30 January 2012

Cauliflower Steaks

Cauliflower steaks. WTH? They're essentially just thick slabs of cauli roasted in the oven. Easy. They really require no commentary! Just spritz them with some cooking oil or olive oil. Roast in a 435 degree oven for about 30-40 minutes total, flipping halfway through cooking. Don't forget to salt them just a little. When you roast it like this, you can even eat the stalk if you want. It gets nice and tender. I made mine with some mashed taters, steamed veggies and some vegan Caesar salad. It was a wholesome, filling, delicious meal. Nothing snarky there. So, yeah, I thought I'd expose you to the wonders of the cauliflower steak. NOM!

29 January 2012

Spicy Cheesy Tots

When I got home from work today, I decided that I needed to make my crazy tasty chili cheese tots (recipe HERE). I baked up the tots, and got ready to mix up the chili with some onions and spices when to my surprise, I found that I had no chili. I swear there is a chili thief in my pantry, because every time I open the pantry door, I cannot find the chili. It disappears into an alternate universe or something. What's a chickpea to do? I had to improvise with a quickness.

I decided to whip up a cheese sauce using an altered version of my mega-spectacular-kickass Queso sauce recipe. I added some beans it was seriously a mega-hit at my place. This is what we had for dinner. Probably not the healthiest, but it was SOOOO good, especially as it cooled off a bit. The fella dipped his in a little ketchup, but I loved them as-is. I used Daiya pepperjack, but you can skip that all together or sub in some Daiya cheddar and add more spices. Hey, whatever floats your balloon. Enough talk, time for the recipe.

Makes enough for 2 very large dinner portions or 4-5 as a side.

What I used:
  • 1/2 bag tots, cooked according to package directions. I bake mine at 450 for about 20 minutes. 
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 can light red kidney beans, drained (I was in a rush and didn't rinse them and that was just fine)
  • 1/4 - 1/3 cup diced red onion
  • 1/4 plus 1 TB nooch
  • 1/2 cup Daiya pepperjack
  • 2 TB flour (I used unbleached all-purpose)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 2/3 tsp chili powder
  • salt
What I did:
  1. Baked my tots. Then turned the oven off and left them inside while I whipped up the sauce. The sauce takes about 5 minutes total.
  2. In a sauce pan, add everything except the tots. Put pot over medium heat and whisk everything together. You don't really have to mix much the first two minutes, but after that, whisk almost nonstop so the milk and Daiya don't burn to the bottom of the pot. Keep on whisking until it reaches the thick consistency you want. Think melted velveeta, thick. Then remove from the heat and pour over your cooked tots.
Easy or what?

26 January 2012

KACK Smoothie

Yup, that's one thick smoothie.
On my quest to conquer kale, I have cut another notch in my belt. The KACK smoothie. Yeah, so, KACK sounds like the noise a cat makes when yacking up a hairball...not so appealing. I understand. However, KACK is all green smoothie goodness.


See? It's all good in the KACK smoothie hood.

Here are the measures:
  • 1 cup kale
  • 1 small apple (I used an ida red)
  • 1 carrot, medium size
  • 2 kiwi (I cut the ends and leave the skin on)
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
Directions....really? You just blend the hell outta this and then drink it. With a straw. It's thick. Notice in the top photo how my glass straw is standing up on its own...it's that thick.

23 January 2012

Spicy Polenta Cakes

Casually browsing my cupboard last night, I stumbled on a bag of polenta that I had forgotten about. I've never cooked, let alone eaten polenta before, but I do love corn. How can anyone not, really? Well, I remembered seeing a few recipes over the last couple years for something called polenta cakes, so I decided to make my own vegan version featuring some Daiya Pepperjack. It was a total experiment...I was skeptical that they would work. But, they did....at least, they did with some toppings. I made some homemade black bean and corn salsa and then cooked up some yummy spicy tvp. They were both mega awesome on the pan-fried polenta cakes. Even better? Putting both toppings on one cake, like this:

The polenta cakes take a little prep time, first cooking the polenta and cheese and then refrigerating for about an hour to firm up, then finally pan-frying the tasty cakes. I suppose you might be able to bake them, but I wanted them cooked up quick and crispy. I used a circle cookie cutter to cut them out, but you could use a glass or cut them in squares with a knife.  

This recipe makes about 12 three-inch circle cakes.

Making the cakes:
  • 1 cup dry quick-cooking polenta (if it doesn't say quick, you're in for a long time of whisking)
  • 1 1/2 cups veg broth
  • 1 1/2 cups water (or you could use more broth)
  • heaped 1/2 cup or a bit more Daiya Pepperjack
  • 2 TB nooch
  • salt and pepper to your liking
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • hot sauce (optional)
  1. Heat broth and water in a large pot over high heat until almost boiling. Add paprika, chili powder, a few dashes of hot sauce, and the garlic powder. Then, turn the heat to medium low and whisk in the polenta. 
  2. KEEP WHISKING until the polenta is very thick and creamy. You don't want any lumps. It will take about 5 minutes of nonstop whisking if you use the quick cook. I've read that the regular stuff can take up to 20 minutes of whisking. 
  3. Now, whisk in the cheese and nooch. Keep on stirring, kiddos, until the cheese is melted. Turn off the heat and remove from the burner. 
  4. Quickly line a 9x13 inch sheet pan (or a baking dish) with some plastic wrap and give it a spritz of cooking spray. Now, smear the polenta onto the baking plastic. Try to make it into an even layer, like so.
  5. Spritz the top with a little more spray, then cover the polenta with more plastic wrap and refrigerate for 40-60 minutes.The polenta will be quite firm. 
  6. Cut the polenta. Now, heat a non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Add some oil (enough to cover the bottom of the pan), and ease a few cakes into the pan. Cook about 3-4 minutes, then very gently flip the cakes. Cook another few minutes, until each side is golden and a bit crisp. Sorry, I was busy...no pictures. Remove the cooked cakes and put them on a plate while you cook up the rest. 
  7. Top those bugger with some yummies. We used the spicy tvp and homemade salsa, but you could use bean and veggie chili, more cheese, whatever. Make it yours!
Here's my super simple salsa recipe:
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can corn, drained and rinsed (I prefer fresh, but it is winter here and no corn can be found)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 1/3 tsp chili powder
  • 1/3 cup diced bell pepper
  • salt
  • juice of half a lime
  • 1 cup diced tomato (today was a mix of cherry tomato and roma)
  1. Mix everything together and let rest for about 10 minutes.
Spicy TVP recipe:
  • 1 cup dry tvp
  • about 1 1/4 cups veg broth (I didn't measure, but this seems about right)
  • 1/3 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 TB taco seasoning powder
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup hot salsa
  • hot sauce
  • scant 1/4 tsp liquid smoke (optional, but recommended)
  1. Mix tvp, dry spices, onion and broth in a small pot over medium heat. Stir occasionally, until the liquid is absorbed.
  2. Once the liquid is almost entirely absorbed, add the salsa, hot sauce and liquid smoke. Turn heat to low and let everything simmer together for at least 5 minutes, but probably a little longer to let the flavors merge. Done!

    19 January 2012

    Two-Bean Tacos

    If you're a somewhat regular visitor here, you might realize that tacos are a food group to me. Tacos are my specialty. Here are some of my many taco recipe incarnations:
    Okay, now that we've covered the fact that I'm a taco ninja, lets move on to these awesome Two-Bean Tacos. I have been craving tacos for a few days, so I decided I definitely needed to gorge myself on eat some. Yesterday, I used my super-mega-rad electric pressure cooker to cook some chickpeas that I had soaked overnight. If you like cooking your own dried beans, you should consider a pressure cooker. Instead of the 90-120 minutes of cooking chickpeas, it took me about 15 minutes from start to finish. I could have cooked them about 1-2 minutes longer, but it's new to me and I haven't figured out exact times yet. Still, it saved me a ridiculous amount of time! I dig it. Big time.

    Alrighty, so, I had some chickpeas just chilling in my fridge - begging to be eaten. Out of curiosity, I wanted to add another kind of bean to the tacos, so I added a can of pinto beans I had in the cupboard. I wasn't sure how they would taste together, but it turned out spectacularly. And, in my attempt to overcome my kale aversion, I substituted lettuce for chopped raw kale on my tacos. It was fucking awesome. I'm slowly embracing kale...and it's pretty fun.

    This makes a lot of tacos. We ate 6 and still have enough left for 2-3 more tomorrow. 

    What I used:
    • 2 cups cooked chickpeas (or 1 can drained and rinsed)
    • 1 can whole pinto beans, drained and rinsed
    • 1/2 cup diced red onion
    • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
    • 4 cremini or white mushrooms, chopped small
    • 1-2 tsp coconut oil
    • 1/2-3/4 cup salsa of your choice
    • about 1 1/2 TB taco seasoning mix (I make my own: here)
    • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika (optional)
    What I did:
    1. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the onions and cook about 4 minutes. Then add the garlic and mushrooms. Cook another 3 minutes. 
    2. While the onions are cooking, pop the beans into a food processor and whir a few times. You don't want the beans pureed, but you don't want them whole (or they'll fall off the taco shells). 
    3. Once the veg is done cooking, add the chopped beans to the skillet and mix everything up. Now, add the seasonings and salsa. Mix well and cook until heated through, about 5-8 minutes. Taste and add more spices or salsa as needed. The salsa should mostly be absorbed and it helps keep the beans from drying out while cooking. 
    How easy was that?! 

    15 January 2012

    Kickass Kale Kiwi Smoothie

    I have to say that I have never been a kale lover. I keep trying it and I never seem to like how it turns out. Anyway, I bought some a couple days ago to give it another shot. I was going to try mixing it into some of my super tasty OMG Hashbrowns recipe, but inspiration struck and I added them to my smoothie instead! I was shocked at how awesome it turned out.

    I usually add fruit juice to my smoothies, but I have been using almond milk lately. To my surprise, I stumbled on this super awesome new milk at the grocery store. It's a coconut milk and almond milk blend and it rocks my socks so hardcore!!

    Oh yeah, that's what I'm talking about! I'm in serious love with it. Anywhoooo, give it a shot if you see it. It's comes in sweetened and unsweetened varieties, but I prefer the sweetened for my smoothies. Yum! Now, on to the smoothie.

    What I used:
    • 1 cup kale
    • 1 small banana
    • 2 kiwi, ends cut off (I always leave the skin on, but you don't have to)
    • 1 medium carrot
    • 1/2 cup almond-coconut milk
    • handful of ice
    What I did:
    1. Threw it into my VitaMix and blended it. Duh. 
    It makes 2 smallish smoothies or 1 very large one.

    13 January 2012

    Veggie Black Bean Burgers of Awesomeness

    Dudes, it has been ages since I've made burgers! I've been super seriously craving them bad. A quick scan of my cupboard revealed a can of black beans and, thus, it was decided. I've had a bit of a sketchy history with making the illustrious black bean burger. I crave bean burgers, and *gasp* sometimes I just buy the frozen ones. Come on! You know you do it, too. My biggest difficulty has been making the burgers hold together, especially enough to flip them while baking. Well, my dearest darlings, I finally accomplished this feat of awesomeness. Part of the trick is making sliders (little burgers) and the other is the use of vital wheat gluten and breadcrumbs. The small size of the sliders fit easily on the spatula and they seem to cook throughout without the edges drying out very much.

    An a-side: I love flavored mayos. Garlic mayo, cajun mayo, chipotle mayo, etc., so I made some spicy mayo for these burgers and it was mega rad! I mixed my Vegenaise (best vegan mayo by leaps and bounds) with some chili powder, cajun seasoning and smoked paprika. Let it sit aside for at least 5 minutes so the flavors can develop more. You won't be sorry.

    I also made my own slider buns! I used someone else's recipe for those, so I can't take any credit. But here is the link to the recipe. The only real changes I made were to skip the "wash" and the sesame seeds. While I love sesame seeds, I do not enjoy them on buns. Then, I just made them into a bunch of smaller buns instead of full-size burger buns. When they were done, I brushed some melted Earth Balance butter on top to keep them soft while the burgers were cooking. Here's the progression:

    Just rolled following the first rise in the bowl.

    This is after the second rise. Ready for the oven.

    Hot buns!! Just need a little brush of butter and they're good to go.
    Now, on to the burgers! It made 7 small burgers or about 4 large ones.

    What I used:
    • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
    • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
    • 1/4-1/3 cup finely chopped green pepper
    • 1/2 cup chopped fresh mushroom (about 4 average white mushrooms)
    • 1 large carrot, grated
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1-2 tsp oil of your choice for cooking veggies - I used coconut oil
    • 1-2 tsp steak sauce
    • 2-3 TB bbq sauce
    • about 1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
    • about 1/4 cup or a bit more vital wheat gluten (also called vital wheat gluten flour)
    • 2 tsp cumin
    • 1 tsp chili powder
    • 1/4 tsp cayenne
    • 1 tsp smoked paprika
    • 1/2 tsp onion powder
    What I did:
    1. Preheat oven to 420 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat. Even though I used silicone, I still spritzed it with some cooking spray just to be sure the burgers didn't stick.
    2. Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, green pepper and onion. Stir a few times and cook until the onions are nearly translucent. Add in the garlic, carrots and mushrooms and cook another few minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. 
    3. Add your beans and cooked veggies to a food processor and pulse about 10 times, or until you don't see any whole blackbeans left, but don't totally puree the mix. Now, empty the food processor into a large mixing bowl.
    4. Mix in the spices, and sauces. Then fold in the bread crumbs and gluten. Let it sit a few minutes to activate the gluten. Now, here's the tricky part. You want to pull off a little bit of the burger mix and roll it into a ball in your hand. Then smoosh it down a bit. If the patty seems to be holding its shape and not instantly turning to mush, you're probably in the clear. Otherwise, add more bread crumbs until it reaches a stable consistency. It won't be super firm or anything, but it should stay together when gently handled. 
    5. Okay, well, now make a bunch (or a few patties) about 1/2 inch thick and carefully transfer to the prepped baking sheet. 
    6. Bake for about 12 minutes. Spritz the tops with some cooking spray and then gently use a spatula to flip the patties over and cook about 6 more minutes. The edges should be just a bit crispy. 
    Do you all have any favorite burger recipes? I'm pretty sure these are my new favorites. They were so awesome. I ate 3. Oink, oink!!

      12 January 2012

      Review: Cajun Chickpea Cakes a la Happy Herbivore

      I was gifted a copy of Everyday Happy Herbivore for my birthday from my pal, Jenna. It landed on my stoop as a complete surprise and I started browsing immediately. I flipped right open to a chickpea recipe! How fitting, eh? But, really, I did open it right up to a dish called Cajun Chickpea Cakes on page 188. I pretty much hopped right up and made them.

      They turned out very, very well. In fact, I'm made them again last night. I did, of course, alter the recipe a little bit. I just can't help myself! Mine seemed to be a little dry, so I added a TB more mayo, a TB of water and maybe a 1/2 tsp of soy sauce. I also substituted the poultry seasoning with my favorite, all-purpose seasoning from Simply Organic brand, because I never have poultry seasoning on-hand. These little buggers were incredible. I highly recommend making the cajun mayo to dip these in.

      I made a double batch last night, which was a great idea because I had some leftover for lunch today. I love when meals make easy lunches. I reheated them in the microwave. I'm not sure if it was the nuking or what, but they were pretty crumbly today. I didn't have any of the cajun mayo left, so I used some steak sauce (A1) to dip in. It was awesome! They go really well with steamed and roasted veggies and even mashed potatoes.

      These remind me a little of baked falafel in texture and consistency. I am obsessed with falafels, in case you didn't know. So, I'll probably use this recipe as a base and alter the tastes to fit my moods-- like substituting curry powder for the cajun seasoning. Who knows!?! I'm a wild woman in the kitchen. 

      I haven't tried any other recipes from Everyday Happy Herbivore yet, but if they are as good as these chickpea cakes, I then this book is a keeper. Have any of you tried recipes from the new cookbook?

      04 January 2012

      Spicy Peanut Veggies & Noodles

      I have been itching to make something spicy and peanutty for a while now. So, get this, I did it. Amazing, I know. Shower me with praise. Or not. I just know that this turned out awesomely and I will absolutely be making it again. For the noodles, I used a thinnish spaghetti noodle as that's what I had onhand. You can use whatever you want, but I like long, floppy noodles. Hahaha. I used to love lo mein noodles, but they have eggs in them, which is oh so sad. I haven't tried the rice noodles yet...they kind of freak me out for some reason. Perhaps I shall soon. Who knows. Crazier things have happened. In the meantime, I highly suggest you make this ridiculously yummy dish. I know you'll like it.

      This makes 3 rather large servings or about 5 as a side.

      What I used:
      • 1/2 head cauliflower, cut into florets
      • 1/2 bunch broccoli, cut into florets
      • 3 carrots, grated
      • 1/2 red onion, cut into thick strips
      • 1 cup pea pods, ends removed and cut in half
      • 5 button mushrooms, cut into chunks
      • noodles
      • 1/4 cup (or a bit more) smooth peanut butter
      • 1/2 cup soy sauce
      • 2 tsp sesame oil
      • 2-3 tsp rice vinegar
      • 1 TB (or more) sriracha sauce
      • a couple TB water
      • 2 tsp coconut oil 
      • dry roasted peanuts for a tasty garnish
      What I did:
      1. I steamed the broccoli and cauli for about 5-6 minutes until they were just tender enough to spear with a fork (the broccoli will be a vibrant greeen). Then, I heated the coconut oil (you can use any oil) in a skillet over medium heat. I sauteed the onions until they started to lose their color. Then added in the carrot and mushroom along with the steamed broccoli and cauli. While the veg is cooking, start cooking your pasta.
      2. While the pasta and veg are still cooking, whisk together the peanut butter, soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, sriracha and water. It seems like it will never mix together, but keep on whisking. Taste it when it looks homogenous and add any more spices as necessary. Set aside. 
      3. By now, your veggies and pasta are ready. I added the pea pods in the last minute of cooking the veg because I love them nice and crispy. You can do whatever you want. Now, add the sauce to the pasta and then gently fold in your veggies. I let mine sit a few minutes to meld together and this is what it looked like:

      03 January 2012

      Kiwi Smoothies are Rad

      Smoothies. Who doesn't love 'em? Well, my dears, I have been in kind of a smoothie rut lately. I've been less than creative with my green smoothies, so I decided to shake things up a bit. I found a great deal on kiwis yesterday, so I bought 8 of them for $2.00. I couldn't resist their furry brown goodness. And, to top it off, kiwi are crazy good for you. Don't believe me? Click here for more info. So, yeah, I bought 8 kiwifruits on a whim. A damn tasty whim, if I do say so myself. What's a chickpea to do with 8 kiwi? Make a smoothie...though I didn't use 8, just 2. Forgive me for misleading you. Now make the smoothie already.

      Makes 1 smoothie.
      • 2 peeled kiwi (mine were partially peeled because I like the skin)
      • 1 smallish ripe banana
      • 1 small carrot
      • 1/4 - 1/3 cup almond milk
      • a small scoop of ice
      Blend all that tasty shit together and you have a wicked tasty smoothie.

      I must say, though, that I was a little disappointed that the smoothie wasn't the mega-vibrant green of the inside of a kiwi. I blame myself for adding carrot and banana. But the taste more than makes up for it.