Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Even Pumbaa Would Like This!

After spending the day painting and gardening, you don't want anything with too many ingredients or too much preparation time. You want quick, but still tasty.

African Beans and Potatoes

2 T. peanut oil
One red onion, diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 c. vegetable broth
Potatoes (I used five), chopped (I scrub, but don't peel, mine)
1 can chickpeas, drained
1 can pinto beans, drained

Saute the onion, celery and garlic until soft. Add the broth and potatoes, bring to a boil, then cover and simmer until potatoes are soft, about 20 minutes. Add chickpeas and pinto beans, heat through. Sprinkle with peanuts or pumpkin seeds and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes. Serve. Enjoy!

My daughter thought it was a little bland, so add salt to taste.

You can add more broth to make it more of a stew and serve it with some good crusty, buttered bread. A simple salad will round it out nicely.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Broccoli with Garlic and Cashews

Broccoli - you either hate it or love it, but you don't meet too many people who are indifferent to it. I remember my mother-in-law being absolutely amazed that my kids would eat it raw. Her other grandchildren wouldn't eat a raw vegetable for love or money, but my kids would nosh on raw veggies like nobody's business. They still do. We like our veggies all ways - raw, pickled, fried, baked, boiled, steamed - you name it, we'll probably like it.

Broccoli with Garlic and Cashews

Olive oil
5 cloves garlic, chopped
Broccoli - fresh or frozen (I used fresh), chopped
1/2 t. salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 c. raw cashew pieces

Saute the garlic in the olive oil until soft. Add the broccoli and saute until well coated, add the salt and cashews and continue stirring until all are well coated and softened. Remove from heat and add a few twists of freshly ground black pepper. Serve over buttered Basmati rice. Enjoy!

Broccoli is a spectacular and unique package of versatile disease fighters and abundant in numerous strong, well-known phytochemicals and antioxidants, including indoles, isothiocyanates, quercetin, glutathione, beta carotene, vitamin C, folate, lutein, glucarate, and glutathione. Broccoli is extremely strong in anticancer activity, particularly against lung, colon, and breast cancers. One of the most well known and extensively studied is the isothiocyanates. These powerful chemicals are thought to stimulate certain enzymes produced by the liver which act to neutralize the effects of cancer causing agents that enter the body. The result is less damage to DNA which can give rise to tumors. These chemicals are so powerful they have even been shown to slow down the progression of existing cancer cells. Like other cruciferous vegetables, it speeds up the removal of estrogen from the body, helping suppress breast cancer. Scientists believe there are other important cancer preventative agents in broccoli that have yet to be identified.

Broccoli is rich in cholesterol-reducing fiber and has antiviral and antiulcer activity. It is a super source of chromium that helps regulate insulin and blood sugar. Broccoli is also a good source of calcium.

However, broccoli is one of the leading intestinal gas producers. To reduce its gas production, eat broccoli with ginger or garlic. Like this dish!

Heavy cooking and processing destroy some of the anti oxidants and phytochemicals such as indoles and glutathione. Eat raw or lightly cooked as in microwave and stir-fry.

Whatever or however, just make sure you make broccoli a frequent visitor to your dinner repertoire!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Dining with the Bard

Today is the birthday of William Shakespeare. I grew up reading his works, reading my first play, Romeo and Juliet, when I was in second grade. I was aggravated in high school how the teachers would read Shakespeare to us as a class, reckoning not mistakenly I'm afraid, that the average high school student would not be able to understand his writing. I read years later that reading Shakespeare to your infants would enable them to grasp him easier later. So, that's what I did. It must have worked, in some fashion at least; my kids look forward to attending the annual Shakespeare festival each summer. That sound you hear is me patting myself on the back for raising some spectacularly awesome kids.

In typical style, I knew I had to make something to celebrate. I have numerous period cookbooks to choose from, but wanted something relatively simple to make. That's why I settled on


1 c. Basmati rice
3 c. almond milk
1 c. cut up faux chicken
1/4 c. slivered almonds

In a pot add the rice and almond milk, and bring it to a boil. Add the faux chicken, cover, reduce heat and cook for 20 minutes. When done, fluff the rice, add the almonds and mix lightly to blend. Serve. Enjoy!

Blancmange is more traditionally a dessert type dish, and frankly, I didn't think the faux chicken added much to it. It has a lovely light taste, just a hint of sweet. I served mine right along with the other dishes and thought it was better that way.

The origin of the dish is obscure. The Danish, Anglo-Normans and the Dutch all had similar dishes from the time period. It was considered a common dish with the upper class during the Middle Ages. Chaucer even mentions the dish in The Canterbury Tales.

Why not make this dish as a part of your day's celebration of the bard. What? You don't have plans or know what to do? You can find lots of ideas here.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Green Food for Green Thursday

Today Catholics all over the globe celebrate Holy Thursday. In the Czech and German traditions, it has another name: Green Thursday. They celebrate it by eating large green salads, so I thought, well, let's expand on this a bit. So, I made an all green supper.

Green Goddess Salad with Green Goddess Dressing

Green, leafy lettuce
Cucumber, peeled and chopped
Tomato - cut into bite sized pieces
Half of a red onion, chopped
One can of black olives
1/4 c. pine nuts, roasted
Fresh parsley, chopped
Green Goddess Dressing
Faux Feta

Mix salad ingredients together and toss well to coat.

Green Goddess Dressing

2 garlic cloves, minced
2 green onions, chopped
Fresh parsley, chopped
Fresh basil, chopped
1/4 c. olive oil
1/4 c. tahini
2 T. apple cider vinegar
1 T. lemon juice
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. black pepper

Combine all ingredients and blend well in a food processor. Add to salad.

Faux Feta

One package firm tofu, drained and pressed and frozen, boiled, pressed again
2 T. olive oil
2 T. water
1/4 c. red wine vinegar (actually a little less, we thought it turned out a little tangy)
Fresh basil, chopped
1 t. salt
1/4 t. dried oregano
1/4 t. dried dill
1/4 t. black pepper

Crumble the tofu and mix with remaining ingredients. Let marinate at least an hour.

Green Beans with Brazil Nuts

Frozen or fresh green beans, steamed
2 T. olive oil
One onion, chopped
1/4 t. salt
Brazil nuts, chopped
Fresh basil, chopped
Lemon juice

In the olive oil, saute the onion, nuts and basil. Add the green beans and salt, sprinkle in a dash of lemon juice, mix well and heat through. Serve.

Okra Strips in Lemon-Tarragon Viniagrette

Frozen whole okra, thawed, ends trimmed and pods cut in half lengthwise
Flour mixed with Cajun spices of choice
3 T. lemon juice
1 t. red wine vinegar
1 t. Dijon mustard
One clove garlic, minced
1 t. dried tarragon
8 T. olive oil

Coat the okra in the flour mixture and set aside. Mix remaining ingredients in a frying pan and mix well. Heat to medium high and add coated okra. Cook until brown. Serve.

The plated food looked really lovely, even if it was heavily green!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Let the Days of Grilling Begin!

You know the weather is warming up when the familiar smell of charcoal permeates the air. You decide you want to throw something on the grill but before you even start you can tell your neighbors have the same idea. Nothing really says it's the weekend like that smell.

We actually have two grills - one charcoal, one gas. Hubby likes the charcoal grill, but I'm seriously considering designating the gas grill as mine and vegan only. I should probably learn how to use it first.

Hubby is really good about it, though - he scrubs the grill before he cooks our stuff, and always cooks the vegan stuff first. He announces his desire to grill and follows it with a directive to me to find something for the vegans in the house to grill, so we can join in on the grilling goodness.

I am particularly fond of The New Vegetarian Grill, and adapted the following recipe from it:

Grilled Veggie Salad

One eggplant, sliced thickly
One zucchini, cut in half lengthwise
One yellow squash, cut in half lengthwise
Two large tomatoes, sliced thickly
One red bell pepper, cut in half lengthwise
One large sweet onion, cut in quarters and skewered
1 T. balsamic vinegar
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh basil, chopped

Over a medium hot grill, place the veggies. Brush liberally with olive oil and grill until nicely done. When cool enough to handle, cut the veggies up in bite sized pieces and place in a large enough bowl. Add balsamic vinegar, basil and salt and pepper. Mix well and let set for about 30 minutes to allow flavors to blend. Enjoy!

To accompany our salad, I marinated some tempeh strips in some bourbon laced barbecue sauce. After hubby grilled the tempeh, I chopped it up fine with some onion and had myself a delectable sandwich. It was a great Sunday afternoon meal for a beautiful day.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Juicy Portobello Steaks

I live in cattle country. You can find steakhouses and barbecue places everywhere. Seriously, they are darn near spaced about a mile apart. And if not those, burger joints. I swear, I can hear the mooing as I pass. Makes me sad, makes me angry. When you are surrounded by all that death, the very least I can do is come home and make my dinner cruelty free.

Juicy Portobello Steaks

1/2 c. almonds
1/4 c. olive oil
1/4 c. Braggs Aminos
1/2 c. water
2 T. balsamic vinegar
3 cloves, garlic, chopped
1 t. dried rosemary
1 t. dried oregano
4 large Portobello mushrooms, stems removed
1 onion, sliced

In a food processor, whir the almonds until powdered. Add oil, Braggs, water, vinegar, garlic, rosemary and oregano and blend until well mixed. In a baking dish, lay the mushrooms upside down. Pour the sauce over the top, lay some onion slices on each mushroom. Bake at 250 for 25 minutes.

OMG, these are so juicy and delicious! It makes a wonderful gravy that you can pour over rice or mashed potatoes.

Since hubby had grilled some potatoes recently, I took a few of those and scooped out most of it, leaving the skin intact to form a shell. I mixed in some green onions, Daiya cheese, vegan butter and some herbs until it was all mixed well, scooped the mixture back into the potato skins and baked them alongside the mushrooms.

This was very elegant and would be perfect for dinner guests. Throw together a salad or cook some greens of your choice, and you truly have a winner here.
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