Thursday, February 26, 2015

Vegan Citrus-Soy Winter Root Vegetable Stir Fry!

It seems like this is going to be an everlasting winter.  Even though we still have at least one more month of winter, I am sure glad it will be March in a few days!  If I hear or read the words "February Freeze" one more time, I may lose my marbles!

With all this wintry weather talk, I figured I should take advantage of the abundance of root vegetables! While of course you have many root vegetables to choose from, I chose to go with purple fingerling potatoes, celery root, parsnips, turnips, carrots and lotus root.  All of these are fairly easy to find at most grocery stores, except for maybe the lotus root.  I found this crunchy, starchy root veg already sliced and packaged at my favorite Asian Market here in Chicago.

Unlike the typically stir fry that typically just uses a bit of oil and soy sauce, I wanted to spruce things up a bit.  By adding in fresh orange juice, orange zest and a touch of agave nectar creates a slightly sweet and beautifully bright flavor, making it a perfect match to the hearty root veggies!

Vegan Citrus-Soy Winter Root Vegetable Stir Fry!       

Ingredients:  (yields 4 servings)

1 celery root, peeled and cut into cubes
1 turnip, peeled and cut into cubes
2-3 parsnips, peeled and chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
8 slices of lotus root
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
2 scallions, chopped (green part only)
1/4 c tamari or soy sauce
1 orange, juiced
1 tbsp orange zest
1/2 tbsp agave nectar
1/2 tbsp sesame oil
1/2 tbsp chili oil
1 tbsp sesame seeds
handful of pea shoot for garnish (optional)


After all your prep is done,  whisk together tamari or soy sauce, orange juice and zest, and the agave nectar.  Set aside.

Heat oil on medium-high in a wok or large saute pan.  Add in minced garlic and ginger and saute for about 1-2 minutes.  Add in all the root vegetables, except for the lotus root and saute for about 6-8 minutes, or until you can cut the vegetables easily.  You may need to add in a splash or two of water during this process.  Add in lotus root and stir in the citrus soy, stirring frequently.  Add more soy sauce or orange juice if necessary!  Toss in sesame seeds and serve!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Vegan Sweet Potato and Edamame Gyoza

What do you get when you mix pureed sweet potatoes, chopped edamame and some Asian spices folded in wonton wrappers and cooked to perfection?  Um, you get perfection!  If some restaurant out there does not carry some sort of variation of these gyozas, they need to do some menu changes!

Appetizers are always my favorite.  That, or tapas.  Mainly because I never want to order an entree.  I prefer enjoying an array of bites to taste and share.  It makes it a more intimate setting to share with loved ones.  Dim sum is the perfect way to create that setting.

The perfect way to cook these are to steam them on quickly pan fry them, then add water, cover and steam.  I chose the ladder option because I prefer the slightly crisp texture they get from pan frying.

Sweet Potato and Edamame Gyoza

Ingredients: (makes roughly 20-25 dumplings)
1 sweet potato, peeled
1 tbsp evoo
1 cup shelled frozen edamame
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp chopped fresh ginger
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
1 tbsp garlic chili sauce
20-25 wonton wrappers
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 flax seed egg, mixed with 3 tbsp water (or  your choice of vegan egg replacer)

Heat oven to 400.  Peel your sweet potato first, then with a fork, poke a few holes around the sweet potato.  Lightly brush with evoo and lightly salt.  Cover with foil and bake for about 45-50 minutes.   

In the meantime, boil water and cook edamame for about 4-5 minutes.  Drain and transfer to a cutting board.  Chop edamame into small pieces and set aside.  With a small saute pan, heat evoo and saute garlic and ginger for about 3 minutes.  Remove from heat and add to the chopped edamame.

Once the sweet potato is done baking, cut into a few pieces and transfer to a blender.  Add in sesame oil, tamari and chili sauce and blend until smooth.  Mix the chopped edamame to the sweet potato mixture.

Mix together your flax seed egg with water and place out the wonton wrappers on a lightly floured surface.  With a brush, brush the sides of the wonton wrapper with the "egg".  Spoon in about 1 tbsp of the mixture into each wonton and and seal tightly with fingers.

In a large saute pan, heat vegetable oil over medium heat and saute wontons for 2 minutes on each sides.  Then add in 2-3 tbsp of water, cover and cook for about 5 minutes.  The final result should look shiny.

Enjoy with your favorite dipping sauce!


Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Low(er) Carb Arancini....Vegan Cauliflower Arancini!

Yes, this is what you want to eat tonight!  Trust me!  Sure, I have already done a more traditional style vegan arancini, but this one has ditched the rice for a more healthy approach to the indulgent, Italian comfort food.

If you have followed my blog in the past, this is not the first time I have used grated cauliflower in place of rice.  I think manipulated vegetables and fruits to resemble other items is one of my favorite things to do.  Not only does this make your menu a bit healthier, but it also has your creative juices flowing.

So here's the thing with making your own arancini;  You can really add in whatever you want to the center of the "rice" ball!  When you cut it open, there is a nice, little tasty surprise waiting for your taste buds.  Some of my favorite fillings are arugula pesto, vegan cheese, or a sundried tomato pesto. 

Vegan Cauliflower Arancini

1 head cauliflower
1 garlic clove, minced
s+p to taste
1 tbsp milled flax seed, mixed with 3 tbsp water (or your choice of egg replacer)
vegan mozzarella cheese (optional)
1/2 c panko bread crumbs
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp dried basil
1 tbsp evoo

Preheat oven to 400.
With a cheese grater, grate your cauliflower into "rice kernels".  In a saute pan, heat evoo over med-high and saute garlic and grated cauliflower for about 5-7 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside to cool.
Whisk together the flax egg mixture in a small bowl.  In a separate bowl, mix together panko crumbs, oregano and basil. With your hands, for a small ball with the cauliflower rice, roll into the flax egg mixture and then roll in the panko crumbs.  With your finger, create a hole through each ball and add in vegan cheese and pesto (or whatever filling you desire).  Place arancini balls on a baking sheet, and bake for roughly 20 minutes.  Serve with your favorite tomato sauce.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

So healthy, it should never be considered Foribdden!.......Vegan Deconstructed Forbidden Rice Sushi Bowl

Back from Nicaragua and back to the kitchen!  We had the most amazing and beautiful vacation, well, up until the last 2 days of horrific food poisoning.  We are still feeling the effects of "Montezuma's Revenge" days after we have returned.  I don't think I can ever look at papaya ever again.

With that said, I am super sick of super toasted toast, and am ready to get back into some real meals!  Tons of protein, fiber and vegetables!  Lean and mean! 

 Initially I planned on making sushi rolls with squash, truffled mushrooms and avocado.  But, my rolling skills were lacking greatly today and my patience got the better of me.  So, instead I made a deconstructed sushi bowl, which somewhat resembles a Buddha bowl.

Ever since I made the Citrus-Soy Marinated King Oyster "Scallops" with Forbidden Black Rice Stir Fry, I have been obsessed with forbidden black rice!  I know the phrase super food, is a bit overused and at this point, just annoying, but it really is!  High in protein and fiber!  Plus, the additional of tofu gives you a great meal packed with even more protein!

Vegan Deconstructed Forbidden Rice Sushi Bowl

1 c black rice
2 c vegetable broth
1/2 block tofu, cubed
1/2 c sliced mushrooms, marinated in soy sauce/truffle oil
1 avocado, cut into cubes
1/2 c spinach or kale
2-3 scallions, chopped
1 tbsp sesame seeds

for the dressing:
1/3 c soy sauce
1/2 orange, juiced
1 tbsp. agave nectar
1/2 tbsp sriracha
1 tbsp sesame oil

In a pot, bring broth and rice to a boil, cover and simmer for about 25-30 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed.  Set aside and allow to cool for 10 minutes.  

In a small bowl, whisk together all the ingredients for the dressing.

In a large bowl, mix the rice, marinated mushrooms, tofu, spinach/kale and scallions together. Toss with the dressing and top with sliced avocado and sesame seeds.  


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

It is winter and you really, really want this!.....Vegan Spelt and Kale Minestrone

There is something so great about making your own vegetable broth.  I seriously never buy premade broth anymore.  It is just not the same!  There is something special about taking your time to do this.  I don't know if it is the love and passion that I have for cooking, or that gorgeous, fresh aroma of the carrots, celery, onions, tomato and garlic blowing steam into the kitchen.  Or even better, straining the cooked vegetables, and pressing them to remove any excess liquid and then snacking on the remaining cooked veggies.  Either way, it will always be better and healthier for you to make it yourself!

Now I like to play around with soups....A LOT!  I wanted to do something a little bit different with the traditional minestrone, so while meandering around Whole Food's bulk aisle, I chose to go with adding spelt instead of a pasta.  Now, if you have yet to cook with spelt, you may want to think twice about it!  This is pretty much another super food that is overlooked because of the quinoa craze!  In fact, there are many grains that are high in nutrients, fiber and protein other than the ever so popular quinoa.  No, I am not hating on quinoa, I am just letting you know that we have many other options!!!!  So lets change things up!

So here is the low down on spelt....It is a wheat, so if you are gluten intolerant, stay away!  Otherwise, have at it!  It has more protein and fiber than quinoa and will most definitely fill you up without feeling guilty!  And, it is a great, hearty addition to a veggie filled soup!

Vegan Spelt and Kale Minestone
1 c spelt, soaked overnight
5-6 c homemade vegetable broth
1 can crushed tomatoes
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 zucchini, sliced into quarters
2 cup chopped kale, stems removed
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1 tbsp evoo
s+p to taste

Drain and rinse soaked spelt and set aside.  In a large bowl, heat evoo over medium-high heat and saute minced garlic, onion, cellery and carrots for about 5 minutes.  Pour in crushed tomatoes, vegetable broth, zucchini and spelt.  Bring to a boil and simmer for about 30 minutes.  After the 30 minutes, toss in the kale and seasonings, stir and cover and let simmer for another 10 minutes.  Thats i!  Pour in a bowl and warm up with your spelt and kale minestrone1

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Meanie Greeney Linguine......Fresh Homemade Vegan Spinach Linguine!

I love a cooking challenge...always have, always will.  The first few times making my own pasta was a disaster!  But, that makes me want to make it more and more so I can perfect something I once thought was impossible.

Please note: I DO NOT have a pasta maker/ really do not need that fancy attachment on your your mixer! We are going old school, people, using a rolling pin and cutting board.  And, guess what?  With a little love and muscle, this recipe makes one meanie linguine!

 Your Cuisinart definitely comes in handy when making the dough!  I think this is the step that I have missed in the past when attempting to make pasta dough.   Before, I would just use my hands to combine the water, oil and flour.  And man, that was a beast of a project!  Instead, use the dough blade, add in flour and then slowly pour in water and oil.  After a few minutes, a perfect ball of dough will form.  Voila!  You just saved a good amount of time!

Note: the key to a great, traditional pasta dough is semolina flour.  If you don't have this, it is worth making that trip to the grocery store!  I typically buy Bob's Red Mill brand.

Vegan Spinach Linguine 

1 c semolina flour
1 c all purpose flour
1/2 c water
1 tbsp evoo
pinch of salt
5 ounces blanched spinach pureed

With your food processor, using the dough blade, add in flour and salt and start the machine.  Slowly pour in the evoo and then water.  The consistency will resemble crumb like texture at first and then will slowly combine into a ball of dough.  Once that happens, remove the dough from the machine and just knead with your hands until smooth.  Your dough is now ready.  With a rolling pin, roll out dough until it is as thin as you can get it.  You may need to do this with a quarter of the dough at a time.  With a pasta cutter (or a pizza cutter), cut out each piece of linguine.  When done, carefully transfer to a pasta rack.
Air dry your pasta for about 20 minutes.  Your pasta is ready now!  You can either boil it right away or store in air tight package.  Note, your fresh pasta will only take about a minute or two to boil.
Serve with your favorite sauce!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Vegan Lemongrass Infused Soba Noodle Soup

Who doesn't like a big bowl of delicious noodles in a "creamy" vegan lemongrass scented broth?  It is light yet comforting and aromatic.

I love lemongrass, especially in tom yum soup or tom kha gai.  Those are some of my favorite Thai soups out there!  Not only does it have a fresh citrus like flavor but has many medicinal properties and is great for your health!  The health benefits go on from helping with laryngitis to fever reducing to alleviating muscle spasms to stomach and muscle pains/spasms to an antidepressant....just to name a few.

I actually found chopped up, frozed lemongrass in a Vietnamese market, so I have been using it quite often!  It is also great to just use to make a simple tea! 

Ok now that you have your fun lemongrass facts, grab your soba and some vegetables and lets get cooking!

Vegan Lemongrass Infused Soba Noodle Soup
1 package soba noodles
4 c vegetable broth
2 c coconut milk
2 heaping spoons of chopped lemongrass, or 2 stalks of lemongrass
1 tbsp fresh minced ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 chopped enoki mushrooms, or mushrooms of your choice
2 scallions, chopped
1/2 c tightly packed baby spinach
1-2 carrots, peeled into thin slices
1/4 c mirin (optional)
salt to taste
2 tsp white pepper
1 tbsp sesame or peanut oil
In a large pot, heat sesame or peanut oil over medium heat, add in minced ginger and garlic and saute for about 3 minutes.  Add in vegetable broth, coconut milk and lemongrass and bring to boil.  Cover, turn to low and allow to simmer for about 20 minutes to allow the flavors to develop.  When you are ready to cook the noodles, remove lid and bring back to a boil.  Cook the noodles according to package, adding in all remaining vegetables and spices in the last minute (you do not want your greens to turn brown!)  Serve immediately!