Monday, October 17, 2011

Fettuccine Alfreda with Gomasio

Today is National Pasta Day! What better way to celebrate it than with a cruelty-free alfredo? We renamed it alfreda.

Fettuccine Alfreda with Gomasio

One onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 c. vegetable broth
2 t. mustard
2 t. Braggs Aminos
2 t. chili powder
1/2 c. toasted pine nuts
1 c. nutritional yeast
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. black pepper

Cook the fettuccine according to package directions. Saute the onion and garlic until soft. Add onion and garlic and remaining ingredients to a food processor and blend until smooth. Pour this pesto like mixture over the drained fettuccine and mix well. Serve with a sprinkle of gomasio.


1/2 c. toasted sesame seeds
1/2 t. sea salt
1/2 t. kelp flakes

Blend in a food processor until well mixed.

This would probably lend itself well to the addition of some seitan chunks, but I didn't consider that until after I was eating it. I have no leftovers; it was completely devoured.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Have it Your (Tofu) Way

It amuses me the looks on the faces of those who have never had good tofu. The nose wrinkles, the head shakes, all followed by the inevitable "Yuck!". In fact, the only people I know who like tofu are vegans and some vegetarians. I suspect, no, I KNOW, it is because their exposure to tofu has been the little spongy blocks found in some dishes in a Chinese restaurant, or a block sitting in the refrigerator they mistook for cream cheese and wondered at the blandness. Some don't like the mouth feel, or as my non-vegan son states, the sense of biting into a marshmallow when you weren't expecting to.

It's all in how it is prepared.

I got in a major cooking mood yesterday. Two blocks of tofu were calling my name and I was in a feasting mood. I pulled out the packages from the freezer, boiled them, drained them and pressed them. Sliced one and cut the second into small squares. Let the cooking begin!

The tofu squares became:

Tofu Turkey

Marinate the squares in:

1-1/2 c. boiling water
1/2 t. dill
1/2 t. rosemary
1/2 t. thyme
1/2 t. marjoram
1/2 t. sage
1/2 t. black pepper
3 cloves garlic, sliced
3 T. olive oil

Let the tofu marinate for at least 2 hours, laid out in a single layer, in a casserole dish. After the 2 or more hours have passed, put the entire thing in the oven. 350 for one hour, but turn the slices over after 30 minutes.
When it is done and cooled, fry the squares in some olive oil until nicely browned on both sides.

The slices became:

Chicken Fried Tofu with Cream Gravy

Dip each slice in a non-dairy milk of your choice, and then into a mixture of:

1-1/2 c. flour and 1 T. of seasoning

Fry the slices in oil until nicely browned.

Chicken Fried Tofu Seasoning:
1/4 c. salt
2 T. garlic powder
2 T. black pepper
1 T. white pepper
1 T. onion powder
1 T. paprika
1 t. cayenne pepper
1 t. cumin

Combine this and mix well. Label so you'll know what it is so you can use it again!

For the gravy, I added the leftover milk and a handful of the flour mixture I'd used to coat the tofu with in the pan with the leftover oil. Whisk, whisk, whisk until it is blended smoothly. Add more milk if you have to.

I also whipped up some mashed potatoes, but not the usual boring kind. I cut up potatoes and carrots and about 3 garlic cloves and boiled them together. When everything was soft I mashed them with some non-dairy milk until smooth.

Then a green bean casserole.

My son overdid it a little with the gravy in the picture and the orange plate lends an interesting color to the photo, but everything turned out really well and was subsequently devoured. It really put me to thinking about Thanksgiving. I need to start to work on that menu!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Jeweled Rice

Rice is so versatile. Have rice, can cook.

Jeweled Rice

One onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 t. salt
Olive oil
One package firm tofu, drained and cut into little bite sized pieces
One green bell pepper, sliced small
One package frozen chopped broccoli
2 carrots, sliced
One small can mushrooms stems and pieces, drained
2 cans kidney beans, drained
1/2 t. dried basil
1/2 t. dried oregano
black pepper to taste
cayenne pepper to taste
1-1/2 c. basmati rice
2 tomatoes, chopped
One can small black olives, drained

Saute the onions, garlic and salt in the olive oil, until onions are softened. Add tomato juice, tofu, bell pepper, broccoli, carrots, mushrooms and beans. Stir gently but well. Add basil, oregano, black pepper, cayenne pepper and rice. Add water if necessary to make sure the rice will cook. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer 30 minutes, longer if needed to ensure rice is cooked. Add the tomatoes and black olive, stir. Serve when the liquid has all been absorbed. Serve. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Peanutty Pasta

I love nuts, especially in pasta. My recipe files are full of recipes that include nuts of all kinds; almonds, pistachios, pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, pretty much any and every nut I like and will find a way to incorporate it into a recipe.

My husband isn't big on nuts in recipes, but he does like peanuts. Voila!

Peanutty Pasta

Cooked pasta, shape and type your choice
1/4 c. peanuts
Parsley, fresh or dried
2 cloves garlic
1 c. vegetable stock
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. black pepper
1 T. lemon juice
One zucchini
One can diced tomatoes

In a food processor, whir together the peanuts, parsley and garlic until nicely minced. Cut up the zucchini (I quartered mine) and add to a pot with the diced tomatoes. Heat to boil, then reduce to simmer. In a separate container, mix the stock with the salt and pepper and lemon juice. Whisk until blended.

Place the hot cooked pasta in a bowl. When the zucchini is cooked and soft, add the zucchini-tomato mixture to the pasta. Add the minced peanut mixture to the vegetable stock mixture, whisk well and add to the pasta. Mix everything up gently, serve, enjoy!

You can really play around with this dish. You can use different nuts, you can slice the zucchini instead of quartering it, you can use cherry tomatoes halved or cut up a whole tomato.

Oh, and you can try out different types of pasta or shapes, too. It's a really easy, simple dish.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Garlicky Red Pepper Pasta

Have you ever ordered a pizza and it came with these little packets of red pepper flakes? Did you wonder, what the heck is this? I did. Then my kids started sprinkling it on their pizza. Okay, they like hot stuff. They eat jalapenos, too. When they were little they called jalapeno slices *hot okra*. This provided hours of amusement when their brains registered what they just ate and they ran for the water. Didn't faze them - they still like hot and spicy foods even now. My daughter would shovel salsa and chips as a toddler. Even I couldn't eat the spicy foods like she could, and does.

Then while doing some research I discovered how absolutely wonderful and beneficial red pepper really is. I remember hearing Hillary Clinton laud the stuff when she was campaigning and catching a glimpse of her purse contents and spotted a container of red pepper flakes.

I consume red pepper regularly now. In fact, daily.

Garlicky Red Pepper Pasta

Saute a minced whole head of garlic in olive oil, with 1 t. of red pepper flakes and 1 t. salt. Cook your pasta of choice. Gently mixed the sauteed garlic with the cooked pasta, sprinkle on some more olive oil and a little bit of fresh or dried parsley. Enjoy!

Red pepper flakes add another dimension of flavor to a dish without making every mouthful hot and spicy. They seem to elevate the taste of other ingredients and make a simple recipe complex and interesting. Take this dish of pasta with olive oil, garlic, and red pepper - it is a classic combination of three basic ingredients, but the end result is more than a sum of its parts — and the red pepper is what makes it sing.

The chemical compound capsaicin (8-methyl-N-vanillyl-6-nonenamide) is the active component of chili peppers, which are plants belonging to the genus Capsicum. It is an irritant for mammals, including humans, and produces a sensation of burning in any tissue it comes in contact with. Because of the burning sensation caused by capsaicin when it comes in contact with human flesh, it is commonly used in food products to give them added spice or "heat" (piquancy). Typically the capsaicin is obtained from chili peppers. Hot sauce is an example of a product customarily containing large amounts of capsaicin and may contain chili peppers or pure capsaicin.

Capsaicin and several related compounds are called capsaicinoids and are produced as a secondary metabolite by chili peppers, probably as deterrents against herbivores. Pure capsaicin is a hydrophobic, colorless, odorless, crystalline to waxy compound.

Extracts of capsaicin from red chili peppers are used as a fresh ingredient in foods, as medicinal herbs to treat pain and inflammation and in concentrated sprays as non-lethal weapons (really!)

New understanding of the way capsaicin functions inside the body to reduce inflammatory responses and improve nerve cell signalling is rapidly expanding the use of this herb to treat a wide variety of medical conditions, including diabetes and has been shown to prevent the replication of prostate cancer cells. Small daily doses of capsaicin have even been shown to prevent chronic nasal congestion.

It may also be used as a cream for the temporary relief of minor aches and pains of muscles and joints associated with arthritis, simple backache, strains and sprains. I can attest to this. I use a capsaicin cream for shoulder pain I have that results from my Klippel Feil. It does heat up the skin, turning it pink almost like a sunburn, but it feels good and helps me a great deal.

Oddly enough, the pain treatment properties can also be applied internally to treat digestive disorders. According to the University of Pittsburg Medical Center, oral consumption of capsaicin reduces the pain associated with indigestion. The compound depletes substance P in the stomach, and temporarily relieves the burning sensation that characterizes dyspepsia. Capsaicin may also prevent stomach ulcers caused by drugs used to treat inflammation, such as aspirin.

If you are worried about the heat, don't. Chilis are ranked according to their pungency (heat) on a scale called the Scoville Scale.

Some examples of heat scores are:
  • Red bell peppers 0-600
  • Jalapeno peppers 2500 – 10 000
  • Serrano peppers 10 000 – 25 000
  • Habanero peppers 80 000 - 150 000
They are pretty mild by comparison.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Bean and Potato Bake

My youngest likes beans of any kind. Everyone in my family loves their potatoes. So, this seemed like a logical pairing.

Bean and Potato Bake

2 cans of beans, your choice - I used pinto beans and black eyed peas
Potatoes, sliced thin - I think I used 5-6
Daiya Cheddar shreds

Layer the ingredients in this order - potatoes, beans, cheese, repeat. I did not drain the beans so that the liquid would help in cooking the potatoes. If you cook the potatoes first, you can drain the beans. Bake 350 for about 45 minutes, covered with foil.

I'll be honest. I thought this was ordinary. Boring. My youngest, however, devoured it. I had no leftovers because he had 3 or more servings. A serving size to him means a heaping plate. So I present it here in case you have a kid like mine who will totally love this dish.
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