resourceful in the kitchen, use up old ingredients, and you'll inevitably discover new flavor combinations.
2. Less is more.