Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Replace that Meatloaf.....Vegan Beet Loaf

Don't get this confused with my other beet loaf recipe, apple-beat loaf bread!  Clearly, this time I am doing a play on meat loaf.  I have already done a meat loaf version once before, but this time I wanted to incorporate beets, to give it that reddish, meat-like color. 

This recipe is quite simple with little-to no cooking, aside from baking the dish.  I mean, how much easier do you want it to get?!  Once again, this is another great recipe to sneak vegetables in to a dish that kids, or even you picky adult eaters may not usually choose to eat. 

Vegan Beet Loaf

 We all no that beets are a pain in the little butt to cook with.  Who wants everything to turn red?  Well no mess around here when working with beets!  To prevent this from happening, place saran wrap on your cutting board, or even just a plan old plastic bag.  Then, put some sanitary gloves on.  Don't have gloves?  No worries!  Go the ghetto route, and put plastic bags over your hands as well!  Voila!  No mess!

Ingredients:  (makes 1 5x9 baking loaf pan)
1 medium sized beet peeled
1 medium sized carrot peeled
1 small onion chopped
1 garlic minced
1 c cooked brown rice or quinoa
1/4 c chopped raw walnuts
1/4 c ketchup
2 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
2-3 tsp liquid smoke
2 tsp apple vinegar cider
1 tbsp vegan steak sauce (optional)
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp sriracha
1 - 1 1/4 c panko crumbs

Preheat oven 350.  Grate both beet and carrot completely.  Add all ingredients into food processor, except for bread crumbs.  Just blend so everything is mixed together.  Do no puree!  Transfer to bowl and stir in bread crumbs.  Spoon into baking tin and top with a bit more ketchup.  Cook for 35-5 minutes and then place on broil for about 5 minutes.  Allow to cool and serve.

"Cauliflower" Alfredo Sauce served with Mac n Cheese or Spaghetti Squash!

I must say, this is a great alternative the a typical alfredo sauce.  Plant based, vegan, and flour-less!  Best part is, you really won't know that it does not contain cream, flour or cheese! 

I made it two ways because I wanted something light and healthy, so I opted for delicate spaghetti squash topped with fresh herbs.

Ryan tends to like things a bit more filling, so I added the cauliflower alfredo to elbow macaroni and baked it with some bread crumbs.  And, what is the game changer in this recipe?.....add a touch of truffle oil to elevate this recipe from comforting to a bit more upscale and sexy.

Oh yes, before I forget...this is a GREAT way to sneak in vegetables into your kids mac 'n "cheese"!  They will have no idea that they are eating cauliflower!

Vegan Cauliflower Alredo

Ingredients: (note this is just for the alfredo sauce)
1 small head cauliflower (cut into florets)
2 garlic cloves
3/4 c vegetable broth
3/4 c unsweetened almond milk
1/4-1/2 nutritional yeast
1 tbsp miso paste
2 tsp truffle oil (optional)
s+p to taste
1 tsp cayenne or paprika

Steam cauliflower and garlic cloves for about 15-20 minutes or until soft.  Transfer to food processor and slowly add in broth and almond milk while blending.  Add in nutritional yeast, miso paste and truffle oil and continue to blend until smooth.  Add in more liquid if need be.  Season to taste.
Serve with baked mac, over spaghetti squash or with your favorite pasta!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Hot Tamales!.....Vegan Vegetable Tamales

Wow, I have been putting off making tamales, well, forever.  This was my first time ever making them and in all honesty, I can say it was not as daunting as I thought it would be.  I would almost compare it to making raviolis....Actually, I don't know why, because the process is 100% different.  Maybe just due to the various steps and it is somewhat zen-like and relaxing once you get in the zone.
 Anyway, once you find masa harina and dried corn husks, you are all set.  All you then need to do is decide what you want for your filling.  I bought instant masa harina in a bag (I'm pretty sure they are all the same).  It is made from hominy and is also used to make tortillas.   I have read elsewhere that you can also use polenta instead of masa...which may be interested to try one day.

 If you can't find corn husks, or want to try something a little bit off the beaten path, you can always wrap the tamales with banana leaves.  Typically you can find these in the frozen aisle of Asian markets or produce markets.
The key and probably most daunting part of making tamales is how to spread the masa mixture on the husk and then roll (don't worry, I will explain!)

Vegan Vegetable Tamales
Ingredients: (yields 10-12 tamales)
for the tamale dough:
1 package corn husks (you probably won't use them all)
2 cups masa
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup coconut oil, vegetable oil or evoo
1 1/2 cups of water
2 tsp mesquite flavoring (optional)
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp nutritional yeast

for the filling:
1/2 tbsp evoo
1/2 green bell pepper cut in small strips
3 tbsp nopales (cooked cactus found in jar)
2 tbsp jalapenos
1/2 yellow onion chopped
1/2 can black beans drained and rinsed
1/2 can corn drained and rinsed
1 garlic clove miced
1 tbsp cilantro chopped

Fill large bowl with warm water and soak corn husks for about 20 minutes.  In order to fully submerge the husks, place a dish or bowl over the husks so the are completey covered in water.
In meantime, prepare your masa.  Add in all your dry ingredients first, mix, and then add coconut oil and water.  Add a touch more water if it doesn't have that play doe-like consistency. Set aside.

Now start to prepare the filling.  Heat evoo in saute pan and saute onion, garlic and green pepper for about 4 minutes.  Add in remaining ingredients, heat and set aside.

To form the tamalies, take corn husk and pat dry.  Spoon in about 1/4-1/2 c of masa dough and smooth out on 1/4 of the husk (see first picture).  The dough should not be too thick, maybe just 1/4 an inch, if that!  Probably more like 1/8th.  Spoon in filling down the center of the masa and roll.  You want to roll it like a burrito, pinching the two ends of the masa together and then rolling towards you, like sushi or a burrito.  Fold the bottom of the corn husk up and tie the tamale together.  Do this until all tamales are done.

Steam for about 30 minutes and serve with vegan sour cream and salsa.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Let's Get Rockin.....Vegan Moroccan Stew

Well I guess it is quite evident that I have been in a soup/stew mood lately.  I think the dip in temperature has made me crave some body warming goodness.  The best part is, you do not have to be kitchen savvy to make soups or stews.  They are literally the easiest thing to make.  And, usually quite inexpensive as well.  Always great to make when you have leftovers or when your veggies are about to spoil.

Even though many people consider Moroccan cuisine, similar to Middle Eastern cuisine, it does have some slight differences.  For one, it is much more heavily spiced.  Though, many of the spices are similar, such as cinnamon, turmeric, ginger and paprika....which (shocker) are all present in this recipe.  

Vegan Moroccan Stew

In my opinion, when serving this dish, the best accompaniment is Middle Eastern couscous.  Don't get this confused with Israeli Couscous though!  As mentioned in a previous post, middle eastern couscous is made up of granules, whereas the Israeli version is almost that of a pearl-like pasta (though still used with duram wheat).

1 tbsp evoo
1 yellow onion chopped
2 garlic cloves minced
1 tbsp fresh ginger minced
2 carrots peeled and chopped
2 stalks celery chopped
1 sweet potato peeled and chopped
1 bell pepper seeded and chopped (color is of your desire)
2 can chickpeas drained and rinsed
1 zucchini sliced
1 can crushed tomatoes
2 c vegetable broth
3 tsp cinnamin
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp tumeric
1 tbsp sriracha (or your favorite hot sauce)
1 package couscous
***add in more seasonings to your taste- this is just a base***

In a large pot, heat evoo over med-high heat and saute onion, garlic, ginger, carrots and celery for about 5 minutes.  Add in sweet potato and bell peppers and continute to saute for another 5 minutes.  Add in crushed tomatoes and veggie broth and bring to boil.  While it is on its way to a boil, throw in chickpeas, zucchini and all the spices.  Once boiling, cover and simmer for about 20-30 minutes.  Adjust seasoning to taste.
In the last 5 minutes, cook couscous according to package.


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Detoxifying Sweet and Sour Cabbage Soup

Yes, everyone knows about the cabbage soup detox cleanse.  It is meant to do for 10 days, with each day you eat as much soup and either veggies or fruit or a combo, depending on the day.

But, who really wants to do that for 10 days?  If you do, you will end up losing weight, though mostly water weight.  And most likely, gain all that back once you started eating normally.

Instead, try this sweet and sour cabbage soup for days when you just feel like you need a good cleanse.  Cabbage is one of the best detoxifiers, ridding your body of toxins (mostly uric acid and free radicals).  It is also high in fiber, removing waste efficiently.

Detoxifying Sweet and Sour Cabbage Soup

The apple cider vinegar not only gives your that great, biting sourness to the soup, but also serves as a detox agent as well.  It controls blood sugar, aids to prevent fat buildup and also helps ridding waste.

So, if you feel like a warm, healthy and feel good soup, definitely try this one.  Plus it is simple and inexpensive to make!  Have left overs?  Freeze it!

1 tbsp evoo
1 yellow onion chopped
2 large carrots chopped
2-3 stalks celery chopped
1 green bell pepper chopped
2 garlic cloves minced
1 tbsp fresh ginger minced
1/2 head cabbage chopped
4 c vegetable broth
1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes with juice
1/4 c apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp tamari
1 tbsp chopped basil
1 tbsp chopped cilantro

In large pot, heat evoo and saute first 6 ingredients for about 5-7 minutes, stirring often.  Add in cabbage and continue to cook for another 5 minutes.  Add in the remaining ingredients, bring to boil, then cover and simmer for about 30 minutes.  That's it!  Easy, inexpensive and a tasty cleansing soup!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Finger Licking Good...Seitan BBQ Ribs

There's nothing wrong getting a little messy with these "ribs".  They are lip smacking delicious and finger licking good.  We both could not believe how close they are to actual meat.  From what I remember, Ryan quoted "This is the best fake meat I have ever had."  And, no I don't pay him to say things like that ;)

Every other time I have made seitan, I prepare it by boiling it water and letting it expand for about an hour.  Not this time!  Instead of doing that, I took the mixed vital gluten wheat with all its ingredients and spread it out in an 8x8 baking dish and baked it.  This tactic allows the seitan to become more solid and firm and almost a crispy outside layer.  You then go on the cooking it how you desire (either on the gril, skillet, etc).

Depending on how much time you have and what you are in the mood for, you can either make your own BBQ Sauce or use your favorite bottled one.  Just be aware that many of the big name brands contain high fructose corn syrup as their first ingredient!  If able to, stay away from these!

Seitan BBQ Ribs

If you are gluten intolerant or have celiac's, clearly stay away from seitan!  I do not have celiac's, but I still do not eat a ton of seitan.  I leave Ryan that responsibility to clean off the plate.

1 c vital wheat gluten
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tbsp mesquite seasoning or soul food seasoning (optional)
2 tsp paprika or cayanne pepper
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder
2 tbsp tahini
1 tbsp tamari
1/2 tbsp liquid smoke
3/4 c water
1/2 c bbq sauce

Preheat oven 350.  In a bowl, mix the dry ingredients.  Then add in everything else EXCEPT for the BBQ sauce.  Start out by mixing the dry and liquids together with a fork, then start kneading with your hands.  If it feels a bit wet, don't worry- it is supposed to be that consistency.  In an 8x8 baking dish, spread the seitan out so that it is evenly covering the bottom of the dish and just about 3/4 in thick.  (you may have to play around and minipulate it a bit, but don't get discouraged!)  With a knife, cut out about 10 "ribs" (cut one side in half and then slice into pieces).
Bake for about 30-35 minutes and remove from oven.  Cut over the same spots again and carefully remove ribs with spatula.  They may stick a bit, but no biggy!  Heat George Foreman grill, or whatever you prefer to use.  Douse bbq sauce on ribs and grill for about 4 minutes.  Yummy!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Left over Pumpkins after Halloween?.....Pumpkin and "Ricotta" Stuffed Shells with Walnut-Sage "Cream" Sauce

Halloween is right around then corner!  This recipe is great for fall and/or right after Halloween!!  Why you ask?  The closer you get to Oct 31st, and obviously after, pumpkins will be on sale for next to nothing!  Take advantage!  Or,  take advantage of the pumpkins that you bought to decorate your home!  You can make more than just pumpkin pie you know!  (hint hint, expect many more pumpkin related recipes soon!)

I have actually been wanting to make some sort of pumpkin stuffed shells for awhile.  Today was finally the day, and I am super excited to share this recipe!

Pumpkin and "Ricotta Stuffed Shells with Walnut-Sage "Cream" Sauce

The combo of the pumpkin and "cream" sauce is rich and delicious, though completely guilt free!  No oil, no vegan butter.  Just 100% yummy and plant based. 

If you don't feel like doing the cashew "cream" sauce, opt for a light tomato sauce.

For the Raviolis:
1 small pumpkin
vegan ricotta cheese
2 garlic cloves
pasta shells

For the Sauce:
1 c raw cashews (soaked for at least 2-4 hrs)
1 c unsweetened almond milk
1/4 c nutritional yeast
3 tbsp minced sage
1 garlic clove minced
1/4 cup chopped raw walnuts

Start of by breaking down your pumpkin.  Cut open and clean out the middle (save the seeds to roast at a later date!).  Steam the pumpkin pieces for 25 minutes and cut into chunks, removing the skin.  Place in food processor with minced garlic cloves and blend until smooth.  Transfer to bowl.

While your pumpkin is steaming, make your sauce and shells.  (Cook shells according to package).
In a blender or food processor, combine the soaked raw cashews, almond milk, garlic and nutritional yeast.  Blend until smooth.  Transfer to bowl and stir in sage and walnuts.

Preheat oven 400.
Arrange your raviolis in a baking dish.  Start of by coating the bottom of the dish with cream sauce.  Then stuff the raviolis:  spoon in "ricotta" first, then the pumpkin puree.  Repeat until all shells are stuffed.  Pour the cream sauce over the shells and cover with foil.  Bake for about 30 minutes.  Enjoy!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

I'll Change Your Mind About Brussel Sprouts!...... Pomegranate Glazed Brussel Sprouts

I feel bad for brussel sprouts.  They kind of have a bad rep.  Though, in the last few years, they have been become ever so popular on menus throughout Chicago.  I'm not sure why people are often off put by these little guys....well, I actually can.  That is why I limit myself to just 2 or 3.  But, with this recipe, I literally had to put them away before I gorged myself with them.

While these were baking in the oven, I realized that vegan bacon would have been a great addition to this dish.  Next time, I think I will sprinkle some chopped up fakin' bacon on top.  But, don't get me wrong, these are absolutely superb!  An excellent side dish that has great nutritional benefits!

Pomegranate Glazed Brussel Sprouts

Because brussel sprouts are a part of the cabbage family, they have that sharp, bitter taste.  This could be off putting for some, which is why I like to make them into a savory dish.  The combination of pomegranate, balsamic and agave nectar is a perfect counterpart!

brussel sprouts (washed thoroughly)
4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp evoo
2 tbsp raw agave nectar
1/4 yellow onion chopped
1/2 pomegranate

Preheat oven 400.  After washing sprouts, discard any dirty leaves on the top layer of the sprout, cut each one in half and toss in baking dish.  Add in vinegar, evoo, agave nectar and chopped onion.  Squeeze the half pomegranate to release juices and then scoop out the seeds and add to baking dish.  Toss all ingredients until mixed.  Bake in oven for 30 minutes, stirring once about half way through.

Need a Comforting Vegan Side Dish?.....Vegan Herbed Scalloped Potatoes

I feel like I have been putting off cooking this for some time.  But, I figured I would please the hubby and surprise him with one of his favorite side dishes.  Although, he is an oddball and likes to enjoy this side dish as a main meal (not recommended for the normal folk).

I actually remember back in the college days (some 12 years ago), Ryan would eat at least a box of those nasty, preservative packed, dehydrated boxed scalloped least once a week.  So, at least this is a step in the right direction!

In my opinion, you can never go wrong with a plant based,  homemade menu item!  My favorite part of this dish is the thyme.  Fresh herbs will always elevate any dish, regardless of what it is.

Vegan Herbed Scalloped Potatoes
 Ingredients (yields 3-4 servings as side dish)
1 potato peeled and sliced thinly
2 tbsp evoo
2 tbsp flour
1.5 c unsweetened almond milk
1/2 c vegeatable broth
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1/2 tbsp tahini
2 tbsp fresh thyme chopped
1/2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 garlic clove minced
1/2 yellow onion minced
vegan butter (to oil baking dish)

First, to avoid a 2 hour baking time, you will want to parboil the potatoes first.  To do this, boil water and cook potatoes for just about 5 minutes.  Strain in collander and set aside.
Preheat oven 350.
In a medium sized pot, heat evoo and stir in flour.  Stir for about 5 minutes.  Slowly whisk in almond milk and vegetable broth, stirring frequently.  Once starts bubbling, turn on low and add in additional ingredients.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  
In an 8x8 baking dish, lay down parboiled potatoes and pour sauce over, equally distributing throughout.  Cover with foil and bake for about 50 minutes.  Uncover and bake an additional 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and let stand for 10 minutes. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Vegan Cran-Nut Banana Oat Muffins!

Yes, okay's a mouthful to say.  But once you have a mouthful in your mouth, you will understand why I made these muffins.

I'm not a huge baked goods person and tend to lightly pick at muffins and breads.  But, by using whole wheat flour or rice flour and by adding fruits/vegetables, I all of a sudden don't feel overly guilty about eating a small muffin. 

 Vegan Cran-Nut Banana Oat Muffins

Keep in mind, when you are baking these yourself, you can determine how much additional sugar, oil or vegan butter you add in.  You can also determine the size of your muffins.  I tend to make mine on the smaller size for better portion control.  This is much better than making an impulse purchase at Starbucks while your are ordering your coffee.  Those muffins are packed FULL of empty calories!

Ingredients (yields 12 muffins)
1 1/4 whole wheat flour or rice flour (or your choice of flour)
1 c rolled oats
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 bananas
1/2 c almond milk
1/4 c evoo
3/4 c dried cranberries
1/4 c chopped raw walnuts
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
vegan butter (to oil muffin tins)

Preheat oven 375.  In one bowl, mix dry ingredients (the first 4 ingredients).  In another bowl, mash bananas until smooth and then add in the remaining ingredients.  Stir in the dry ingredients until fully mixed.  Lightly butter muffin tins with vegan butter and pur in muffin batter about 1/2-2/3rds full.  Bake for about 16-18 minutes or until it passes the toothpick test.  Let cool for 5-10 minutes and remove from muffin tin.  Enjoy for breakfast or when on the move!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Faux Tuna (Jackfruit) Casserole

Who doesn't love a good casserole?  I'm pretty sure almost all adults and kids alike would never turn down a homemade casserole.  Kind of fits in the same category as a pot pie.  Down right homey, comfy and good.  Okay, there is nothing mind blowing with this recipe.  But, there is a way to make it plant based and vegan!

 Bye bye canned cream of mushroom soup, cheese and milk.  You don't need all that processed crap to make a great casserole!  And guess what?  It really doesn't even take that much longer when you make it from scratch either!

So what's your choice?  Preservative, hormone packed casserole?  Or, homemade, nutrient, plant-based casserole?  I choose the ladder.

Faux Tuna (Jackfruit) Casserole

Ingredients: (serves 4-6)
2 c macaroni noodles
1 c frozen peas thawed
1 tbsp evoo
1 celery stalk chopped
1 garlic clove minced
1/2 yellow onion chopped
1/2 c chopped mushrooms
1 can jackfruit
2.5-3 c unsweetened almond milk
2 tbsp flour 
3 tbsp nutritional yeast
onion powder
garlic powder
old bay 
1/2 c panko bread crumbs
1 tbsp melted vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)

Preheat oven 350.  Boil water and cook macaroni noodles accordinly and set aside.  In meantime, saute garlic, onion and celery in evoo for about 4 minutes.  Add in mushrooms and saute an additional 3 minutes.  Add in seasoning to taste.  Stir in almond milk (starting with just 2.5 c- add in other 1/2 c if needed later on), allow to start boiling, then simmer.  Spoon in nutritional yeast and flour and allow to thicken.  Adjust seasoning again to taste and allow to continue to simmer.  In meantime, drain jackfruit and squeeze out additional liquid.  Shred jackfruit, discarding the seeds.  Throw into the simmering mushroom sauce.  Place elbow macaroni in 8x8 baking dish and pour in your mushroom-jackfruit sauce.  Mix thoroughly in dish.  Spinkle panko crumbs over the top and spoon vegan butter over.  Bake for 25-30 minutes.  Enjoy with the family for an easy vegan dinner!

Fall 'n Oats.....Quick Vegan Super Power Rolled Oatmeal

Brrrr...It was a true fall morning!  The whole family was tucked under the down comforter trying to escape the cool, fall morning breeze.  I was reaming my brain what to make for breakfast, but nothing really sounded fitting, until I thought of some comforting and warming oatmeal!

Hearty, warm and filling.  Plus, to give it that extra nutrient/power packed start to the day, I added in chia seeds and flax seeds.  More protein, more fiber and rich in Omega-3 fatty acids.  Great start to the day!  And, you truly have a complete meal here...made in under 5 minutes:  Oats, seeds, nuts, fruit and vegan "dairy"...Bam!!

Quick Vegan Super Power Rolled Oatmeal

Ingredients/Directions: (serves 2)
1/2 c rolled oats
1/2 c almond milk (or your preferred nondairy milk)
1/2 c water
2 tbsp raw agave nectar
1 tbsp brown sugar (optional)
1 tbsp chia seeds
1/2 tbsp flax seeds
1 banana sliced
1/4 c dried cranberries
1/4 c raw chopped walnuts
2 tsp cinnamon

In a pot, add in oats, almond milk, water, chia seeds, and flax seeds.  Bring to boil and then turn to low.  Stir frequently.  Add in agave nectar and brown sugar (optional).  Stir until mixed thoroughly.  Add in remaining ingredients and cook for about 5 minutes.  Done and done and yum and yum!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

"Candied" Sweet Potatoes with Roasted Grapes and Walnuts!

This dish would actually be lovely at the Thanksgiving table!  Bye bye sweet potatoes with marshmellows.  To tell you the truth, I have always found you to be a bit sickening.

Adding roasted grapes and walnuts to the sweet potato puree gives it the perfect balance of sweet and nutty.  Personally, this wouldn't even be bad to enjoy for breakfast.  I personally love the roasted grapes.  The balsamic-agave nectar glaze really makes the grapes extra delicious!

 "Candied" Sweet Potatoes with Roasted Grapes and Walnuts

Not only are sweet potatoes highly versatile, but they are also a winter superfood!  Extremely high in nutrients and vitamins and a high water content.  They are great for weight loss not only due to the water content but also because they are high in fiber and low in calories per serving. 

sweet potato
1/2 tbsp evoo
1 tbsp vegan butter
1 c grapes
1/4 c chopped walnuts
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tbsp agave nectar
imitation bacon bits (optional)

Heat oven 375.  Lightly brush sweet potato with evoo, season with salt and pepper and wrap in foil.  Bake sweet potato in oven for about 1 hr. 
In a small cup or bowl, whisk together the balsamic and agave nectar.  Drizzle over the grapes and walnuts.  With about 30 minutes left on the sweet potato, place grapes in oven as well and roast for about 25 minutes.  Add in walnuts during the last 5 minutes.  Once done, set walnuts and grapes aside. 
Spoon out the sweet potato and mash or blend in food processor with vegan butter.  Season to taste.
Transfer mash to serving bowl and top with roasted grapes and walnuts.  Sprinkle with vegan bacon bits (optional).

Monday, October 14, 2013

Kinda Like Stuffed Grape Leaves....Tapanade Stuffed Collard Leaves

As I have mentioned before, Meditaranean food and Greek Cuisine are my top choices when it comes to picking my favorite ethnic food.  With that said, we really haven't had a Med.  night in quite some time.
Maybe I enjoy it so much because of it's versatility and grazing features.  I love to have a sampler plate of different items with a variety of sauces (clearly).  So tonight we had vegetables, roasted garlic hummus, falafel, stuffed leaves and vegan tsatsiki.  A perfect meal to share and tantalize your taste buds with various different flavors.

Ingredients/Directions (for stuffed collard leaves)

1 c brown rice uncooked
1 tbsp capers chopped
1 tsp juice from caper jar
1-2 tbsp chopped meditaranean olives
whole collard green leaves (about 6 large leaves)
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

In a bowl, bring 2 c of water and 1 c brown rice to a bowl.  Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes or until water is absorbed.

In meantime, in a large pot bring water to a boil and set up an ice cold water bath.  Once water is boiling, throw in collard leaves and boil for about 4 minutes.  Immediately throw leaves in ice cold water bath for the same 4 minutes.
Remove and lightly pat dry with paper towel. 

Prepare the collard wrappers by cutting each leave in half length wise along the stem and discard stem.  Set aside.

Once rice is done, transfer to bowl and add toss in capers, chopped olives and the caper juice.  Now it's time to roll these suckers.  Spoon in the rice mixture in the center of each leave and roll as if rolling a burrito (tucking the sides inwards as your roll).  Do until the rice and leaves are gone.  Either enjoy warm or cool in refrigerator.

Serve with vegan tzatziki and/or hummus!

Tapanade Stuffed Collard Leaves

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Bye bye nachos....Hello Vegan Tostadas!

Sunday Funday = Sunday crazy grocery shopping day.  For most people, this would sound tedious and more like a chore.  But, for us, this is the most favorite time of the week.
Because we live in a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood, we are surrounded by delicious, freshly made dry goods at the tortillerias.

So, why not make some tostadas today?  I can honestly say that I have never really had the desire to make and/or eat them.  This was all Ryan's idea (he is a Mexican food junkie), so I cannot take credit for this recipe.  And with that said, Ryan's ideas usually don't mean the healthiest options....but it sure is vegan!  . 

Vegan Tostadas
Really, the only ingredient that is different than nachos is that we are using tostadas, not tortilla chips. 

Think something in between nachos and a Mexican style pizza.  But, there is no sharing involved!  It's your own personal large nacho!

This recipe is quick and easy and great for a watching Sunday Football!

Ingredients: (serves 4)
1 package tostadas
1 c TVP
1/2 can vegan refried beans (if they say vegetarian-they are vegan)
1/4 yellow onion diced
1 package taco seasoning
your favorite salsa- we use chipotle
1 tomato chopped
1 avocado chopped
1 scallion chopped 2 tbsp cilantro chopped
sour cream (optional)

Place TVP in a mixing bowl and add 1 cup boiling water to it.  Let sit and soak for about 10 minutes.  In meantime, heat evoo in saute pan over medium and saute diced onions for about 5 minutes.  Turn to low and add TVP once done sitting.  Stir in taco seasoning.  Add water if necessary.  Keep heated on low.
Start arranging each tostada.  Place one tostada on the plate, spoon in a layer of beans, then the tvp mixture.  Add another tostada over the top, smother with salsa and top with tomato, avocado, green onion and cilantro.  Add a dollop of vegan sour cream (optional) and top with hot sauce.
 Easy as one, two, three!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Vegan Butternut Squash Ravioli with Mushroom Sage Butter Sauce

I have a new found love for all squash.  Growing up, I was never a huge fan.  Most likely due to the sweet taste of these fall veggies.  But year after year, I have come to enjoy them more and more.  Especially when I roast them!  I love roasting rot vegetables!

 I mean, really?  How can you not love vegetables.  I cut this sucker opened and just admired it's natural beauty.  Bright orange, fresh and ready to be loved.  (yeah, i'm a dork.  This has already been acknowledged

So what I enjoy most about this recipe is that they are actually quite delicate and light!  Maybe it is due to the gyoza wrappers that I use???? I'm really not sure why, otherwise.  Usually I cap out at around 3 raviolis, but these are almost like air...

Butternut Squash Ravioli with Mushroom Sage Butter Sauce

 Ingredients: (yields 3-4 servings)
1/2 butternut squash
1 shallot diced
1 garlic clove minced
1/2 tbsp evoo
1 package gyoza wrappers/wonton wrappers (I used the circular ones)
3 tbsp unsweentend coconut milk (or any nondairy milk)
1.5 tbsp vegan butter
1/4 c vegetable broth
1/4 cup sliced mushrooms
2 tbsp chopped fresh sage

Preheat oven 400.  Spoon out seeds in squash thoroughly and lightly oil and season with salt and pepper.  Place on baking dish and bake for about 1 hr.
While baking squash, heat saute pan with evoo and saute garlic and shallot for about 3-5 minutes.  Set aside.  
Once squash is done, allow to cool until you can handle it.  Spoon out squash and put into food processor.  Add in non-dairy milk and season with salt and pepper and blend until smooth.  Transfer your squash puree to the saute pan that holds the cooked garlic and shallots and mix thoroughly.
On parchment paper, lay out your gyoza wrappers (dust with flour if they are not already floured).  Spoon in about 1/2 tbsp in a wrapper and close with another wrapper.  To seal, wet fingers with water and pinch together the edges all the way around.  *make sure you do this with both sides of the ravioli.  Repeat until puree is gone.  For best results, place in freezer until you are ready to boil.  When ready to cook, boil water and cook for about 3-5 minutes.  While you are waiting for your water to boil, start your sauce.  Saute butter on low-medium and add in mushrooms.  Cook for about 3 minutes and add in vegetable broth.  Turn to medium and let reduce slightly.  Add in sage and season with salt and pepper....that's it!
Lightly coat your raviolis with the me, you do not need a lot with this dish!
Enjoy with a nice glass of white wine!

Friday, October 11, 2013

A little bit of Harvest in the Burger....Rutabaga Bean Burger

I had so many left over beans from my chili pie and knew I had to do something with them before the fridge started getting stinky.  So, I thought....hmmmm....what did we pick yesterday that would be a great accompaniment to these beans.  Bingo!  Rutabaga.  Rutabaga Bean Burger??  Sounds like it could be interesting and quite delicious!

Rutabaga Bean Burger

I opted to leave the bun off this dish because between the rutabaga and the mixed beans, this burger was going to be quite filling on its own.  And just to mix things up a bit, I decided to do a play on a chopped salad, using the typical burger fixings.  So I suppose in a way, it was a "salad burger".

For the Rutabaga Bean Burger:
Ingredients: (yields 4-6 burgers)
1/2 rutabaga cut into cubes
1 c beans of your choice (I used white beans and black beans)
1 tbsp tamari
1 tbsp ketchup
3 tsp hot sauce
2 tsp liquid smoke
1/4-1/2 c panko bread crumbs
garlic powder
onion powder

Preheat oven 400.  In baking dish, lightly coat rutabaga with evoo and salt and pepper and back for 30-40 minutes.  Once done, transfer rutabaga to food processor, along with black beans.  Pulse a few times so that your mixture is half blended (you do not want it to become a puree!).  Once done, transfer to bowl and add in the remaining ingredients.  Start off with just adding in 1/4 bread crumbs.  Mix with spoon or fork.  Add in additional panko crumbs to achieve your desired consistency.  Form into patties.
In a saute pan, heat evoo on low-medium.  Cook each pattie for about 3-5 minutes per side.  When done, dress with your favorite toppings and sauce and serve.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Is it a pie??? Is it Chili???....Vegan Chili Pie

Yeah, anyone and everyone can make chili.  And yes, it is most likely is super good.  But, try something different the next time you go to a fall/winter potluck get together!  Really, it is simply your favorite chili recipe, topped with a delicious, flaky, cornmeal crust!

Oh wait, your friends/family aren't vegan?  Who cares!!  No one will ever miss the meat or even think about meat when spooning this delightfully warming dish into their mouths!

 Yes, like all pies, the crust can always be difficult and the "death" of the dish.  And yes, I did become obsessed with trying to create perfection.  But then I thought, "wait, this is CHILI!  There is no perectly plated chili, we are talking about comfort food here!"  So, I just went with it.  And guess what?  Once you slice it, you actually do get perfection!....In your mouth!

Vegan Chili Pie

Though, here are my substitutions/changes I made to accommodate what I had in my plantry:
-used white beans, black beans, pinto beans and chili beans
- used veggie broth, not water
- eliminated chia seeds
- added 1 tbsp tomato paste
- no need for avocado

**this just tells you how easy it is to adjust your favorite recipes to use what you have!!!  GREAT TIP!!!

Let your chili simmer as you prepare your crust.  Ingredients/Directions directly follow.

Ingredients (for cornmeal crust)
1 c flour
1/2 c cornmeal
8 tbsp vegan butter (make sure cold and sliced thinly!)
1/4 c cold water
*add touch of salt if using unsalted vegan butter

Heat oven 400.  With your 9" pie pan, spoon in chili until almost full (I filled up until 1/4")

In bowl, sift dry ingredients.  Add in vegan butter and water and mix first with fork until partially mixed and then get in there with your hands to properly form the dough.  Once your dough is completely "kneaded" and mixed through, your dough will most likely be a bit warm (due to the fact that you were using your hands).  ***tip- place dough in freezer for about 10 min***  Once dough is cold, roll out to fit a bit over the 9" pie pan.  Carefully transfer dough to cover chili in the pie pan.  Pinch the left over edges to create a crust.   Bake in oven for about 30 minutes.

Literally Farm to Table!....Apple-Chard Quinoa Stuffed Cabbage with Tomato-Apple Sauce!

I told you I was going to do something great with this big, bad cabbage that we picked from the farm!

When I think cabbage (probably like most do), I think corned beef and cabbage or that detox cabbage soup.  But wait!  There has to be more to this plant than just those boring, bland recipes, right??!

Well yeah!!!  And this is a perfect example on how to think outside the box and be creative with what you have in your plantry!

 I knew that I wanted to make something "farm-centric" and really highlight the fall vegetables that we picked today.

Clearly I did not use everything we picked, but decided on cabbage, apples, tomatoes and swiss chard.  The only other thing I used in the plantry was quinoa and tomato paste, and well, clearly spices.

When I mentioned my idea of the tomato-apple sauce there was a bit of question in Ryan's voice.  I told him, stop being a non-believer.  My ideas my sound odd at times, but your taste buds don't lie.
So, half way through the sauce, he tasted it and literally said "wow, that is like a taste of fall".  A very good way to describe the dish as a whole.  If fall had a taste, it would be this!

Apple-Chard Quinoa Stuffed Cabbage with Tomato-Apple Sauce

1 c quinoa
2 c vegetable broth
1 c chopped swiss chard
1 small apple chopped
1/4 red onion chopped
1/4 c chopped raw walnuts

3 vine ripe tomatoes
1 apple diced
1/2 yellow onion chopped
1 garlic clove diced
1/2 c vegetable broth
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp evoo
3 tsp brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamin 

Start with sauce:  In boiling water, stew vine ripe tomatoes for about 4-5 minutes.  Transfer to collander and let cool.
In meantime,  in large saute pan, heat evoo on medium and saute garlic and onions for about 3 minutes.  Add apples and saute for another 3-5 minutes.  Slowly add in vegetable broth and stir in tomato paste.  Take your stewed tomatoes and crush and transfer to your sauce.  Stir until everything is combined.  Season with brown sugar, s+p and cinnamin.  Cover and simmer for about 20-30 min or until serve.  (if you don't like very chunky sauce, take 1/2 of sauce and blend until smooth...I did this and turned out great!)

Heat oven 375.

While your sauce is cooking, start your quinoa by boiling 2 c of vegetable broth with your 1 c of quinoa, then cover and simmer for 20 minutes.  In a large sauce pan, boil water.  While waiting to boil, trim about 1/4" off of the bottom of the cabbage and carefully peel off leaves.  Place leaves in medium-boiling water and blanch for about 5 minutes.  Trasfer to collander to drain and cool.  In saute pan, heat evoo and saute onions and apples for 5 minutes, add in swiss chard and saute until wilted.  Add this mixture, along with chopped walnuts and toss until mixed.  (add a touch of evoo and tomato-apple sauce to quinoa mixture if desired optional)

With a baking dish, spoon in your sauce mixture to lightly coat the bottom.  Now its time to stuff and roll your cabbage!  Take each leaf and spoon in your quinoa mixture and just roll as if you are rolling a burrito.  Do this until all your leaves and mixture is gone.  Transfer to baking dish and cover with tomato-apple sauce.  Bake in oven for about 35-45 minutes.  Enjoy this excellent fall dish!

Tips on How to Make Food Fun!....Take a Trip to the Farm!!!

 Take a Trip to the Farm and Make Food Fun!

 If you are like me and live in the city, or just don't have time or space to have your own personal garden, well no worries!  The next best thing is to visit a farm or orchard nearby!  Not only are the fruits and veggies the best you could probably get during that specific season, but the experience is what really makes it worth while!

 Yes, I am an urban girl living in Chicago, but I truly believe in local produce and supporting local farms.  Plus, what is better to pick your food, go home, wash it and then create something with it?  Ummm, it made the most perfect day off for Ryan and I.  I felt like a giddy little girl.

   I hope that everyone will start to realize the joy of being able to partake farm to table food.  It really gives you an appreciation for the food we have and the love that it takes to grow, pick and make.

Enjoy the Farm to Table Experience First Hand!!!....Great Recipes to Follow!
(enjoy some of our pictures in the meantime!)

Our first objective:  hit up the beet patch......those suckers took a bit of work to muster out of the ground....

Clearly I thought I was better at "sniffing" out the good beets....

 Ryan toting along while I went hunting.

Apple Orchard!  Don't forget to try what you are picking!  Hard work comes with some tasty treats along the way!

One of my favorite areas.....brussell sprouts and cabbage, oh my!

So beautiful, yet so difficult to get out of the ground...stay tuned to see what I did with this later on that day!

And my work is done here!  An amazing day at the farm and now I am ready to head home and start cooking with my fresh veggies and fruit!

One of the most enjoyable fall days ever!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Sofrito Hummus ...or...Green Pepper-Cilantro Hummus

Some of the best hummus I have ever had.  Latin America meets the Mediterranean today in this creamy, tasty dip!

You can make this recipe two ways.  Either make your sofrito separate or combine all ingredients to both the sofrito and hummus and blend all together right away.  What is the difference you ask?  Well, if you make it separate, you can enjoy the sofrito salsa with tortilla chips or in other Mexican dishes.
Better yet, what the heck is sofrito?  It is a Caribbean or Latin American sauce or salsa that is bursting with cilantro and garlic.  The recipe I use is a blend of green peppers, tomato, tons of cilantro, parsley, onion, garlic, coriander, evoo and Adobo seasoning.

The second I tasted just the salsa, I knew immediately that I HAD to make this with hummus.  It reminded me of a crazy concoction that I came up with at a Turkish restaurant I worked at all through college.  One of those recipes that you come up with because you are sick of the typical things that they have for you.  And, shoot!  That's when the best recipes come about!

Sofrito Hummus

1 can garbanzo beans (rinsed/drained)
3 tbsp tahini
1 lemon juiced
2 tbsp evoo
1 clove roasted garlic or garlic chopped
1 small green bell pepper (seeded)
1 small tomato
1 bunch cilantro
1/2 small onion
1/2 bunch parsley

Literally throw into food processor and blend until smooth.  If you wish the hummus to be creamier or smoother, add in more evoo or tahini.  Season to taste and enjoy!!!!!


Saturday, October 5, 2013

Vegan Comfort Sandwich!......Tastiest Vegan Reuben!

Who doesn't love a reuben?  The first time I had a seitan reuben, I fell in love.  It was perfect!  Unfortunately that little restaurant/dive bar went out of business a few years ago and I have yet to have one until now.

Making seitan has literally become one of my most favorite things to make.  I'm not so sure why ???  It just fascinates me as it sits in the pot, multiplying in size.  And, it is so malleable, you can honestly create anything with it. 

So, I got the idea to make this recipe from Vegetarian Times.  They had an article re: Chicago Diner's Radical Reuben.  So, I somewhat based it off of that, making my own slight alterations though.

I enjoy making my seitan, because I find the process oddly enjoyable and entertaining.  It's crazy to watch the fake meat just expand in the pot over an hour.  If you want to make your own seitan loaf, follow these directions.  Otherwise, buy seitan in the refrigerated section of your grocery store and thinly slice!  Then, you find in the directions below how to make it taste like corned beef!

Tastiest Vegan Reuben

The addition of vegan swiss cheese is entirely up to you.  I added some on Ryan's and left it off on my sandwich.

I can only really do a few varieties of vegan cheese, unfortunately swiss is not one of them.

thinly sliced seitan
1 c pickle juice
1/4 c soy sauce
1/2 c beet juice (either store bought or juiced yourself)
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp pickling spices
rye bread
1/2 yellow onion sliced
1 green pepper sliced
s + p
4 tbsp sauerkraut 
vegan thousand island (veganaise, ketchup and diced pickles mixed)

In a medium pot, add in seitan, pickle juice, soy sauce, beet juice, onion powder and pickling spices.  Bring to boil and cover and let simmer for about 1-2 hours.  Or, juice cover, remove from heat and let sit overnight.  Remove seitan from liquid and place in colander and allow to strain.
In meantime, heat evoo in saute pan and saute yellow onion and green pepper for about 5 minutes.  Season to taste.  Toast bread, spread on vegan thousand island on one piece of and stack seitan corned beef on the other piece of bread.  Top with onions and peppers and spoon on sauerkraut.
Enjoy this delicious vegan comfort sammy!