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!