Thursday, January 31, 2008

Sweet Potato Lentil Chili

Tonight's dinner was Sweet Potato Lentil Chili from Eat, Drink and Be Vegan. This chili is awesome, definitely a new favorite of mine. Rob commented that it was so much better than regular chili......he's not a chili fan, and he really liked this one. I had to make just a few minor changes to the recipe. It calls for cumin, I was out, because I used it all in my Bombay Chickpeas from last night. It also calls for red pepper flakes, which I was also out of. So, I subbed about 1/2 tsp extra chili powder to give it the addtional heat and cumin flavor. Instead of using a can of regular crushed tomatoes, I used fire roasted, which I think just add such a unique and incredible flavor. I don't think I'd make it with plain tomatoes. I also used up the last of my kidney beans making Chipotle Lime Two Bean Hummus for Rob. So, instead, I subbed cannellini beans.

I topped the chili with some diced avocado. And, served some cornbread on the side. YUM!!

Bombay Spiced Chickpeas

Last night I made the Chickpeas and Spiced Potato Cakes from the Best Ever Curry Cookbook. The book says this is a dish served by street vendors in Bombay.......I've never been to India, so I couldn't tell you. The book isn't a vegetarian cookbook, but it has a lot of recipes that are adaptable by adding tofu, and there are a few, such as this one that need no adaptation at all. Hey, it was on the discount table at the bookstore and I got it for $3.99, couldn't pass it up, even if it was filled with meals for meat-eaters.

The chickpeas were delicious. Just boiled chickpeas combined with tumeric, coriander, cumin, ginger and green chilies. They were nicely spiced and the little bit of heat the chili added was perfect.

The potato cakes were really good as well. Just mashed potatoes, seasoned with cumin, cilantro, and diced chili. Mix it up, form it into cakes and shallow fry it. Like I said, really tasty, but I am not good at frying things at all, so mine were less than pretty.

I will definately make this again, although, I need to work on the frying thing.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Compassionate Cooks Podcast

Any of you who follow the cyber literature for vegetarian cooking and living will recognize this logo from the Compassionate Cooks website. I've recently subscribed to their podcast and have since listened to a few of their episodes. I encourage any of you who would like to become vegetarian or maintain vegetarianism, and need support, to check out this podcast, as it really helps solidify the choices that vegetarians and vegans make.

So, the main point of this post is based on the podcast I listened to last night, entitled "I only eat 'white meat' defense of chickens". Now, this episode kind of struck home with me for a few different reasons. My dear husband Rob, has in the last 8 months since we've become veg, decided that I was right, and that it is disgusting to eat meat. However, apparently, he doesn't think there's anything wrong with eating chickens (I guess bird somehow doesn't equal meat), but anyway. This podcast will sure put a stop to that way of thinking if I can get him to listen!!

The second thing that hit me about this podcast was that since Stella's allergy issues have arisen I've flirted with the idea of feeding her chicken so that her diet can vary from the massive quantities of beans she is currently eating. Well, let me just say, I will NOT be flirting with this idea anymore.

And, the 3rd thing that really got to me about this particular podcast was the quoted entry from the blog of Virgil Butler, noted activist against factory farming. It's unsettling what the people who work in this industry must endure both mentally and physically every time they go to work.

A Taste of the Middle East

One of the food blogs I follow on a regular basis is The Vegan Mother's Blog. Last week she posted about a Middle Eastern restaurant she likes and how she re-created their sample platter at home. It sounded so yummy, I had to try it.

I included the same dishes that Lizzy did; hummus, baba ganoush, and mujaddara. For the hummus, I don't use a recipe, I just add the ingredients to taste. In this hummus I used roasted garlic rather than raw, but admittedly, would have liked more of a garlic flavor, and wish I would have gone raw. For the baba ganoush I used a recipe from Vegan Cookbook, which I checked out of the library a few weeks ago, only instead of vegan yogurt I used cow's milk yogurt. And for the mujaddara, I used this recipe, only I added about 1 Tbs of cumin to the lentils and rice as they cooked. I also used brown basmati, which requires a much longer cooking time than indicated in the recipe. I knew it was going to take longer, but I got a little hasty and unfortunately didn't have the patience to let the rice cook completely, so it was sadly a little underdone.

This was a great meal, and incredibly filling. Rob loved the baba ganoush.....I was afraid that he's balk at it once he learned it's main ingredient is roasted eggplant!! None the less, he loved it. I'll definitely be making this middle eastern feast again. Although, I think I will steam the rice in the rice cooker before adding it to the lentils.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Soup, Day 2

I love soup in the winter time, I could eat it most days of the week if my family wouldn't tire of it. It's so warm and comforting, and it just feels so good to sit down to a nice bowl of soup on a cold day. So, given my love of soup, I present to you "soup, day 2".

Thursday I was watching the Martha Stewart Show, and Katherine Heigl was her guest. I think I've mentioned before that Grey's Anatomy is my guilty pleasure on Thursday nights (or at least it was before this damn writers strike). Anyway, Martha was teaching Katherine how to make tomato soup, as it's her new husband's (Katherine's new husband that is) favorite soup. It sounded so delicious, and looked so easy to make, so I decided to try my hand at it this evening. Delicious and simple it was!! And, I love that it has the look, taste and texture of creamed tomato soup, only, without the cream. I pretty much followed the recipe, only for the chicken stock I subbed Imagine's No-Chicken Broth.

And, what's tomato soup without grilled cheese?? So, I made up some grilled cheese with some organic whole wheat bread and some organic Swiss. We also had a spinach salad dressed with warm balsamic-dijon vinaigrette. Now, if that's not comfort food, I don't know what is.

Friday, January 25, 2008

White Bean and Tomato Soup

As promised, something warm and comforting from the crock pot. Tonight I kind of winged it and threw together this white bean and tomato soup with some things I had lying around that needed used up (although, I still never found a good use for that zucchini, which will promptly be making it's way to the trash...sigh).

Anyway, despite the morning from hell, I found it in me to do some prep work and throw together what turned out to be probably the best bean soup I've ever had. After a week that seems to have gone on forever this was the most comforting meal I could imagine having. And an added bonus, it was simple and required little of my non-existing energy.

Mairin's been asking for some more of Dreena's jumbo croutons, so I humored her and baked some croutons to serve on top of the soup. They were a great addition to the soup accompanied by a small sprinkle of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

White Bean and Tomato Soup
8 oz baby carrots, cut lengthwise into quarters
1 small onion, diced
1 medium leek, white part only, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
2 tsp dried thyme
4 cups cooked white beans
28 oz can diced tomatoes with juice
2 cups vegetable stock
salt and pepper to taste
8 oz frozen spinach

In a medium skillet heat 2 Tbs olive oil over medium high heat. Add carrots, onion, and leek and saute until beginning to soften. Add in garlic, bay leaves, and thyme and saute a minute more. Transfer veggies to slow cooker, add beans, tomatoes and vegetable stock. Stir to combine and salt and pepper to taste. Cover and cook on low 8 hours. During last 5-10 minutes of cooking add in frozen spinach. Remove bay leaves and serve hot, topped with jumbo croutons and a sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese.

Pizza was all I could muster.

I don't know what's wrong with me this week. I had lots of meals planned for this week, and I bought all of the groceries I needed, unlike last week, but despite all of that, I've hardly cooked a thing. I just don't seem to have the energy to do it this week.

Last night I had planned on making a home made minestrone, but as I stood in the kitchen yesterday morning and thought of all of the veggies that needed chopped and the prep work that needed to be done, it just all seemed too overwhelming. So, I opted to pull a ball of pizza dough out of the freezer to thaw and leave the veggies in the crisper for another day or two (unfortunately I don't think my zucchini is ever going to make it into a dish!!). We had cheese pizza topped with black olives and tomatoes, and I managed to throw a salad together on the side. Admittedly, a very sad meal, but it has been quite some time since we've had pizza, and it did taste really delicious.

I have something warm and comforting in the crock pot for this evening that I'll blog about later. Tomorrow is my grocery shopping day, so hopefully I'll have some more delicious dinners for ya'll next week.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Chickpea Broccoli Casserole

We've been having left-overs and pasta with sauce from a jar for the past few nights, so there's been very little to blog about. With the exception of some Oatmeal Raisin Cookies from ED&BV, and some more vegan muffins, I haven't really cooked anything.

So, tonight I thought I'd get back in the kitchen. I decided to make up this Chickpea Broccoli casserole from Vegan with a Vengeance. It seemed simple enough, and it was. It was also great because I could make it up and refrigerate it, then have Rob pop it in the oven while I was out teaching my class. Seems like the perfect solution to a quick weeknight meal, right? Well, it was the perfect solution if you like bland casserole with more or less raw vegetables in it. In other words, BLECH!!! I even heeded Isa's warning that it was bland and added what I thought was an adequate amount of seasoning....still, no flavor. I also cooked it the recommended amount of time......basically raw veggies. This casserole was an all out flop. It really was the most unsatisfying meal I've ever eaten. I couldn't even bring myself to make the kids try it, and we all ended up eating cereal.

I know there are a lot of VwaV fans out there, but I have to say I'm not one of them. I've checked this book out of the library several times, and I've never found a recipe in it that I like. Most of the recipes seem to include soy which Stella can't have, or seitan, which all of you who follow my blog know how I feel about that!! I guess I'm gonna have to send this one back to the library and stick with my trusty ED&BV, because I've had quite the opposite experience with it.....I have LOVED every recipe I've tried!!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Vegetable soup, cornbread, and some chocolately vegan goodness

I didn't do a lot of cooking this weekend. We ended up eating out on Friday night because I had some shopping to get done. Then on Saturday we took Mairin to see Arthur Live!, while my mom kept Stella for us. We again had dinner out with Mairin after the show.

Having had enough restaurant food for one weekend, I was really looking forward to eating at home on Sunday. Not to mention, it was 6 degrees here today, and there was no way in hell I was going to leave my house!!

For lunch today I was really feeling like having something light since we'd done so much eating out (although I did eat fairly light while we were out, except for those delicious fried mozzarella triangles last night.......mmmm, fried cheese!). Anyway, back to lunch. For lunch I just threw together a salad dressed with some balsamic-dijon vinaigrette, some hummus that I made for Saturday's lunch served with whole wheat pita, and some apple quarters. It was a great lunch. And look how colorful.

For the dressing I used about 1 Tbs dijon mustard, about 2 Tbs of balsamic vinegar, a few tsp of sugar and whisked in some good Italian olive oil until it was the right taste and consistency. It was a really good dressing. I usually make it without the mustard, but will be including dijon from now on.

For dinner tonight I made the vegetable-orzo soup that I've blogged about before. I made essentially the same recipe as before, only this time I didn't have any lima beans, and instead of using corn and peas separately I used a mixed vegetable mix that had peas, corn, and green beans.

This is a very good vegetable soup. Rob and I like it so much better than the usual tomato based vegetable soups that you usually see. This one is so hearty and so filling, and just what we needed to warm us up on such a frigid day.

****Dalai Mama, you'll get a kick out of friend just e-mailed me to tell me that she made this very dish for dinner tonight!!! Something very strange is going on!!!!****

To go along with our soup I made some cornbread. Since Stella can't tolerate most dairy and at the moment can't eat eggs I found this vegan recipe for cornbread. The only thing I did differently was to use rice milk instead of soy milk.

This cornbread was unbelievably good. I'll never make cornbread any other way. It was very moist, not dry and crumbly like a lot of cornbread I've eaten. It was also just right on the sweetener. Some mixes I've found are much too sweet. However, I don't like drab, bland unsweetened cornbread either. This one was as close to perfect as I'll ever get.

And finally, for a little sweet treat, I whipped up these vegan brownies. They are very good (maybe not as good as their traditional counterpart, but still, good). They are extremely moist, without having that "raw", uncooked feel to them. I searched the web for a recipe and couldn't come up with a completely suitable one, so I improvised and combined what I liked from several different recipes. The resulting recipe was this:

Vegan Brownie

2 cups unbleached all purpose flour

1 cup white sugar

1 cup dark brown sugar

3/4 cup dutch processed cocoa powder

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 cup original flavor rice milk

1/4 cup canola oil

3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly oil and flour a 9x13 inch baking pan. In a large bowl combine all dry ingredients. Mix in liquid ingredients and combine until well blended. Spread in baking dish. Bake for 35 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

We all know that vegan treats are usually healthier for us than their traditional counterparts. We all know that eating vegan treats is healthier for the environment. And, of course, we all know that eating vegan treats prevents unnecessary cruelty and suffering to animals. But, do you know the BEST thing about vegan treats????????????

Your mommy let's you lick the (egg free) batter from the spoon!!!!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Spicy Black Beans 'n Rice

Before we get to tonight's dinner, let's go back to the Thai fried rice from last night. If you are going to make this recipe, make sure you have left-overs. I warmed up the extras for lunch today. This rice is even more tasty the second day (actually, I ate some of the left-overs cold, and they were mighty tasty that way as well).

OK, on to tonight. Inspired by the Dalai Mama's Beans n' Cornbread, I made spicy black beans 'n rice. I had planned to make cornbread to go with it as well, but again, as I was getting my stuff together this morning to get organized for dinner I realized that I was out of canola oil. This was apparently a bad organizational week for me. I have no idea how I overlooked that I was missing ingredients for two planned meals. Well, with only olive oil on hand, I had to scratch the plans for cornbread.....don't think it'd taste quite the same with olive oil, ya know??

This was a very delicious, very flavorful meal. And also very quick and easy. Mairin will only touch beans if she doesn't know she's eating them, which wasn't the case with this. So, this meal was a no go for her. I served Stella beans 'n rice, only I dished out her beans before I mixed 'em in with the good stuff!! Rob and I both enjoyed the meal, although, I think it could have been a little less spicy......I'd definitely reduce the amount of cayenne next time. Rob, on the other hand liked it how it was. I served it over some steamed medium grain brown rice, although you could use any rice you have on hand.

Spicy Black Beans
1 large onion, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes
6 cups cooked black beans, drained
3 Tbs ground cumin
1 Tbs smoky paprika
1 Tbs cayenne (this is how much I used, I suggest less, unless you like a lot of spice)
Salt and Pepper to taste

Heat 2 Tbs EVOO over medium-high heat. Add onions and green pepper and saute until beginning to soften. Add garlic and saute for a minute more. Add undrained tomatoes, beans, and spices. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and simmer for about 10 minutes. Serve over rice.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Vegan Thai Fried Rice

I had planned on making vegetarian cassoulet in my crock pot for dinner tonight. As I was gathering all of the ingredients this morning I discovered that I had overlooked the fact that I have no white beans on hand. Oooops, can't make white bean stew with no white beans! I have kidney beans, black beans, garbanzo beans, black eyed peas..........all kinds of beans, except the kind I need.

So, now what? Well, it turns out I was having an e-mail conversation with my step-mom, Sandy, and she mentioned making fried rice. Ah ha, fried rice sounded delicious, and I had all kinds of things I could throw into that!!

I decided to make a vegan version, so Stella could eat it as well. Then I decided to throw in some Thai curry paste to give it a little kick. YUM!!

Vegan Thai Fried Rice
cooked brown rice (I used 3 cups dry, I don't know how much it turned out to be when cooked)
3 Tbs canola oil
1/2 large yellow onion, diced small
about 1 1/2 cups carrots, diced small
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup frozen green beans
4 Tbs Bragg's Liquid Aminos (can sub soy sauce)
1 1/2 Tbs Thai curry paste
fresh ground black pepper
juice from 1/2 lime

Heat oil in wok or large skillet until very hot and starting to smoke. Add in carrots and onion and stir fry for about 5 minutes. Add garlic and frozen veggies and stir fry about 5 minutes more. Add rice, and continue to stir fry until veggies are tender. Add Bragg's, curry paste, lime juice and black pepper to taste. Serve piping hot.

The only thing I can think that would have made this better was some cilantro for garnish, but I used it all up on Monday's curry. Fried rice is so quick and easy, I don't know why I never thought to make it before.

Potato Leek Soup

Last night I made my version of the Potato Leek Soup that we love from the local Irish Pub. Having been to lots of real Irish Pubs (thanks to in-laws living on the Emerald Isle!!), I'd have to say that the Rover is the closest to the real thing that we've ever been to on this side of the pond. They serve a delicious potato leek soup, that I'll never quite be able to replicate, but this one's pretty darn good anyway. Unfortunately, I don't have a picture to post for you......I got my soup all plated up (or I guess in this case it would be bowled up??) ready to photograph, and lo and behold, batteries are dead.......darn the luck.

Potato Leek Soup
2 Tbs EVOO
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large leek, washed well and sliced (white and green parts)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 lb yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
2 Bay leaves
3 tsp dried tarragon
6 cups vegetable stock
2 Tbs Nutritional Yeast

Saute carrots, celery, garlic and, leek until beginning to soften. Add S & P to taste. Add in 1 lb peeled yukon golds and saute to begin softening. Add in 2 bay leaves and about 3 tsp of dried tarragon. Saute for about 5 more minutes. Add in 6 cups of stock, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until all veggies are very soft. Transfer in batches to food processor and puree (or use immersion blender if you are lucky enough to have one). Return to heat, add 2 TBS nutritional yeast, stir to combine and simmer until ready to serve.

Last night was Rob's night to get the girls fed and to dance class all on his own, so I didn't have any sides with the soup. If I had been home to serve this meal as a family, some nice soda bread would be perfect with it.

This soup turns orange when you puree it because of the carrots. Mairin said she wasn't eating it because it was "red", so Rob made her some Weetabix. And, apparently, while he was fixing the cereal she decided she liked it and sneaked off and ate half of her bowl!!

I promise pictures of the soup next time I make it!!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Thai Green Curry

Thai green curry is a dish I used to make all of the time, and I can't believe that since I started this blog in October I haven't made it once. Seriously, we used to eat this about once a week, and I haven't made it in over 4 months. I guess this blog is serving it's purpose of helping me become more creative in my menu planning.

Way back when, I used to make this with chicken. Once we became veg I started subbing the chicken with tofu. Unfortunately, I haven't found a suitable substitute for the fish sauce, so while chicken has been replaced by tofu, my Thai curry still isn't quite vegetarian. I almost didn't even blog about it, but I figured, what's the harm, this blog is about my adventures in vegetarianism, and using fish sauce is just a little bump along the way.

Tonight I served the curry over cilantro lime rice, which you will find the recipe for on my post from Friday night. The recipe for the curry follows:

Almost Vegetarian Thai Green Curry
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 package extra firm tofu, pressed and cut into cubes
1/2 medium onion, sliced
1 Tbs Thai Green Curry Paste
1 can coconut milk
1 Tbs Thai Fish Sauce
2 Tbs Brown sugar
juice of 1/2 a lime
1 cup frozen peas
chopped cilantro to garnish
In a deep skillet, heat EVOO over medium high heat. Cook tofu until browned on all sides. Add in onion and saute until soft. Add curry paste and smash around bottom of skillet, allowing to heat and release flavor. Add coconut milk, fish sauce, and brown sugar, and lime juice, and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer for about 5 minutes. Add in frozen peas and heat through. Serve over rice and garnish with cilantro.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Agave Baked Lentils

Tonight we had my agave baked lentils with mashed sweet potatoes and Golden Crusted Brussels sprouts. You'll find the recipe for the lentils in my post from Nov. This time I used the same basic recipe, only I omitted the garlic, simply because I forgot. I also sauteed the vegetables before adding them to the baking dish. And lastly I used basic green lentils instead of the Puy lentils I like, because I have less than 1/2 cup of Puy's on hand. The flavor was just as delicious as last time, however the lentils didn't hold up as well, and some were a bit mushy.

Instead of baking the potatoes, this time I boiled them. When they were finished I added in a small amount of lactose free milk, a few spoonfuls of brown sugar, and a good bit of cinnamon. They were very good.

We also had Golden Crusted Brussels sprouts. I first saw the recipe in my book Super Natural Cooking, and then also came across it on Heidi's blog. My photo of the sprouts doesn't look quite as good as hers (in addition to being a cook, she's also a professional photographer), but I assure you they are outstanding brussels sprouts.

As it turns out, we weren't the only family eating agave baked lentils tonight......hop on over to Chez Mama, and check out what the Dalai Mama's family had for their Sunday dinner......I
think you'll find it quite humorous!!!!!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Popeye Pasta

A few weeks ago we had Olive Oyl Pasta from Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan. Tonight we had pasta dedicated to Olive Oyl's other half, Popeye. Again, this recipe comes from ED&BV. It's penne pasta in a tomato based sauce with lots of fresh spinach wilted in at the end. Like everything else I've ever made from this book, it was phenomenal. Along with the pasta we had a spinach salad dressed with Annie's Naturals Tuscany Italian Dressing, and Dreena's Simplest Garlic Bread. I also whipped up some White Bean Spread (also from ED&BV) to slather on the garlic bread. The bean spread was delicious and I can't wait to use it on some veggie sandwiches tomorrow.

The Popeye Pasta was enjoyed by you can see, Stella had it all the way up to her forehead.

I had initially intended to "hide" the spinach by chopping it up real fine in the food processor, because I figured there was no way Mairin would touch it otherwise (although, funny enough, she loves spinach in her omelets). Well, turns out that Mairin was playing at a friends house and ate some things over there, so I figured she wouldn't be hungry for dinner at our house. I don't have to "hide" anything from Stella, so I just chopped the spinach coarsely and tossed it in. Mairin came home from playing, and in an attempt to stall bedtime a bit, decided that she didn't eat enough at her friend's house and needed some "pa nay nay" (our made up word for penne......remember Sha Nay Nay from Martin??). Of course, I was sure she wouldn't eat it when she saw that it had green in it...........I was wrong, she ate all but about 2 bites of her serving. She never even mentioned the green!!

Friday, January 11, 2008

South of the Border

It seems that all of my posts recently have been a day behind. I can't seem to find the time to do everything in the evening before I'm ready to crash (although last night I didn't really do much of anything unless you count laying on the couch watching Gray's Anatomy as doing something!!). Maybe I'll get better about posting about my food on the day we actually ate it, maybe I won't, who knows.

Last night we had a little south of the border inspired dinner; black bean quesadillas, cilantro lime rice, home made guacamole, and store bought tortilla chips.

Quesadillas are always my go-to dinner when I'm pressed for time, and well, because of my aforementioned date with my couch for some Gray's, I was pressed for time last night!! For the rice, I used white jasmine rice because it was what I had in the pantry. I cooked it in the rice cooker, and when it was finished, squeezed in the juice of 2 limes, the zest of one lime, about 1/2 cup of chopped cilantro, and some salt to taste. I also went ahead and threw in the squeezed limes, put the lid back on the rice cooker and let the rice continue to steam with the limes in there. This rice is out of this world!! We decided last night that it would also be good as the base for a Thai curry (note to self, Thai curry on the menu for next week). The quesadillas were just store bought tortillas, some smashed black beans, a little diced onion, a little diced tomato and a sprinkle of cilantro. The guac I've blogged about before, and you can find my recipe on that post.

While it wasn't much, it was an extremely satisfying meal that we all enjoyed.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Polenta Casserole

Last night I revisited Eat, Drink & Be Vegan for polenta casserole. Wow, what a simple dinner, and full of ingredients that I almost always have available. This casserole is a combination of beans (I used a combo of cannellini beans and black beans that I had previously frozen), frozen corn, onion, tomato sauce and some spices (thyme, oregano, dried mustard, salt and pepper), all topped off with shredded polenta and mozzarella cheese. The recipe of course calls for vegan cheese, but I loathe vegan cheese.....I'm pretty ok with foregoing the dairy, except when it comes to cheese, nothing compares to the real cheese. Now, I do buy rennet free cheese whenever possible, but soy cheese and rice cheese will never be served in my house. Anyway, I digress, back to the casserole. It's good, it's really, really good. Not my favorite, but good, and it will definitely become part of my rotation. Rob, who is generally not a fan of beans (which is unfortunate for him since I cook with them more often than not) even went back for seconds on this dish, and he took left-overs to work today. Stella gobbled her up, and our hungry, adventurous Mairin has left us. She took one bite, decided she didn't like it and and asked for a granola bar and a bowl of Oatios (oh well, can't win 'em all, and I guess there are worse things she could have chosen to eat) .

We've also been lovin' the vegan muffins here, and I had to whip up another batch last night. They are definitely becoming a breakfast staple for us. This time I made them a bit healthier using white whole wheat flour instead of all purpose flour. I also filled the muffin tins only half full, so we have normal, manageable sized muffins this time! I think I may try to sub out some of the sugar for agave next time around and see how that goes.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

American Style Hungarian Goulash

Last night for dinner, I went back to a dish from my childhood and made it vegetarian. When I was little my Grandma "Honey" used to make goulash all of the time. I thought she just made the word goulash up, and that it meant a lot of stuff thrown together and mixed with macaroni. Turns out I was wrong, she didn't make the word up, and goulash is really a Hungarian cowboy dish. Of course, being a cowboy dish, it's heavy on the meat. Traditionally it's meant to be cuts of stew beef, but when popularized by American cooks the stew beef was replaced with groudbeef because it was cheaper and more readily available. In Hungary goulash was not served with macaroni, but some other form of starch (sometimes potatoes) to thicken the dish.

My vegetarian version of goulash uses cooked lentils to replace the beef. The taste and texture were nearly the same as when my grandmother used to make me this dish with beef.

I didn't really follow a recipe, so I'll let you in on the ingredients and my best estimates for amounts, after that you are on your own, season it to your liking (just remember that it should not have a tomato-y taste, the paprika-ish taste should stand out). I used lentils that I had cooked in the crock pot with a bay leaf. If you are using canned lentils, or have cooked them unseasoned, I would add a bay leaf to the tomato sauce.

Vegetarian Hungarian Goulash
3/4 of a one lb. bag of elbow macaroni
3-4 cups of cooked lentils
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
15 oz can of crushed tomatoes
2 Tbs sweet paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried marjoram
a pinch of nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
sour cream

Cook macaroni according to package directions, drain and set aside. In a deep skillet heat 2 Tbs EVOO over medium heat. Saute onion and garlic until translucent and tender. Mix in dried spices and mix around skillet to heat. Add in tomatoes and lentils, stirring to combine vegetables and spices. Next stir in 2 large dollops of sour cream, and heat through. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour drained macaroni into skillet and mix to combine macaroni with sauce.

We had our goulash with some apple slices on the side. This was a very kid friendly dish. Both girls ate tons of goulash (kind of takes you back to those grade school cafeteria days). So, it looks like goulash is going to make it into frequent rotation here.

Now that the holidays are over we have gotten back into our normal routine, with school, yoga, dance class, etc. So, we're back to our busy Tuesday evenings. I have some "No Chicken" noodle soup in the crock pot as I type. Rob and the girls will be eating noodle soup before dance class. I, on the other hand, will be dining at El Mundo with some of my girlfriends tonight. Lucky me!! Aren't I such a good mom and wife for still taking the time to prepare a healthy meal for my family, even when I can't share in it!!?? (Everyone needs to give themselves a little pat on the back now and again you know).

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Veggie Pot Pie and, who says vegan muffins don't rise??

Tonight I made the veggie pot pie that I blogged about in my very first food post. This time I didn't have any cauliflower or fresh green beans so instead I used frozen green beans, frozen peas, and frozen corn. On the top crust I sprinkled a little paprika, and voila, it's pot pie. Just as delicious and comforting as last time. Tonight we just had it with a simple side of cottage cheese.

The kids did a bit of a role reversal on us tonight. Stella just picked at her dinner, eating on the crust. Mairin on the other hand ate nearly her entire serving. It seems that Mairin may have turned over a new leaf for the new year. She's been eating like there's no tomorrow, I can't seem to keep the fruits, veggies, and yogurts in stock these days!!

On a different note, I tried my hand at some baking tonight (I do very little baking). With Stella's limited elimination diet, I've been feeling in a rut when it comes to breakfast, so I thought I'd cook up a big batch of muffins so we could have something besides cereal and oatmeal for a change. Well, of course, with no eggs, no soy and no dairy, these had to be vegan muffins. Everywhere I looked I kept seeing over and over again "fill the muffin cups full to the top because vegan muffins don't rise"........well, they do. Just look at these monsters......the muffin tops were bulging over the cups (which is fine by me because I like the tops the best anyway........anyone remember that Seinfeld episode?)
I can't remember where I got the recipe that I finally settled on, so I'm posting it without acknowledgement.
Vegan Blueberry Muffins
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup rice milk
1/4 cup oil
1 cup frozen blueberries
Preheat oven to 400. Grease muffin tin. Mix dry ingredients until combined. Add in wet ingredients and mix until just moistened. Fold in blueberries. Spoon batter into greased muffin tin and bake for 25-30 minutes.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Home-made spaghetti

In my post earlier today I told you about the sushi rolling kit that I got for Christmas. Well, tonight I got to use another of my Christmas gifts........the pasta rolling and cutting kit attachment for my Kitchen Aid mixer. This was my second attempt at making spaghetti, and both were fairly successful. Our last home made spaghetti meal didn't get blogged about because, while the spaghetti itself turned out fine, the meal did not. The recipe for whole wheat pasta that came with the kit calls for eggs.......well, this happened to be the meal that has now lead us to suspect an egg allergy in Stella, and let's just say that what transpired during that meal is NOT something you people want to be reading about on a food blog, enough said.

So, obviously, I didn't use eggs tonight. Instead, I used the same recipe only using "flax eggs" to replace the eggs that are called for. For anyone who doesn't know what "flax eggs" are, it's an egg substitute that you can make using ground flaxseed and water. You just blend up 1 Tbs of flaxseed, then whisk it into 3 Tbs of water until it becomes slimy like egg whites (the 1:3 ratio replaces 1 egg in most recipes). This is the first time I've used "flax eggs" so I wasn't sure how it would turn turned out fine. The seeds don't get completely ground up, so you can still see some seeds and also a few brown specks throughout your dough (you probably wouldn't want to use "flax eggs" to replace eggs in say a nice airy white cake recipe, but they work just great for pasta and presumably bread, muffins, and the like).

This is a picture of the pasta sheets after they have been rolled out (excuse the ugly white counters, that's getting changed very, very soon). As you can see there are lots of brown flecks throughout them. I cut these sheets in half, making 8 sheets of pasta to cut into spaghetti.

This is the pasta after it has been cut into spaghetti. The picture doesn't really do it justice, but the fresh, cut pasta looks so beautiful.

I served the pasta topped with some "almost" home made tomato sauce. For the sauce I used one 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes, one 15 oz can of diced tomatoes, a few handfuls each of dried basil and oregano, and some salt and pepper. We also had some garlic bread based on the Simplest Garlic Bread recipe from Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan. I sliced a loaf of french bread, froze the slices, then once the slices were frozen I rubbed them with a clove of garlic that had been crushed, drizzled them with EVOO, and sprinkled them with some parmigiano reggiano and salt and pepper, then baked them at 375 until they were starting to brown.

I'm happy to report that our kids ate and liked this pasta. I was worried about the visible flaxseeds, and the fact that the pasta was brown (I blogged about Mairin's aversion to brown pasta once before). I did cover her pasta with sauce, and mix it up real good before I served it to her........she saw me making my plate and asked why my noodles were brown!! Mairin also had a guest for dinner tonight, and her friend ate a lot of pasta too. Now that we have the pasta roller you can expect to see some more yummy pasta dishes coming out of my kitchen in the future (I have a family of pasta lovers).

Veggie Sushi

Last night Rob and I had a date. We fed the girls their dinner, bathed them, and put them to bed before we set down to enjoy our "date" in the basement. It was fun, we've never put the girls to bed and had a date at home before, but we are definitely going to do it again (although, I wish I could get my kids to bed a bit earlier....I was absolutely starving by the time we actually ate). We sat on the floor, ate our sushi and vegged in front of the tv. On New Year's Day we started watching the first episode of the 3rd season of The Next Food Network Star. So happens it was a marathon that day, so we tivo'd them all, and we haven't been able to stop watching!!! We finally made it through the whole season last night!!

For our date we had veggie sushi and a brown rice miso soup. I got a sushi rolling set for Christmas so I've only rolled sushi twice (as you can see from the photo, I'm not real good at it yet). Despite the less than perfect maki rolls, it tastes delicious. Our sushi was filled with combinations of cucumber, avocado, carrot, and zucchini. Unfortunately, sushi rice is very fussy, and it's quite a process to prepare it for rolling sushi. If the rice were a bit less involved we'd probably be eating sushi every day.

To go along with the sushi I threw together a brown rice miso soup with soba noodles. Friday's are my last day before grocery shopping, so the cupboards and fridge are pretty bare. I just threw in a few things that I had sitting around, and it turned out delicious. For the soup I sauteed half a yellow onion, and one sliced carrot in about 1 Tbs of EVOO. When the onion was translucent and the carrot was soft I added in 4 cups of vegetable stock and 1 cup of water. I let that simmer while the sushi rice was cooking. When I was ready to roll the maki I added 2 Tbs of mild brown rice miso to the soup and dissolved it, then I added in some soba noodles. Just before the soup was ready to serve I added in a handful of frozen spinach leaves and simmered until they wilted.


Friday, January 4, 2008

White Bean and Rosemary Soup with Jumbo Croutons

Last night was another new dish from Eat, Drink and Be Vegan. We had the White Bean Soup with Rosemary and Jumbo Croutons. Wow!! This soup is good. Want proof........Mairin ate 2, yes you read that right, 2 bowls. Of course, she's a crouton addict, so the croutons being in the soup helped.

This soup has a very mellow flavor, with each of the ingredients imparting their own subtle flavor. It's a thick and creamy puree, Rob described it as having the texture of gravy. He actually thought it was a bit like biscuits and gravy in a bowl. I don't know, I didn't quite get that feeling, but, to each his own I guess.

This is a very quick dish to prepare as well. I didn't get home until after 7, and we were eating by 8. That included all of the prep of the veggies and everything. We'll definitely be adding this one to our soup rounds.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy 2008!!!

Happy New Year!! There's been very little cooking happening around here since the big Christmas meal. We had left-overs for a few days, spaghetti with jarred sauce once, dinner out once, and the most shameful of all......soup from a can.

So, today, I started the New Year off right with a nice home cooked meal. It's a tradition for us to have black eyed peas and cabbage on New Year's Day (I can't remember a New Year's Day without 'em). So, this year, of course, we had black eyed peas and cabbage, only, since I was making the meal I put a little twist on things. We had vegetarian Hoppin' John, rotkhol (German braised red cabbage), fried potatoes and onions, and corn bread. It was fantastic. Even Rob, who turns his nose up at black eyed peas and cabbage every year, liked this meal.

For the rotkhol I used this recipe from The potatoes were fried in olive oil with some sliced onion, salt and pepper. For the cornbread, I took the easy way out and made a mix from Whole Foods. The recipe for Hoppin' John was my own, based on a few other recipes that I looked at.

Vegetarian Hoppin' John
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp thyme
6 cups cooked black eyed peas
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes (seasoned with garlic, oregano and basil)
1 cup vegetable stock
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups cooked brown rice
cayenne pepper sauce (like Tabasco brand)

In a skillet over medium heat saute onion and celery until softened and onion is translucent. Add in garlic and thyme and saute a minute more, just until garlic becomes fragrant. Transfer sauted vegetables to the bowl of a slow cooker and add in black eyed peas, tomatoes, and vegetable stock. Turn slow cooker to low and let cook for 6 hours or so. Add in brown rice and salt and pepper to taste and cook another 30-45 minutes. Cayenne sauce can be added to the entire dish, or served on the side so each can season their own (this is how I served it so that the kids could eat it too)

Here's hoping that we all have a safe, healthy and happy 2008.