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.