Thursday, September 27, 2012

A Moment of Squee

I was home alone when someone knocked on the door. Curious, I wasn't expecting anyone. I heard a heavy vehicle drive away before I reached the door. I opened the door anyway, even more curious, to discover a package leaning against my doorstep.

I picked it up to see who in my household had gotten a package. It was me! Me? I hadn't ordered anything.

I opened it up to reveal something wonderful! The new Forks Over Knives Cookbook! A gift from my beautiful friend, Melissa. It was her very generous way of thanking me for supporting her on her path toward veganism. Thank you so much, Melissa! I love you!

If you are unfamiliar with Forks Over Knives, truly you need to familiarize yourself with it! I suggest watching the dvd, but if you would rather, the book is another excellent way to go. Or get both!

Even Fergus is licking his chops, imagining all the deliciousness that will soon transpire. Seriously. We call him our vegetarian cat due to his penchant for chomping on anything leafy.

I'm leaving soon for a weekend long women's retreat, where I will be finding more zen. Once I return, I will again regale you with my cooking adventures. And be certain to expect a few from this most appreciated gift of love!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Kale Chips

It was my son Pete (of Pete's Nacho Awesomeness fame) who first introduced me to kale. A woman he knows cooked up a batch and brought it to him at work. He raved to me about how delicious it was, and proceeded to cook up a batch here at home for me to try. He was right! Pretty darn good stuff!

A few months ago we had the pleasure of attending the local Veggiefest and got the chance to watch and sample a cooking demonstration (although using the word *cooking* in this instance is incorrect, since the dish was raw!) by a local chef. She whipped up a mouth watering kale salad and then let us sample some kale chips she had brought. Melt in your mouth!

Since Pete regularly buys kale (he often eats it raw, he loves it so much!), we decided we'd try our hand at making kale chips.

Kale Chips

One head of kale, washed
2 T. olive oil
Sea salt

Remove the ribs from the kale and cut into pieces. Add the kale pieces and the olive oil to a ziploc baggie and seal. Massage the olive oil into the kale until all pieces appear to be equally coated. Spread the kale pieces on a baking sheet and bake at 275 for about 20 minutes. Sprinkle with the sea salt. Enjoy!

The trick is making sure the kale pieces are small, no more than about 2 inches. Otherwise they will still be yummy, but not crispy. It doesn't make a lot, and once you eat one you won't be able to stop. Be prepared to have to whip up another batch pronto!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Pete's Nacho Awesomeness

I have to say it - my youngest is pretty awesome. He will often come home from work and offer to cook. How many kids do that? And the beauty of it is, he's really pretty good! Not only is he gorgeous, but he can cook, too!

One of his specialties is a very simple nacho dish. We eat it a few times a year, and he decided to make it the other day. I can't explain it, but for some reason, this time he made it it just seemed exceptionally good! I told him we were officially changing the name of the recipe to Pete's Nacho Awesomeness!

One bag of corn chips
One green bell pepper, diced
One bunch of green onions, diced
2 tomatoes, diced
2 cans of black beans, rinsed and drained
One can of sliced black olives
2 avocados, diced

Lay the corn chips on a baking sheet and top with the green pepper, green onions, tomatoes and black beans. Broil about 7-10 minutes, but watch closely to make sure the corn chips don't burn. Top with olives and avocados and serve.

You can sprinkle some Daiya shreds on it you like, or add some vegan sour cream. You can do this, of course, but honestly these nachos are so good without them you might decide not to.

Have extra chips on hand, because you won't want to lose a bit of the tasty veggies.


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Cauliflower Potato Soup

With fall days slowly moving in, the desire for soup increases. There is something that says *all is well* about a homemade soup.

Cauliflower Potato Soup

One onion, sliced
Five potatoes, cut into chunks
3 stalks of celery, sliced
3 carrots, sliced
One head of cauliflower, cut into florets
One bunch of collard greens, center rib removed and leaves chopped
4 c. vegetable broth

Add all of the ingredients to a large pot and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and let simmer about 30 minutes. When potatoes and carrots and fork tender, it's done. Serve with a generous splash of Bragg's Aminos and buttered bread. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Fall Fare

I love when the seasons change, and spring and fall are my two favorite. Pleasant temps, wonderful smells and beautiful colors! I am so ready for cooler temps now. Where I live the summers get pretty hot (read: understatement!) and when fall finally rolls around, we are all so very ready for it.

So, of course, I wanted to celebrate it with some that reminds me of fall, but would be light, since it is still warm here.

Salad with Spiced Cornbread

One package cornbread mix, or use your own favorite recipe
Mixed salad greens
1/4 c. olive oil
3 T. lemon juice
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
2 T. vegan butter
1 T. vegan sugar
1/4 t. pumpkin pie spice

Make the cornbread. I chose to use a packaged mix and baked it in iron cornbread pans that shape the cornbread like little corn cobs.
Mix the olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper. Pour this dressing over the salad greens and mix well.
Melt the butter and brush over the tops of the cornbread. Mix together the sugar and pumpkin pie spice and sprinkle this mixture over the buttered cornbread. Place a piece of the cornbread on a plate and top with the dressed salad greens.

Fruity Soup

3-1/2 c. red grape juice (or pomegranate juice)
A piece of tangerine peel
1/2 t. dried cilantro (aka coriander)

Heat the juice until just before boiling and remove from heat. Add the tangerine peel and cilantro. When ready to serve, ladle through a sieve into bowls.

Fruit Sorbet

One package frozen cranberries
One package frozen raspberries
1-1/2 c. water
1 c. sugar

Bring the cranberries in 1 c. of water and the sugar to a boil, then reduce to simmer. Cook about five minutes, or until cranberries begin to pop. Remove from heat. Add 1/2 c. water and raspberries. Allow to cool a bit. Place mixture in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into a pan, cover and freeze. When ready to serve, scoop out into bowls.

This was a very light meal but filling.

Happy Fall, Y'all!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Low Country Boil aka Frogmore Stew, Vegan Style

Low country boils are associated with South Carolina and Georgia, and being a native born southern girl, I grew up eating a lot of seafood. Knowing what I know now, how scientific studies have confirmed that fish have a complex nervous system and can feel physical pain, how fish immediately begin to suffocate when pulled from the water, and how the sudden pressure change can rupture their swim bladder, I just can't in good conscience justify eating seafood. Overfishing has created dead zones in the ocean, where no life exists. I can pluck an apple from a tree or a carrot from the ground; when we fish we deprive ocean mammals of their only source of food.

So how does one go about enjoying foods one grew up with, but in a cruelty-free and responsible manner?


Low Country Boil aka Frogmore Stew, Vegan Style

12 c. water
1/4 c. Old Bay Seasoning
6 red potatoes, washed
6 ears of corn
2 cloves of elephant garlic, sliced
One package vegan sausage (I used Field Roast Mexican Chipotle), cut into one inch pieces

This recipe uses a pressure cooker.

Add water, Old Bay and potatoes to the pressure cooker and close the lid. Bring to pressure and let cook 5 minutes. Quick release the pressure.
Add the corn, garlic and sausage, close the lid and bring to pressure once again. Cook 5 minutes and let pressure come down on its own.

If you don't have a pressure cooker, you can add all of the ingredients to a Dutch oven and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and cook about 30 minutes. When potatoes can be easily pierced with a fork, it's done.

Serve using a slotted spoon. It will be HOT! I added a little vegan butter to my potato and corn and nothing else.

Low country boils and Frogmore stew are the same dish - both have potatoes, corn and sausage. They differ from mine in that I don't include the shrimp. If you want to add some vegan shrimp to the dish, go ahead! I'm sure it will be absolutely delicious! I didn't have any on hand, so went with what I did, including the odd addition of the spicy Mexican Chipotle sausage. Any sausage would work.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Maple Seitan Chops, Two Ways

I recently picked up a copy of Jenn Shagrin's cookbook, Veganize This! I was very excited because the book gives recipes for flavoring seitan in ways that imitate meat. For those of us that grew up as meat eaters, and what I maintain now to non-vegans, it isn't the meat we miss, it is the flavors. So if I can find away to duplicate them cruelty-free, I'm all over it.

I chose to make the recipe for pork chops. Her flavoring broths are the key, and have a long list of ingredients. That has never put me off, so I set off for the task.

I made the seitan and broth as she outlines in the recipe. The smell was heavenly! Later, when I was frying the chops the first time, it very much reminded me of the smell of pork chops.

After that all resemblance ended, and I'll detail here my findings.

Maple Seitan Chops

Homemade seitan
2 T. brown sugar
1/4 c. maple syrup
1 T. grated ginger
1/2 t. cayenne pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced

In my first attempt, I used Shagrin's recipe for the chops and cut the seitan into pie shaped wedges and smooshed them as flat as I could get. I fried them first in olive oil, then mixed up the above sauce recipe and added it to the frying pan. The maple sauce cooked up fast and became more glaze than sauce.

The result was a beautiful looking chop with a maple-y glaze. The wheat taste, however, was too pronounced for my liking.

Back to the drawing board. Some research into seitan chop recipes and reducing the wheat-y taste suggested adding chickpea flour to the mix. Other comments included making the seitan, not the broth, the flavor.

In my second attempt, I added 3:1 ratio of vital wheat gluten:chickpea flour and threw in some diced onion and garlic. I reused the broth from the first chops. The dough, despite my best efforts, was too damp to cut into the pie shapes, so I put the ball of uncooked seitan into the broth. After an hour and letting it cool a bit, I sliced it and put the sliced seitan into a baggie with the above sauce ingredients to marinate. I let it marinate overnight. I then fried the sliced seitan in olive oil.

The result was a more subtle maple flavor and no discernible wheat taste. I liked the flavor much better, but did love the pork chop shape from the first chops. I'll need to play around with it some more, but definitely feel the addition of chickpea flour to the vital wheat gluten makes for a better tasting product. I will probably leave out the onion and garlic and see it that makes it less wet and more manageable so I can cut it into a chop shape.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Cajun Fried Tofu, Horseradish Mashed Potatoes and Creole Green Beans

In my pre-vegan days, it was not unusual for my husband to stop off at a local chicken place and bring home dinner. I was actually often grossed out by it, and tended to consume more of the rice and beans and biscuits than anything else. The spicy flavors, however, I did like.

I decided the other day I wanted some crispy fried tofu. Remembering those days of spicy goodness, I decided to try out something new.

Cajun Fried Tofu

One package extra firm tofu, frozen, thawed, pressed, sliced
1 T. Dijon mustard
1/2 c. hot sauce
1/4 c. water
1 c. flour
1 t. salt
Oil for frying

Combine mustard, hot sauce and water in a large ziploc baggie. Add the tofu pieces and let marinate overnight.
Combine flour and salt in another ziploc baggie. Add the marinated tofu pieces and shake until the tofu is well covered.
Fry in the hot oil until nicely browned on both sides.

My kids loved this, but I'll admit to it being much spicier than I like.

Horseradish Mashed Potatoes

9 potatoes, baked
1/4 c. vegan butter
3 T. horseradish
2 T. vegan sour cream
2 T. non-dairy milk
1/2 c. Daiya cheddar shreds
1 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper

When potatoes have cooled, cut in half and remove the pulp. In a large bowl, mix the potato pulp with the remaining ingredients and mix well until it resembles mashed potatoes. Serve with a sprinkle of fake bacon bits.

Don't worry about the horseradish - it is very mild in this and you might not even really notice it.

Creole Green Beans

1/2 of an onion, chopped
1/2 of a green bell pepper, chopped
2 T. flour
2 T. brown sugar
1 T. vegan Worcestershire sauce
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
1/8 t. dry mustard
One can diced tomatoes
One can cut green beans, drained

Saute onion and green pepper in olive oil until soft. Add remaining ingredients and stir until dry ingredients are dissolved and everything is well mixed. Cook until sauce is thickened.
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