REAL Veg, REAL simple !

I dedicate this blog to all those who ask us all the time "What does a vegan/vegetarian eat?" ....
This is it, the food on my plate !

It's not weird, it's not impossible and YES, it is TASTY! .... can't you tell?

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Creamy Roasted Red Bell Pepper Pesto

Dinner tonight was whole wheat spaghetti with creamy roasted red bell pepper with sauteed  shitake mushrooms and baby broccoli. At first I was hesitant about the shitake mushrooms because I think they belong almost exclusively with Asian type dishes, but I wanted something "meaty" to stand up to the pasta and sauce. It complimentde the flavors well and the baby broccoli didn't shy away either.

Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Pesto

2 roasted red bell peppers (fresh roasted or from a jar is fine)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pinenuts or a mix
5-6 tablespoons vegan parmesan
1 tsp each of salt and pepper
1/8 cup unsweetened soy milk
3 tablespoons vegan cream cheese (like Tofutti)
1 clove garlic, minced

1. Place all ingredients in food processor and mix for 2 min. or until you get a creamy sauce.


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Chicken salad two ways ...

Ok, I'll be the first to admit, I'm addicted to Top Chef on Bravo. I love that show and that's where I stole that idea of doing a dish, "two ways" =-) This chicken salad takes about 10 min start to finish, but the flavor develops as it sits overnight in the fridge. This is one of those meals I make at the beginning of the week and eat all week long for lunch because it's tastes so great, it's already made and it's healthy. It fulfills all the requirements!

The first is a simple chicken salad wrap ... ok, I should say that I never take the time to say SOY chicken or SOY milk or whatever the case, because anyone that knows us knows that we don't eat the "real" thing. I take it to be understood that if I say chicken I really mean some type of faux chicken.

Back from the tangent ... this SOY chicken wrap hits the spot for what is a usually hurried lunch.

(Faux) Chicken salad wrap
1 pkg Quorn chicken cutlets, thawed and diced small
1/2 green apple, diced small
1 stalk celery diced small
1/2 cup walnuts or pecans chopped finely
juice of 1/2 large lemon
1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise
1/8 cup nondairy sour cream (like Tofutti)
salt and pepper

1. I like to use the chicken the same day I buy it at the store and not give it time to get freezer burn. I let it sit on the counter and once it is completely thawed I start to put the salad together.
2. In a large bowl combine all ingredients. Season with salt and pepper. You can eat immediately, but it will taste better the next day.

This dish reminds me of being a little girl in Mexico and watching my aunts (my mom has 4 sisters) in the kitchen cooking food that looked like this to celebrate some family baby shower or bridal shower. I thought they were such the lady-like food, teeny and delicate. They are so perfect for a girly get together. The cups that hold the chicken salad are made of toasted bread. Food that Fia labels as, "so cute, mama!"

Chicken salad in toast cups
Chicken salad as prepared above
Slices of toast with crust cut off
Salad greens and dressing of choice (Woodstock dressing from Trader Joe's here)
Pine nuts
Carrot ribbons

1. Butter one side of the de-crusted bread slice and carefully shape into a muffin tin. Toast.
2. Assemble salad. Carrot ribbons are simply made by peeling from the half point down of a medium sized carrot. Garnish with pine nuts and dress. A delicate salad in keeping with the feeling of the rest of the dish.


This and that ...

I'm not sure that I know what to call this. It ended up being this and that because he wanted hummus and I wanted to make sure I cooked the kale that had been in the crisper drawer before it went bad. I had never cooked kale before, but I knew I wanted to make a warm side, so I looked up recipes. I saw and like this one by Emeril and of course tweaked it just a bit by subbing some ingredients and adding soy Spanish chorizo style sausage. And used it as a side to warm whole wheat pitas with hummus (recipe below), baby greens, cucumber, tomato and sprouts. It was satisfying and will definately be cooking it again. Emeril's recipe had this without the potato and used pasta instead, sounds good! The finishing touch, and this is very important to tie all the flavors togethe,r is a  few drops of lemon juice over the kale with chorizo sausage.

Kale with chorizo sausage
1 lb of kale, cleaned and hand torn to medium pieces
3 sausages from Lightlife Smart Sausages Chorizo Style, sliced to rounds about 1/4 in. thickness
3 red potatoes, diced small and par-cooked in microwave (1-2 min)
1 yellow onion, sliced to 1/4 in slices
2 garlic cloves, minced
olive oil
salt and pepper

1. Heat olive oil on low heat and add onion. Cover and let caramelize for about 15-20 min. Turn heat to medium and add garlic and sausage and let brown for 3 min. Add potatoes and continue browning for another 3-5 min. Add kale, salt and pepper to taste. Toss in the pan and cover until kale is wilted.

1/4 cup tahini (sesame paste)
12 oz. chickpeas (can use canned, but if you cook them yourself flavor is SO much better)
1/4 cup lemon juice (about 2 lemons) more or less to personal taste
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper
1 clove of garlic, minced finely (optional)

1. In food processor, place tahini, chickpeas, 1/2 of the lemon juice and 1/2 of the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, start with about 1 teaspoon of each. Blend until a smooth, soft paste starts to form. It may still be too chunky but open up and taste so you can decide to your taste if it needs more lemon juice or not. Add more lemon juice if desired and more olive oil to continue mixing and getting a smoother taste. Same with salt and pepper, taste and determine if you want more or not. Add judiciously, you can always add more but can't take any out. =-)


Chili and Cornbread

Just when we thought we were in the clear .... We had a week of beautiful high 60's and low 70's weather, then we got MORE snow!

So what was I to do? Obviously, go to the kitchen to express my sorrow and comfort my soul! =-) HA!

The chili has quite the protein punch with the combination of both tempeh and chickpeas. Although it is not heavy, all you need is one cup to make a meal. The cornbread is not only the required and quintessential accompaniment, but it is also not dense at all. It has good texture from the medium grind cornmeal but is nice and "fluffy" light!

Here goes ...

Vegan Chili
1 yellow onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic minced
1 red bell pepper, diced finely
1 pkg of soy crumbles OR 1/2 pkg of soyrizo (soyrizo adds more flavor)
1 pkg of tempeh diced into 1/4 in. cubes
32 oz. can of diced tomatoes
1/2 cup vegetable broth
12 oz. cooked chickpeas*
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
2 bay leaves
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

1. In large heavy bottomed pot (with heavy tight fitting lid), sautee the onion until slightly translucent.Add soyrizo or soy crumbles and brown. Add bell pepper, tempeh cubes and garlic with a sprinkle of salt and pepper and continue sauteing until tempeh is slightly browned.
2. Add tomatoes, broth, cumin, bay leaves and chickpeas. Cook on low heat for at least 45 min. stir every few minutes to keep from sticking to the bottom.

* Canned chickpeas are fine, but if you can cook them yourself the flavor is much better and you cut the price to 1/4 that of canned. They might take a while, so you have to plan for it and cook the chickpeas the day before. Cook 1 cup of dry chickpeas and you will use half for this recipe and you can freeze the other half for later use, like for some home made hummus!

Cornbread (not vegan)

2 cups cornmeal
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup almond meal
2 tablespoons sugar
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 cups soy milk unsweetened + 2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
2 large eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil

1. Preheat oven to 450F. And "grease" with butter a 9 in cake pan.
2. Combine soy milk with cider vinegar and set aside.
3. Mix cornmeal, all purpose flour, almond meal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.
4. In small bowl whisk eggs with oil until foamy and then add the soy milk mixture.
5. Combine wet and dry ingredients in batches.
6. Pour into pan and bake in center of the oven for 16-18 min. Let cool before slicing.

Enjoy, you will have enough to share with your neighbors or halve recipe.


Thursday, March 3, 2011

Nostalgic for Mexico ...

I miss Mexico all the time, but some days a lot more than others. Days like those I soothe with food that reminds me of Mexico. These tostadas are vegetarian which is not typical Mexican food, but I think they are equally as tasty. These tostadas were actually inspired by some I used to eat quite frequently in a Mexican Vegetarian restaurant in San Diego, CA called Ranchos Cocina. They are topped with tempeh, soyrizo and black bean mixture (recipe below). Y-U-M-M-Y! and ... VIVA MEXICO!

After my tostada y had a steamed beet and fresh coconut salad.Grandma Willa mailed the kids a coconut, I'm not sure why ... I didn't ask. Must have been an grandma and grandkids inside joke or something. Papa cracked it open and I drank the water and ate the coconut meat ... turned out to be more than the gringos could handle. LOL. For this salad I steamed some beets and cut the coconut meat into similar sized pieces.  Dressed simply with lime juice, salt and chili powder. So tasty and so healthy ....

Tempeh Soyrizo and Black Bean Tostadas

1 pkg. of vaccum sealed tempeh (you can find it in natural food stores)
2 cups of cooked black beans
1 pkg soyrizo (Trader Joe's and Whole Foods carry it)
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 TB olive oil
Tostada shells ( in Mexican food aisle of most supermarkets)
Tofutti sour cream (in dairy aisle or with soy products in your supermarket)
1 roma tomato, diced for garnish

1. Heat olive oil and brown tempeh cubes. Once browned add green pepper, onion and garlic sautee until onion is translucent. Mix in soyrizo and let cook for 2 -3 min., then add black beans. Cook on medium low until heated through.
2. Spread about one tablespoon of sour cream on tostada. Spoon about 1/4 cup of tempeh mixture on top of sour cream and top with diced tomato. Sprinkle some salt and enjoy!


Vegan Zucchini Blueberry Muffins

Nothing better than to wake up in the morning and grab a cup of earl grey tea and one of these muffins, trust me!

2/3 cup soy milk
2TB flax meal
2 cups grated zucchini (about one large zucchini)
1/4 cup (4oz) apple sauce
1 cup frozen blueberries (I like Trader Joe's organic wild blueberries because they are tiny)
zest of one lemon
3/4 cup canola oil
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. almond extract
1 cup sugar (or for less sweetness and lower glycemic version try 3/4 cup agave nectar)
1 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
3/4 cup almond meal (Trader Joe's)
1 tsp. baking SODA
1/4 tsp. baking POWDER
1 tsp salt

1. Preheat oven to 350F. In large bowl combine soy milk and flax meal.
2. In medium bowl SIFT all three flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
3. To flax meal mixture add grated zucchini, apple sauce, zest, canola oil, extracts and sugar or agave. If the mixture seems too dry add more soy milk one or two tablespoon at a time until it reaches the correct consistency. Tip: When measuring agave, maple or honey first measure the oil and the the syrup so that syrup will pour out more easily without sticking to the sides.
4. Combine dry and wet ingredients in batches. Fold in blueberries.
5. Will yield about 18 cupcake sized muffins. Bake for 23-25 min. Let cool on muffin tins for about an hour before eating.

Falafel bites

It had been years since the last time I made falafel. I had bad memories from the last time I tried to make them. We were living in Omaha. NE and I'm going to take a wild guess and say that there are probably not many people trying to make falafel at home that deep in the Midwest. Anywho... I think the mix was old or something and they would just fall apart completely as soon as they hit the oil. And I've never been brave enough to try to make them from scratch. I might try. In the mean time, Whole Foods has a mix in their bulk bins that does the trick just fine!

When I was making them last night I had started to get pretty hungry so I made myself this little falafel bite. It was a falafel topped with a bit of Tofutti sour cream, then a slice of tomato, a sprinkle of salt and a few drops of lemon juice. It was so tasty that a few of those and a salad ended up being my dinner and I saved myself the carbs and calories from bread. Actually I didn't have pita so I made them in flour tortillas, like tacos, with salsa. Quite the mix of cultures around here!


Carrot cake ... or muffins

I like sweets but have been trying to limit the all-out-sinful ones in an effort to make sure my jeans still fit. So, I try to make my version of baked goods healthier for me and the kids as well of course! This time I made carrot cake, although usually I try to make whatever baked good in muffin form because it is easier to grab and go in the morning. This particular time it was a weekend so I had more time and I was able to accompany my carrot cake (muffin) with a side of pan fried plantains and some soy sausage. Breakfast of champions!!! HAHAHA

The recipe is exactly the same if you want to make it in a cake pan or muffin tins, the only thing that varies is the bake time. I will give those specifics below.

1 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp/ baking soda
2/3 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. all spice
1/4 tsp. fresh grated nutmeg
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup soy milk
2 TB. flax meal
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup agave nectar + 1/4 cup maple syrup
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups grated carrot
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1. Preheat oven to 400F. In a large bowl combine milk and flax meal.
2. In a medium bowl sift flour and add all other dry ingredients.
3. To milk and flax mixture add and combine all other liquid ingredients. In batches combine wet and dry ingredients
4. Fold in carrots and walnuts. Fill lined muffin tins or greased cake tin. For muffins bake for 20-22min. For cake bake for 1 hr - 1hr 10min.