30 November 2011

My Wintry Morning

This is what I woke up to. Kind of beautiful...unless you have no soul (in which case I wonder why you bother visiting a vegan website in the first place). Really. Why would you even bother?

This is the first snow of the year and I'm totally giddy for it. By February, I'll be over it, but for now, I just want to enjoy it.

Anyway, cold, snowy mornings always make me hungry for a hot breakfast. So, I remedied that situation by making this:
Chelsea waffles from Vegan Brunch (altered, of course) and some oniony, mushroomy, cheesy hashbrowns.
You can tell that I love my hashbrowns. I could eat them pretty much every single day without complaint. The Chelsea waffles from Vegan Brunch were altered because I didn't have all the ingredients in the recipe. It calls for barley malt syrup, which is ridiculously expensive around here, so I subbed in maple syrup. It also calls for canola oil, but I used coconut instead. Ever since I first tried these waffles, they have been my favorite. I've probably made them 15 or more times. I usually make a full batch so I can freeze the rest for quick breakfasts later on. They're awesome popped in the toaster and topped with a good slather of Earth Balance. Mmmm, dudes. I know I always talk about Vegan Brunch, but for real, YOU NEED THIS COOKBOOK. Best cookbook purchase I've ever made.

Here's the rest of my lovely snow photos from this morning.

29 November 2011

Heavenly Tempeh Wrap

This is my 200th post here on this blog. Crazy. I always thought I would do something special for my 200th, but I completely forgot. Silly chickpea. So, anyway, I had a massive craving for tempeh that just wouldn't quit. I had some super tasty spinach tortillas and some ideas rolling around in my brain. Alas, this spicy and tangy tempeh wrap was born.

The wrap is crazy easy to make. It really takes almost no effort. You should totally make some. The sauce will seem pretty tangy on its own, but once you cook it with the tempeh and add your toppings, it'll go together surprisingly well. I know, the sauce sounds odd. Just try it. Now, I'm getting back to reading a book on my day off, so go make some food, dudes! Go forth and cook.

Makes 2 large wraps.

What you need:
  • 1 block tempeh, sliced into 1/2-inch slices
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 3 TB garlic chili pepper sauce (I used A Taste of Thai brand) You could sub sriracha maybe.
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 2 large spinach wraps
  • toppings of your choice- I used Vegenaise, shredded carrot, red onion, romaine and a handful of baby spinach
What you do:
  1. Whisk together the ketchup, soy sauce and chili sauce in a bowl. Plop your tempeh in after the sauce is all mixed up. Then go ahead and let it all marinate for a few. I maybe left mine about 20 minutes. Ideally, I'd marinate it longer, but this worked just fine. 
  2. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add the coconut oil. Once hot, add the sauced-up tempeh. Cook about 4 minutes on each side, until browned. You can spoon more of the leftover sauce on the tempeh while it is still cooking. I did. 
  3. Now fill your wrap however you want and tuck in.

24 November 2011

My Pantry Essentials for New Vegans

My most-used food cupboard. Top shelf is pasta and other dry goods (Jiffy mix and Stovetop are not vegan, but I live with a non-veg fella). Middle shelf is egg replacer, VWG, dried legumes, oats, nooch and peanut butter. Bottom is dried fruit, lots of nuts, teas and some snacks.
I've been meaning to write this post for a while now because I have had several people ask me how to get started cooking after spending years survivng on boxed food and take-out. When I first started to cook (about 2 years ago), I didn't know what I needed to keep in my pantry. It felt like every recipe I tried required tons of ingredients, but that was just because I didn't have well-stocked pantry. Over the months, and now years, I have learned what I will always use and try hard to keep it stocked. It includes and assortment of baking goods, spices, condiments, dried goods and even a few cans and frozen goods. I hope this helps those of you just starting out. Don't be discouraged, after you get the pantry stocked, cooking gets loads cheaper because you'll already have lots of stuff ready to use. But, it does take $$ and patience when you get started. Good luck! And please feel free to contact me if you need any help or ideas.

Things you'll always find in my freezer:
  • peas - add to curries, soups, even salads
  • corn
  • hashbrowns & tater tots - perfect for quick breakfasts and lunches
  • shelled edamame - add to soups, salads and stir-fries
  • Daiya - I like to always have some on-hand and it keeps longer in the freezer
  • tempeh - perfect for pretty much any meal
  • Gardein crispy chikn strips - nom nom nom
Spices I can't live without:
  • garlic powder and garlic salt
  • onion powder
  • chili powder
  • coriander
  • cumin
  • curry powder
  • black pepper
  • kosher and sea salts
 Foods in my Cupboards at all times:
  • dried legumes and lentils
  • brown rice
  • nuts -almonds, pecans, sunflower seeds, and walnuts
  • pasta -spaghetti, penne and shells
  • canned beans - chickpeas, black beans and kidney beans save time in a rush
  • tomato sauce and crushed/diced tomatoes for making my own pizza/pasta sauces and chili
  • Nooch (nutritional yeast) - I add it to tons of dishes for cheezy flavor and for the B-12.
  • peanut butter
  • Bisquick (yup, it's vegan)
  • coconut oil or any cooking oil, like olive oil. Coconut oil can be pricey if you don't hunt for bargains.
  • sesame oil
  • TVP/TSP - textured veggie/soy protein makes a great ground beef texture when cooked
In my fridge all the time:
  • soy sauce and Braggs aminos
  • mushrooms
  • Veggies: carrots, lettuce, red onion. potatoes, fresh heads of garlic, spinach, broccoli
  • ground flax - add it to all sorts of stuff, even smoothies, make flax eggs.
  • dressings, especially vinaigrettes
  • salsa
  • maple syrup for anything from baking, breakfast, to tempeh bacon
  • yellow and dijon mustards
  • Vegenaise (Best vegan mayo brand ever). Find it in your grocer's cooler.
  • Earth Balance vegan buttah
Baking goods:
  • unbleached all-purpose flour
  • sugar (find sugar made from sugar beets as they don't use bone char to bleach the sugar)
  • brown sugar
  • cinnamon
  • vegan chocolate chips - I always use Ghirardelli semi-sweet chips which are accidentally vegan
  • cocoa powder
  • vegetable shortening
  • vanilla extract
  • powdered sugar
I hope this helps out :)

23 November 2011

Lentil Loaf Heaven

I have been obsessed with using lentils these last few days. I made the lentil tacos, lentil nachos and the lentil shepherd's pie. I'm digging the lentils hardcore, dudes. They taste rad, especially when cooked with vegetable broth with some spices. Well, I've been looking for a lentil loaf recipe for about a week because when I re-organized my cupboards, I found 2 bags of lentils I had forgotten all about. Why lentil loaf? Why the hell not? I always hated meatloaf as a kid, so I have no idea why I became obsessed with making a vegan version.

Whatever, though. This stuff was fucking perfect. I will admit, though, that I was completely skeptical as I don't really love tofu. There, I said it. I don't love tofu. I like it in scrambles, and that's about it. But, I'm certain that I will never make lentil loaf again without it. It keeps it moist and helps it hold it's loafy shape.

Here's the original inspiration recipe. I did make kind of a lot of changes. But, without this recipe, I would have ended up with a dry, crumbly mess. So, I do recommend it. I just needed more spices and sauce.

So, here are the changes I made to the recipe.
  • Instead of making that tomato sauce, I used ketchup and bbq sauce topped with some salt and pepper.
  • I used just green bell pepper, not red.
  • Instead of the 1 TB tomato mixture, I added about 2 TB ketchup and 2 TB bbq sauce into the loaf.
  • I left out the balsamic vinegar, sugar, thyme (I don't like thyme) and corn meal.
  • Used 1 TB coconut oil to cook the veggies in, then 2 tsp olive oil in the loaf.
  • Cooked my lentils in veggie broth with some cumin and all-purpose seasoning.
  • Used Braggs aminos instead of soy sauce.
  • Upped the spices to:
    • 1/2-3/4 tsp cumin
    • 1 1/2 tsp chili powder
    • 1/2 tsp dried mustard
    • 1 TB dried parsley
    • 1/4-1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • Added these spices:
    • 1/2 tsp onion powder
    • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
    • 1/3 tsp Simply Organic all-purpose seasoning
    • Kosher salt
    • 1/4 tsp coriander
    • 1/4 tsp rubbed sage
    • pepper
  • I followed the directions as-is, except that I ran my drained tofu through my processor instead of mashing it by hand. 
  • I didn't measure the bbq sauce and ketchup that I brushed on the outside. I'm guessing 2 TB bbq, and 3-4 TB ketchup.
Here are the photos of the progress:

Freshly formed loaf. About 2 inches high and 4 wide.

Loafy McLoaf smothered in bbq and ketchup before being baked.

Fresh from the oven. Much loafy love.

So perfect with some butter mashed Yukons and a little ketchup for dipping. 

You should totally make this! Don't let my alterations dissuade you. It's soooo easy and the baking time is only 30 minutes. Just do it!!

22 November 2011

Spicy Lentil Tacos

Hark! I have discovered my very favorite tacos of all time! The lentil taco. So much awesomeness. Plus, any leftover lentils make some crazy-good nachos. Definitely rad. You should make them.

This batch made 6 large tacos and 2 huge servings of nachos.

What you need:
  • 1 cup dry lentils
  • about 2-2 1/4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/4 tsp all-purpose seasoning (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • about 1 1/2 TB taco seasoning (I use my own blend. Recipe here)
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 3 large mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 cup salsa of your choice
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp coconut oil
  • salt
What I did:
  1. Cook lentils in the broth with the cumin and all-purpose seasoning (if using). I leave my pot covered so that none of the broth evaporates. Mine took about 15-20 minutes, but cooking times vary by how old the lentils are. If they get too dry add more broth or water then cover again and cook until they are tender, but not mush. Once they're tender done, and nearly all the liquid is absorbed, remove the pot from the heat.
  2. In a skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook 5 minutes. Then add the mushrooms and cook 3 more minutes. Add the lentils, the spices and the salsa. Stir well and taste for seasonings. Cook for 4-5 minutes. Done.
Have leftover lentil taco filling? Make some nachos. These have vegetarian refried beans, vegan sour cream, some Daiya cheddar mixed into the lentils, some diced onion, sliced black olives and tomatoes. Mega yum, dudes. I wish there were more leftovers. 

21 November 2011

Daiya Grilled Cheese...Um, yum.

Yup. Looks great, eh? It was.

Why the hell have I never made a Daiya cheddar grilled cheese before? I feel like I have to eat 100 of them to make up for the last year of not eating it.

I'm kind of a weirdo when it comes to my grilled cheese sandwiches. I like to add a tiny bit of finely diced onion into them. And, here's the part that people have always teased me about: I love them dipped in ketchup. There, I said it. I'm out of the ketchup closet. The only other time I ever eat ketchup is with fries. Otherwise, I pretty much loathe it. But there is something magical about dipping grilled cheese into it. Do it. If you don't like it, then bugger off. It tastes like my childhood and I don't want it tainted with your poor taste.

20 November 2011

Lentil Shepherd's Pie with Shrooms

It's not especially photogenic, but it tastes like comfort.
With the weather turning colder by the day, I have been wanting craving comfort food like mad. Funny thing, I never had shepherd's pie until I went veg, so it isn't some childhood memory for me, which is what most comfort food is to me. But, anything smothered in mashed potatoes instantly becomes comfort food. And if you have a problem with that, then I'm just going to have to ask you to leave. Now. We don't need your types around here.

When you look at the recipe, it seems like a lot of ingredients, I know. However, if you cook regularly, you probably have most of it on-hand already. About 1/3 of them are spices. See, less daunting already! I do hope, though, that you have the ability to multi-task because it definitely saves you a lot of time on this one. And if you don't, well, bummer for you.

I have found a new spice love. I feel so unfaithful to my constant standbys of garlic powder, coriander, etc. I'm in love with an all-purpose seasoning by Simply Organics. I only bought it because I found a recipe I want to make for Thanksgiving that calls for it. But, I've been trying it in other dishes and I'm completely hooked. I find it irresistible. So, I thought I'd shared the love and recommend it to you guys, too. I think you'll like it. Enough blathering on about spice. On to the recipe, already. Sheesh.

This makes 1 large-ish dish. I got 6 main-dish-sized servings out of mine.

What I used for the mashed potatoes: 
  • 5 medium-sized yukon gold potatoes, cubed with skins on (You can use any kind, just peel them before boiling)
  • some almond milk
  • some Earth Balance
  • salt 
What I used for the lentils:
  • 1 cup dried lentils
  • about 2 1/4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 tsp Simply Organic All-Purpose Seasoning
What I used for the rest of the dish:
  • 1 1/2 TB coconut oil
  • 1/2 of a yellow onion, diced
  • about 8 ounces of fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • about 1 cup finely shredded carrot (I just used 1 massive carrot)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 large handfuls of baby spinach, stems removed
  • 2 tsp Braggs aminos 
  • 2 TB cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup vegetable broth (approximate)
  • 1 tsp Simply Organic All-Purpose Seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp coriander
  • lots of pepper and some salt
  • about 2/3 cup bread crumbs (I used Italian seasoned ones because that's what I had in my cupboard)
What you need to do:
  1. Preheat your oven to about 400 degrees F. Lightly spritz a deep casserole or pie plate with some cooking spray. Shake the bread crumbs into the bottom of the dish to make a light layer covering the whole bottom. You may need more or less depending on your dish size.
  2. Put your lentils, their broth and seasoning into a small pot with a lid. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to medium-low and simmer (with the lid on) until most of the liquid is dissolved and the lentils are softened to your liking. You do want a little broth left over...maybe 2-3 TB. The cooking time varies with the age of the lentils. Fresher lentils cook faster. Mine took about 15 minutes. Once done, leave the lid on and remove from the heat.
  3. While the lentils are cooking, put your potatoes in a large pot, add about 1 TB salt to the pot and cover the potatoes with water. Bring to a boil, then cook for about 10 minutes. Maybe more maybe less depending on how big your taters are cut. You want them to be fork-tender. Then drain. Now, using either an electric hand mixer, of a potato masher, whip in some almond milk, butter and salt. I like mine creamy and buttery, but add however much you want. Once you get them tasting awesome, set aside.
  4. I started this while the first 2 steps were still happening. You'll need a large nonstick skillet. Heat the coconut oil over medium heat. Add the onions and carrots and cook about 5 minutes, until the onions are softened. Now add the garlic and mushrooms. Cook another 4 minutes. Your mushrooms should be cooked perfectly now.
  5. In a small bowl, mix together the cornstarch and the broth until the cornstarch is dissolved. Add that mix, along with the lentils and their broth, the Braggs and the spices to the skillet and mix well. Now add the spinach and mix around a bit. Just cook until the spinach wilts, about 5 minutes. Taste and check for seasoning. Remove from heat.
  6. Scoop the lentil mix into the baking dish. 
  7. Now, scoop all the potatoes on top and smooth out into an even layer across the top. I then sprinkled mine with salt and pepper.
  8. Bake about 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are lightly golden. Dig in and enjoy. Or not. Your loss.

19 November 2011

OMG Hashbrowns

I woke up with an angry belly demanding food...NOW! Well, dudes, I just cleaned out my freezer last night (it was long overdue) and discovered that I still had half a bag of hashbrowns hiding in there. Does anyone else put stuff in the freezer intending to use it, and forget about it for months? I'm trying hard to knock that off because I hate wasting food. But, we shall see. Oh, yeah, so I found the hashbrowns. I am one of those people that loves potatoes...always have always will...and you can't make me change. So there.

Well, as I already mentioned, I woke up super hungry, so I took matters into my little paws and made a very tasty little (okay, okay, the pile of hashbrowns was quite sizeable) breakfast.  You can probably add any veggies you want, but had some broccoli left over from making Chickpea Broccoli Casserole yesterday, so I used some broccoli. Along with that, I added some fresh mushrooms and red onion I had in the fridge.

I'm not sure if you have ever been to Waffle House, but they are kind of famous for their hashbrowns. There, you can add all sorts of stuff to them, including meats (blech) and chili, along with several veggies, fungi and cheese. Having always been a fan of customizable hashbrowns, I took a page from their book. So, my kitchen became a vegan Waffle House this morning. And it was good. Very good. I think the only thing that could have made it better would be if someone else had cooked it for me. But, such is life.

These hashbrowns are ridiculously easy to make. And they take very little time. My version below makes 1 giant serving or 2 average size ones. Don't judge- I ate it all by my lonesome and I am stuffed.

What I used:
  • 2 cups frozen hashbrowns
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion
  • 1/4 cup broccoli cut into tiny florets so they cook faster
  • 3 white mushrooms, chopped small
  • 1 1/2 TB coconut oil (or other oil)
  • salt and lots of pepper
What I did:
  1. Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Once melted and hot, add the broccoli and onion. Cook about 4 minutes. Then add the mushrooms. Cook another 3 minutes. 
  2. Add the frozen hashbrowns, stir well to coat with the little bit of oil that remains. Cook about 3 minutes, then stir in the salt and pepper. Taste and adjust as needed. Then, flatten the hashbrowns down into the pan and let cook until browned to your liking. You can add more oil, if you need to. 
See! Too easy. And dogs love it too. Check out Daisy waiting patiently for them to get done (she likes potato, but not veggies....silly girl).

Here's what I made this day last year: Vegan Pierogies!! <--Click Me!

18 November 2011

Chickpea Broccoli Casserole a la VwaV

There are days when you just need a hot, filling meal...something comforting for your tummy to devour and enjoy. Oh yeah, that was today. I woke up super hungry and I couldn't stop thinking about casserole. WTF? I am sooooo not a casserole kind of girl. But, whatever, I needed comfort food and I didn't know what to make. I saw somewhere online that people seemed to really like the broccoli chickpea casserole in the Vegan with a Vengeance cookbook, so I whipped it out. The book, not "it." Get your damn minds outta the gutter.

Well, I have had my VwaV cookbook for a couple years now, and I have made exactly 1 recipe from it. I think there is something wrong with me. I really don't know why I never think to use it. Whatever. Anyway, I made the casserole on page 97 (you can also find it posted all over the internet), but with some changes, including making it a little bit smaller because I didn't have enough chickpeas. Here are the other changes I made:
  • had no chives, so I added 2 cloves minced garlic instead
  • more breadcrumbs, with some extra on the top
  • added lots of pepper and some extra salt (my broth was low-sodium, so that may be why)
  • added 1 cup Daiya cheddar into the mix, and will probably add a little more next time
  • added about 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, but will add more next time
  • added in a little garlic powder and onion powder- maybe 1/4 tsp garlic and 1/3 tsp onion
  • I ran most of the chickpeas through my food processor instead of mushing with a fork. Saves time.
Hmmm. Seems like I'm forgetting something. Wait, I do have a suggestion: saute your onion before adding it to the casserole mix. Mine were still a little crispy, and I will be cooking them next time. I do, however, have some more ideas for future casseroles now. Perhaps I will be adding some shredded hashbrown potatoes into it, along with some mushrooms. Who knows. I'm crazy that way. This casserole was quite yummy, though. Especially as it cooled down. You should give it a shot, even if you don't think you're a casserole kind of person. 

Here's what my version looked like before I baked it:

Here's what I blogged this day last year: Review of Strawberry Basil Preserves <--Click me!

17 November 2011

Review: Deep Brand Lentil Samosas

I am obsessed with trying and making Indian food. And, today, I discovered a new little Indian Grocer/Cafe near my house! It's called Chutney Bazaar, and it is awesome. It smells incredible when you walk in the door. There are so many awesome spices, about a million different kinds of naan, and some excellent-looking foods. I can't wait to try their cafe foods!!

When I went, they were out of the freshly made vegan samosas, so I snagged some frozen ones instead. They are by Deep brand, and they were $6.99 for 24. The box says that they could be deep fried or baked, and since I hate deep-frying at home, I baked mine. The box does have a misprint, though. It says to bake at 400 degrees F for 6-8 minutes. What it should say is 16-18 minutes. I cooked mine for 16 and they were perfectly done...soft around the centers and just a little crispy around the edges.

They, to me, had just the right amount of spice. Just enough to warm your mouth without burning your tongue. I dipped mine in a tamarind/ginger chutney and they went very well together. I'm curious to try more chutneys, maybe a mango or a mint will be next. Who knows. I'm crazy like that. Haha.

As for the texture, I loved that the lentils held their shape, but they weren't hard, either. They had a texture to chew on, see: 

And here's what they looked like served with the tamarind ginger chutney:

I served mine with some fresh naan. It was awesome. I definitely recommend these if you happen to stumble upon them anywhere.

Any recommendations for a good chutney to go with samosas?

Here's what I made/blogged on this day last year: Pineapple Smoothies & My New Vita-Mix! <--Click Me!

16 November 2011

Hain Brown Gravy & Hot Turkey Sandwich...Vegan Style

I don't know about you guys, but I grew up frequenting coney islands and diners. My most favorite thing there (besides the always-classic grilled cheese) was always the hot turkey sandwich. It was a slice of white bread topped by cooked deli turkey, topped by another slice of bread. On the top was a heaping pile of mashed potatoes smothered in a boatload of brown gravy. So, recently, when I found these Hain brand vegan gravy mixes at my local HFS, I knew what I had to make...Vegan hot turkey sandwich.

Holy hell, dudes. It was just a blast from the past. I will definitely be making it again REALLY soon. I just need to hit up the health food store and stock up on that brown gravy. I snagged the chicken gravy kind, too, but I haven't tried it yet. I never was much of a chicken gravy gal, myself. But I do highly recommend the brown gravy. In fact, I'm getting hungry just writing about it.

The gravy packs look like this:

The gravy says you can either stovetop cook or microwave cook the gravy. I chose microwave as I was already busy making the mashed potatoes and lightly pan-frying the turkey slices. It came out weird at first, with a big clump in the middle of the gravy. I whisked for about 4 minutes non-stop and it broke it down with no problem. I would probably make it on the stovetop next time, so I can whisk throughout cooking and make it smoother and thicker. Regardless, the taste was excellent! I just added a tiny bit of pepper to the cooked gravy and it was good to go. I definitely recommend it! And, no, I'm not being sponsored or anything like that, I just found something that I really love and I think you might like it, too.

15 November 2011

Smoothie of The Day

Mmmm! While I was away on vacation I had smoothie withdrawal, so of course, I had to make an awesome one today to make up for it. Fortunately I remembered to make a trek to the grocery store yesterday to stock back up, otherwise yesterday's Hearty Minestrone Soup wouldn't have been possible...nor would today's smoothie. This is one of the best that I've had in quite a while. Maybe I was in a smoothie rut pre-vacation. Whatever. Here's what I used:
  • 1 small banana
  • 1/2 of a giant HoneyCrisp apple (skin and core left intact)
  • 1 tangerine
  • 1 small carrot
  • 2 large handfuls of baby spinach
  • 1/4 cup cranberry juice
  • 1 small scoop of ice
Blend until nice and smooth. Enjoy.

In case you're curious, here's what I made this day last year:
Penne alla Vodka! <---Click to check out the recipe.

The view from my back porch this morning. Cold and foggy. I love it!

14 November 2011

Hearty Minestrone Soup

After being on the road and traveling for the last week, I missed cooking. Not only that, I missed eating REAL food. You know, whole foods, not processed garbage. Well, today was the perfect day for cooking- it was cold, windy and rainy...prime soup-making weather. So, that's what I did. And it was super yummy. Why minestrone? Two reasons: first, it is my favorite soup. Second, I had to make up for a terrible soup I ate on vacation.

You see, after my best friend's beach wedding, we went out to eat at a nearby restaurant. I ordered minestrone soup and some salad. The soup was a terrible let-down. It lacked pasta, beans and flavor. What it did have was cabbage and a few pieces of carrot. Boring. And not at all what I'd ever call a minestrone soup. So, I have been obsessing about minestrone ever since. I needed to make my own and erase that terrible experience from my brain. Sure, I've made minestrone before, but this is my new favorite recipe. Here's my other minestrone recipe if you're interested.

This soup is soooo filling! I absolutely love it. It's hearty and flavorful and overall awesome. It makes enough for about 6-8 bowls, depending on your appetite.

What you need:
  • 3 medium to large carrots, cut into 1/4 inch slices
  • 2 large stalks of celery, sliced (I slice mine thinnish)
  • 1 small yellow squash, sliced
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 4 cups vegetable stock (I used Imagine brand)
  • 15-oz can fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 8-oz can tomato sauce
  • 16-oz can chickpeas, drained
  • 16-oz can light red kidney beans, drained
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 1/2 TB olive oil
  • 1/3 tsp celery seed
  • 1/4 tsp celery salt
  • 1 1/2 TB dried parsley
  • 1/3 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp rubbed sage
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 3/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp tarragon
  • 1 TB dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional, but recommended)
  • 2 cups small dry pasta of your choice
  • 2-3 cups fresh baby spinach, stems removed
  • salt and pepper to your tastes (minestrone isn't minestrone without lots of pepper)
What you do:
  1. Heat oil over medium heat in a large pot that has a lid. Mine is an enameled cast iron dutch oven. Once hot, add the carrot, celery, and onion. Add your spices, minus the salt and pepper. Saute for about 4-5 minutes. Then add the garlic and squash. Cook another 4-5 minutes.
  2. Add the broth and water and scrape the bottom of the pot to make sure nothing has become stuck. Stir in the chickpeas, beans, tomatoes and tomato sauce. Salt and pepper the soup. Cover with lid and reduce heat to medium-low. Let simmer about 20 minutes. 
  3. Stir in the dry pasta and baby spinach. Cover with lid and cook another 20 minutes. By now, the liquid will have reduced somewhat and the pasta will be cooked through. Check for seasoning and serve up with some crusty french bread. Enjoy!!

06 November 2011

Saturday and Upcoming Vacation

Saturdays are a ritual. I go out to lunch with my mummy at Steady Eddy's, which is at the Flint farmer's market. I used to always eat the same couple of dishes that I knew were vegan and I really liked. Then, to my excitement, I found out that the diner we eat at (the only veg-friendly place around) has declared that all their soups from now on will be vegan. So, over the last couple of weeks, I've become obsessed with finding out what their soups are. Yesterday was chunky potato. It was very tasty. I am really starting to like non-creamy potato soups. They're filling, without being heavy and super fatty. Anyway, last week was a stellar 7-Bean soup. The week before was a cream-free potato leek soup. I'm in love! Their soups are always homemade and always so super tasty.

In other news, no recipes for the next few days. Sorry, I'll be on vacation and don't want to dirty any dishes before I leave town. No one wants to come home to a sink full of dirty dishes. Okay, maybe somebody out there does, but not me. I'm already lazy about doing dishes on a regular day and I know I won't be keen on it after my vacation. Call me a mega nerd if you want, but I am roadtripping down to Florida for my pal's wedding...and a day trip out to the Harry Potter theme park at Universal Orlando. It's going to be so rad. So, I will be gone from blogging for about a week. I'll probably have lots of photos to share when I get back. So, I hope you all have an awesome week and I'll see you again soon.

Oh, and before I forget, I spotted this in my backyard:

From what I have  been able to determine, I believe it is a Downy Woodpecker. Because it has the red on its head, I think it is a male. He was pecking on some sort of large weed in my yard. I'm so lucky to see so many awesome critters from my kitchen windows.