30 December 2011

Curried Quinoa!!

Ever have those days when you just don't feel like making anything fancy? Yeah, I had that day today. I decided to start with some quinoa and see where it took me from there. As I puttered around my kitchen looking for other stuff to add to the quinoa, I found some frozen peas and some chopped walnuts. But what spices? Dudes, you know I can't resist curry powders, so I decided to take a chance and make curried quinoa. This was pretty tasty on its own, but even more so with some garlic naan (or a garlicky pita). They go perfectly together. Take my word for it! I command you. Enjoy....or not....whatever.

This makes enough for 3 bowls as a main dish or 4-5 as a side.

What I used:
  • 1 cup dry quinoa
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup diced red onion
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 large carrot, grated (I actually used a microplane to grate mine)
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1-2 tsp curry powder of your choice
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • salt
What I did:
  1. Combine broth, water and spices in a pot over medium-high heat with lid on. Once lightly boiling, stir in the quinoa, carrot and onions. Leave the lid on and lower the heat to medium. Cook for about 12-15 minutes.
  2. Remove the pot from the heat. Carefully stir in your peas and walnuts, and place the lid back on the pot. Let sit for about 15 minutes. Taste for spices and dig in.

20 December 2011

Meg's Epic Six Bean Stew

Such a pretty bowl of beans.
I'm a little proud of myself, I must say. I've never made a stew before. Ever. But, bean soup had been sounding particularly yummy, and bean soups from restaurants around here are nearly always made with ham. Gross. Since I can't bear to eat my lil piggy friends, I decided to try my hand at making a VEGAN multi-bean stew. Success! It was absolutely fantastic with some garlic naan. I'm not sure if it's just me, but bean stew (or soup) pretty much always requires bread to go with it. Don't want the bread, then don't have it. No skin off my back. Whatever.

Legumes used:
  • cranberry beans
  • black-eye peas
  • pinto beans
  • chickpeas/garbanzo beans
  • light red kidney beans
  • black beans
So, since I insisted on using dried beans, you can't really just whip up this soup. You need to soak and cook your beans. I'm thinking my beans took about 90 minutes to cook. Just put the soaked beans into a large pot and cover with several inches of water. I added 1 TB Kosher salt to mine and cooked with the lid askew until the chickpeas were done. The 3 cups of dried beans will magically morph into about 6 cups.

This recipe makes a TON. At least 6 large bowls. Which is perfect for me as I love soups and stews better the second and third days. It just seems like the flavors have more time to meld and get awesome. Or whatever.

What I used:
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberry chocolate
  • 1/2 cup dried black-eye peas
  • 1/2 cup dried pinto beans
  • 1/2 cup dried chickpeas
  • 1/2 cup dried light red kidney beans
  • 1/2 cup dried black beans
  • 1 large idaho potato, peeled and diced small (about the size of dried chickpea)
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced thinly about 1/8-1/4 inch
  • 1 small sweet onion, diced
  • about 5 cups of your favorite veggie broth
  • 1 tsp all purpose seasoning (I prefer Simply Organic brand)
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • salt to your tastes
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder of your choice (mine's a spicy muchi curry powder)
  • 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
What I did:
  1. After the beans were cooked, I drained them and added them to my large soup pot. Add all the ingredients. Stir well. Cook about 30 minutes over medium heat with the lid on. Stir every once in a while. 
  2. Then remove the lid and let the soup cook down over medium-low heat for about 20 more minutes. 
  3. I pureed about half of my soup with an immersion blender to make some of it smooth. You can use a blender or a food processor if you want, but be careful, hot liquids can make small explosions. Stir it all together and you're done. 

    13 December 2011

    Vegan Grilled Cheese...Only Better

    I was on twitter a few days ago, and my pal @Whitrae mentioned a sandwich that she made. It sounded bizarre, but being a curious chickpea, I had to make it. It was a Daiya, Tofurky and Tofutti grilled cheese. Odd, yes. Delicious, hell yes. I'm always on the lookout for new ways to make a grilled cheese as it is one of my oldest comfort food indulgences, and this really switched it up...in a good way.

    Here's my version of Whitrae's comfort food favorite:
    Slather the outsides of your bread with some Earth Balance. On the opposite side of one slice, spread some of the Tofutti cream cheese. Top with some Daiya cheddar and minced onion, then add a few slices of Tofurky (I used the thinly-sliced hickory smoked turky). Top with more cheese then the other slice of buttered bread. Then just make it like a regular grilled cheese in a skillet. Cook about 3 minutes on each side, until the bread is toasted and the cheese is melted.

    And don't forget to thank Whitrae for her awesome idea. :)

    12 December 2011

    My First Thanksgiving Feast!!

    Holy crap, I set this to post on the 25th of November, but it somehow never posted. So, here it is...ridiculously late!!
    Believe it or not, this was my first time ever cooking a holiday meal. And, I'm damn proud of myself. I deserve a cocktail. You can tell from my spread that I have never been a "traditional" Thanksgiving meal lover. My momma and I usually made lasagna or tacos for holidays, and sometimes, we just went out to eat somewhere. I just never understood why people would want to eat such boring food year after year. Plus, I was a picky kid and wouldn't really eat anything besides mashed potatoes, green beans and rolls from the Thanksgiving feasts my family had. So, for my first Holiday meal, I decided to pick random foods and put them all together into a rad dinner. It was so very excellent. Oink oink!

    Here's what I made:
    • Veggie curry potpie with handmade crust
    • Homemade stuffing with honeycrisp apple
    • Broccoli-walnut coleslaw
    • Spinach-artichoke dip with white beans, with pita wedges and crackers to dip
    • Frozen rolls, which happened to be vegan
    Here's the spread:

    I made the artichoke dip as a kind of appetizer. I got the recipe from Nava Atlas's book, Vegan Holiday Kitchen. Instead of the recommended onion, I used red onion. It's what I had on-hand and it worked excellently. Here are some photos of the progress:

    The dip is stunning!!! Absolutely delicious. You need to make it.

    The slaw was also excellent. It was also inspired by a Nava Atlas recipe, but I changed it up to fit my tastes, adding some spices and celery salt, along with changing adding more Veganaise. You can never have enough of that stuff.

    Next up is the stuffing. It was also inspired by a Nava Atlas recipe, but again, I changed up the ingredients to fit my own tastes. I do absolutely LOVE the addition of some cubed apple to the mix. It gives the stuffing a slightly sweet taste. The original calls for apple juice to moisten the bread, but I used veggie broth instead. I thought the apples alone would sweeten it enough. I was right. It was quite lovely.

    And, finally, we come to the potpie. I've been making this dish for quite a while. It has evolved over the last 2 years and has ended up as a most tasty curry-spiced veggie delight. You can find my recipe here. For my very favorite homemade pie crust, click here. It's really easy and exceptionally tasty.

    So, there you have it. My very first Thanksgiving meal! What did you all have?

    Even Daisy wanted to sample a little bit of everything...

    10 December 2011

    Lasagna - Finally!

    Resistance is futile.
    I've been waiting and waiting and waiting to attempt vegan lasagna. Why? Because I'm picky as hell and I was scared that I'd never make one half as good as the old dairy version I used to make. My biggest fears revolved all around the dairy aspects: 1) I used ricotta in the old recipe, so I was scared to try tofu ricotta. 2) As much as I love Daiya, I was scared it just wouldn't be as good as real mozzarella in this dish. I'm pleased to announce that I am really excited with how this lasagna turned out. And, while it wasn't 100% like the original, it was still awesome all the way around. We loved it.

    For this one, I did take some shortcuts as I was absolutely starving! I typically take the time to make my own marinara sauce, but this time I used a garden veggie jarred sauce. I also used the no-boil lasagna noodles. I probably won't use them again, as they just weren't the same. But, they were quite convenient. I also made some simple tvp "meat" for texture that resembled the meaty version most of us grew up with - the recipe is below somewhere.

    Anyway, I did use tofu, which is something kind of rare in my kitchen. I have a long history of not enjoying tofu as much as your typical veg-head seems to. It's okay on occasion, but not something I can really get behind. I'm coming around, though. I altered this recipe to make the ricotta, and I'm pretty pleased with it overall. Here is my version of the recipe:
    • 2/3 of a block of well-drained tofu (extra-firm)
    • 1 1/2 TB tahini
    • 1 1/2 TB lemon juice
    • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
    • 3 TB minced red onion
    • 3 TB nooch (nutritional yeast)
    • 1 1/2 tsp white miso
    • 1 tsp olive oil
    • 1 TB dried parsley
    • some salt & pepper to your liking
     Throw everything into a food processor and pulse until well combined. Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed. How easy was that? Set aside until you start assembling the lasagna.

    The lasagna was super quick to put together since I didn't have to boil the pasta. I did take a few minutes to make some tvp "meat." I used about a cup of tvp crumbles, put them in a small pot (with a lid), covered with some veggie broth and turned the heat up to medium-high. Add some all-purpose seasoning, a pinch of cumin and 1/4-1/2 tsp liquid smoke. Stir well and cover. Cook about 5 minutes, until the liquid is mostly absorbed. I mixed about 1/2 cup of the pasta sauce into the tvp and cooked a couple minutes over low heat to blend the flavors.

    While the tvp was cooking, I sauteed up some diced bell pepper, diced onion and sliced mushrooms. Oh, and a little garlic, too. I meant to add some chopped zucchini, but in the rush, I totally forgot. Once that's done, you're ready to start making the lasagna.

    I used a deep casserole to bake it. Since I used the no-bake noodles, I poured some sauce on the bottom of the pot, then added a layer of noodles. On top of that was a thin layer of sauce, then a little veggies and a smidge of the tvp meat. Top with noodles, then sauce, then little blobs of the ricotta I made. More sauce, then noodles, the rest of the meat and some more ricotta, a little more sauce. Noodles, sauce, veggies, topped with lots of Daiya. Something like that. I just made sure to use some sauce on all of the noodles to make them moist. Now, I should have told you that you should carefully press each layer to make sure everything is smooshed down and not airy between the layers. I added some garlic salt and a bit of pepper to the top of the cheese. Cover with foil and bake 35 minutes at 420 degrees. Then uncover and cook another 8-10 minutes so the cheese will melt and brown slightly.

    Sorry I don't have an exact recipe, but I was in a rush and starving, so you'll just have to forgive me! This one made 4 MASSIVE servings of 6 normal ones.


    And after :)

    09 December 2011

    Chicken Ranch Wrap of Destiny!

    Last week I got some absolutely fabulous large spinach wraps/tortillas, and I decided that since Gardein products are on sale at my grocery store, I'd go ahead and do a little experiment for dinner tonight. I've used the Gardein crispy tenders for all sorts of yummy meals (they're extra tasty with some mashed potatoes), so I felt confident making them into a tasty wrap tonight. Served with some sauteed zucchini, red onion and mushrooms, the wraps were quick, easy and filling dinner.

    I just cooked the tenders in the oven, according to the directions on the package (430 degrees, cook about 22 minutes, flipping once during cooking). On the spinach wrap, I piled on lettuce, red onion, diced tomato and some ranch dressing. I usually make my own by just throwing some mayo, vinegar and spices together until it tastes good. Another rocking sauce combo for the chicken wraps is a blend of ranch and bbq sauce. Whatever way you choose, I'm sure you'll dig it. OH, and I make a tasty homemade Caesar dressing, which I also think would be spectacular next time I make the wrap.

    I have nothing left to say, except that you should totally try making Gardein into some wraps. I don't think you'll regret it.

    05 December 2011

    Baked Daiya Mac and Cheese

    Pardon the crap photo. I was too hungry to try for a better shot.
    Mac and Cheese! Who doesn't love it? Clearly, you have no soul if you're in Mac and Cheese haters club. Well, anyway, I needed (yes, I NEEDED) some mac and cheese today. I always loved macaroni and cheese, especially when it's baked. So, I had a go at making a vegan version and it was a mega hit. We absolutely LOVED it! It made enough for 3-4 people, but two of us ate it all. Oink oink!!

    I based this version on my previous stovetop version of my Daiya Mac and Cheese with a few little changes. I baked this up in an 8x8 inch baking dish, and it fit perfectly. I might add some sauteed onions into the cheesy goodness next time I make it. I think it'd be pretty rad.

    What I used:
    • 1/2 pound medium shell pasta
    • 1 1/3 cups Daiya cheddar plus a little more to sprinkle on the top before baking
    • 1/3 cup Daiya mozzarella
    • 3/4 cup plus 2 TB almond milk
    • 3 1/2 TB  Earth Balance 
    • 1 tsp flour
    • 1 tsp mustard powder
    • 1/2 -2/3 tsp garlic powder
    • 3/4 tsp onion powder
    • 2 TB nooch (nutritional yeast)
    • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
    • 1/4 tsp garlic salt
    • 1/2 tsp black pepper
    • salt to your liking
    • about 1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
    What I did:
    1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray your baking dish with a light spritz of cooking spray. Set aside. 
    2. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to the directions on the box. While the pasta is cooking, get another pot and start on the next step.
    3. Heat the empty pot over medium heat. Add the milk and Earth Balance. Whisk in the spices and flour. Bring to a light boil, then add the cheese. Turn the heat to medium-low and keep whisking until the cheese is nice and melted and creamy as all hell. 
    4. By now, your pasta should be done. So, go ahead and gently mix the drained pasta into the cheese sauce. Remove from the heat. If it's too thick, mix in a little more milk to loosen the sauce up a smidge. 
    5. Pour the mac and cheese into the baking dish. Sprinkle a little Daiya cheddar over the top of the mac and cheese. Then sprinkle the bread crumbs on the top.
    6. Leave uncovered and bake for 15 minutes, or until the breadcrumbs are lightly browned.