Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Pasta with Garlic and Walnuts

We went out of town last weekend and returned to a series of crises. The most pressing was my daughter's brand new car being broken into and everything of value inside stolen, including her purse. I have spent the past couple of days helping her get everything squared away, so consequently, we've been eating out or convenience foods

That ended last night. I did want something quick and simple, though, and pasta is always my fallback plan.

Pasta with Garlic and Walnuts

1/2 c. olive oil
8 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1 c. walnut pieces
One package pasta of choice (I used corkscrew)

Boil the noodles according to package directions. Drain. Place pasta in a large bowl.
Saute the garlic and walnuts in the olive oil. When garlic is softened, use a slotted spoon to scoop garlic and walnuts onto the pasta. Salt and pepper to taste. Mix well. Serve. Enjoy!

Make sure you don't overcook the garlic, like I did. It gives it a bite like nobody's business! I thought this was a little bland and could use something else, but my son devoured it. Play with it and make it your own.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Simple Pasta with Fresh Tomatoes

When you are in a hurry for supper, a lot of people, myself included, will grab a package of spaghetti, some canned or jarred spaghetti sauce, maybe a little something else to throw in for good measure, and call it done. It might feed everyone's hunger, but that's about it. No one ever walks away from such a meal and says, "Wow, that was fantastic!" It was quick, it was easy, it was probably cheap, but it wasn't delicious.

I like quick. I like easy. But I also want something that makes me sigh when I take the first bite.

Simple Pasta with Fresh Tomatoes

One package pasta of choice (I prefer thin spaghetti or angel hair pasta)
3 tomatoes, chopped into small pieces
3 T. olive oil
2 t. basil
1 t. salt
1 t. coarsely ground black pepper

Boil the noodles per the package directions. Drain and place the noodles in a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and toss to coat the noodles well. Serve. Enjoy!

See? Now wasn't that quick? Wasn't that easy? And wasn't it better than that ol' jarred sauce?

Oriental Cole Slaw

How many college students have survived on ramen noodles, raise your hand! There is a myriad of ways to use these super cheap noodles beyond the simple boiling and tearing open the little seasoning packet.

One problem.

Most aren't vegan.

Sure, duh! you say, when they are labeled chicken or beef or shrimp. I'm not talking about those. I'm talking about the ones labeled Oriental. Read the ingredients for the seasoning packet and see for yourself. Only one brand that I know of is vegan, and finding it can sometimes be nigh impossible.

I know. I spent this week trying to track some down for my cole slaw recipe.

Out of desperation I went searching for a recipe to duplicate the seasoning packet. That way I could buy any brand for the noodles part alone. Success! I was able to find one and modify it.

Oriental Cole Slaw

One package cole slaw mix
1/4 c. slivered almonds
1/4 c. sunflower seeds
1 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
1/2 t. oregano
One package ramen noodles, crushed
3 T. brown sugar
3 T. red wine vinegar
1/2 c. sesame oil
1 t. Oriental Ramen Noodle Seasoning (recipe to follow)

Mix everything in a bowl large enough to accommodate and stir to coat well. Chill to allow flavors to blend.

You can toast the almonds first if you like (I didn't) and I used raw sunflower seeds. If you use dry roasted, I'd eliminate the salt and be sure to check the label. Some name brands add gelatin.

Oriental Ramen Noodle Seasoning

2 T. onion powder
2 T. ground ginger
2 T. garlic powder
2 T. ground black pepper
1/2 t. Chinese five spice powder
1/2 t. salt

Mix all together, and store in an airtight container. Use 1 t. per package of ramen noodles.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Inside Out Burgers and Guacamole Potato Salad

A few years ago my father-in-law gave us one of the George Foreman grills for Christmas. I like it because it is easy to use, and doesn't require fire or my being outdoors in the heat and humidity. Granted, my hubby is the family grillmaster, but this is something I can do myself. Makes it convenient when I want a burger. Like today.

Inside Out Burgers

One package Lightlife Gimme Lean Beef (don't panic! It's vegan!)
1 t. salt
1 t. pepper
1 T. parsley
Sliced onion
Sliced tomato
Daiya Cheddar Style Shreds
Dijon mustard
Pickle relish
Vegan mayonnaise
Whole wheat burger buns

In a bowl, mix together well the beef, salt, pepper and parsley. Divide to make six patties. On top of the first three patties place a slice of onion, a slice of tomato and a sprinkle of the Daiya. On the next three patties add a teaspoon each of the mustard, pickle relish and mayonnaise and spread it on to cover most of the patty. Place one patty with the condiments on top of one patty with the vegetables and cheese and press together lightly.
Grill the patties. On the George Foreman grill I did this for about five minutes, but if you are using a regular grill or frying in a frying pan, I would do about 4-5 minutes per side.
On a hamburger bun, lay on some lettuce and top with the grilled burger. Nothing more need be added.
Warning! These are delicious but MESSY! Keep plenty of  napkins handy and enjoy!

I like using the Gimme Lean beef and sausage. I find them more versatile than what I've used in the past. The Gimme Lean Beef makes enough for six regular sized patties. For these burgers, since two patties were used on each burger, it made three. Adjust accordingly.

Guacamole Potato Salad

Five pound bag of potatoes, washed and cut into bite sized pieces (I rarely to never peel them)
One avocado, peeled and pit removed
Lime zest
2 limes
3 cloves garlic
Handful of cilantro
Vegan mayonnaise
2 celery stalks, sliced

Boil the potatoes in salted water until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and allow to cool
In a food processor, add the avocado, lime zest, juice from the two limes, garlic and cilantro. Pulse until everything is well blended and creamy.
In a large bowl, add the cooled potatoes, avocado sauce, celery and enough mayonnaise to coat. Stir gently until all the potatoes are well coated. Taste and add salt if necessary.
It will be a light, beautiful shade of green!

My hubby, besides being our resident grillmaster, also fancies himself our resident potato salad maker. He does make some awesome potato salad, I'll give him that! But I like to try different versions. He gave this one a thumbs up. Success!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

You Say Catfish, I Say Tofish

I love cookbooks. I have two bookcases full of them. I also love reading through them at bookstores and the library. One recipe I spotted had the name tofish in the title. I rather like it. I have found it a simple matter to convert most fish dishes vegan using tofu. So, tofish works quite well!

Growing up in the South, catfish is probably the most often fish dish you'll find. Fried and blackened are the two most common ways to prepare it. I have several catfish recipes, mostly fried, of course, that I look forward to veganizing. This is one of those.

Front Porch Fried Tofish

One package black soybean tofu*, frozen, boiled, pressed, sliced
One package cornbread mix (I used sweet cornbread. See note.)
1 T. garlic powder
2 T. dried thyme
1/2 T. salt
1 t. black pepper
1 t. ground red pepper
Vegan milk of choice (I used unsweetened soy)

Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Pour the milk in a separate bowl. Dip the tofu slices first in the milk, then into the cornbread dry mix and coat well. Fry a few pieces at a time in oil. When nicely browned, drain on paper towels. Serve as is, or with tartar sauce.

Note: read the ingredients on any packaged cornbread mix you buy. Many contain animal products. If you can't find a suitable one, make up your own.)

I used the sweet cornbread variety, but next time might try it with regular cornbread.

*I chose to use this new type of tofu I found, black soybean tofu. I was intrigued by it, never having seen its like before, so bought it with the idea of using it to fry up some *fish*. It isn't as white as regular tofu and has a sprinkling of black throughout. I liked it, and will buy it again, but I can't tell you whether or not it had a different taste.

You can't have fried *cat*fish without fries, and, never one for doing anything simply, I made mine spicy.

Mexican Fries

One package frozen french fries
1/4 t. ground cumin
1/4 t. garlic powder
1/4 t. chili powder

Bake the fries at 425 for 10 minutes. In the meantime, mix together the three spices. After the 10 minutes are up, sprinkle the spices over the fries, and return to the oven to bake another 10 minutes. When done, shake the fries up a bit to further distribute the spices.

My family devoured it. No leftovers. Even my non-vegan son tried the tofish and declared it *pretty good!* I call that a success!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Herbed Lemon Chick'n

Finally I have been able to get back to cooking! I wear the wrist/hand brace only at night now, and my injured foot allows me to move about more. Ugh, how I hate injuries! My husband is threatening to buy me steel toed tennis shoes. He's joking, of course, but I am seriously considering making that purchase.

Herbed Lemon Chick'n

2 packages Gardein Chick'n Scallopini (yes, I'm addicted - I love this stuff!)
Olive oil
One onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 c. broth (I used one Edward and Sons Not-Chick'n bouillon cube in one cup of water)
1 T. dried parsley
1/4 c. lemon juice
1 t. dried oregano
1/2 t. dried basil
2 T. flour
2 T. water
One can sliced black olives

In a pressure cooker, saute the onion and garlic in olive oil. Add the scallopini and brown slightly. Add broth, parsley, lemon juice, oregano and basil. Cover and cook at pressure for 8 minutes. Allow pressure to drop on its own. Once pressure has dropped, remove scallopini and put pressure cooker back on a burner on high. Add flour, water and olives, stirring and boiling until sauce is thickened. Serve the sauce over the scallopini. It also is good over rice.

I also made a couple of sides to go along with it.

Wine Sauteed Mushrooms

One package sliced mushrooms
3 garlic cloves, chopped
Vegan butter
1/4 c. dry red wine

Saute the mushrooms and garlic in the butter. Add the wine and simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated.

Lime Cucumbers

1/2 t. grated lime rind
1 T. freshly squeezed lime juice
2 T. olive oil
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
One large cucumber, peeled and sliced

Whisk together everything except the cucumbers. Pour this dressing over the sliced cucumbers and stir gently to coat well.

It was some darned good eating!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Walnut Basil Pesto and Pasta

I injured my hand recently and haven't been able to cook, so the other day my son treated me to lunch. I ordered what the menu described as fettuccine with basil pesto and walnuts. Yummy! However, while eating, I discovered underneath the beautiful green pesto was a sauciness I hadn't expected. Within an hour, I started feeling icky. Yep, it was dairy.


Undaunted and determined, I decided to make my own version of what I should have been getting at the restaurant. Voila!

Walnut Basil Pesto and Pasta

1/2 c. walnuts
2 handfuls of fresh basil
3 cloves of garlic
1/2 t. salt
1/2 c. olive oil
1/4 c. nutritional yeast
2 t. lemon juice

In a food processor, whir together the walnuts, basil, garlic and salt. To this add the olive oil, nutritional yeast and lemon juice. Whir again until well mixed, but not quite smooth. Serve over your pasta of choice.

My son devoured three platefuls. Yeah, it is that good!
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