Veg*n Cooking and Other Random Musings: January 2008

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Seasoned Crispy Seitan and Veggie Burritos with Black Bean Salsa

So yesterday, Brett went to the grocery store for Newman O’s, as he is obsessed, and since he was making the trip, I thought I would have him pick up some other things (sugar, flours, spices, extracts, veggie broth, soy and rice milk, agave, etc.) since he didn’t have a big list, and we generally have a list such that we can’t pick up much in the way of extras (since we walk home with our grub), so this was a good excuse to stock up on some stuff. Anyways, while he was there yesterday he happened upon what claimed to be the only organic sugar grown in the United States (it’s grown in southern Florida). Now I have to be completely honest, I didn’t know it was possible to grow sugar in the United States (and I graduated from college!), except maybe in Hawaii, which I don’t really count as the US in terms of ‘food miles’ since it’s not contiguous.

This is pretty exciting since I try to buy stuff from as locally as possible and keep my imported products to things like coffee, tea, chocolate, etc. I’m happy he found it and it is even a reasonable price. Maybe it is sad that I was so excited about this, but the baker and the environmentalist in me were equally stoked.

But anyways, last night I started to make a slightly modified version of Vegetarian Times’ Tempeh-Chili Burritos by switching out the tempeh for seitan and leaving the cilantro out of the Black Bean Salsa. As I was making the salsa, I decided I didn’t think it had enough flavor, so I modified that. Then when it came to the burrito itself, I noticed that the directions advised one to blend the tempeh (in my case it would have been seitan) and mushrooms together in a food processor and turn it into some sort of paste. Now I am OK doing things like this to beans or something, but pureed seitan and mushrooms just didn’t sound very good to me. So by this time, I decided to go my own way with this recipe as I had some veggies and spices I wanted to add as well.

So what follows is my take on what these burritos should have been like. You might notice that for a lot of ingredients such as spices and veggies, I don’t put measurements on many recipes (I will on recipes where proportions are important to the dish turning out), this is because everyone has their own tastes, these are the things that I put in this recipe, you might want to add more or less than I did, or change something else about it, so expect most of my recipes to be like this.

This recipes serves 2.

Black Bean Salsa
1-2 cups of cooked black beans
1/2 a pared and diced cucumber
canned fire roasted tomatoes, drained
1 avocado, diced
fresh lime juice (to taste)
cumin (to taste)
salt (to taste)

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until serving.

Seasoned Crispy Seitan and Veggie Burritos

1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
mushrooms, sliced (I used lots)
yellow bell pepper, diced (any color bell pepper would do)
onions, diced
jalapeno, diced
1/2 a can of diced tomatoes with green chilies, drained
fresh lime juice
chili powder
cayenne pepper (optional)
olive oil
1/2 package of seitan, sliced into strips
1-2 tsp. egg replacer (I use Ener-G)
2-3 tbs. corn starch

tofu sour cream

In a medium to large skillet, heat about a quarter of a cup of water. Once heated add the mushrooms, bell pepper, onion, and jalapeno to the skillet. Cook until the veggies begin to soften, add the garlic – you may need to add more water along the way. Cook a few more minutes, and then add the drained diced tomatoes with green chilies.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine seitan strips and egg replacer. Toss and let sit for a minute.

Add olive oil to a medium skillet and warm over medium heat.

In another small bowl, combine corn starch and spices (except the lime) and toss seitan in it.

Add the coated seitan to the skillet with olive oil in it, and fry until golden brown, about 10 minutes or so.

While the seitan is cooking, add a bit of the spices to the veggies and squeeze the juice of about half a lime over them. Set them aside.

When seitan is finished, layer it and the cooked veggies in a warmed tortilla. Top with Black Bean Salsa, and of course, tofu sour cream.

The only thing I might do differently next time is heat the Black Bean Salsa a little and put it directly into the burrito as I ended up with what was essentially a burrito on top of a burrito. Just stuffing it all into a tortilla would simplify it a bit.

‘Til next time!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Weird Weather and Roasted Veggie Enchiladas

I’m not sure how many of you have ever been to Missouri – if you haven’t been, you’re not missing much. But there is an old adage here that if you don’t like the weather in Missouri, just stay a little while, and it seems pretty true. I know many places in the US experience odd weather, but many feel that in Missouri, we experience it more often and to a more intense degree.

While I’m not sure if that adage is true or not, even though I have lived here all my life, I am still impressed by the oddity that is our weather at times. Case in point: it was a gorgeous day here yesterday, in the low 60’s (in January in the Midwest!), but windy, of course. This morning when I got up and was waiting on the bus, it was still very nice. Got to work, it was still nice. Went outside around 10:30 this morning and aside from the wind, the weather was beautiful – 62 degrees.

Flash forward an hour and a half to lunch. It had suddenly dropped to 26 degrees and began hailing and snowing. It is now in the teens with wind chills below zero. This is the kind of odd weather we here in Missouri enjoy. Looks like in the same day, we will experience temperatures in the low 60s as well as temperatures in the teens and perhaps up to an inch of snow. Hmmmm.

Moving on.

Last night, I got a nice surprise. I stoked to come home to not only the books I mentioned in the previous post that Brett so kindly picked up for me at the library, but he had purchased Vegan with a Vengeance for me from the Peace Nook, our local alternative bookstore. Wahoo!! It looks like an excellent cookbook. I have already marked a few recipes I want to try, and will be making Brett the Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Pancakes with Strawberry Sauce from it for his birthday next week, so he will definitely benefit from having gotten this for me.

For dinner last night, I made Roasted Veggie Enchiladas. It was simple and delicious and what I love about enchiladas (I love a lot of things I suppose) is that you can do your own thing when it comes to the ingredients and can make as big or small of a batch as you want, I was able to make two enchiladas without any problem, a small one for yours truly and a behemoth for the omni. Brett is not a very heavy guy, and I always overestimate his appetite and put way too much food on his plate. I am trying to get better at this, as we would rather have leftovers than him have to throw away half a plate of food, and as he has pointed out to me, he can always go back for more. However last night, I made him a huge enchilada and he ate the whole thing, so go figure.

Anyways. It’s amazing the complexity and full flavor that veggies have when they are roasted. You could really use whatever veggies you had on hand, just roast them before hand to get the best flavor. I used roasted zucchini, roasted red potatoes, roasted butternut squash, roasted red bell peppers, roasted jalapenos, and roasted shallots. I also had some chard in the fridge that was starting to look a bit sad and limp, so I sautéed it in some veggie broth until it got nice and soft and threw that in there as well. I lightly seasoned the squash with cumin and the potatoes with chili powder and cayenne (I like things spicy). Vegan cheese would make a nice addition too.

While I got the enchiladas ready to go in the oven, Brett made up a double batch of tofu sour cream. He has been making it as of late and seems to have it down much better than I do. The flavor and texture of his sour cream is much better than mine.

I preheated the oven to 350 degrees, sprayed a small baking dish with oil, put our enchiladas in the pan, smothered them with store bought enchilada sauce (you know, it actually requires a bit of label reading if you want enchilada sauce without MSG, at least that’s what I ran into here in Mid-Mo). Then I popped ‘em in the oven and baked them for about a half hour until they were nice and bubbly.

Once they were out of the oven and had cooled for a few minutes, I topped them with Brett’s fresh tofu sour cream. I ended up going back and putting a bit more enchilada sauce on the side for dipping.

I am going to leave with something non-food related, I happened upon a very interesting blog today I thought others might want to check out, if they haven’t already done so. It’s called Unpopular Vegan Essays, I found his subject material to be fascinating, and his blog is very well written, there are points I agree with him and points where our views diverge, but definitely a worthwhile site to check out.

‘Til next time!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Roasted Veggies and Homemade Pizza!

There isn’t much to report on brunch yesterday. I had some left over butternut squash (they are HUGE), so I decided to try out Vegetarian Times’ Butternut Squash (Potato) Pancakes (I had to veganize these as they called for eggs, but no biggie). But I seem to be having trouble getting potato pancakes right, so no picture this time. Every time I have tried to make potato pancakes, I end up with a fried, blackened mess of a pan and pancakes that fall apart and are not evenly cooked.

Now, as I have stated before I live in a crappy apartment and the burners on the stove are not entirely level, so this may be part of the problem. I also might have had the heat on too high, but needless to say, while they tasted pretty good, they looked nothing like the beauties on the Vegetarian Times’ website. Hopefully I will get them down eventually.

I also experimented with roasting vegetables yesterday. I love roasted veggies, but up until this point have really only been brave enough to roast asparagus or potatoes. It is so easy and roasted veggies rock my world! I prepped a nice mess of veggies (and by prepped I mean washed, removed stems and cut in half), drizzled them all with olive oil, tossed a pinch of salt on, popped them in the oven and let them do their thing – hardly an ounce of effort required on my part, the veggies and the oven do all the work for you. Thanks Vegamonicon!

Thought I'd give you a nice before and after, in case there is anyone out there who isn't roasting their own veggies, this should convince you to do so immedietly.

Before (my pan is very used, can ya tell?)

And after (our apartment smelled so good!)

On to dinner last night. I mentioned in an earlier post that I had found a vegan pizza crust recipe from VeganYumYum, and while that looked good, Bryanna Clark Grogan had what appeared to be a much simpler crust so we went with that.

This was a team effort pizza as Brett actually made the dough, vegan no less! Brett’s interest in cooking extends about as far as things like breads and pasta. He likes making dough. Nonetheless, it was a lot of fun working together in the kitchen (albeit a bit difficult since our kitchen is so small). And trust me, I realize how lucky I am to live with an omni who is not only supportive of my lifestyle and willing to eat my creations, but will also take part in the cooking sometimes and help with the other stuff like the dishes that result.

On a side note, I am lucky on many levels to have found a person like Brett. He never lets a day go by without letting me know that he appreciates me. He helps around the house, he shows interest in my interests, we share the same values and worldview, and he enjoys many of the things that I do. We can (and very often do) talk for hours and hours and have some of the most stimulating conversations that I have ever had. He impresses me with his intelligence, his kindness, his humor, and his heart. He is truly my best friend!

OK, onto something MUCH less sappy, I have to admit, I almost disgusted myself with what I just wrote, but it is the truth. I imagine Brett will probably be more embarrassed by that than me if he reads this though. :-)

Back to the pizza – Brett made the crust, and since it was the first time we had made it, we decided to cut the recipe to only make one crust in case we didn’t like it – we didn’t want to be stuck with a bunch of icky crust. This can be a challenge sometimes as you end up with very odd measurements, and it doesn’t always work out the best. The crust turned out wonderful, it was thin and crispy with excellent flavor. But Brett thought if we followed the full recipe (and he read the whole thing before starting to work with the ingredients :-) - I have that problem too), that the crust would have turned out thicker and chewier like in Bryanna’s pictures.

Regardless, it was good. While Brett was preparing the crust, I made a simple pizza sauce that turned out nice and thick, with a rich tomatoey flavor, but not overpowered with other spices, which is what we look for in a good sauce. I also got out some of the roasted red peppers and shallots I had roasted earlier in the day, as well as sliced and sautéed some button mushrooms, and sliced up some artichokes.

Now, some of you out there might be saying “Well Jennifer, this is great and all, but this sounds awfully similar to the Amy’s pizza you claimed to be getting sick of.” (Though really, probably not.) I know it is very similar, but since this is the first time I made homemade pizza, I wanted to go with a familiar flavor combination. I can now comfortably experiment with sauces and toppings now that Brett and I successfully made our first homemade pizza together.

Basic Pizza Sauce
1 clove garlic, mashed and minced
1 teaspoon salt
1-2 tbs tomato paste
1 8 ounce can tomato sauce
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 tablespoon olive oil
dash red pepper, optional

Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan over low heat until well blended.

I plan on using the rest of the roasted veggies for a nice simple dinner this evening.

I’m off to enjoy a beautiful (though windy) evening in Mid-Missouri with Brett and my lovely kitties Gabby and Nermal. This more than likely entails playing basketball on the Playstation with Brett (which is a bit funny in that I don’t actually like real basketball) - Go Virtual Houston Rockets! Or I might read as John Pilger’s Freedom Next Time and Chris Hedges’ War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning are waiting for me at home – thanks to Brett. But now I have to chose which to start with, which likely means basketball as I’m too damn indecisive!

‘Til next time!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Pancakes, Scones, and Risotto

I have been seeing pancakes all over the vegan blogosphere, and I found myself constantly drooling over the delicious variety that is the pancake, so I finally made my contribution to the International Vegan Pancake Lovers Movement. I made Veganomicon's Blueberry Corn Pancakes and since neither Brett nor I are huge fans of plain maple syrup (we can definitely do it in things), I made a simple Blueberry Sauce to go on it. The sauce turned out much better than I had anticipated, Brett and I both thought it would be good on vanilla non-dairy ice cream, on a pound cake (there is a V-Con recipe for pound cake I have been eyeing), and probably lots of other things.

Simple Blueberry Sauce
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
1/2 cup water
1/4 organic sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
cornstarch or arrowroot mixed with water

In a saucepan, heat all ingredients until warm and beginning to bubble. When nearing time to serve, add the cornstarch or arrowroot mixture and bring to a boil, stirring frequently, until to desired consistency. Serve warm over everything!

I have been interested in making scones for a little while, so I decided to look around see how difficult it would be to make and veganize a scone recipe. There were some recipes for scones in V-Con, but no flavor combinations that really sent me, and I didn't have any of the needed ingredients on hand. I found a very non-vegan blueberry scone recipe, which I modified the hell out of.

The scones didn't end up with the nice sheen that non-vegan scones do as I couldn't figure out how to veganize the egg wash. I read online that Ener-G doesn't really work for this, so I just tossed a bit of confectioner's sugar on top. But even without the sheen they turned out pretty good. I might add a bit more sugar next time, but they go great with a cup of coffee or tea. I also stuffed a couple with some extra blueberry sauce I had, 'cause as I said earlier, the stuff is good, use it on whatever you can think of!

I adapted the blueberry scone recipe from here.

Vegan Blueberry (and Blueberry Sauce filled) Scones
2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup organic sugar
1 tbs baking powder
6 tbs vegan margarine
1/4 cup soy buttermilk (1/4 cup soy milk with either 1 tsp apple cider vinegar or lemon juice) 1/4 cup soy milk
egg replacer for one egg
1/2 cup blueberries
Blueberry Sauce (optional)
confectioner's sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together flour, sugar and baking powder. Cut vegan margarine into dry ingredients until the mixture is very course. Add blueberries and mix.

In another bowl, combine soy buttermilk, soy milk and egg replacer mixed with water. Stir into dry ingredients until moistened. Knead briefly on a floured surface. Do not overwork the dough. Shape dough into a round, 1/2 inch thick. Cut round into 6 wedges.

If filling scones with Blueberry sauce, take a wedge and stretch it out a bit more. Using a spoon, create a nice indentation in the center of the dough and spoon in a bit of the Blueberry Sauce. Pull up the surrounding edges (as best as possible) and try to seal the scone, if you can't get it completely sealed, no worries.

Bake on a lightly greased baking sheet for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Since the recipe for the Blueberry Scones only made 6 scones, I decided to make a small batch of Oatmeal Cinnamon Scones, which I found here. I halved the recipe so it would only make 4, and topped it with a simple Brown Sugar and Cinnamon Topping, which I topped the scones with when there was only about 5 minutes of baking time left.

Brown Sugar and Cinnamon Topping
3-4 tbs brown sugar
3-4 tbs whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 tap ground cinnamon
1-2 tbs vegan margarine

In a small bowl, mix together all ingredients except vegan margarine. Using a fork, slowly add margarine until the mixture resembles a course crumble.

This must look like a lot of work, having made two different types of scones. But truth be told, I was only in the kitchen for a total of an hour making these. I spent the good portion of my day relaxing, playing basketball on the Playstation with Brett, reading, and listening to interesting social commentary podcasts. I like simple recipes that are not too involved (I will do the involved things sometimes, but mostly I like it simple), and really don't ever spend more than a few hours in the kitchen over the weekend and no more than an hour on weekday nights. I am living proof that you can eat homemade foods made from high quality whole foods and not slave for hours a day in the kitchen, except those rare times when you want to.

On another side note, am I the only one who enjoys cooking and serving of good food to others more than actually eating it myself?

Anyways, for dinner, I made a Butternut Squash and Sage Risotto from an old issue of the Vegetarian Times (I cut the recipe in half as there are only two of us). You can find this recipe online here. This is the first time I have worked with squash at home and its fairly easy. I was happy to find an organic butternut squash at the grocery store, but wasn't too happy to see that it came all the way from Mexico, I like my food to come from as close as possible to reduce the environmental impact and increase the freshness and therefore taste of my food, but if you want to eat sometimes you don't have much choice.

What I can say though, in regards to preparing larger squash, is that I really need to get a good chefs knife as squash can be hard to cut, due to their size, with a sub par knife. But once you get it into manageable sized pieces, it's a breeze.

This recipe was very good, and I will definitely make it again. It was savory and filling. I liked the chard cooked in the broth with the rice (Brett really dug Arborio rice). I couldn't find plum tomatoes at the store, so I got organic fire roasted diced tomatoes instead and it added a nice smoky element to the dish. The only thing I will do differently next time is use a bit less sage. Both Brett and I agreed that, as is, it was a bit "sagey" for our tastes.

I will leave the blogosphere with a picture of my lovely organic (though well traveled) squash, as well as the risotto and I'm off to enjoy a beautiful sunny 60 degree day here in Mid-Missouri.

'Til next time!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

I Finally Made.....

Chickpea Cutlets! I might be one of the last veg*n's to have tried these, and they are pretty good. I was a bit skeptical that it would only take 30 minutes to make these, as it usually takes me a bit longer to make things than the recipe says, but it actually took a bit less time than this. I also made V-Con's Mushroom Gravy, and man, I could think of so many things that stuff would be good on.

I also made some garlicky mashed potatoes to go with the Cutlets. All around it was a pretty All American meal. Well kinda, except with out, you know, the giant hunk of meat. THIS should be the All American meal.

Mmmmmm. Anyway, the potatoes were really easy, and as usual I didn't measure my ingredients, but I can give you a rough idea of what I did. These are nothing special, very simple, and perhaps this is why they are so good, no fuss.

Garlicky Mashed Potatoes
russet potatoes (I used 3 - there are only two of us)
2 cloves of garlic
Earth Balance (to taste)
plain soy milk (to taste)
salt (to taste)
onion powder (to taste)
ground black pepper (to taste)

Scrub and peel the potatoes. If you cut them into smaller chunks, they will cook faster.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the potatoes and the peeled garlic cloves. Cook for about 30 minutes or until you can easily pierce the potato pieces with a fork.

Drain and transfer to a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and mix with a mixer until smooth. You may need to add a little bit more spice.

I was looking at Veggie's blog a few days ago and saw a cake she made with tea in it. Now I guess she had some issues using whole tea leaves, but the idea of baking with tea intrigues me. I would like to see if I can't find some recipe that involves tea. Seems like it could be good. I'll have to see what I find. If anyone out there has any ideas, or has cooked with tea before and has recipes, please email me!

'Til next time.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Plates That Sparked A Movement

Lasagna is a beautiful thing you know? To me, it’s a bit like chili in that you can kind of go your own way with it, and I never really do it the same twice. So not only is lasagna delicious, it is a way to get creative with your food. Oh yeah, and it is also a good way to use up veggies.

So, I bet you can guess what we had for dinner last night, and thus what is the subject of this post.

This was a bit of a lazy recipe as I just used a store bought organic, vegan mushroom and onion marinara sauce. I made Veganomicon’s Tofu Ricotta. It is pretty good and really easy to make too.

The sauce, of course, didn’t have enough veggies in it, so I sautéed some zucchini, bell pepper, artichoke hearts, carrot, onion, garlic, mushrooms, and a bit of spinach and threw that in the sauce to make it nice and chunky with veggies. I also cooked up some plain spinach and used a layer of that in my lasagna, ‘cause, well, I love spinach!

I made up some lasagna noodles according to the package directions and then layered the noodles with spinach, the Tofu Ricotta, and the chunky veggie sauce. I popped it in the oven at 350 degrees for about a half hour, until things began to get bubbly. Once it was done, I let it sit and cool for a few minutes (which is always grueling when you’re hungry!), and served it with a nice green salad and Annie’s Tuscany Italian dressing.

All around it was a fairly simple meal, and Brett was pleased that there were leftovers for him to have for lunch.

You know, these plates are so cool I bet a massive movement is going to spring up around them.

Bet you want to know where you can get yourself a set of these bad boys, eh?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Spicy Smashed Kidney Bean and Sweet Potato Burrito

When approaching dinner last night, I went for something more tried and true. What follows is yet another recipe I’ve modified from over at VegWeb. They have great recipes there, and I love to use them as templates to create things to mine and Brett’s tastes. I’m sure many of you vegan foodies out there do this as well, pretty much the only recipes I follow are ones from cookbooks, and even then, I don’t always follow the directions completely. I guess that is my inner rebel showing itself.

So dinner was a Spicy Smashed Kidney Bean and Sweet Potato Burrito. I remember when I first came across the original recipe, I wasn’t sure about it, but thought I would be brave and try it. The reason is, before I went veg, I wasn’t a huge fan of sweet potatoes (I had only had the candied yam variety), nor was I particularly interested in mixing sweet and spicy flavors. That has all changed now, thankfully, I am much more willing to try unusual flavor combinations, as well as foods that I’ve had in the past (most of the time only once) and decided that I didn’t like.

You know, I was talking with Brett about this the other day, and I was curious if anyone else out there had had this experience. It seems that, since going veg, I actually eat a much wider variety of food now than I ever did when I ate meat. There are whole cuisines, flavors, textures, that I missed living on the traditional “giant hunk of dead animal accented by veggies and other non-descript foods” diet. Sometimes I almost want to laugh when people say “If you are a vegetarian, then what do you eat”, I’d like to respond with “Pretty much everything you’re not”.

Moving on to the real goods, the recipes and the picture. I top this, as I do many of my recipes, with homemade tofu sour cream. I got this recipe from over at Primary Consumer’s old blog, it is so simple to prepare and so delicious, I am thankful for her posting the recipe for others to enjoy. She is so nice, that she gave me permission to post her tofu sour cream recipe on my blog. So Lizzy, yes, the tofu sour cream recipe is simple, and here she be, go try it now, your food will thank you for it!

Primary Consumer’s Tofu Sour Cream (with some of our 'edits')
10 oz. soft silken tofu, drained
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp. brown rice syrup
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp. salt, or to taste

Blend all ingredients until very smooth, in blender or food processor.

Simple and delicious!

Spicy Smashed Kidney Bean and Sweet Potato Burritos
1 large sweet potato or yam, cooked and mashed (see note below)
2 cups cooked kidney beans
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 jalapenos, diced
onion, diced
1-2 tbsp. stone ground brown mustard
2-3 tbsp. shoyu (Japanese soy sauce, other soy sauce would work too)
chili powder
cayenne pepper (optional)
water (enough to sauté veggies, and cover the beans)

flour tortillas
avocado, diced
tofu sour cream

Now many of you out there may already know how to cook a sweet potato, I did not when I found this recipe, so I am providing directions to the “Jennifer’s” of the world, who want to cook, but need a little extra assistance at times, ‘cause they are new to the whole thing.

Preheat oven to 425.

Wash sweet potato and pierce a couple of times with a fork.

Put potato on a foil or parchment paper covered baking sheet (it will stain your pan if you don’t line it).

Cook potato for about an hour or so, or until potato is leaking juices and you can easily pierce it with knife.

Remove from oven, let cool for a few minutes. Cut potato in half, remove insides from skin and mash with a fork.

In a medium sized pan, sauté onion and jalapeno in water or a bit of oil until they begin to get soft. Add the garlic and cook for a few more minutes.

Add the beans and just enough water to cover the beans about halfway. Add cumin, chili powder, cayenne, salt, mustard, and shoyu.

Simmer until about half of the water has evaporated, stirring often. Put mixture in glass bowl and lightly mash with a fork or potato masher, leaving some of the beans whole.

Layer desired amount of mashed sweet potatoes and bean mixture to a warmed tortilla. Add tofu sour cream and avocado, and roll ‘er up. If you like, top the burrito with your favorite salsa.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Argh! The Grocery Store Should Only Stock Its Shelves With Vegans In Mind!

Since yesterday was Martin Luther King, Jr. day, I had the day off of work, but with the hours that I put in the kitchen on Saturday, I decided to take it easy for the most part. I made a nice brunch, and had Amy’s yummy vegan pizza for dinner. I like pizza, as it is quick and easy, but the Amy’s vegan pizza does get old after awhile. It’s not the pizza itself, it would just be nice to have different toppings sometimes. Speaking of pizza, I found a crust recipe over at VeganYumYum’s site. I think I will try it out this weekend and make up some extra crusts and sauce to freeze for when I’m in the mood for pizza, that way I can actually have a variety of toppings.

Anyways, on Sunday night, I made The Vegan Chef’s Black Bean Chili-Topped Sweet Potato. This was really good, though if you look at the picture, my chili is a bit thin for a potato topping. The thing was, I popped the sweet potatoes in the oven and began making the chili. Well, the chili didn’t seem like it had enough liquid, especially if it simmered the entire time the potatoes were roasting. So I added a bit of veggie broth to it. This would have been fine, had I left it alone. I decided that the amount of broth I put in would cook off before the potatoes were done and thus I needed to go ahead and add more. Well needless to say, it didn’t all evaporate off and my chili was a little thin.

Don’t let my error keep you from trying this, because thin chili aside, this was very good, and this is a very simple recipe. I served these topped with homemade tofu sour cream.

For brunch yesterday, I made a very yummy tofu scramble and attempted Megan the Vegan’s Crispy Wedges, but before I get into the frustration that accompanied the Crispy Wedges, let’s talk about the tofu scramble. This was a good one, I essentially cleaned out the fridge to an extent with this, and it was so yummy.

First, I diced up a small red potato and got that cooking in some water in a skillet (a little fat free cooking tip I learned from SusanV over at Fat Free Vegan Kitchen). Then I added some sliced button mushrooms, diced yellow bell pepper, diced onion, minced garlic, and sliced artichoke hearts (left over from SusanV’s Frittata). Once the veggies were done, I realized my pan was too small, so I simply set it aside and got out another one. I sprayed a medium sized skillet with canola oil and added half a block of crumbled firm tofu. I got that cooking and seasoned it with turmeric, chili powder, cumin, and salt. I got that all mixed together and added a bit of frozen spinach I had in the freezer. Finally, I added in the other veggies (from the other pan) in and heated it all through.

Now, Megan’s Crispy Wedges. So I thought I could go to the store, pick up a container of breadcrumbs, and all would be well, right? Wrong. Well, that is what I did, but I was wrong to think that it was so simple. So anyways, for some reason on Sunday night I decided to check out the ingredients list of the breadcrumbs to see what all was in them. I wasn’t really expecting what I found which was milk, butter, and honey. You would figure that I would know this, but I don’t eat bread very often at all, and the stuff I do eat doesn’t contain ANY of this stuff, let alone a whole cocktail of it.

So yesterday morning, I went back to the store before brunch of course, and found that of the whole shelf of breadcrumbs, none of them were vegan. The closest thing I could find was Matzoh meal (which is vegan thankfully), and it said it was the “perfect substitute for breadcrumbs”, well I’m not sure about all that, but it’s what I had to work with. So I followed Megan’s recipe and the wedges turned out to be quite yummy, but not as crispy as I expect they should have been. It looked to me like the Matzoh meal was a much coarser than regular breadcrumbs.

This experience leaves me with a couple of questions. First, I should say that I also saw Panko at the store as well. Does anyone know if Matzoh meal really is the perfect substitute? I mean, if I were to say, make the Chickpea Cutlets from V-Con (which I was hoping to make later this week), would they turn out if I used Matzoh meal? Panko? I would hate for a whole set of recipes to be off limits to me because I can’t find vegan breadcrumbs.

You know, I suppose I could make my own breadcrumbs, but I wouldn’t know where to begin.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Oh, Veganomicon!

I don't generally spend my entire Saturday in the kitchen, but this weekend is a three day weekend, and I have been really looking forward to trying out Veganomicon, so I made an exception. I made lots and lots of cookies, and will be keeping some of them for us, giving some to friends, and taking the rest in to my coworkers. I love giving meat eaters yummy vegan treats, it helps to illustrate that vegans do eat good food.

As I mentioned in my last post, I also tried out SusanV's Monterey Frittata. It was a bit involved, but not overly so, and it was really good. Mine wasn't as thick and didn't hold together as well as hers, but still tasted wonderful. I think next time I could use a smaller pan for the tofu and that would solve that issue.

Anyways, on to the real goods, the cookies. I think I picked perfect recipes for my first run with V-Con. Brett loved being the taste tester and I love baking cookies. It was a fun day, I listened to some very interesting podcasts, one involving James Howard Kunstler, and baked, and baked, and baked.....

The first batch of cookies I made were a variation of the Chocolate-Chocolate-Chip Walnut Cookies. I did the cherry variation, but stuck with regular vegan chocolate chips rather than using white chocolate chips as neither Brett nor I are fans. I also used whole wheat pastry flour, and didn't have any ground flax seeds, so I left those out, and the recipe still turned out great.

Next, I made the Chewy Chocolate-Raspberry Cookies. I simply followed the recipe as it read and according to Brett, these were really good. I had eaten a couple of the Chocolate-Chocolate-Chip Cherry and didn't really have room to try.

Then I made the Chewy Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies. These were a little bit more for me, as Brett tends to eschew anything that isn't chocolate, but he even liked these as well. The seasoning was just right, they were perfectly chewy and loaded with yummy raisins.

And finally, I departed from Veganomicon a bit to make some plain 'ol vegan chocolate chip cookies. This is yet another recipe I adapted from VegWeb. For some unknown reason the original recipe did not call for brown sugar. I have never heard of a chocolate chip cookie recipe that didn't call for brown sugar, so I altered it before I ever made it the first time. These are simple and a hit with anyone who likes chocolate chip cookies (which is everyone isn't it?).

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
Vegan chocolate chips
1 cup organic sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup water

Preheat oven to 350.

In a large bowl mix flour, baking powder, and salt. Add chips.

In a medium size bowl mix sugar and oil and mix. Add the vanilla and then add the water. Add to the dry. Mix well, you may need to add a bit more flour or water to get the consistency correct.

Roll dough into small balls and place an inch and a half apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake them for about 7-10 minutes and check roughly every minute after that until cookies are slightly golden brown.

Remove from oven, let cool for about five minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack.

After all this baking I wanted something quick and light for dinner, so I opted for sushi. I just got a rice cooker, which can also double as a veggie steamer, so this made the job a whole lot easier. I decided to try the Spicy Tempeh Nori Rolls from V-Con. This was my first experience with tempeh, and I'm still not sure about it. The sushi was pretty good I guess, I'm just still not sure. I think I will have to try it again some other way to really make a judgment.

I also made a variation on something similar to the Post Punk Kitchen's Goin' Back to Cali Roll. This is not where I got the idea from, I actually have had veggie sushi like this on campus at the University of Missouri, but it is very similar to PPK's Cali Roll. The only thing I did differently was to add shredded carrot and pickled ginger to the roll.

I was pretty wiped out at the end of the day, but had a lot of fun. I won't be repeating that today. The only thing I plan on making is dinner. Today is going to be one of the nice fun days of relaxing and doing as few productive things as possible. Yay for the weekend.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Yay For Saturday Morning Bluegrass!

There many things I really love about Saturday mornings, aside from being able to sleep in and not having to go to work, and two are coffee and good instrumental bluegrass (or jazz, or classical guitar). Listening to Chris Thile and Bryan Sutton really make me want a fiddle. Or a mandolin. Or a banjo. Ha!

So, I really liked VeganYumYum's Crispy Seitan, so I thought over the week about what else I could do with it. I opted for a salad, not super creative I know, but it was very good nonetheless. I got a very good Sesame-Ginger Dressing recipe from SusanV's blog. She rocks you know, her food always looks so beautiful and tasty. I was inspired by her food so I am going to attempt her Monterey Frittata for brunch today, seems pretty involved, so we'll see how that turns out.


I just made a batch of Crispy Seitan and the Sesame-Ginger Dressing (which was a snap to make by the way), and had it over some mixed baby greens, shredded carrots, cooked brown rice, and cooked edamame. Yummy, simple and nutritious.

Well, there is lots cooking on my agenda today, so I'm off!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Happy Friday!

So I am really looking forward to this weekend, as I will be using Veganomicon for the first time! I am really excited about it. Stay tuned to see how my first dance with V-Con goes!

Last night’s dinner was a yummy General Tao’s Tofu stir-fry. Something kind of funny about this though. I guess Veggie and I are on the same wavelength, because she made it this week as well too. We even adapted our recipes from the same one on VegWeb. What an interesting world, I guess some of us veg*n’s think alike, eh? Anyways, you might pop over and check hers out as her photography is generally much better than my own, not to mention, I don't have a picture of the stir-fry because of user error.

You see, I often take multiple pictures when I photograph my recipes to make sure that I get a good picture. Well, I was going through them on my computer, found the one I wanted. At least thought I selected the one I had chosen, and then deleted the rest. Well, I went to upload the photo, and it was one of the grainy, bad pictures, and I lost the rest as I had already deleted them. Argh.

But anyways, I went a slightly different direction with this, opting for a spicier, savory sauce, so my recipe for the sauce is quite a bit different from the template I started out with on VegWeb.

Here she be (in the words of Wilbur)!

General Tao’s Sauce
onion chopped (I diced up about a quarter of an onion)
diced red chilies to taste (dry if possible, substitute crushed red pepper if can't find chilies)
cayenne pepper to taste
1-2 tbsp ginger, minced
1-2 tbsp garlic, minced
2/3 cup vegetable broth
2-3 tbsp shoyu (add a bit at a time, and then add more if needed)
3-6 tbsp sugar (more or less depending on your desired level of sweetness)
1-2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp sesame oil
1-2 tbsp corn starch
splash of hot chili oil for good measure

Sautee onions, garlic, and ginger. Mix all ingredients together. Add cornstarch to thicken shortly before serving.

General Tao’s Tofu Stir-Fry
1/2 block tofu cut into small cubes that has been marinated in a bit of General Tao's sauce for at least 30 minutes
corn starch
pinch sugar
egg replacer for one egg
peanut or sesame oil

General Tao's Sauce
onion, chopped
broccoli, cooked
cauliflower, cooked
edamame, cooked
Hot, cooked brown Basmati Rice

Mix together egg replacer (mixed with water according to package directions) and coat tofu in it.

In a small bowl, combine corn starch and sugar. Cover tofu in dry mixture. Heat some peanut or sesame oil in skillet and fry tofu until golden brown.

Top hot cooked rice with cooked veggies, tofu and desired amount of sauce.

You know, stir-fries are very good, but I’m a bit stir-fried out. I probably won’t devote an entire week to a particular type of food again, but I got a lot of good recipes to add to my collection.

I want to thank those who gave me suggestions on good vegan cookbooks, it was very helpful. I have placed an order for Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan on Amazon, and will probably look into getting Vegan with a Vengeance in a couple of weeks once I have tried a few things from V-Con and ED&BV.

Well, I am a bit tired after a long week of dealing with data (sounds so fun I know), and lugging a nice, big load of grub home from the store, so I’m off to make a quick dinner and to listen to Democracy Now!

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Teriyaki Tofu

Last night I decided to move away from sweet Asian sauces a bit to make something more savory, as both Brett and I felt like we had eaten a lot of sweet foods this week. So I went for a Teriyaki Tofu Stir-Fry, and it turned out spot on. I was impressed with how much my homemade version actually tasted like teriyaki sauce, since, as I said in a previous post, sometimes I make things sweeter, spicier, and tangier, than they are made “authentically”. But this sauce seemed pretty authentic.

I also loaded this stir-fry up with veggies because I felt like we haven’t had as high of a veggie intake lately as we should. This is one thing I love about stir-fries; they are a perfect way to get a nice, healthy dose of veggies.

Teriyaki Sauce
1/3 cup mirin (Chinese Rice Wine)
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup shoyu
1-2 tbsp minced ginger
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 tbsp brown rice vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
3 tbsp brown sugar
1-2 corn starch dissolved in water (depending on desired thickness)
red pepper flakes

Heat all ingredients except for corn start and water mixture on stove. Stir frequently while waiting for sauce to boil. Once boiling, add corn starch and water mixture, stirring frequently until desired thickness.

Teriyaki Stir-Fry
tofu, cut into small pieces
Teriyaki Sauce
bell pepper
snow peas
broccoli, cooked
Hot cooked, brown Basmati Rice
peanut oil

Heat peanut oil in skillet and fry tofu until it begins to brown. Add onions and bell pepper. Cook until onion and peppers begin to get soft and tofu is done to your liking.

Throw all the veggies over some brown Basmati rice, top with the sauce and enjoy!

I probably won’t have a post tomorrow as I feel like being lazy tonight which means…..Amy’s Pizza. I really do like Amy’s products; there is a vegan bean burrito Amy’s makes that I love taking to work for lunch when there are no leftovers to take.

I wanted to end this post asking for a bit of wisdom from the seasoned vegan cooking community out there. As I have mentioned before, I am just starting my vegan cookbook collection. So far I have Veganomicon. I want to get one more regular cookbook and one dedicated to desserts to start. I am thinking about Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan or Vegan with a Vengeance for my regular cookbook choice (anybody have suggestions for which I should get?), but am stumped for ideas for where to start in the way of vegan dessert cookbooks.

Any advice will be most appreciated!

‘Til Friday!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Vegan Pad Thai

Well, I believe I mentioned sometime last week that you should expect a lot of stir-fry posts this week, and as promised I am delivering. I have had really good luck cooking Asian recently, in the past I was always been a bit wary of cooking Asian at home as I felt like I wasn’t familiar enough with the flavors to create a tasty recipe, or at the very least to be able to figure out what’s missing if the recipe didn’t seem quite right. Now that I am more comfortable with Asian flavors, I just go out and get a recipe to use as a template so I can make it to Brett’s and my liking. This generally means making it sweeter since Brett is a sweet freak. If I always made things as sweet as he liked, I’m not sure he or I would have teeth anymore and I’m only 23!

I still have a few recipes I am planning on trying out this week and many other Asian recipes I plan on trying out at some point, but think next week I will go in a slightly different direction. I have been missing beans, as my protein source has been a lot of tofu, seitan, and nuts lately, so expect see some beanage (and probably more tofu as well).

So last night the menu was Vegan Pad Thai noodles. This was a really good recipe, it ended up being a little sweet, a little sour, a little savory, and a little spicy. Think we covered most of the types of flavors in this recipe? I thought this was very easy to make, which makes it perfect for a weeknight dinner (and you could take the leftovers to work if there are any). I made mine without, but some people put sliced tofu in their Pad Thai to give it more protein. The sauce I used had peanut butter in it and I put crushed peanuts on top so I figured we’d be fine on protein. I also made this a bit skimp on the veggies as I thought it would be fine on its own, but I bet it was also be good loaded with sautéed veggies as well. I might have to try it like that next time.

I can’t really attest to the authenticity of this, but overall I thought it was really good. And again, this is great when you don’t feel like spending a lot of time in the kitchen.

Vegan Pad Thai
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
diced onion
1 tbsp ginger, minced
1/4-1/2 cup shoyu (or other soy sauce)
juice of one lime
3-5 tbsp creamy peanut butter
couple dashes of red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper (or both!)
2-4 tbsp brown sugar (more or less depending on desired sweetness)
1 tbsp peanut oil
bean sprouts
crushed peanuts

Cook noodles according to packages directions.

Stir together soy sauce, lime, peanut butter, pepper flakes, and sugar.

In a skillet, heat peanut oil and sauté onions for a few minutes, then add garlic and ginger and sauté a few minutes more.

Serve sauce over hot, cooked rice noodles and lots of washed bean sprouts. Top with crushed peanuts.

That’s about all for now. I’m off to spend a nice, relaxing evening with Brett, the kitties, and some (hopefully) good food!

Monday, January 14, 2008

More Muffins and Crispy Sweet and Sour Seitan. But First........

Breakfast wasn’t too exciting yesterday morning, I just cut up some fresh fruit (diced apples, diced pear, sliced bananas, sliced kiwi fruit, and orange segments), I splashed the cut fruit with some fresh squeezed lime juice. I use the lime juice for a bit of flavor, but more importantly, it keeps the fruit from oxidizing. I sprinkled on a little sugar and had this yummy fruit with a bowl of vegan granola and soy milk. You know one of the many things I love about fruit? It looks (and tastes) pretty all on its own, you don't have to do anything to it at all, its like one of those women who can roll out of bed, do nothing, and still look amazing - the words of a true fruitaholic.

Moving on. I was excited from my success with muffins on Saturday, I decided to make another batch of a different flavor yesterday. I think I am starting to get this whole muffin making thing down, because these turned out good as well. I ended up making one batch of batter and doing it two ways. Part of the batter was turned into Apple Cinnamon Muffins; the other portion was turned into Apple Cinnamon Raisin Muffins. Nothing really special or different about the two except raisins, but both were very good. The muffins turned out sweet, but not overly so, and were nice and moist. They go very well with coffee for a nice light breakfast (this also happened to be my breakfast this morning).

I usually like to use applesauce in place of oil wherever I can, but yesterday ran out of applesauce and ended up doing half applesauce half oil instead. You could always replace the additional oil in this recipe with applesauce.

Apple Cinnamon (Raisin) Muffins
1/4 cup Earth Balance (melted)
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
cinnamon (to taste)
just a dash of nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup soymilk
2 peeled diced apples
Raisins (as many as you like)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients. Add the moist ingredients and then slowly fold in the apples and raisins.

Fill muffin cups (or greased muffin tin) about 2/3 of the way full and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

For dinner last night, I made a modified version of VeganYumYum’s Crispy Sweet and Sour Seitan and it was so, so, so good. The next time you get an urge for something sweet, sour, crispy, and a bit spicy, give this a try. It satisfied even the “super particular when it comes to vegan food” omni, also known as Brett.

I followed her recipe for preparing the seitan exactly, but deviated on everything else. I made some modifications to the sauce and added some veggies and served it all over brown Basmati rice.

Sweet and Sour Sauce
2/3 cup veggie broth
6 tbsp brown rice vinegar
6+ tbsp sugar (Brett likes things pretty sweet, so I put more than this in there, but for everyone else [who is not a hummingbird] start with this and add more if you need more sweetness)
2-4 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp ketchup (next time I am going to try tomato paste)
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
dash cayenne or crushed red pepper flakes
pinch salt
corn starch mixed with water to thicken

Combine all ingredients except for corn starch and water mixture and heat, stirring frequently.

Turn up heat to where sauce is boiling and add corn starch and water mixture to sauce. Stir frequently until at desired consistency. Remove from heat immediately.

Crispy Sweet and Sour Seitan with Veggies over Basmati Rice
VeganYumYum’s Crispy Seitan recipe
Sweet and Sour Sauce
Chopped onions (I cooked them with the seitan)
Broccoli, cooked
Cauliflower, cooked
Hot, cooked brown Basmati rice

Prepare rice according to package directions.

Prepare sweet and sour sauce.

Start cooking broccoli and cauliflower.

Make the crispy seitan and add the onions while cooking.

Serve crispy seitan, veggies, and sauce over brown Basmati rice.

I really liked the way the seitan was done for this recipe. It gave it the flavor of a fried mushroom. I am going to be thinking about other things I can do with this crispy seitan as the flavor and texture are wonderful. It took Brett a little while to grow to like tofu in anything except a scramble, preferably a scramble stuffed into a tortilla, but he has warmed up the seitan very quickly. I can probably thank this recipe for that.

Well, that’s all for now!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Weekends = Lots of Cooking, Pictures, and A Long Post

Well, it's the weekend, which means that I have more time to cook.

Let's start off with Friday. I ended up making some nachos to use up the ingredients I still had on hand. This was a nice, tasty, quick meal, which was much appreciated after a long week at work and lugging home a mighty heavy load from the grocery store. I simply sautéed diced leftover marinated seitan (see the fajita post) in olive oil with some chopped up onion. I heated up the leftover black bean puree (see the flatbread post). I seasoned up some leftover brown rice I had. Then I got out some blue corn chips, spread 'em out on a plate, and topped them with the above stated ingredients. I popped it in the oven (set at 300 degrees) for a few minutes for everything to get nice and warm. Then I topped the nachos with some tofu sour cream, chopped up green onions, sliced black olives, and some salsa (not shown in the picture). It was good.

Yesterday, for breakfast I made some cinnamon raisin oatmeal. It was hearty, sweet and delicious. Oatmeal is very filling, which is something I forgot, since it has been awhile since I've had it. Neither one of us could eat more than about half the amount pictured. I over estimated our oatmeal appetites a bit, but hey, you live and learn, right?

Sweet Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal
2/3 cup regular rolled oats (not instant)
1 1/3 cups plain or vanilla soymilk (or rice, oat, etc)
raisins (as much as you like)
dash nutmeg
pinch salt
cinnamon (to taste)
brown sugar (to taste, but I used lots)
sliced almonds (optional)

Bring oats and soy milk to a boil in a medium sauce pan. Stir in the rest of the ingredients except the almonds. Let boil for five minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat, let stand five more minutes. Top with almonds before serving.

I spent the rest of the morning doing a bit of baking, but before I get to that, I just wanted to give a big thanks to Happy Herbivore for so kindly fielding my questions about vegan and healthful baking, it was a big help!

First, I made a vegan apple coffee cake, per Brett's request. Well, he didn't really request it, he won't do that, but he said he thought apple coffee cake would be good, I thought it could be easily veganized, and that someone out there had probably already done it. With a few short minutes of web searching, I happened upon Julie Hasson's recipe for Crumble Coffee Cake. I made only slight modifications to the recipe. For the cake, I used whole wheat pastry flour instead of all purpose white flour. And I also added up a peeled, diced up apple. This is a delicious recipe, it's not too sweet, and it truly does go well with a nice, warm cup of coffee.

Notice I have small versions of that really cool plate too.

I have been getting tired of having granola bars for breakfast at work, so I decided to try my hand at muffin making. You know, I'm not sure why anyone would make muffins from a box or package, they are really easy to make from scratch! I made plain 'ol blueberry muffins, and topped a few with some sliced almonds. These turned out so good, I'm not sure they will last long enough to make more than a couple of breakfasts for work. These could also double as a dessert, snack, meal, etc. - hehe. I modified this recipe from Recipe Zaar.

Vegan Blueberry Muffins
1/4 cup Earth Balance (melted)
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup soymilk (plain or vanilla)
fresh or frozen blueberries (thawed if frozen)
sliced almonds (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl.

Combine wet ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Slowly stir the wet ingredients with the dry in the bigger bowl. Fold in the blueberries.

Fill paper muffin cups (or greased muffin pan) 2/3 of the way full with batter. Top with sliced almonds if desired. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until muffins are golden brown.

And for dinner, something completely different. I made a tofu-veggie stir-fry with peanut sauce and served it over rice noodles. I had heard or read somewhere that the reason home made stir-fries never tasted like what you get at the restaurants is because people don't use peanut oil at home. Well I think they were right, I used peanut oil for my stir-fry last night and it turned out much better than anything I've made in the past.

Tofu Peanut Stir-Fry over Rice Noodles

Peanut Sauce:
1/2 cup creamy natural peanut butter (no salt added if possible)
1/2 cup hot water
4-6 tbsp shoyu (or other soy sauce)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 tbsp lime juice (start with one and add more if desired)
4 tbsp brown rice vinegar
4 tbsp brown sugar
a bit of regular sugar if you like it sweeter
pinch of cayenne

Mix all ingredients in a sauce pan on the stove. The peanut butter will melt and ingredients will then blend easily. Keep over low heat, stirring occasionally, adding a bit more water here and there if it starts to get too thick.

Tofu Peanut Stir-Fry:
Peanut Sauce
1/2 block firm tofu cut into small pieces
bell pepper, chopped
onion, chopped
broccoli, cooked
cauliflower, cooked
crushed peanuts
bean sprouts (optional)
green onions (optional)
peanut oil
Hot, cooked rice noodles

Cook rice noodles according to package directions.

Sautee tofu in peanut oil until browned. Add to peanut sauce and simmer while preparing the veggies.

Sautee onion and bell pepper in peanut oil until they begin to caramelize. Add broccoli and cauliflower. Cook a few more minutes.
Layer veggies and tofu with peanut sauce over the rice noodles. Top with bean sprouts, green onions, and crushed peanuts.

That's all for now.

Friday, January 11, 2008

I Like Parenthesis (!)

Happy Friday!

So when I was approaching dinner last night, the goal was to use up the leftover veggies in my fridge that needed to be eaten up. So I ended up making a nice veggie pasta with marinara and roasted asparagus and sautéed kale. It was very good for something I just threw together to use up veggies. Not to mention, Brett provided a little mood music, playing the (acoustic) guitar for me while I cooked. I’m not sure if much beats live music while cooking!

I’m not going to provide a recipe for the pasta (I didn't have one), as one could use whatever they had on hand (which was the idea anyway), and I didn’t measure anything. However, I can at least tell you what I put in it. I sautéed some onion, bell pepper, Portobello mushrooms, garlic, artichoke hearts, and diced seitan in olive oil until the veggies started to caramelize, then I transferred the veggies and seitan to a sauce pan that had (store bought) vegan mushroom onion marinara (it was organic too, and pretty dang good for something that comes from a jar). I let that simmer while I made the sides.

For the asparagus, I preheated the oven to 400 degrees. I washed the asparagus and broke off the woody ends, then put them on a cookie sheet that had been sprayed with canola oil, along with some sliced up garlic and salt. I roasted them for about 20 minutes, checking them every once in a while and tossing to avoid any “burnage”. I left the garlic out when I served the asparagus though.

The sautéed kale was merely shredded kale, sautéed with garlic in olive oil, simmered in a little veggie broth to get it nice and tender. Next time I think I’ll try using less veggie broth and adding a splash of lemon juice or vinegar or something. It turned out a bit salty and it needed some tang.

Tonight, I plan on using up my leftover Tex-Mexy ingredients. I think I’m going to make up some nachos using the rest of the black bean puree, some brown rice I have, and the rest of the marinated seitan I have left over from the fajitas the other day. Stay tuned to see how that turns out. Maybe I’ll get lucky and have some more jam music when I cook tonight, ‘cause you know, Led Zeppelin sounds pretty cool on an acoustic guitar.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Give Seitan A Chance

I decided to give seitan another try last night. Brett and I had a bad experience with seitan earlier this year, which gave me a bad impression of this “wheat meat”. We had attempted to make BBQ Seitan sandwiches, and tried out a new BBQ sauce, which was perhaps the most disgusting stuff I’ve ever had. After that experience, I decided I didn’t like seitan. Well, while browsing all the many food blogs out there, I kept coming across seitan recipes, so I decided to give it a second chance. When prepared properly, it isn't too bad, just like tofu. Many people don’t like tofu because they have had poorly done tofu dishes - same applies to seitan and probably most anything else.

So I went for a seitan fajita and put a little broccoli and cauliflower in it, along with the more traditional fajita veggies. This might sound odd, but I had a veggie fajita done that way when I was in Illinois recently and it was good. I also marinated the seitan overnight to allow the flavors to really soak in, but it would probably be fine just to marinate it for an hour or so as well. And I didn't have any of those small tortillas, so I used regular sized flour tortillas. I served the fajitas with a basic guacamole and blue corn tortilla chips.

Seitan Fajita Wraps

Basic Fajita Marinade:
juice of 1/2 a lime
1-2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. white vinegar
1 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. shoyu
dash cumin
dash cayenne pepper
dash chili powder
pinch salt
pinch sugar

Mix all ingredients.

Pour over thinly sliced seitan and marinate overnight.

Simple Guacamole
1 ripe avocado
juice of half a lime
1 clove garlic, minced
cumin (to taste)
cayenne (to taste)
salt (to taste)

Seitan Fajitas:
marinated seitan strips
thin strips of bell pepper
thin strips of onion
thin strips of fresh jalapeno (optional)
broccoli florets
cauliflower florets
olive oil
flour tortillas
tofu sour cream

Heat olive oil in skillet. Add bell pepper, onion and jalapeno and sautee for a few minutes. Add broccoli, and cauliflower. Cook for a few more minutes until heated through and veggies are done to your liking.

In a seperate pan, heat oil and fry seitan strips for a few minutes.

Heat up tortillas and layer with veggies, seitan, tofu sour cream, guacamole and salsa.

Roll up like a burrito, and if desired, brown on all sides in a skillet.

That about does it!