Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Apple Hazelnut Torte

For some reason my computer has decided not to work with me tonight, and will not upload the pictures of the beautiful Apple Hazelnut Torte that I made for my mom's Birthday! I will keep working on it, but it in the meantime I will happily share the recipe (which has a photo of it's own).

I saw this recipe in last month's Bon Appetit, and it is an Apple Torte however the crust is made with breadcrumbs and hazelnuts. I thought this was very interesting and decided to give it a whirl. I happened to have a bunch of homemade cinnamon bread in the freezer, so I used that bread to make the breadcrumbs which really added to the flavor of the crust, so I highly recommend doing that!

This was a very easy recipe to veganize because there were no eggs in it. When the recipe called for butter, I used Earth Balance, and when it calls for milk, I used almond milk. Simple as pie.

This dessert went over very well with the crowd, and I do recommend it. Can't wait to share the pics with you, but in the meantime, check out the recipe here...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Cranberry Orange Walnut Muffins

As I often do on Sunday mornings, this past Sunday I felt like spending some time in the kitchen baking up something simple and nice to nosh on during our traditional Sunday morning TV, paper, coffee and tea-a-thon. I happened to have an orange and dried cranberries on hand, so voila, cranberry orange muffins it was!
This is a simple recipe, so there isn't much to say... I adapted it slightly from Isa's recipe in Vegan Brunch. I made the muffin whole grain, a blend of flours as I often do to create complexity in flavor and texture. I also added a touch of cornmeal for texture. You can use fresh or dried cranberries, I used dried. They are especially yummy when glazed, which I did not show in my pic (sorry). BTW- I learned not to shoot foods the same color as my bamboo cutting board, on my bamboo cutting board. Lesson learned!

  • 1 ⅓ cup white whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour
  •  cup oat flour
  • ¼ cup cornmeal
  • teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons almond milk or other non dairy milk
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest from one orange
  • teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon almond extract
  • ¾ cup dried cranberries, roughly chopped, (you can also use fresh cranberries)
  • ½ cup walnuts, roughly chopped
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar
  • dash almond milk, add 1 teaspoon at a time
Preheat oven to 350 (convection) or 375.

In a large bowl combine flours and cornmeal with sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Mix well and set aside.

In separate bowl combine orange juice, oil, milk, zest and extracts. Mix well.
Add in to dry ingredients along with cranberries and walnuts and mix until just moistened...
careful not to over mix.

Line your muffin tins with paper liners and fill each tin 3/4 of the way full with batter.
Bake for 23-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center come out clean. Let cool.

While the muffins are cooling mix the powdered sugar with non-dairy milk, one teaspoon at a time,
until you reach an icing consistency. Drizzle over the muffins and serve.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

It's Enchilada Night and I'm talking about Mexican Food!

Yay for Mexican Food! A lot of people think that if you are vegan then you don't "get to eat regular food". I think the word "vegan" can scare people unnecessarily. Avoiding animal products is not hard, especially considering that most flavorings are plant-based: herbs, spices, oils, salt, pepper, tomato sauces, salsas, guacamole, marinades, barbeque sauce, soy sauce, vinegar, jams, chutneys, etc. I find that ethnic foods are especially easy to make without animal products and eating out as a vegan is almost always easy at ethnic foods restaurants.

Eating out:
When I go out to a Mexican restaurant I almost always get vegetable fajitas and enjoy building my own little tacos filled with the veggies, guacamole, salsa, beans and rice (always ask to make sure they are vegetarian- sometimes they sneak chicken broth or lard in there). Luckily, guacamole and chips and margaritas are usually animal free and I can make a meal out of that right there!
I have always loved refried beans, but those can be more difficult to find at a restaurant due to the fact that they are classically made with lard. Most of the time, a Mexican Restaurant will offer both black beans or pinto/refried beans and in my experience the black beans are almost always vegetarian and often the pinto or refried beans are not, but sometimes you get lucky and they are (Tres Agaves, I love you). The mexican rice is often also vegetarian, but again you have to ask because they could use chicken broth to cook the rice in, in which case it's not going on my plate...
I am happy to see that almost all restaurants now days are vegetarian/vegan friendly and no longer act surprised when consumers ask questions about the origins/ingredients of their dishes- whether it be about trans fats, sugars, animal products, etc.  Vegetarian or not, as a society, I think we are learning that we have to take control of what goes in our bodies, but we shouldn't have to sacrifice eating out to do so.

So back to these Enchiladas I made tonight...I have always loved Mexican Food, believe it or not I am a quarter Mexican- I don't look it at all, but I definitely have a love for all things Mexican- which makes my Grandma very happy! We ate a lot of Mexican Food growing up, and back in the day it was not vegan. My mom is great at making mexican food, but now as an adult I have had a lot of fun veganizing my favorite mexican dishes. Tonight I made my version of enchiladas. Inside those enchiladas were a combination of homemade refried beans (so yummy), diced and marinated seitan (a vegetarian protein made from wheat protein and has a meat like texture), which was sauteed with diced red peppers and corn. I also put a dollop of cashew creme in there to add a nice texture. I used regular corn tortillas, and made a homemade enchilada sauce from tomato paste, water, diced tomatoes, chili powder, garlic powder, cumin powder, salt and pepper. A top the casserole was the amazing and delicious Daiya Cheese which I have talked about before on this blog. I am so happy because it is SOY FREE! Not that Soy is bad but just like anything else, I think soy should be eaten in moderation - a topic for another day. Anyways, if you haven't tried Daiya yet, you must. A lot of pizzerias are starting to use it now as a vegan option which is awesome... Daiya is available at Whole Foods and probably most Natural Foods markets.

Lastly- those refried beans. I will post the recipe on another day this week, but in short, I use a bit of cashew cream as I mash my beans to give them that creaminess that  the best refried beans will boast. The flavor and texture is spot on, and lard-free. More to come later this week.

So, my final point today is that it is easy and delicious to make minor changes that can take a classically non-vegan dish, make it healthier and vegan and supremely delicious!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

South American Stew

This recipe is a recipe I adapted from Bauman College's Natural Chef program, where I received my certification in 2009.  It is one of my absolute favorite stews, packed with colors, vitamins, flavors and textures and lots of protein between the quinoa and the kidney beans, and is perfect for fall. I like to top mine off with a bit of fresh avocado and cilantro.  I always feel so healthy after eating this stew but it is so hearty and comforting you would think it was bad for you!

South American Stew
2 cups carrot juice
1 T. grapeseed oil
1 cup onions- diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cans of diced tomatoes
1 cup tomato juice
2 cups vegetable stock- plus more if needed to thin at the end
1 1/2 T. chili powder
3 cups sweet potatoes, 1 inch dice
1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 1/2 cups green beans, cut to 1 inch
2 cups cooked kidney beans (1 15 oz. can - rinse if using canned)
2 cups corn- fresh or frozen
2 cups vegetable stock- or more if needed to thin
lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large pot,  add onions about 5 minutes. Add garlic for 1 minute more.
Add carrot juice, tomatoes and tomato juice, chili powder, sweet potatoes, and quinoa and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook covered for 10-15 minutes.

Just as the sweet potatoes get tender add the green beans and simmer for another 10 minutes. Add the beans and corn and continue to cook until just heated through. Add more vegetable stock if stew is too thick. Season to taste with sea salt, fresh pepper and lemon juice.

Serves 8

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

What I love about Vegan MoFo...

So, I have to keep today's post a bit short, it has been a super long day! But I had to update a few things that I have been cookin the past couple of days. Well, ironically the one picture I have to post is of uncooked food. It was still delicious though!

I love Vegan MoFo because it is so much fun to explore the blogs of other vegan foodies such as myself, and I am constantly amazed at some of the brilliant combinations that people come up with. This site makes it super easy to surf blogs the world throughout. I recently made the super fudgy brownies from Not a Rabbit which were amazing! A bit more like fudge than a brownie, but a great hybrid a super recipe! (Pictures to come if I don't eat them all first). Also threw together some whole wheat cous cous with steamed broccoli, tri-color cauliflower and butternut squash, and dried cranberries, a very simple and satisfying lunch.

The pic I posted is of a super tasty fall salad that I made. I sliced fennel very thin and tossed it with some green apples, radishes, hazelnuts, and parsley. I made a tangy vinaigrette from white balsamic vinegar, agave nectar, olive oil and salt. Lots of flavors going on here, and the peppery radishes balance the sweet and tangy apples and dressing.  Very seasonal and pretty to look at, especially the way those radishes contrast with the green apples!

So, I have a few things on my radar for the next couple days: a tomato, kale cannelini bean soup, cranberry orange muffins, and gingerbread cookies... lots of good food blogging to come...

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Winter Pasta - Brown Rice Penne with Butternut Squash and Swiss Chard

I may have mentioned this before, but if I haven't, I really love winter squash... really, really, really love winter squash. Kabocha Squash is my ultimate favorite, but I also love, delicata, butternut and acorn. The health benefits of winter squash are numerous, namely they are packed with phytochemicals- those important anti-oxidants that help us fight off diseases like Cancer, and a plethora of vitamins and minerals, namely Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Potassium, Folate, and the B Vitamins.

So, this week I was feeling like comfort food and decided to make this creamy pasta dish studded with chunks of fresh roasted butternut squash, along with swiss chard that had been sauteed up with a touch of oil, garlic, and Field Roast seitan sausage. This was a hearty plate, filling and satisfying. I had pre-roasted my butternut squash cubes very simply in a light coating of olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast at 375 for about 20 minutes or until fork tender. (This can be done in advance, and then re-heated)

I used brown rice penne pasta. I am not gluten sensitive, but I try to reduce the amount of gluten that I eat when I can. Since the Field Roast sausage that I was using is made from vital wheat gluten, I thought I should go with a gluten-free pasta to balance it out. If you haven't tried brown rice pasta yet, I highly recommend it. You can't tell any difference, and it is more nutritious than regular pasta. The only thing that I have found is that brown rice pasta is not good for cold pasta dishes, it becomes very tough! But for hot pasta, go for it. Even Trader Joe's is now offering Brown Rice Pasta in a variety of shapes.

For the quick and creamy sauce, first I made a roux. Yes a roux can easily be made vegan! A roux is a combination of butter and flour traditionally used as a thickener to start off a sauce. I used earth balance and whole wheat pastry flour to start mine. You use equal parts of both ( I used 2 tablespoons of each). You put the roux in a sauce pan over medium low, and stir it frequently until it starts to brown a bit. At that point you build your sauce. I added vegetable broth and unsweetened almond milk, nutritional yeast, a touch of fresh nutmeg, and salt. I like to eyeball these ingredients, start out slow because you can always add liquid, but you can't take it out! You need to whisk constantly as you add these ingredients, and the roux will thicken it as it heats up. Once you reach the desired consistency and taste, you remove from the heat. You want to leave it a little bit thin so it can spread over the pasta well- if it's too thick it is not very palatable on the pasta. The resulting sauce is golden brown and deliciously flavorful.

To bring the pasta together, I added the cooked pasta to my skillet of swiss chard and veggie sausage, threw in the squash cubes, and finally tossed it gently with the creamy sauce. I like to top mine off with a touch of red pepper flakes for a bit of heat, but that is up to you!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

It's Vegan MOFO... My first post of the Month: Soba Noodles with Green Beans

That's right, it's Vegan MoFo! That is Vegan Month of Food! I was looking at the headlining page of Vegan MoFo headquarters and saw that I got a shout out for my recent posts... the headlining page is everchanging, but still cool to see my stuff on the main page. Every year, vegan bloggers all over the world commit to blogging about their delicious plant based cuisine for at least 20 days out of the month of November.  I am three days behind on my post, but I have been taking pics, so I am sure I will catch up with it...

I really think Vegan MoFo is great because it brings awareness to the benefits of a whole foods, plant based diet that is better for our bodies, the earth, and also for the animals. It is inspiring to see the incredible things that people come up with, and experience people with similar values from across the world. 

My first blog is these awesome Soba Noodles with Green Beans, Bell Peppers, Bok Choy, and Peanuts. Super simple dinner last night, and I was craving noodles for some weird reason. I really like Soba noodles and I look for the ones with the highest percentage of buckwheat flour. Buckwheat is very healthy, it  has more protein than regular wheat (which it is much different from) and a unique nutrient profile. Soba noodles are generally a blend of wheat flour and buckwheat flour, and the darker they are, the more buckwheat they have in them. I did a quick stir fry on the veggies while the noodles cooked, and to bring it all together I made a quick sauce reminiscent of something you would get at a chinese restaurant. 

In a saucepan, I combined ( no real measurements here, just eye-balled it) soy sauce approx 1 tablespoon, a splash of rice wine vinegar, a splash of hot sauce, about 1/3 cup of vegetable broth and about a teaspoon of sesame oil, and about 2 teaspoons of tomato paste. I whisked all that together, and added about a teaspoon of corn starch to thicken it. I whisked this over low heat until the mixture thickened, about 2 minutes... a super simple asian sauce for my noodles! 

Lastly the sauce goes in the skillet with the stir-fried veggies, add in the drained noodles and the sauce, and there's dinner. I topped it off with some fresh scallions and peanuts. 
Super yum!
Hope you enjoy Vegan MoFo...

Monday, October 25, 2010

I've been baking! The Sundae Cupcake, Hazelnut Biscuits, and Whole Wheat Bread

As much as I love my vegetables, I have to admit (and you can probably tell this from reading this blog) I really love to bake. One of my goals in the somewhat near future is to open a small, handcrafted vegan bakery here in my new hometown of Roseville, California. There really isn't anything like that in Roseville and I think this market would definitely embrace a healthy, but still tasty alternative! The bakery will probably have to wait a bit, but for now I am having fun practicing and developing recipes that I hope to use in this someday bakery. 

I have been very busy lately, especially as I am still working in San Francisco a few days a week, which is a lovely 2-3 hour drive (each way) depending on traffic. As you can imagine this takes away from my beloved time in the kitchen, but I have still kept up my cooking and baking as much as I can ... homemade food just tastes so much better than store bought food. It has been a good challenge for me to cook foods that I can take on the road with me, some days for all three meals. 

Anyways, in an effort to be efficient, here I thought I would combine some of my favorite developments of the past month or so:

1.) The Sundae Cupcake. OMG this came out so good. We had some of our SF friends coming to visit a couple of weeks ago, one of whom was celebrating a birthday. I wanted to make some cupcakes and couldn't decide between a fruity cupcake or a chocolatey cupcake. I had the thought to  make an ice cream sundae sort of cupcake! So of course, all vegan, this cupcake was: a Vanilla cake with Strawberry filling, topped with Chocolate Buttercream, chopped peanuts, and a cherry on top! Oh  sweet heaven, were these good! This is definitely going on the list of must haves for this future bakery. If you haven't made a vegan cupcake yet, I highly recommend it. You will see that there is absolutely no reason to make non vegan cupcakes, when dairy and egg free versions are just so good! If you want a good place to get down the basics, pick up this book

2.) Hazelnut Biscuits. These I thought of as a nutty, crunchy treat for coffee/tea time, or as a not too sweet afternoon snack. I love the rich flavor of hazelnuts, and these biscuits are full of it! The biscuit is a simple combination of hazelnuts and oats, processed in a food processor, to which I added brown rice syrup, salt, a little hazelnut oil and a touch of maple syrup. The consistency is a little loose, but easy to form into shapes. ( I am considering forming them into either a biscotti shape or a madeleine shape next time) After forming them into a ball with a little well in the center, I added a dollop of dark chocolate which is the final richness and complexity that the biscuit needs!

3.) Whole Wheat Bread.
I love to make quick breads, but I don't usually make traditional yeast risen breads. My dad has made homemade bread with a bread maker my whole life, which I have always loved. He is hardcore, he grinds his own wheat, and then makes a whole wheat cinnamon raisin bread that is to die for! Anyways, I just go ahead and buy good quality whole wheat flour. Save myself a little hard labor. I miss homemade bread and decided that I should start honing some bread making skills. I started here with a simple whole wheat bread. I adapted it from a recipe that a friend uses for white bread and loves. It is a simple recipe, and I successfully subbed a mixture of whole wheat flour and white whole wheat flour (it is a lighter color of wheat, but still whole wheat... not white flour). The other ingredients are just water, yeast, sugar, and a touch of oil. No surprises there, but the ratios are perfect. I like this recipe for it's moisture and tenderness, and by using half white whole wheat flour, the color was this really gorgeous blonde color instead of that super dark whole wheat bread. I ate bread with earth balance and cinnamon or jam for at least three days straight after I made this, it was just so yummy.
I think next time, I need to spend a little bit more time in the kneading phase though. I think if I had kneaded it a little longer it would have been even more aerated than it was. I have this great oven with our new house that has a proofing mode, and man is it great! But not a bad start with breads... I am going to keep practicing, and maybe this Christmas everyone will get a loaf of bread a la Rebecca. 

Monday, August 23, 2010

I Don't Want Summer to End! Heirloom Tomato and Peach Salad

Summer is my favorite season (Fall comes in at a close second), and although the weather is still quite hot here in Roseville, I am already starting to get a little sad knowing that the end of Summer is coming... good thing Fall is my second favorite, since that comes next!

I love a lot of things about summer, the heat, getting to wear flip flops everywhere but work, being tan, the general relaxed mentality, vacations, etc. BUT one of my most favorite things about summer is Tomatoes! Anyone who knows me well, knows that I have an all out love for tomatoes. My Mom says that when she was pregnant with me she craved tomatoes something terrible, and since they were out of season, she ate whole tomatoes from a can! Now, I am not quite that hardcore, but this time of year, I usually have tomatoes at least two meals a day.

Summer brings along several over foods that I love as well: cucumbers, peaches, nectarines, peppers, etc. My parents have always had a garden, and the summer harvests were some of the most delicious foods I can ever remember eating growing up. I also notice that in the summer, I much prefer eating raw foods as opposed to cooked foods. I don't eliminate cooked foods altogether, but I certainly crave cold, raw foods much more. And all these summer foods taste so good raw! Eating raw foods (vegan of course, we are not talking meat here) is super healthy and nourishing to our bodies, because all of the nutrients and wonderful phyto-chemicals are still in tact. And, you can certainly feel that difference as well.

I was standing in line for an avocado sandwich at a local deli the other day, and I picked up this local foodie magazine that is available in several cities. It is called edible (enter name of current city), in this case Edible Sacramento. One of the featured recipes was this salad, and I couldn't wait to go home and try it! I had never thought of creating a salad of peaches and heirloom tomatoes before, but what a great idea. That night I confirmed what I had suspected would be true... this is one delicious salad!

I know this is no culinary feat to create this dish, but that is also what is so great about it. It is simple food, simply prepared, to an amazing result. Here is what it is, this will serve about 2 people, so you can increase the quantities if you are feeding more:

1 ripe peach sliced, and each slice halved
2 ripe heirloom tomatoes chopped
1/4 small red onion, very thinly sliced
2 tablespoons fresh mint, chiffonade
a splash of balsalmic vinegar (I used white balsalmic so that it wouldn't change the color)
a drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
a pinch of coarse sea salt
a grind of fresh black pepper
I tossed in a small amount of Arugula, which is optional

Toss everything in a bowl and serve. It is heaven. Literally, a summer's day on a fork. It makes a great side dish when entertaining as well.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

I'm back! And bringing some Strawberry Pie...

I can not believe it has been four months since my last blog post! Well... maybe I can. It has been a very busy year for me as we purchased a new house, and in a new area, so I have been dealing with lots of changes and getting the new house all set up. 

So, as you can imagine, my food blogging took a back seat to everything else that has been going on, moving, working (commuting), decorating, landscaping (still LOTS of that to do), and still so far to go, but it has been a very fun and exciting journey so far. I especially can't wait to plant my garden, but considering it is 90-100 degrees around here, I will probably be waiting to plant a winter garden so that I don't lose precious plants to the heat! Here's the new house! We are really happy here...
Although I am sad not to live in San Francisco anymore, I know it is less than two hours away and I will surely be visiting there a lot. I am excited to get cooking again in our
new area because I am planning on starting my cooking business
back up, and I really want to focus on helping people who have diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and other life threatening diseases 
learn how to cook for themselves in a healthy way that they can
heal their bodies and thrive! I feel that this area is a great place to do that because there just isn't as many resources here for someone looking to eat natural, organic, vegetarian food, so I look forward to meeting new people and making a difference here.

So, onward to this beautiful Strawberry Pie. Easily one of the prettiest desserts I have ever made. I made this with the help of my Mom and my Mother in Law (my second Mom). We are on a new pie making kick this summer, and had a great time making this beautiful pie. I adapted it from a recipe that I found online, which was practically already vegan, so it was very easy. 

1.) Make a vegan pie crust. I could post the recipe I use, but most pie doughs are flour, butter, and water with a pinch of salt. All you have to do is replace the butter with Earth Balance. Done.
2.) Bake that crust for a good 10-12 minutes until it is golden brown. 350 should do.
3.) Get a good 5 cups of fresh strawberries. Take 2.5  cups of the strawberries, remove the stems, halve them, and put them in your shell.
4.) Take the other half and mash them in a saucepan over medium heat. Add in 3/4 cup sugar (vegan of course) and bring to a slight boil. 
5.) In a separate bowl mix  3 tablespoons of cornstarch and 3/4 cup water thoroughly. Add this mixture to your strawberry mixture in the saucepan, and continue to simmer for 5-10 minutes, stirring consistently. 
6.) Pour this mixture over your fresh strawberries in the pie shell. Let cool for at least 10 minutes and then transfer to the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. 
7.) Serve with delicious vegan ice cream!!
(recipe adapted from All Recipes.com)

I hope you enjoy this delicious Strawberry Pie! I will be back with another blog soon. Adios!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Sunday Vegan Brunch with houseguests

This past weekend, I had the joy of having both my Mom and my Mother-in-law (they are best friends!) and their good friend in town. We had a girls night out to see the musical Wicked, which was great! Then we spent a relaxing Sunday, for which I made brunch and we took our doggie Cooper to play at Fort Funston. Brunch turned out to be just perfect for a sunny Spring morning. I have the wonderful cookbook by Isa Chandra Moskowitz aptly titled Vegan Brunch, and so far everything I have made from it is spot on delicious! Isa is one of my favorite cookbook authors not just because of her wit, and lively commentary throughout her books but also because her food is always what you expect it to be!

So, from Vegan Brunch, I made the Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins that were just perfect, and I adapted another recipe to make some pastry bites with a filling of sauteed mushrooms, shallots, garlic, and mashed cannellini beans, along with lots of spices such as fennel seed, cumin, red pepper flakes, soy sauce, etc. The topping for the pastries was a Caramelized Onion Cashew Creme that I had already made from the day before.  (Cashew creme is easy to make and extremely versatile. I will soon write a post about everything that you can do with Cashews!) I also made my own recipe of classic hash browns seasoned with Old Bay Seasoning, served with a sauce of ketchup, vegan mayo, chipotle powder, and a teaspoon of relish. It was a nice tangy and spicy addition to the potatoes. Lastly I served a simple fruit salad dressed with Vanilla Coconut Yogurt to which I added some cinnamon and chopped fresh mint. (BTW- If you haven't had Coconut Yogurt it is out of this world delicious! It is a wonderful and healthy alternative to dairy yogurts.

I am definitely a breakfast person, no doubt it is my favorite meal of the day. Food just tastes really good in the morning, I think. This breakfast was filling and pleasing to the palate, cholesterol free, and best of all relatively simple to make! Nobody wants to get up and slave for 2 hours to make a nice breakfast.  I highly recommend Vegan Brunch, I promise you will love it!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Vegetarian Chili and Cornbread for a rainy day

I have been meaning to do this post for awhile now... I have again not been able to blog as much as I would like lately, so I have all of these food pics and topics building up!
When I was a kid there were a few dinners that were my mom's staples. My favorites were tacos, lasagna, and chili with cornbread. There were others that were also her staples that were not my favorites, but we won't go into that...

So, I have created my own version of her chili that is now without the ground beef, and chock full of hearty and healthy vegetables. There is really nothing more comforting and cozy on a rainy day (and the day that I made this was just that.) The foundation of the chili is one diced red onion, one diced red bell pepper, one diced jalapeno pepper, and 3 cloves of garlic sauteed together until soft. I then add diced tomatoes (organic canned are the only way to go this time of year), 1 1/2 cups pinto beans, and 1 cup kidney beans. The beans should be fully cooked. Canned beans are ok, I just always recommend buying organic and rinsing them to reduce the salt on them before you use them. Now it's time to turn this into a chili. The spices I add in are: 2 tablespoons of chili powder. If you can find chipotle chili powder use half this and half regular chili powder. This will add a great smoky flavor to the chili. Then 2 teaspoons of ground cumin, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt, and 1/4 cup of tomato paste for thickening. Add in about a cup and a half of water and stir to combine. Bring to a light boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Let the chili simmer on low for at least a half an hour, but an hour or two is better if you can to bring the flavors together.

While the stew is cooking, prepare your toppings. I can't go without diced avocado and scallions. This time I also added a generous sprinkling of Daiya cheddar cheese and  my own homemade cashew sour cream.

Lastly, but certainly not least, is the cornbread. My favorite recipe is this one. Jazz it up by adding some Daiya cheddar, fresh corn kernels, etc...

The best part is the leftovers for the next couple of days!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Cashew Creamed Spinach with Gnocchi, Gardein, and SunDried Tomato Pesto

I decided to try something I had never tried, ever before. I have never had Creamed Spinach. As a matter of fact I had never had any "Creamed" food ( ie creamed corn, etc) until the other day I had Creamed Mustard Greens, and they were to die for. So, being that was at a vegan restaurant, I knew that I needed to make this deliciously wonderful dish at home, so that I could have it anytime! So, that is what I did, and man was it great.
I used my homemade Cashew Creme (a blended version of  cashews, lemon juice, water and salt) which is a wonderful dairy substitute, especially when you use the awesome vita-mix blender! I sauteed leeks and garlic, then added organic bloomsdale spinach that I got at the farmer's market. I sauteed the greens down and then added about a 1/2 a cup of my cashew creme. I seasoned this with nutmeg, salt and pepper and served it with vegan basil garlic gnocchi.
I also really wanted to make some sun dried tomato pesto. This included the tomatoes, of course, garlic, lemon juice, capers, basil, and pepper, all whizzed up in a food processor, but you should leave it a little chunky for texture. If it's too smooth then it's a paste more than a pesto. This has so much flavor, you really don't need any salt.
I smothered that on a Gardein "Chicken" Scallopini which I browned up in a skillet. If you haven't tried Gardein products, I highly recommend them! Even though I don't often use meat "analogs" because I really don't miss meat at all, Gardein makes a really nice tasting and textured product that is made mostly from real vegetables! Not overly processed and refined.
Monday night dinner? Check.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Shepherd's Pie with Yams and Tempeh

Happy New Year! I hope that you had a wonderful holiday season! I have just returned from two back to back trips, one back home to visit my family and another back to Chicago to celebrate New Year's with some great friends. Before I go on, I just want to say that I ate at the Chicago Diner while I was there which is an amazing all veggie restaurant that has been around since 1983. The food was awesome. They are famous for their Reuben sandwich, but by looking around I could tell that all the food was great. I had a burger with a kale salad that was great, and my hubby had a "fib-rib" sandwich that he loved. And we shared a strawberry shake... mmm... Anyways, I highly recommend it if you are ever in the windy city!! I experienced the coldest weather I have ever known while I was there, at times it was as low as 3 degrees!  Still a fabulous visit though.

So, on to some comfort food. This is a take on a traditional shepherd's pie. This is something we did when I was in school for my Natural Chef certification. It is a pie made with a mixture of mushrooms, crumbled tempeh, onions, garlic, red onions, tomato paste, red wine, carrots and peas. You saute this mixture and then layer it into a pie dish. Simultaneously, roast yams, and then mash them (I use a hand mixer to ensure they get creamy) and spread them on top of your saute mixture. Then bake your pie until the top is golden brown and it is cooked through. Serve it with some fresh vegan biscuits and a salad and there's your dinner! It is comforting and healthy (full of beta-carotene if you can't tell from the color of the pic!) Proof that you can feel comforted, healthy, and satisfied without animal products.

I hope that 2010 can be a year where we can all be healthy and thrive. It has definitely been a lesson to the world this last year that excess is not good, whether it be money, food, or just consumption in general. I hope to see more people eating less meat and feeling the satisfaction of taking care of themselves and all of the earth's inhabitants.