Sunday, May 31, 2009

African Stew and Peanut Butter Cookies

OK, well I know I gave you this recipe a while back but I recently decided to make the African Stew that I have so loved in the past from the Becoming Vegetarian book. I used a rice that required a LONG cooking time so it took well over an hour to complete this stew but I always think it is worth it. The red dots on top are juts me trying to be creative with the hot sauce. I use the Vietnamese hot chili sauce. If you decide to make this, make sure you add the lemon juice and some hot sauce. I really think it is boring without those flavors.
I must be on a peanut butter kick lately because I also decided to try these "Big Gigantoid Crunchy Peanut Butter-Oatmeal Cookies" from the Vegan with a Vengeance cookbook. They were REALLY good. Mike took most of them to work and the guys enjoyed them. I made them again later in the week since we liked them so much. One of his friends said they did not taste vegan at all-whatever that means!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Two more salads

Wow.. I really am on a salad binge here. For the one-two people who look at this blog regularly - Em is now making it official. She is pregnant. And has not been interested in eating - vegan or otherwise. So, she has been very quiet.
I am eating salads regularly and trying to incorporate CSA vegetables into my meals. So far, we have had lettuce, salad greens, herbs, green onions, radish, asparagus, strawberries, snap peas!! Can't wait for more. Our vegetables are also growing well so far. A couple of okras did not make it, but the others are still going strong!
Earlier this week, I made a salad inspired by Spinach salad, but with mixed greens instead. Today, I made a salad with only CSA ingredients - a green CSA salad! Both pictures are taken with the plate in the yard - you can see our deck and lawn in the photos too! We have been spending a lot of time on the deck and outside with the dogs!

Ingredients and Recipe:

2 Cups Salad Greens
1 Carrot, Diced
1 Orange (fresh, sliced without peels)
1 Vegan Sausage, warmed and cut

2 T Sliced Almonds
2 T Newman's Own Light Raspberry-Walnut Vinaigrette

Alterations: Strawberries instead of Orange; Roasted Walnuts instead Almonds.
Mix together and enjoy.

CSA Green Salad!

Everything on this salad today was from our CSA this week (except the almonds and dressing!). Hence the name!

Ingredients and Recipe:

2 Cups Salad Greens
9-10 Asparagus, sauteed with olive oil, salt, lemon juice and pepper
4 T Snap Peas
1 t Chives with flowers
2 T sliced almonds
1 T Olive Oil

For the dressing, I drizzled the Olive Oil on the salad. The sauteed asparagus with all the spice in it was enough for the salad along with the taste of chives.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Grilled Asparagus with Roasted Pepper and Garlic Aioli

I modified this recipe from the current issue of 'Vegetarian Times'. I read this magazine like a treat- savoring the pictures, imagining the taste and enjoying the prospect of cooking it!! It is relaxing and enjoyable afternoon of luxury. This month's cover had a photo of grilled asparagus. These are some of my most favorite vegetables. This is one of the many vegetables that tastes best when eaten in season. And right now, our CSA produce is over-flowing with asparagus and I am always looking for different ways to cook it. I have eaten in multiple types of stir fries, pastas, grilled, roasted, blanched, sauteed and loved it in every form.

I looked hard, but could not find this specific recipe posted on the Vegetarian Times website. I was hoping to make my blogging easier by just giving you the link to the website, but it looks like I may have to type the entire recipe!! The colors of this dish are striking - a red roasted red pepper puree, white aioli and green asparagus. The flavors really mix well together for a very surprising and delicious taste.

I halved the recipe and was happy with the results. It also called for white and green asparagus and I only had green, so that's what we had. The aioli calls for Vegan Mayonnaise, but I had none. Instead, I had made a paste with Silken Tofu and Tofu Cream Cheese for a pasta a couple of days ago and had some left-overs and used that instead. I also did not use as much Olive Oil as was recommended in the recipe. I added some TVP to the puree to add protien content. We don't have a grill or grill pan, so I sauteed them on the stove. I served them with quinoa (hidden in the picture), but did not add the lime wedge for garnishing :)

Grilled Asparagus with Roasted Red Pepper Puree and Aioli


2 lbs Asparagus, trimmed
1/2T Olive Oil
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
1/2 t Lemon Juice

2 Cloves Garlic,
1/2 t salt
1 t Olive Oil
1/4 C Vegan Mayonnaise (or I used a pureed mixture of silken tofu and tofu cream cheese)

6 oz Roasted Red Peppers (if using jar, rinse and dry)
1/4 Cup TVP or Morning Star-type Grillers
1 T Agave Nectar
1 t Paprika

To make the Red Pepper Puree: Saute the TVP or morning star grillers in oil for a few minutes till cooked. TVP may have to be soaked in water first. Puree roasted red peppers, agave nectar, paprika and 2-3 T of water, to get to the preferred consistency. Add TVP to the mixture.

To make aioli: Peel garlic cloves, add a pinch of salt and mash them together. Whisk in vegan cream mixture and Olive Oil.

Saute asparagus over medium heat with 1/2 T of olive oil, salt and pepper for 8-9 minutes. Sprinkle lemon juice.

Serve puree and aioli over asparagus!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Asian-Inspired Salad

Continuing on my salad ideas, today's salad was Asian-inspired. I am still looking for ideas for salads! I made this salad as dinner yesterday and was very proud of myself for eating so healthily. Except that we went out with friends for drink and I ate more there and had a couple of calorie-busting/boosting cocktails. My new favorite - flavored vodka (citrus, raspberry etc) with tonic. It is a nice summer drink!
I just sauteed the tofu. For more flavor, marinating the Tofu in a mixture of soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, garlic, red pepper flakes and some agave nectar before browning or grilling is a great option. Also, this mixture could substitute for salad dressing too. I also added 'honey sesame sticks' (from Trader Joe's) as a crunch. I really like it's taste, but may go easy on it the next time because of the calorie content. V prefers the regular sesame sticks without honey. I like a lot of variety in flavors and textures in all my foods! The vegetables I added were related to what I had at home. The salad was too 'green'. I would have used yellow or red peppers or carrots, but I am trying to cook with what we get from the CSA and reducing the number of vegetables that I buy. For this salad, I used a pre-made dressing from Trader Joe's - sesame soy ginger. I really like the dressing, but the list of ingredients in this paragraph would make a great substitution!

Asian-Inspired Salad


3 Cups Mixed Salad Greens (CSA)
2 Stalks Celery
1 Green Onion (CSA)
1/2 Green Pepper
1 Stalk Lemon Grass (CSA)
16 oz Extra Firm Tofu
Handful of Honey Sesame Sticks
3 T Sesame Soy Ginger Dressing
1 T Oil (preferably Sesame)

Prepare Tofu by pressing the block of tofu between two plates and placing a heavy can on it to sqeeze out the water.

Cut into cubes and sautee over Sesame Oil till light brown.
Mix together all other ingredients, add dressing. Place tofu pieces on top and you're dinner is ready!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Mexican Salad

With my produce from CSA coming in every week for the past 2 weeks, I get a lot of salad greens and half a head of lettuce. I have to eat a salad everyday to get through all the produce. So for the next few posts, I will be writing about salad. I would LOVE ideas for salads. I try to use other vegetables with salad greens (just based on what we have at home), a protien, some crunch and a low-fat dressing of sorts.

Mexican Salad:


2 C Mixed Salad Greens
1 Carrot, chopped
1/2 Green Pepper, chopped
1 - 2 C Black Beans, cooked

1 C Black Bean and Corn Salsa
3 T sunflower seeds
1 t Chipotle chillis in Adobo sauce
3 T Cilantro
1 t Lemon Zest

Mix all the ingredients and enjoy!!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Non-cooking Related

This post is not related to cooking!! V had his first exhibition for his photos yesterday as part of the 'gallery walk' in town. And I just wanted to say 'Yay' for him and how proud of him I am!
V's aunt is visiting. She helped me plant a vegetable garden and I wanted to share some photos of that too.

The row closest to the fence is 'Okra' and the rest are tomatoes! Heirloom and some Beefmaster! Soon, we are going to have to put up some sort of 'cages' around the tomatoes. Although this area is fenced off and tied with a band to prevent the dogs from getting in, when we woke up on Thursday morning, both the dogs were in the vegetable garden area, with the gate still closed. We are still not sure how they got in - jumped up the fence is our best guess! I have read that the green parts of a tomato are not safe for dogs, so putting up a cage around it will hopefully prevent the dogs from eating the plant too!

Next to this block, is this L-shaped area. The far end has herbs - oregano, thyme, basil, and lemon grass. In the middle of the 'L', is spinach. We were able to find organic spinach in our local Menard's (similar to Lowe's or Home Depot)!! And surrounding the spinach are cayenne peppers.... hmmm... spicy! Closest to us are red and yellow peppers along with some cilantro seeds. I will update this blog with photos as the plants grow. I am not too hopeful... $80 later, we don't have green thumbs. So, we'll see what happens. We also have raspberry and blackberry bushes in another area!!
Yay for the nice weather!!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Broccoli-Mushroom Rice Bake

I realize that this picture looks like vomit but it did not taste like that. Now that you are hungry, I will describe this meal. I have been making lots of casserole-y things lately. Not sure why exactly? This was based on Cheesy Broccoli Rice Casserole from Mine was not necessarily cheesy but I tried. It was more like that green bean casserole you have at Thanksgiving but with broccoli instead of green beans and added rice. I used Imagine Portabello Mushroom Soup mixed with about 1/4 cup of Tofutti Sour Cream (I think the cream cheese may have helpoed make it more "cheesy"). My result was too watery so I will use less mushroom soup next time. I also should have sauteed the onion before adding to the recipe. I added some Follow Your Heart Cheddar to the top and mixed in some nutritional yeast and Vegan Parmesan but still very little "cheese" flavor. I topped with fried onion strips since there are still some here after the Shepherd's Pie and M and D like them. This recipe needs a lot more salt and spice than it indicates. I will try another time and see if I can perfect it (and maybe make it a bit more presentable!).

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Mixed Vegetable Soup

V's aunt is visiting. I was going to make an easy salad, but the weather was rainy and yucky in the morning. So, she offered to make a hot soup for lunc. And we never say 'no' to her cooking and definitely not soup. Usually, she just adds vegetables and beans with a variety of spices to conjure up a delicious delight. Today, I watched her and was her assistant. So, I got to see some of the magic! Here is my memory of what I saw her do this afternoon!Everything that she cooks is by taste and adding a few things here and there. So, you would have to taste this at regular times and add spices according to your taste. My brother also asked for some more soup recipes, so I hope he'll be happy with this.
Some variations include - adding sweet potato, adding navy beans, kidney beans or other white beans, adding TVP, adding coarsely chopped kale or chard at the end. Another option is to remove a little bit of soup, purree it and return it to the big pot for a different consistency and flavor!

Mixed Vegetable Soup

2 T Olive Oil
1 T Red Pepper flakes (or to taste)
1 Onion, chopped
2 Stalks Celery, chopped
2 Carrots, chopped
1/2 C Frozen Peas
1/2 C Frozen Edemame
4 C Vegetable Broth (We used Pacific)
Salt, to taste
2 Cloves Garlic, chopped fine
2 T Soy Sauce
1.5 C Garbanzo Beans, cooked
1.5 C Black Beans, cooked
1 15 oz Can Tomatoes
1 T Sugar (we used Turbinado)
2 T Oregano, dried
1 T Thyme, dried
2 T Cilantro
2 T lemon/lime juice

In a soup pot, add olive oil and red pepper flakes. After a couple of minutes, add onions and cook till they are softened. Add celery and carrot and let the vegetables soften. Add peas, edemame, garlic and salt. Cook for 4-5 more minutes.
Add the broth, cover and bring to a boil. Add both kinds of beans and let it boil again.
Add the can of tomatoes, Soy sauce and sugar. Add water to make it the consistency you like. Cook for 5 minutes and taste to make sure that all the flavors have mixed together and for salt, spice and acidity.
Add Oregano, thyme and lemon juice and mix together. Add cilantro.
Serve hot!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Summer Berry Pudding

Happy Birthday Emily!! I hope you had a wonderful day!
I made this yummy, vegan 'pudding' over the weekend and decided to post it today in honor of your birthday!!! Great with Vegan icecream!!!

Summer Berry Pudding


12 slices White Bread
3 T Vegan Butter/Earth Balance
2 C Strawberries
2 C Blueberries
2 C Blackberries
3/4 C Agave Nectar
Pinch of Cinnamon
Splash of Lemon Juice

In a saucepan, add 2/3 C water, strawberries and agave nectar. Cook for 5-10 minutes and let the strawberries soften. Add blueberries and blackberries. Add more water till the consistency is syrup-y. Cook for 5 more minutes till all the juices are mixed together and the berries are softened. Add lemon juice and cinnamon. Mix well.
Spread vegan butter on the slices of bread. Layer white bread (crusts removed) in a 13 x 9 in pan (or any pan you like!). Cut the bread to fit.
Spread 1/3 of the berry mixture on the bread. Layer the rest of the bread (crusts removed) and make 3 layers.
Refrigerate for 4-6 hours and enjoy! Serve with Vegan Vanilla Icecream!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Clean Out the Cabinet (and freezer) Shepherd's Pie

This is not too exciting but I have had very little interest in cooking at all lately sorry to say so this was the best I could do.

Clean Out the Cabinet (and freezer) Shepherd's Pie
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • Clove of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 yellow onion chopped
  • 1 cup Morningstar burger crumbles
  • 3/4 cup frozen or canned corn kernels
  • 1/2 cup mixed frozen vegetables (I used standard mixed veggies-peas, carrots, corn, green beans-and then added some frozen broccoli and edamame for protein)
  • 1 can of mushroom gravy (Franco-American, I believe is the one)
  • 2 servings of instant mashed potatoes (make sure you buy the plain ones or they have butter/dairy)
  • sprinkling of nutritional yeast and fried onion strips for Trader Joe's
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sautee Garlic and onion in oil until soft. Add Morningstar crumbles until they loosen up a bit. Add additional frozen veggies. Stir in gravy. Cover with foil and bake for 15-20 minutes. While this heats up, cook mashed potatoes as directed on box (or if you are really adventurous, make them fresh!!!!). Remove foil, top with mashed potatoes, sprinkle with nutritional yeast and fried onions and bake for another 10 or so minutes until it starts to brown.

Side note: This would have worked very well in the dutch oven but I forgot so I had to clean up extra pans!!Max and Jack
Just added this picture since I know you miss my boys! I cannot get a picture of all three together but at least these two get along.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Quick Pepper-Burger Fajita

Our first share of veggies from the CSA came today. It was a week earlier than anticipated because our farmer had a lot of vegetables that he had already harvested! I came home and had a fresh vegetable salad - mixed greens, lettuce, organic carrots (not from CSA), radish and black beans and corn with some salsa as the dressing. YUM!!

Dinner was a quick Pepper Burger Fajita - where clean up is easy. The peppers and burgers are baked in aluminum foil. You can eat this with anything. I ate mine with a warm tortilla with some Tofu cream cheese spread spread on the tortilla. I did not really wrap it into a fajita, but just ate it on the side. I also added some green chile salsa on the cooked mix!

Pepper - Burger Fajita


1 Yellow onion, sliced
1 Green pepper, sliced
1 Red pepper, sliced
4 Vegan burgers, sliced
2 T lemon juice
2 T fajita seasoning
2 Jalapeno chillis, seeded and cut
1/4 C cilantro, chopped
2 Cloves Garlic, minced

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Mix together all the ingredients in a bowl.

Cut pieces of aluminum foil and add the ingredients into the foil. Make sure there is enough room to bring the sides of the foil together and crimp it closed.

Bake for 20-30 minutes.
Vent to let some air out and enjoy!!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Biscuits and Gravy

3 Posts from us in 2 days... wow!!
I made a vegan version of biscuits and gravy for dinner today and wanted to post it quickly before I forget!! I love breakfast foods for dinner!!
The biscuits were from Vegan Dad - I used Tofutti cream cheese instead of shortening (and did not brush the biscuits with margarine) and used 1 cup Whole Wheat Flour and 1 Cup All Purpose Flour. The biscuits were dense, but yummy!!

The gravy is a recipe from our friend Suren. He cooks really good food and made a vegetarian gravy for me every time we had brunch together in Urbana-Champaign. Now Ishara and Suren (with their kids, Mishka and Priya) are in Alabama and we don't get to see them as much. So I make it for myself! I veganized the vegetarian version today and really enjoyed the food. Not really low-cal, but not too bad! I used Morning Star Grillers instead of TVP - the latter may have been healthier, but cooking it would have required more oil - that was my justification :) You can play with the seasoning too. The original recipe called for Onion powder and Garlic powder. I did not have either, so I used Adobo seasoning instead! We like our food slightly spicy, so the amount of black pepper can be reduced for a milder taste.

Vegan Gravy (for Biscuits and Gravy)

2 T Oil
1 1/2 C Morning Star Grillers
1 t Salt
1 T Adobo seasoning
2 T Black/White Pepper
1 T Italian Seasoning
1 t Chilli Powder
3 to 4 T All Purpose Flour
2-3 C Light Soy Milk - Plain only

Add Oil to a pan, saute Grillers stirring often. Once it darkens (or TVP browns), add salt, adobo, pepper, italian seasoning, and chilli powder. Cook for 2-3 more minutes till the flavors mix.

Add flour, 1 T at a time, stirring after each addition. The flour should cook - add extra oil if needed.

Once the flour starts to brown, add 1/2 cup of milk. This will deglaze the pan and thicken the mixture as you stir. Add more milk, 1 cup at a time till it reaches a consistency you like.

Simmer and serve over biscuits!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Carrot Cake

Well, I made my own version of the Carrot Cake from 101 cookbooks. The prep work was a little bit time consuming but I think it turned out really well. This is a very dense cake which reminds me more of banana bread or zucchini bread than carrot cake. The batter actually made far more than I needed. It made one loaf pan's worth and then 5 additional muffins. These are the changes that I made (some to make it vegan and others based on the ingredients I had in the house).

  • Walnuts (I used a mix of sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and almonds)
  • Butter (I used Earth Balance and microwaved for about 15 seconds to soften)
  • Greek Yogurt (I used plain soy yogurt but I know it is hard to find. Vanilla would be fine)
  • 3 bananas (just used 2 and it was more than enough)
  • 2 eggs (I whisked up 2 flax seed "eggs" - 2 TB flax meal mixed with 6 TB water, heat in microwave for 30 seconds and then whisk and let cool)
  • My "bread" needed far more time that was recommended. I would say it ended up being about 70-75 minutes total and was still very inside.
For the frosting (which is absolutely necessary!!!!!), substitute tofutti cream cheese for the regular cream cheese. Before adding the frosting, the bread was just ok so I think you really need to make it. I mixed it up separately and just spread a bit on my slice so it would not spoil. My daughter did not like this-probably not sweet enough- and my husband won't eat carrot cake so now I must consume the entire thing on my own. How awful!!!!

Baked BBQ Beans

I made this yesterday, but my laptop (Apple, at that) had a hard disk crash on Friday. V has ordered a new hard disk and is hoping to be able to fix it himself. In the meantime, I have to use the desktop to type my recipes. I know - the horror!! This is the reason I did not post last night.
This recipe started off as one from Vegan Soul Kitchen. The recipe in the book calls for Black Eyed Peas and involves using dried peas, cooking it with Kombu (sea weed). I try to cook batches of dried beans, so when it is time to use it, there are some ready beans. I had saved some BEP from my Jamaican Veggie Patties recipe and was all set to use it in the recipe. All day, something in the fridge smelled rotten and we were not able to figure out what it was - you know the rest, don't you. Yes, I opened the container of the BEP and it was rotten. I usually freeze the beans I cook, but figured I was going to use this soon, so did not freeze it. My bad.
So I modified the recipe and used canned black and kidney beans. As I was starting to make the BBQ sauce, I made some modifications there too - sherry vinegar for red wine vinegar; 1 T lime juince isntead of 2 and soy sauce in place of tamari. It is just what I had on hand. Also, instead of crumbled Tempeh, I used some of the 'morning star grillers'. V does our grocery shopping and I had written Boca/Morning Star Burgers on one list and he came back with multiple packets of these grillers, so I wanted to use them today.
The photo is not too great either. I was on the phone with my cousin as I was taking the photo and was really hungry, so a quick photo and we started to eat. I got this Le Creuset pan from V's aunt. It was great - I cooked on the stove top and then put it in the oven. I need to start using it more!

Baked BBQ Beans


1 can Kidney Beans
1 can Black Beans
3 T Olive Oil
1 Onion, diced
1 Green Pepper, diced
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
2 T Sherry Vinegar
1 T Lime Juice
1/2 C Soy Sauce
1 C Tomato Sauce (I used marinara :)
1 Chipotle Chilli in Adobo sauce, minced
1/4 C Agave Nectar
1 T Cumin (ground)
1 t Thyme (dried)
Pinch of Cayenne
1 C Water
1 C Morning Star Grillers

Preheat Oven to 350.
Heat Olive Oil in Pan, Add Onions and Saute for 5 minutes or till onions are brown. Add Green Peppers and Garlic, cook for 5-7 more minutes.

For the BBQ sauce, combine vinegar, lime juice, soy sauce, tomatoe sauce, chipotle chilli, agave nectar, cumin, cayenne, thyme and 1 cup of water in a blender and purree till smooth.

Add beans, morning star grillers and BBQ sauce to the Onion-Green Pepper mix and Stir well.
Bake uncovered for 2 hours.

I served this over Quinoa for a hearty dinner!!