Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Vegetarian Wellington

Today I made my first foray into the world of puff pastry. I used the recipe from Vegan Lunchbox for mini wellingtons and made a few adaptations because I have a very difficult time leaving a recipe alone. (I made the change of using navy beans rather than chickpeas, and I added cream cheese, a tablespoon of marmite, 1/4 cup cracker crumbs, and 1/4 cup dry vegetarian chicken broth powder. ) This Vegetarian Wellington is a savory blend of navy beans, oats, brown rice, walnut meal, spices, caramelized onion, mixed sauteed mushrooms, and cream cheese along with everything else I listed above. Yes, I used real cream cheese but vegan would work beautifully here as well. I also doubled the recipe. So, though it's hard to see, the Wellington I made is a little larger than a football. I've never used puff pastry, and you can see there are a couple cracks in it. I rolled it out but didn't realize I should have lightly wet the seams to keep them from separating. I thought that since I had rolled it well the seams would be pressed close enough to each other to stay together-clearly wrong. I have to tell you. It smells delicious! This is one of the main dishes for our family Christmas dinner. My mom is making vegetarian sweet and sour meat balls. We will also be having: green salad, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans and corn, my mom's famous dill rolls (with cottage cheese, onion, and dill-YUM!), pumpkin pie, and a plate of mixed Christmas goodies.

Split Pea Soup and Cornbread

Nothing fancy about our dinner last night. We had split pea soup, cornbread, and sauteed summer squash that had been frozen from our garden this summer. I wasn't sure how the girls would react to the soup. And, to be honest, their first reaction was "yuck," this doesn't look good. But, they tasted it and liked it very much. The cornbread and squash were also a hit.

Split pea soup:

Rinse and sort peas according to package directions

Boil in vegetable broth until soft, along with 1/2 a diced onion

season with garlic powder, onion powder, Italian seasoning, salt

Stir in condensed milk or soy milk (I used soy milk prepared from powder and made it "stronger" than the directions called for)

Blend in blender, reserving 2 cups of soup unblended to mix back in

Mix a tablespoon of vegan or regular sour cream into each bowl just before serving

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Banana Bread

1 1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup vegan margarine or canola oil

2 flax eggs (1 tbsp flax, 1 tbsp water, mix well for each egg)

5 large very ripe bananas

2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1 1/2 cups unbleached white flour

2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup chopped walnuts

1 tsp vanilla

Mix wet ingredients well. Gradually add in dry ingredients. Bake at 350 for one hour in two medium loaf pans.

This recipe gets the kid seal of approval. My girls each ate two pieces and wanted more, so then had another two pieces for their snack. My husband also highly approved of it when he had a piece after coming home from work.

It is SO cold here right now! At one point mid-morning, it was 7 degrees. However, we finally do have some snow. I've been trying to get the girls outside to play for a few minutes each day, but 10-15 minutes is about all the longer they can be outside. It's simply too cold.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas goodies for the neighbors

I have been working for the last couple weeks on treats to give to three of our neighbors for Christmas. First, I made and froze sugar cookies. Then, my husband and I worked on chocolate-dipped toffee sprinkled pretzels. Next came the chocolate peanut butter cookies. Last were the coconut snowball cookies I made last night. I froze each thing as I went and then pulled them out today to assemble on each neighbor's plate. We will go as a family tonight to give them out. That is, if I'm brave enough to venture out. The high today is supposed to be nine. That's NINE degrees! Yikes, it's cold, and not even any snow to show for it!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Veggie chicken tiki masala, couscous and bahba gahnoush

No recipes tonight because, to be quite honest, I just whipped these up without recipes. So, just some pictures and descriptors of our dinner tonight. And, yes, I realize that I am mixing foods from a variety of different ethnic backgrounds for this meal. First: Tiki masala with veggie chicken, green beans, onion, tomato, and carrot. Second: whole grain couscous. Last: bhaba ghanoush. My two year-old liked the bhaba ghanoush and picked the veggie chicken out of the tiki masala. Otherwise, not a very kid-friendly meal. I gave them something else in substitution after they had tried this food and decided it was a bit too "spicy." Actually, my four year-old's word for spicy is sour. We adults really enjoyed this meal. My parents came over and were very complimentary. One last thing. I have no idea how to properly spell babha ghanoush. If you know how, feel free to share!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Homemade refried beans

It all starts with the crock pot. I usually make a pot of some sort of beans each week, and also use the rice cooker to cook up a big pot of brown rice. This week, I chose red beans. My other favorites are black, pinto, and navy. We also eat a lot of lentils, but there's no need to use the crock pot for those. There's no science to cooking beans in the crock pot. I don't use a recipe when I made them. Here's how it's done.

1 16 ounce package of red beans, rinsed and sorted
Fill large crock pot 3/4 full of water
Add salt, cumin, garlic powder, and red pepper to taste
1/2 onion, finely chopped
4 tbsp cilantro, minced
1 can of petite diced tomatoes-with or without green chiles, your choice
It takes my crock pot 4-5 hours to cook the beans to the right texture

Saute the other half onion in olive oil until soft
Place 4 cups of beans in your frying pan (I use a cast iron skillet)
Mash with potato masher
Add enough water or bean juice to make creamy
Add more cumin, red pepper, onion powder, salt to taste
Meanwhile, saute two cloves of fresh garlic (peeled and crushed) in a different pan until you smell that delicious garlic smell. Then, mix in with the beans

Yes, it's easier to just buy refried vegetarian beans in a can. However, believe me when I tell you that these homemade refried beans are better. Quite a bit better, in fact! Great for huevos rancheros, tacos, burritos, or on their own. The picture of the refried beans, on the other hand, not so attractive. (Also, wanted to point out that what you see in the lower right corner of the picture is a wooden spoon protruding from the refried beans. )That's two posts in a row of things best left without being photographed. I'll have to chose a more attractive dish to blog about next time!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Biscuits and gravy

This morning my husband and I collaborated to make one of our favorite breakfasts. Ever since I learned the trick of using cashews as the base for gravy and mock Alfredo sauce, it has been my favorite method. I was dubious at first. However, when seasoned, the gravy does not taste at all of cashews. In fact, I swore it was dairy-based the first time I tasted it. It's also a very flexible and forgiving recipe. It's hard to screw it up, in other words! Today, we used slices of vegetarian sausage links in it. You can also use sauteed mushrooms and onions, seitan, or anything else that you like in your gravy. Here's the recipe, adapt to your tastes:

1 part raw cashews to two parts liquid of your choice: options include vegetable broth, mock chicken broth, water, rice milk, soy milk

seasoning: onion powder, salt, savory, garlic powder, oregano

add-ins of your choice: vegetarian sausage, veggie bacon, onion, mushroom

Blend cashews with liquid for at least two minutes on high speed. This will guarantee it is smooth and free of cashew bits.

No thickeners required, the cashew thickens as it warms. Just saute your veggies or veggie meat in the pan and then pour the cashew sauce over it. If it's too thick, at more liquid.

The picture isn't beautiful, but there's nothing too elegant about biscuits and gravy. Tasty, though! We served the gravy over 100% whole wheat homemade biscuits

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Whole wheat honey walnut bread

I received my first issue of Vegetarian Times magazine today. One of our neighbor's children came to our door selling subscriptions and this is what I chose. There were some fabulous-looking bread recipes, and this is the one I chose to make. The girls enjoyed helping me to make it. They thought that kneading the dough was the greatest thing ever. It turned out well, and made two loaves. One has gone into the freezer to be given later for Christmas.

Baby bella, garlic,and cilantro enchiladas

I had a large container of enchilada sauce sitting in the fridge from when I made huevos rancheros the other day. So, I decided to use it up and make enchiladas today. The baby bellas were on sale for a ridiculously low price ($1.49 a carton) so I decided they would make a wonderful filling. Also, I had some fresh cilantro in the fridge. As for the garlic, that's always at hand. Here's the quick and easy recipe:

12-14 soft corn tortilla shells, small
8 ounces baby bella mushrooms, thickly sliced
2 cloves fresh garlic, crushed and minced
4 tbsp fresh cilantro
8 ounces Monterrey jack cheese: dairy or vegan variety
3-4 cups enchilada sauce: green or red
olive oil or pan spray

lightly fry each corn tortilla, set aside. Meanwhile, saute the mushrooms in a little olive oil or water. Add the garlic for the last few moments, just long enough to soften a little and become aromatic.

Pour half a cup of enchilada sauce in the bottom of the casserole dish. Then, fill each enchilada shell with the mushroom and garlic mixture, cheese, and cilantro. Roll, and place in dish seam-side down. Push each enchilada tight against the others. How many you make depends on how full you fill each one. Then, pour the remaining enchilada sauce on top. Sprinkle a little cheese and cilantro atop the sauce. Bake in 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes or until bubbling. May garnish with soy or dairy sour cream.

Some other great enchilada fillings: red or yellow onion, beans, rice, zucchini, spinach, dairy or vegan cream cheese

Monday, December 1, 2008

Ethiopian Stew with Injera bread

Ahh, more from Vegan Lunchbox. I made the Mixed Vegetable Wat with Injera bread for dinner. I also baked some tofu-flavored with the same spices as the stew but also with a splash of soy sauce. I've made it several times but added a bit too much red pepper for the girls tonight so they only picked at their stew. It always takes me a few attempts to get the injera bread right. The one I took a picture of was not quite right. I tend to forget they need to be spread out thin in the frying pan. The next injera turned out much better. So yummy to dip the injera bread into the stew. If you've never tried these recipes from Vegan Lunchbox, I highly recommend them.

Sugar Cookie Party

The last day of November, we had a sugar cookie party. Just us and the girls. They helped me make the sugar cookie dough, roll it out, and cut out the shapes. Well, they helped some. They more enjoyed rolling the bits of dough I gave them into balls to put onto the cookie sheet. They had read about Laura Ingalls doing this with her mom and thought it was very neat. To be honest, the whole process was kind of a headache. The recipe made six dozen cookies, so there are a lot frozen to give to the neighbors closer to Christmas. After the cookies were baked and cooled, the girls decorated them with five different colors of frosting and some sprinkles. Here they are "naked" prior to being decorated.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Stirfy noodles with shitake mushrooms and fried tofu

My other potluck offering. I bought noodles from the Asian market and mixed them with a stirfry of eggplant, cabbage, onion, shitake mushrooms, and carrots. I flavored the veggies with sweet chili sauce, soy sauce, and fresh ginger. Then, I used a package of fried tofu. I cut each piece into thin slices and then sauteed it with peanut sauce, chili sauce, and soy sauce. I garnished it with fresh cilantro. It turned out very tasty!

Spring Rolls

It's potluck day tomorrow. I'll admit that usually I choose something that is rather simple and has a quick prep time, like a pasta dish and a salad or vegetable. This week, I felt inspired to take a couple Thai dishes. This first is fresh spring rolls. I bought all the ingredients at our local Asian market. I don't really have a recipe, but I'll share a rough idea of how they went together. It looks complicated, and it does take time. However, it's actually pretty simple. The end result is delicious and lovely to look at.

1 package of spring roll wrappers
2 cups canned mock abalone, or may use seitan or tofu. Cut into small pieces
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
soy sauce
sweet chili sauce
1/4 inch section of fresh ginger, peeled and minced or grated (may use more to taste)
1/4 cup Thai peanut sauce from a jar. Or, use the recipe I posted in one of my first posts for the peanut butter tofu.
1/4 onion, very thinly sliced and then cut into 1/2 inch pieces
garlic powder to taste
1 small dried chili pepper
2 cups cooked rice vermicelli noodles
vegetable oil

Fry the onion in a little oil until soft, and then add the mock abalone (seitan or tofu)
Add the peanut sauce, sweet chili sauce, soy sauce, fresh ginger. I used enough of the sauces that there was quite a bit of liquid on top of the mock abalone. Then, I let it cooked covered under medium heat until the liquid had caramelized.

Mix a little vegetable oil, the chili pepper (crushed) and 2-3 tbsp of soy sauce into the rice noodles and then set aside.

Have a large shallow pan with warm water nearby as you will dip each spring roll wrapper briefly in the warm water until it is all soft. Then, place it on a plate or cutting board. In the center, place 4-5 tbsp of rice noodles, about 2 tbsp of the mock abalone, and 1 tsp of chopped cilantro. Arrange it on the wrapper so it is right in the center and about three inches from one side to the other. Then, bring the wrapper up from the bottom to cover this mixture and tuck it in at the top. Bring each side in until they meet and then roll to the top. It sounds more complicated than it is! Place on a serving platter and garnish with more cilantro. Serve cold. Can be served with a dipping sauce such as more peanut sauce or soy sauce with finely minced garlic and ginger mixed in.

This dish can easily be adapted to be entirely gluten free if tofu is used rather than the mock abalone.

Hummus, falafel, and flat bread

I whipped up some falafel from a mix (Fantastic Foods) I purchased. Then, I made some hummus from the same recipe you can find posted earlier in my blog. I didn't have any pita bread on hand, and didn't feel like taking the time to make any. So, I made simple flat bread with flour, water, salt, and oil. The girls then wrapped the falafel and hummus in the bread. I usually also add finely diced cucumber and tomato but was out. So, we had a cooked vegetable for dinner as well. As you can see, dinner was a hit.

Lemon cupcakes

I used the fluffy white cupcakes recipe from vegan lunchbox and modified it. First, I grated lemon zest to add to the cupcake batter. Then, I also added a tsp of lemon extract and replaced some of the water with juice from the fresh lemon. For the frosting, I made a basic powdered sugar and margarine (vegan, trans fat free) frosting to which I again added lemon flavoring and juice. For a filling, I purchased a can of lemon pie filling. When the cupcakes were all in the pan ready to go in the oven, I dropped a heaping tablespoon of filling into the top center of each cupcake. It sunk down into the center while they baked and then I filled the slight indentation with the frosting. They were tasty, although less fluffy than non-vegan cupcakes I've made before. Also, I did take a picture of a cupcake cut open to show the filling. It wasn't very pretty, so I deleted it. The girls loved the surprise of finding the filling in the center of their cupcakes.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Pot roast from Vegan Lunchbox

I've made the pot roast from Vegan Lunchbox many times. I like the flavor of it, but wanted to tweak the recipe a little bit. For one thing, I don't like how spongy it turns out. I prefer a firmer texture. Also, I wanted it to have a more savory flavor. So, here are the changes I made and a couple pictures of how it turned out:

-Only used three cups of broth rather than the four cups the recipe called for

-Increased the amount of walnuts to 3/4 cup rather than 1/4 cup. And, I ground them to a find meal, not a coarse meal.

-Increased the amount of marmite and tomato paste three fold.

-Used a LOT more mushrooms and skipped the celery.

-Added a couple tablespoons of soy sauce and 1/2 cup raw cashews when I blended the veggies into a gravy. This added more flavor and thickened it nicely.

Now, I realize that if you don't have Vegan Lunchbox, none of this will make much sense. My advice: buy it! There are so many terrific recipes, even for non-vegetarians. Your kids are guaranteed to eat vegetables the way they are prepared in this book. My husband even likes brussel sprouts prepared the Vegan Lunchbox way. (He used to call them soggy mini cabbages and say they were the one vegetable he just couldn't eat.)

Miso Noodle Soup

My girls love noodles. The other day, I was at a loss for what to make for lunch. Saw that I had one package of noodles in the cupboard and decided to throw together a simple soup. I followed the package directions on the dark miso for the proportion of water with miso. I also added some soy sauce, garlic powder, sliced fresh carrot, onion, mushroom,cubed firm tofu, and two tablespoonds of dried wakame. (seaweed). The girls liked it, and it was nice for a cold rainy day.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Chik'n pot pie casserole

YUM. I made this for lunch today and it was ridiculously good. Especially satisfying for a cold, grey day like today. In addition, the girls loved it, and both had two portions. It took me about half an hour to make and was very easy. Next time, I'll replace the store-bought crescent biscuits with homemade, and I'll make my own gravy.

4 medium red potatoes, washed and diced into small pieces
3 large carrots, washed and cut into thin coins
1 can vegetarian chicken in broth (or may use substitute), diced
1/2 medium onion, diced
1/2 cup mushrooms, washed and cut into thick slices
1/2 package store-bought vegan brown gravy
1/2 tsp garlic powder
salt to taste
1/4 tsp savory seasoning
1 package refrigerated crescent roll dough, divided into eight pieces as per package directions. (the brand I found was vegan)

First, boil a pot of water. While it is heating, begin chopping up all the veggies. When the water is at a rolling boil, throw in the potatoes and carrots. Then, saute the mushrooms and onions until soft and onions clear. Prepare brown gravy per package directions and pour atop the mushrooms and onions. Also, add the vegetarian chicken and its broth. Mix well.

Mix all the ingredients in a large casserole dish, arrange the eight crescent rolls on top. Bake in 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until the rolls are golden brown.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Super cheesy very un-vegan lasagna

This was the omni option at my husband's birthday dinner. Lasagna is his absolute very favorite dish. Of course, his favorite is the one his mom makes. And, to be honest, it's really good! This version is a white lasagna with lots of veggies thrown in. However, I doubt the veggies redeem the overall cheesy cholesterol-laden nature of this dish! I assure you it as at most a once-per-year undertaking. I didn't use a recipe, so I'll just give you an idea of what it contained and post a picture as well.

Lasagna noodles, uncooked
2 jars (16 ounce) prepared Alfredo sauce
4 cups vegetarian vegetable broth
cremini mushrooms, washed and sliced
frozen spinach, thawed
onion, diced
artichoke hearts, roughly chopped
fresh garlic, peeled, crushed, and diced
fresh basil, washed and minced
olive oil to saute veggies in
small curd cottage cheese or low fat ricotta
Italian blend cheese, shredded

Mix the Alfredo with the vegetable broth. Then, layer sauce, cottage cheese/ricotta, veggies, noodles until you're at the top of your casserole dish. Then, top with sauce, cheese, and fresh basil

Pesto and pine nut linguini with cremini mushrooms

This was the vegan option for my husband's birthday dinner. It was super-easy to make, and I didn't use a recipe. I'll give some approximate proportions and I feel confident you can figure it out! First, I purchased some imported pesto concentrate. It was in a tube, strangely enough. It's the only one I could find that was vegan. The other ingredients were simple, easy things to find at our local grocery store.

Linguine pasta, whole wheat blend
pesto concentrate
extra virgin olive oil
cremini mushrooms (baby portobella), cut into thick slices
white or yellow onion, finely diced
2 cloves fresh garlic, peeled, crushed, and diced
2 leaves fresh basil, washed and minced
salt to taste
pine nuts, oven toasted

First, I sauteed the mushrooms and onion in a generous amount of olive oil. Then, I added the pesto sauce and more olive oil. The directions on this product suggested equal amounts of oil and the pesto concentrate. Last, I added the fresh garlic and basil for about the last minute of cooking time. Meanwhile, the pine nuts were toasting in the oven and the pasta was boiling atop the stove. Toss the pasta in the sauce and then garnish with the pine nuts. It turned out very well. And, to be honest, may have been tastier than the lasagna. That's just my opinion, though. I thought the lasagna was a little too rich. So much cheese, alfredo, etc.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Curried lentil soup

I will be the first to admit that this soup doesn't look like much. In fact, looks really uninteresting. I stole this recipe from my sister, so technically it's hers. However, she doesn't have a blog and I do, so here it is! What I have to tell you about this soup is that it's really, really good. We had it tonight with cornbread and the "Best Brussel sprouts" from Vegan Lunchbox. Yeah, I know, kind of a weird combination. The girls both loved it. My two year-old really liked the brussel sprouts, my four year-old tolerated them. Otherwise, the soup and cornbread were a huge hit. Here's the recipe:

8 ounces dry lentils, rinsed and sorted
32 ounces vegetarian vegetable broth
3/4 cup coconut milk
1 tsp turmeric
1.5 tsp yellow curry powder (I used hot madras)
1 tsp salt, more to taste
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
5 TBSP lime juice
1 cup water

Cook the lentils in a large stock pan with the vegetable broth, water, and spices. When the lentils are almost done (soft), add the coconut milk. Then, remove from heat and add the 5 tbsp of lime juice. May garnish with fresh minced cilantro.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Vegan Stroganoff with seitan

This is an old family recipe. My parents have been making it for years. And, it's one of my omni brother's favorite dishes. It's super-quick to make if you have the seitan (gluten/wheat-meat) already made and frozen as I did. Otherwise, you'd have to first add the step of making the seitan first.

Approximately 2 cups worth of seitan "steaks"
16 ounces prepared spaghetti sauce
1 cup white or baby bella mushrooms, washed and sliced
1 large sweet onion, diced
1 cup vegan sour cream (or make your own with tofu, lemon juice, cashews, salt)
1 package of rotini or wide egg noodles (vegan version), cooked
2 tbsp or more olive oil
1 cup flour, 1/4 cup corn meal, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp nutritional yeast-for breading

Cut the seitan into long, thin strips. Dredge into the breading flour mix and fry in a generous amount of olive oil until it is crispy.

Meanwhile, pasta can be boiling in a pot and mushrooms and onions can be frying in another pan.

When mushrooms and onions are cooked until soft and onions clear, add the sauce and vegan sour cream and blend gently over low heat until warmed through.

Serve the stroganoff over the cooked pasta. Also good over brown rice, quinoa, brown rice pasta, or even on its own.

Greek Salad

Nothing vegan about this, but I had a serious craving for Greek salad, so here it is! I think you could probably develop a "feta" from tofu and lemon juice that might be acceptable and, thereby, veganize this salad.

2 romaine lettuce hearts, washed and torn into bite-sized pieces

2 medium tomatoes, washed and cut into wedges

1 cucumber, washed, peeled, and cut into large pieces

kalamata olives, (or regular if that's all you have) whole

green pepper, washed and cut into small pieces, opt.

red onion, cut into thin slices, opt.

1/2 cup feta cheese, sprinkled on top

Greek or Italian salad dressing

I did not put green pepper or onion in my salad as my girls don't like that.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Fresh peach crisp

We bought a case of humongous, delicious peaches last week. They are so sweet and juicy. We have been enjoying them very much. When the girls eat one, I have them carry a towel around to hold under their chins or they end up spilling peach juice all over themselves and the house. Tonight, I made a peach crisp for dinner. My four year-old said, "Mommy, you're the best cook," and gave me a 'thumbs up.' Here's the recipe:

3 large peaches, sliced
3 cups quick oats
1 tsp pumpkin pie seasoning
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup light trans-fat free margarine (like Smart Balance Light)
2 tbsp warm water
3 tbsp flour
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed

Place the peaches in the bottom of a small baking dish. Sprinkle the spices on top of them. Mix the oats, salt, margarine, water, and flour together until well-mixed. Spread atop the peaches. Bake in 350 degree oven for half an hour.

Omega-3 Granola

My sister loves granola. She's currently eight months pregnant and has cut milk and soy out of her diet in preparation to breastfeed her little boy. Her first daughter had pretty significant MSPI (milk-soy protein intolerance) and it's likely this baby will have it worse. In any case, what that has to do with anything is this: She can't buy commercial granola because many times it contains milk powder. I found a recipe that is milk-free, and I will post it here. The granola turned out wonderfully! After I snapped this photo, I added dried peaches and blueberries. (I dried them myself in our food dehydrator). So, it's chock full of goodness!
4 cups old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup raisins
1 cup other mixed dried fruit (I used peaches and blueberries)
1/4 cup ground flax seeds
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
Mix oats, sugar, salt, cinnamon together. Then,mix honey and oil in a saucepan on the stove over medium heat, stir in the vanilla. Heat until the honey is liquefied. Spread onto cookie sheets and bake in a 350 degree oven for 40 minutes. *important* stir it every ten minutes or more often or it will burn. After removing from oven and cooling, put into a large bowl. Add flax seed, walnuts, raisins, and mixed dried fruit. Optionally, you may add the ground flax seed and walnuts on top of the oats for the last ten minutes of baking.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Penne Primavera

This is the dish I made for our church's vegetarian potluck yesterday. Here's the recipe:

4 cups cooked whole wheat penne pasta
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 cup sliced baby portabello mushrooms
1 zucchini, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 medium cloves of fresh garlic, crushed and diced. Add just prior to adding cashew sauce.
Saute' all the veggies in olive oil and then add cashew sauce:

1 cup raw cashews
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
2 tbsp dry "chicken" broth powder
1/4 tsp savory seasoning
salt to taste
Blend all cashew sauce ingredients in a blender for two minutes until smooth, then:

Cook until thick, mix in 1/2 cup vegan sour cream.
Mix well, pour over pasta

Bake in 350 degree oven for half an hour

Every vegetable in this pasta dish came from my garden except for the mushrooms. Of course the freshness and extra flavor made the dish especially good.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Coconut toffee cake

This is the cake that I made for my dad's birthday a couple weeks ago. No, it's not vegan. It has like six eggs in it and the frosting is whipped cream. I've not yet tried the vegan cake recipe in Vegan Lunchbox but it's 0n my list of things to do. Maybe next time when I bake a cake, it'll be vegan. On top of the cake I put coconut and toffee chips. Between the layers is toffee chips, coconut and more whipped cream. It was pretty good, but I admit to being a novice baker. It did not turn out light and fluffy and I found out why when discussing it with my sister and mom. The conversation went like this:
"Well, did you beat the egg whites?" -my sister
"No, I just mixed it all up together."-me
"Oh, you have to beat the egg whites and then fold them into the mixture."-my mom
"Oh, ok I'll do that next time." -me
So...maybe it looked prettier than it tasted. It's a work in progress!

Sunday, June 29, 2008


Tacos. Aren't they great? Well, I think so, at least. Every time I make them, my husband and I end up saying, "Why don't we make these more often?" Tonight we had tacos and fruit for dinner. Here's what we put in them tonight:

Morningstar Farms griller burger crumbles (we use refried beans instead sometimes)
halved grape tomatoes
diced cucumber
sweet corn
sliced black olives
enchilada sauce
diced onion

Lightly fry a corn tortilla shell (pan spray works great for this) and fill with your favorite toppings. Here's the guacamole recipe:

4 ripe avocados, peeled and mashed
4 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 cup salsa
2 tsp finely minced fresh cilantro
pinch of cumin
The big plate was my husband's. The little plate and dish of rice is what my little girls ate. They don't do so well with tacos-it becomes a mess. It works well to give it all to them separately, though, which is what I did.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Lentil Nut Roast

Lentil Nut Roast:
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 medium onion diced and sauteed in 2 tbsp olive oil until clear
1 clove garlic, crushed and sauteed the last minute with onion
2 cups crisp rice cereal
1/2 cup Grape Nuts cereal
1 tsp savory seasoning
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp dark miso paste, opt.
2 tbsp dry veg beef broth powder
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
4 tbsp ground flaxseeds
1/2 cup water
2 cups cooked lentils
1 1/2 cups cooked lentils

Put all ingredients in mixing bowl except for the 1/2 cup water, miso paste, and 1 1/2 cup lentils. Blend these in the blender until smooth. Mix with all other ingredients. Place into greased loaf pan and bake at 375 for 30 minutes. This yields a crunchy loaf that is excellent in sandwiches with catsup and vegenaise. I intentionally make it a bit dry because I like to mix the vegenaise and catsup with crumbled loaf and make a sandwich spread.

Cinnamon Raisin Cookies

Cinnamon Raisin Cookies:
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup Florida crystals or other vegan sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar,lightly packed
1.5 cups whole wheat pastry flour
0.5 cups white flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg OR 1 medium mashed banana to be vegan
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Cream oil and sugar, add remaining ingredients. Drop by spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets and bake 10-12 minutes in 350 degree oven. Cool on cookie sheet for at least ten minutes before moving off pan as they are very soft.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Pan-barbecued tofu

This was from last week when we had again bought some beautiful fresh organic local asparagus. Also, you can see homemade mashed potatoes made with red potatoes, skin on. The gravy on the potatoes is the vegetable gravy from Vegan Lunchbox's pot roast. I added a few raw cashews to thicken it a little more. And, there's the "barbecued" tofu. This recipe is a hit with my kids lately and it takes less than ten minutes start to finish. My two year old goes wild for tofu, absolutely loves it. I think she would eat tofu and pasta every day if given the choice.
One block extra-firm water packed tofu, drained
3 cloves medium fresh garlic, crushed and finely minced
1- 1/4 cup barbecue sauce of choice
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp olive oil
Cut tofu into thin slices and lay in a shallow dish. Whisk all other ingredients together and then pour over tofu, rotating to cover all surfaces well. Place olive oil in a pan and then add tofu, pouring excess sauce over it. Cook on each side until it begins to carmelize in the pan.

The bread adventure continues

I'm still experimenting with Vegan Lunch Box's "Blue Ribbon Bread" recipe. Her recipe is only half whole-wheat and I'm trying to vary the recipe so that it's closer to a completely whole grain bread. These loaves contain cooked quinoa, brown rice, and oats and I've replaced one cup of white flour with whole wheat. It turned out beautifully although I am still sadly lacking in the formation of an attractive loaf. This is only my third time making bread, so I imagine that will come with time. Next time, I am aiming for entirely whole wheat with the addition of a little wheat gluten. I hope that will yield a fairly light whole grain loaf.


I went to make hummus today and found that all I had left in my jar of tahini was about 1 tbsp. Luckily, I had about 1/4 cup of sesame seeds in the freezer. My little girls absolutely loved this hummus. They had it for lunch today with toasted triangles of whole wheat bread, couscous, and a vegetable. My four year old said, "Mommy, this hummus is really good."

1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
2 medium cloves raw garlic, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup natural-strength lemon juice
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1 tbsp tahini
3 tbsp olive oil

Process in blender until smooth.

I don't use any water and we love garlic. If you find that your blender has difficulty processing this, add a little more lemon juice and use the "pulse" button. This ends up being rather tart and heavy on the garlic. We like it that way!

Chunky monkey bars

I made homemade "ice cream" bars today for the girls with my handy popsicle kit. I had run out of popsicle sticks, so just used some plastic utensils instead, which worked fine. The girls thought they were great. Anything called ice cream around here goes down pretty easy.
3 ripe bananas
2 cups soy or rice milk
2 tbsp of honey, or sweetener of choice
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
Blend in blender and then stir in chocolate sprinkles and/or chocolate chips. Pour into popsicle molds.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Homemade bread

I purchased the book Vegan Lunchbox about a year ago and have made many, many recipes out of it. This bread is from the recipe for "Blue Ribbon Bread" in the book. It turned out a little dark this time as I accidentally set my oven a little too hot. However, still very good. The kids absolutely love this bread. I also made the vegan pot roast from the book this week and it turned out beautifully. I am kicking myself for not taking a picture of the pot roast simmering in the pan surrounded by carrots, mushrooms, celery, onion, and thyme. It was beautiful. My parents came over for dinner and my dad raved about it!

Super-simple pasta salad

Four cups pasta, cooked

1/2 cup vegenaise

1 tsp original Mrs. Dash seasoning

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/2 red pepper, diced

1/2 cup black olives, sliced

2 tbsp finely minced onion

We enjoyed this pasta salad for lunch today along with veg chicken patties and a fresh green salad with beautiful organic lettuce from our garden. Soon, we will also have carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers and all the other makings for the salad.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Back problems and baking

I had back surgery just over a week ago after a lifting injury at work in the ICU. After a few painful days of recuperation, I was mostly back to normal and BORED! So, I've been doing more baking than usual: chocolate chip cookies, sourdough bread, Blue Ribbon bread with recipe from Vegan Lunchbox. I was disappointed in my sourdough. For one thing, it turned out sweet, not sour! Also, it was very heavy. I will search for another recipe. I liked the Blue Ribbon bread very much. Next time I make it, however, I will not divide the dough into three loaf pans like it says, but will just use two. It made three rather small loaves. Not sure what my next project will be but I'll bake or cook something new soon and post about it with photo here! The kids are doing great. We spend alot of time outside, which they love. One problem: I can't lift them into the swing and etc because of my back. They like it much better when daddy is here and they can do so much more. Happy Summer!

Sunday, May 18, 2008


We went to the local Farmer's market today. It's hard to find one on Sunday, they're usually on Saturdays. This one was lovely. So many wonderful products. Most fresh produce isn't in season, so some was hothouse. But, some nice baked goods: breads, kolaches, brownies, salsa, pumpkin butter. So many things. I look forward to going there when all the beautiful local vegetables and fruit are in season. Tonight our dinner was mostly made up of items from the Farmer's market. We had fresh local organic asparagus, bruschetta made mostly from items I bought there today, and then lentil soup. Here's the bruschetta recipe

one small loaf sourdough bread (I used bleu cheese sourdough)

2 medium tomatoes, finely chopped

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

salt to taste

1/4 cup fresh sweet basil, finely minced

2 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and cut on one end

approximately 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Slice the bread to your desired thickness. We like ours fairly thick, but it's great thin and crispy as well. Lightly drizzle olive oil on top of each slice. Place into a oven that has been pre-heated at 400 degrees. Bake 15 minutes or until turning golden. Remove from oven and rub each slice with the fresh garlic. Top with the tomato, basil, salt, and balsamic vinegar mixture. Our tomatoes and basil were actually roughly chopped, but if I do it again I will make everything smaller. It was very good! The girl's favorite part of the meal was the asparagus.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Cherry berry pie

I used a pie crust recipe from my mom: half white and half wheat flour. It turned out well enough that I tried my hand at making a lattice topping for the first time. It was ok, needs more practice to really turn out well. The filling was a mixture of bing cherries, raspberries, and blueberries-all from frozen.

1.5 cups bing cherries

1.5 cups raspberries

1 cup blueberries
1 tsp apple pie spice

Cook atop the stove at low heat until bubbling. Mix 3 tbsp of cold water with 1/4 cup cornstarch. Mix well and then stir into the berry mix. I sweetened it with a couple tablespoons of succanat. It turned out really well. I have made a similar pie in the past just sweetened with some apple juice concentrate, which is also good.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Indian-spiced veggie chicken curry

4 cups cooked brown rice
8 ounces vegetarian "chicken" or extra-firm tofu, cubed
8 ounces fresh or canned tomatoes, diced
1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
1/2 cup fresh or frozen cauliflower, diced
1/2 cup fresh or frozen green peas
1 tsp garam masala spice mix
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp coriander, ground
2 cloves fresh garlic, crushed and finely diced
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt to taste
1 cup lite coconut milk

Saute the onion in oil, add spices and tomatoes when onion is soft. Cook a couple addition minutes. Then, add all other ingredients. Serve over brown rice. We had this tonight along with steamed artichokes. We dipped the leaves in garlic "butter." (Smart balance light). To my surprise, the girls loved the artichokes. They ate the curry well, also, but the artichokes definitely stole the show.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Split Pea Soup

I created split pea soup for lunch. The girls and I had it along with cornbread and cauliflower. The first thing out of my two year-old's mouth when she took a bite of the soup was, "Mmmm." They both ate everything well. I didn't take a picture because it just looked like, well, green goop! Also, I made it up as I went along, so the recipe is not exact science, but here it is:

1 small package dry split peas, prepared according to package directions
dry vegan beef or chicken broth
1/2 tsp marjoram
1/2 tsp thyme
3/4 cup vegan sour cream
salt to taste
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 clove garlic, crushed and diced
1 tbsp olive oil

After the split peas are cooked, drain all the liquid off except for enough to just cover the split peas. Then, mix in enough dry broth mix to flavor the liquid. Add the spices, sour cream, and garlic powder. Lightly fry the fresh garlic in the oil just long enough to release its aroma but not browning it. Then, add it to the rest of the ingredients. Blend all in a blender until smooth. May serve garnished with more vegan sour cream.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Roasted Vegetable Lasagna

I made a variation of the lasagna I posted a few weeks ago. I used the same recipe with the addition of roasted thinly sliced eggplant and zucchini between the layers of noodles. It was a hit!

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

For Sabbath lunch today, we had garlic and dill mashed potatoes, sweet and sour meatballs, and broccoli. The girls loved the potatoes and broccoli but each only ate half their portion of the meatballs. I think the flavors were too strong for them. My husband and I really liked the meatballs, however. Here's the meatball recipe:
1 1/4 cup vegetarian burger crumbles
1 cup cracker crumbs
1/2 cup flaxseed meal mixed with 1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp savory seasoning
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
1 tbsp vegetarian chicken or beef broth powder
1/2 tsp marjoram
1/2 tsp thyme

Sweet and sour sauce:
1 cup commercially prepared barbecue sauce
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tbsp natural apricot or cherry jam
1 clove fresh garlic, crushed and diced
1/4 cup catsup
1/4 tsp liquid smoke flavoring

Mix all meatball ingredients well, form into golf-ball sized balls. Mix all sauce ingredients and then pour over meatballs. Bake in a greased casserole dish in a 425 degree oven for 20 minutes, or until bubbling.

Variation: I actually prefer these meatballs made with pecan meal, but I'm currently out! If you use pecan meal, you may need to add a little more water to get them to the consistency were you can form them into balls.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Cinnamon Raisin Cookies

Today, my four year-old wanted to make cookies. I found a recipe in an old book I've had since college and veganized it with great success. This are really some of the best cookies I've ever had. I used banana in place of egg and it worked well. The girls (and my husband and I) enjoyed these cookies with a glass of hemp milk. I'd never tried it before-it's good! I know the cookie isn't beautiful, but remember it was made with little four year-old and two year-old hands.

Recipe for cookies:

1/2 cup canola oil
3/4 cup sugar (I used Florida Crystals)
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
1 ripe banana, mashed well
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped nuts, opt.

Mix sugar, oil, vanilla and banana well. Add dry ingredients. Drop by spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8-10 miutes or until golden in 350 degree oven.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Baked Sesame/cilantro glazed tofu

1 block extra-firm tofu
2 tbsp finely minced fresh cilantro
4 tbsp sesame seeds
1/8 cup vegan Italian dressing
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/8 cup sweet chili sauce
pinch of salt
olive oil or pan spray
one large or two small cloves garlic, crushed and minced

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees

Cut the block of tofu into thin slices, place into a shallow pan.
Mix the liquid ingredients, garlic, salt, cilantro, and sesame seeds together. Pour over tofu and marinate for 30 minutes, occasionally rotating the tofu around in the marinade to cover all surfaces well.

Use pan spray or olive oil to grease a baking sheet. After it has marinated, place tofu on the sheet and then pour remaining marinade over the tofu. Bake for 15 minutes, flip, bake another 15 minutes.

This was for lunch today. We also had fried potatoes and onions, green beans, and avocado. The girls polished it all off and both asked for more tofu. In fact, four year-old said, "More of everything, momma."

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Toddler breakfast of champions

My girls love hot cereal. When they were infants, I would make it myself from fresh-ground whole grains. This morning, we all had the following for breakfast:

Steel cut oats with vegan margarine, sugar and rice milk
A piece of whole wheat toast with sunflower seed butter and no-sugar apricot jam

I also give my girls two vegan gummy bear calcium with vitamin D supplements and a probiotic wafer every day.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Angel hair pasta with mediterranean sauce and vegeburger

Dinner tonight was simple but healthy and tasty. We had angel hair pasta with a chunky vegetable and vegeburger sauce. Also, thinly sliced and fried zucchini seasoned with garlic. Later, the girls had a pina colada popsicle for their evening snack and my husband and I ate a delicious grapefruit.
1/2 medium onion, roughly chopped
1 cup white mushrooms, sliced
1/2 can black olives, halved
1/4 cup green olives, halved
1/4 eggplant, peeled and diced
4 tbsp capers
1 can petite diced tomatoes
2 cups tomato sauce or commercially prepared pasta sauce
1 can Worthington vegetarian burger (vegan)
pan spray or 2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and then crushed and minced
2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp oregano
Sautee onion until soft and then add other vegetables and vegetarian burger and sautee another couple minutes. Then, add the tomato sauce, spices and diced tomatoes. Cook until bubbling. Serve over angel hair pasta, prepared according to package directions.