Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

Wild Rice, Wild Mushrooms!

May 13, 2010

I was lucky enough to get my hands on some Morel mushrooms this week, and spent a great deal of time trying to figure out how to use them.  I felt as if it would be wasting my first Morel experience to just batter and deep fry them like so many people do.  I looked up some recipes, like this one, this one, and this whole page of ’em, and finally decided to just use those recipes as inspiration for my own.  Here’s what I came up with:

Wild Rice Pilaf featuring Morel Mushrooms

6-8 fresh Morel mushrooms (see prep tips below)

Earth Balance and olive oil for frying

1 yellow onion, diced

1/2 cup green peas

3 cloves garlic

2 stems fresh tarragon

1 bay leaf

1 cup wild rice (see prep tips below)

1/3 block Silken tofu (approx. 4 oz)

3 Tb plain soy creamer

1 tsp brown rice vinegar

spices to taste:  curry powder, black pepper, sea salt, sage, paprika, red pepper flakes, powdered garlic

To prepare mushrooms: Fill a bowl with warm water and stir in some table salt until it dissolves (sea salt typically doesn’t work as well as table salt).  Slice each mushroom in half lengthwise, remove any creatures you see living in the hollow inside, and place the mushrooms in the salt water.  Leave overnight or at least 1 hour.  Drain through mesh strainer and place on paper towels or lint-free kitchen towels to dry.  Slice into bite-size pieces, or leave mushrooms whole if they are small enough.

To prepare wild rice:  In a Corningware or other such oven-safe casserole dish, place 1 cup wild rice.  Cover with 2 cups water.  Add a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of Earth Balance.  Cover, place in 375 degree oven and bake 40 minutes or until all water has been absorbed and rice is fully cooked.  Fluff with fork.

To prepare pilaf: Drizzle olive oil in pan and warm.  Mince garlic and place in frying pan over medium heat.  Add onion and saute 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft and translucent.  Add 2 Tbs Earth Balance and allow to melt.  Stir in rice vinegar.  Add mushrooms and bay leaf.  Saute 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, and add peas and wild rice.  Stir in spices as desired (I used approximately 1/2 tsp curry powder, and pinches of paprika, red pepper flake, black pepper, and garlic powder).  Reduce to medium-low (for reference, I put my stove on the 4 mark, 9 is the highest) and saute 10-12 minutes until mushrooms are fragrant and soft.

To prepare sauce:

Heat soy creamer over medium heat and add tofu.  Heat 2 minutes, then use an immersion blender to puree the tofu into oblivion.  Add fresh tarragon, paprika, and black pepper.  Stir into pilaf.

To serve as pictured:

On a salad plate, place a 2″ biscuit form.  Use a teaspoon to fill the biscuit form with pilaf, and press firmly to completely fill.  Let sit 2 minutes.  Gently tug on the form, pulling straight up, to create a cylindrical form.  Arrange a stem of fresh tarragon and a Morel mushroom nearby.  Drizzle any leftover sauce on top of the pilaf stack.



One Pan Wonders: French Onion Pinwheels

April 5, 2010

Today I’m going to start a new feature called One Pan Wonders.  This category will highlight recipes that require–you guessed it–only one bowl, pot or pan.

French Onion Pinwheels

1 package frozen puff pastry, thawed according to package and unrolled

4 green onions, thinly sliced (just the green parts)

2 oz fresh green spinach, chopped (a small chop is best)

4 oz Tofutti cream cheese (French Onion flavor)

Oil for spraying

Pre-heat oven to 375.  Unroll puff pastry on a cutting board or lightly floured countertop.  Spread cream cheese over the entire piece of dough, spreading evenly.  Mix onions and spinach together, and spread over top of dough.  Roll up dough (lengthwise if you want many pinwheels, widthwise if you want big pinwheels).  Use a serrated knife to slice to desired thickness.  Lay pinwheels flat on a lightly greased cookie sheet and spray lightly with olive or vegetable oil.  Bake 15 minutes, flip, and cook another 5-10 minutes until golden.

Breakfast Bites

March 25, 2010

Craving a Danish but just don’t have the energy to make frosting and cream cheese filling?  These dandy little treats will satisfy without taking all morning.  Best part?  They only take one pan!

Breakfast Bites

1 package refrigerated crescent roll dough

1/4 cup apricot preserves (I used Bonne Maman)

sprinklings of cinnamon sugar, cardamom, and ginger

3 Tb unsweetened dried coconut

slivered almonds, optional

Butter-flavored spray or vegetable oil spray

Preheat oven to 375 and lightly spray a cookie sheet.  Separate crescent roll dough into the preformed triangles.  Roll each triangle into a ball and mush it, then flatten it into a disk shape about 1/4″ thick (thinner is fine).  Spread fruit preserves over each disk.  Sprinkle with cardamom (go easy!), ginger, and cinnamon-sugar.  Sprinkle coconut (and slivered almonds, if using) on top.  Bake until golden and puffy.  Serve warm with tea, milk, or coffee!

Quinoa Salad

March 3, 2010

This salad, served warm or chilled, is even better the next day.  Try it alone, stuffed in a pepper or tomato, or as an accompaniment to glazed tempeh.  It’s an easy and delicious way to get the family to try quinoa!

1 cup red quinoa, cooked (use a 1:2 quinoa to water ratio, bring to boil, turn down heat and cook 10-15 minutes)

1/4 purple onion, diced

1 bell pepper, diced

1 tomato, chopped

3 Tbs corn

3 Tbs peas

4 Tbs olive oil

1 1/2 tsp soy sauce

1/2 tsp lime juice

cracked black pepper, sage, garlic salt to taste

To make: Cook quinoa.  Add in pepper, tomato, onion, peas, and corn.  In a separate container, mix soy sauce, olive oil, lime juice, and seasonings.  Toss dressing in with salad and let chill 30 minutes.

Sweet and Sour Tofu

November 4, 2009

I’ve been craving some good fake Chinese food lately.  I say fake as in the kind of “Chinese” you get at mall food courts and the buffets that inexplicably also serve french fries and mini corn dogs.  Not authentic, not even really Chinese, just sort of… Asian-esque enough to pass.  Usually I prefer to find quality stuff, but sometimes some junky food is just what hits the spot.

I recently decided to take matters in to my own hands.  I’ve done chow mein and lo mein before, so this time I ventured into the world of sweet and sour “chik’n”.  It doesn’t come out tasting chicken-y (which I view as a good thing), but in terms of satisfying a craving, it does the trick.  The best part?  It’s simple!

Sweet and Sour Tofu

1 block tofu

1 cup Panko (Japanese style bread crumbs)

turmeric, cayenne, black pepper, sage, and garlic powder to taste (I used a generous dash of each)

House of Tsang Sweet and Sour Sauce (yep, I’m too lazy to make my own)

Remove the tofu from its packaging, squeeze as much water out of it as possible, and wrap it in plastic.  Be sure all areas of the tofu are well-covered.  Freeze overnight.

Place tofu in a bowl and microwave on high for 4 minutes, pausing after each minute to flip or turn the tofu.  Continue until defrosted (press on the tofu–if it’s not hard anymore, it’s thawed) but be careful not to cook it.  Squeeze all the water out of the tofu; press hard, there’ll be a lot!  Then cut the tofu into 1″ cubes.

Meanwhile, mix the bread crumbs and seasonings.

Dip the tofu in lukewarm water, shake off the excess, then roll in the bread crumb mixture.  Place on to a well-greased pan (I sprayed generously with canola oil).  When all the tofu is in the pan, spray lightly with oil.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, until breading begins to turn golden and tofu is firm and crispy.  Turn once or twice during baking time for best results.

Coat tofu in sweet and sour sauce and serve warm.  Enjoy!

Bonus recipe: For sesame tofu, mix sweet and sour sauce with honey (you naughty vegan!) about 3:1 (more sauce than honey), toss the baked tofu in the sauce, coat with sesame seeds, and place back in the oven for about 5 minutes or until sauce has dried a bit.

Bonus FLOP: I also tried to modify this to make coconut fried tofu (you know, like coconut shrimp).  I froze the tofu and thawed it.  Then I rolled it in a mixture of panko, unsweetened coconut, a little sugar, and ginger.  Then I fried it in Earth Balance.  It tasted pretty good but a lot of the breading came off during frying–I think it would work better with a deep fryer.  I ended up pressing a little extra breading mixture onto the tofu after I fried it.  If you have a deep fryer and try this, let me know how it goes!

Oops! Thrifty Tuesday- Quesadillas

October 20, 2009

Well, it seems my worst predictions for the month have happened!  Things have been ridiculously weird this month–I got in a car accident, for one–and I’ve been left with far less time to post than I would have liked.  I’ll try to make up for it!

Here’s an easy recipe for the days when you really don’t have the time or patience to make anything.

Tex Mex Quesadilla

2 Tb guacamole

1 Tb salsa–the chunky stuff, like Newman’s Own Farmer’s Market Salsa

2 Tb frozen corn

3 Tb black beans (if from a can, rinse them first)

1 Tb diced onion

2 fajita-size flour tortillas

Heat a frying pan over medium and spray with vegetable oil.  Spread all ingredients over tortilla, leaving about 1/2 inch around the edges, and sandwich together (I recommend putting the salsa on one side, the guac on the other, and sprinkling all the other stuff on one side, then smooshing the two tortillas together–this helps them stick the best).  Fry until tortilla is golden brown, then flip and repeat.  Use a pizza cutter to slice into pieces.

Serve with guacamole, salsa, or Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream for dipping!

Banana Oatmeal

October 2, 2009

Good morning!

I know sweet cereals aren’t good for me, but I do like a little touch of sweetness in the morning.  Plus, I have Hypoglycemia, so I need a little sugar (that’s my excuse, anyway).  Oatmeal is a nice compromise–it’s filling, relatively healthy, and with this variation, it even includes fruit.  With a good breakfast I can start the day off right no matter if it begins with a screaming toddler or a pretty sunrise.  Or even both.

P.S.:  The little one loves this, too!

Right Side of the Bed Oatmeal (feeds 2)

1 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats

1/2 cup raisins

2 Tb brown sugar (just scoop, no need to pack it)

2 tsp real maple syrup

1 banana

Heat some water in a pot (3 cups?  Depends on how much oatmeal you use, and you’ll have some left over) until bubbles start to form at the bottom (turn off the heat before it boils).  Meanwhile, cut the banana into four pieces and mash it a little with a spoon.  Sprinkle a little water (maybe 1 tsp) into the bowl.  Microwave for about 1 minute 30 seconds.  Bananas do amazing things in the microwave, so stick around and watch*.  You’ll know when it’s done (hint:  it bubbles and breaks down into smaller pieces).  Place the oats and raisins in a separate bowl.  When the water is hot, pour it over the oatmeal–enough to cover the oats, plus a teensy bit extra.  Stir after a minute or two and add the sugar as you stir, then stir in the banana.  Drizzle the maple syrup over top.  Enjoy!

*I am not sure who I learned this from, but I think it may have been from someone on the PPK Forum.  In any case, it was someone awesome.

Vegan MoFo Day 1: Applesauce

October 1, 2009

Today’s Secret Ingredient: Applesauce

Applesauce has a variety of uses in vegan cooking and baking.  It can be used to replace eggs in cookies and muffins (use 1/4 cup applesauce for each egg), it can thicken and moisten dry cake recipes, or it can star as an ingredient.  Here, applesauce helps the apple slices retain moisture and flavor during baking.  It also thickens the maple sauce.

Apple Maple Hazelnut Tart

Apple Maple Hazelnut Tart

I could not decide which ingredient is the star in this successful kitchen experiment:  the tart apples, the crunchy hazelnuts, or the indulgent maple caramel spooned Jackson Pollock-style over the whole dessert.  Apples and hazelnuts are not often seen together, but the result is a surprising burst of bold flavor.  These little tarts can be whipped up rather quickly and the recipe lends itself well to adaptation (I know, because I didn’t even measure the ingredients the first time).  Served with a hot cup of coffee, they are the perfect creation for a chilly autumn day.  I only have four mini tart pans, so that’s how many I planned for in the recipe.  If you have more tart pans, or yours are bigger or deeper than mine, you’ll need to adjust.

Apple Hazelnut Tartlets with Maple Caramel Drizzle

1 cup cinnamon graham cracker crumbs (plain are also acceptable)

1/2 cup hazelnut meal (I made my own by chopping a small handful of nuts, then pulsing them in a processor)

Hazelnut Meal (pre food-processor)

Hazelnut Meal (pre food-processor)

3 Tb canola oil

1 Tb soy milk or other non-dairy milk

3 Tb brown rice syrup, divided (see directions)

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

2 tsp maple flavoring, divided (see directions)

2 tsp maple syrup

1 small tart, crisp apple, such as SweeTango or Granny Smith, cored and thinly sliced

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 Tb Earth Balance

pinch each nutmeg, cloves, allspice, ginger

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/4 cup applesauce + 2 Tb (for caramel)

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Lightly spray four mini tart pans with vegetable oil.  In a bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs and hazelnuts.  Add oil, soy milk, and 1 Tb brown rice syrup, stirring thoroughly.  Add more oil or soy milk if needed–the mixture should not be too wet, but should stick together when pressed.  Stir in vanilla extract and 1/2 tsp maple flavoring.  Divide into fourths and press into tart pans.  Spread applesauce over the crusts (leaving an edge).  Set aside.

Place apples in a bowl and add granulated sugar, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, cinnamon and ginger.  Drizzle a tiny bit of maple syrup or canola oil and toss.  Cover each tartlet with apples.

Microwave Earth Balance until melted.  Add remaining brown rice syrup, maple syrup, brown sugar, applesauce, and maple flavoring.  Stir until well combined.  If runny, add more applesauce and/or sugar.  The sauce should taste strongly of maple, but not too overwhelming.  Pour half the sauce over the tartlets and reserve the rest.

Place the tartlet pans on a baking sheet (some liquid will leak out of them).  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until apples are soft, the crust is crunchy and the applesauce has firmed a bit.  Allow to cool 15 minutes, then drizzle the remaining sauce on top of the tartlets (if saving for a later time, you may also reserve the sauce to drizzle just before serving).

Fresh From the Oven!

Fresh From the Oven!

Reason for Being Vegan #31: You’ll undoubtedly learn to cook.  Eventually.

Vegan on a Budget #1: Veggie Pasta

September 29, 2009

A typical conversation ensues when someone finds out I’m vegan:  they usually respond first with shock (“I don’t know how you can do it!”, “But what do you eat?”, “So you don’t even wear leather?!”), then feel the need to tell me why they aren’t vegan themselves (despite the fact that I have never once asked anyone to explain this to me).  Can it, people, I don’t care.  It’s all excuses to me, save for the few people I know who live in remote places without access to decent grocery stores.  But whatever.  Maybe cheese fries are just that important to you.  I don’t know.

Anyway, the number 1 reason I get why people aren’t vegan is, “I just like cheese too much”.  I can’t really help you with that.  Daiya exists, but other than that we vegans do need to learn to live without our jarred nacho cheese dip and Easy-Mac (there are better things in life, I promise you, but that’s another post for another time).  The number 2 response is, “Isn’t being vegan expensive?”

It’s a common belief, and not completely untrue.  When I first went vegan I was buying meat substitutes left and right, and they can add up.  Having been trapped in a cheeseburger-or-grilled-chicken-or-tacos-or-pasta rut for eighteen years, I had a lot to learn about making entrees without meat or at least a meat analogue.  Boca Crumbles are awesome, don’t get me wrong, but they are pricey and not really that good for you either.

The other reason people think being vegan is expensive is because most people automatically assume we eat 100% organic.  I know people who do, but only a few.  I do eat as much organic produce as possible, but if it’s double the price I pass on it and get whatever’s cheap.

The point is, just like “normal” people meals, they can be as cheap or as inexpensive as you want them to be.  I actually spend less on food now than I did when I ate meat.  From time to time I’ll post a meal that’s particularly budget-friendly and let you know roughly what I spent to make it.  Hopefully it will prove that being vegan doesn’t have to mean lots of expensive or fancy ingredients.  And think of all the money you’ll save on cholesterol medications twenty years down the road 😉

Vegetable Pasta

Vegetable Saute

Vegetable Saute

In the instance of the photo above, I used a relatively simple mix of pasta toppings including an onion (50 cents), a green bell pepper (50 cents), 4 ounces of fresh Cremini mushrooms ($1), and pine nuts (35 cents, purchased in bulk).  The ingredients themselves don’t matter so much; what matters is, this is what was inexpensive and/or I already had in my fridge.  I heated the mix on medium with a little olive oil and a drizzle of white wine (both of which I already had).

In a separate pot, I cooked the noodles, using whole wheat angelhair I found on sale for 85 cents per pound.  If you want to reduce the cost of your meal even further, drop the noodles in while the water is at a rolling boil, then cover the pot (with the lid tipped a little to prevent it from boiling over) and reduce the heat to medium.  Five minutes later, turn the burner off all together.  You’ll save a little on your power bill and your noodles will still cook to perfection.



There are two ways you can make the sauce.

Store-Bought: Buy a can of whatever plain ol pasta sauce you can find.  I got a big can of chunky vegetable (store brand) for 70 cents.  Heat it up over the stove and add some oregano, a little pinch of cinnamon and/or chili powder, some cracked red and black pepper, and a little garlic (2 cents/clove at the farmer’s market) and some fresh basil if you have it (I grow my own, so it’s always free).

Homemade: Check out your grocery store, farmer’s market, or produce market to see if you can find some soft tomatoes for cheap.  The grocery stores often throw away all of the squishy, overripe produce, so if you talk to the department manager they’ll often give you a good deal on it.  Farmer’s markets are a way to try your hand at haggling.  If you’re not into that, just visit the same farmer a few weeks in a row and chat them up–they almost always slip a few extra tomatoes into your bag.  If you grow your own tomatoes, even better.  I bought 1/4 bushel of tomatoes for $6 at the farmer’s market and used less than a fourth of the tomatoes to make a sizable batch of sauce.

Chop up the tomatoes (around ten for enough sauce to feed 4-6 people) and boil them down over medium-high for 2-3 hours, then reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook them until you get sick of waiting.  Add some spices in there while you’re at it.  Leave the lid off the pot for at least an hour to reduce some of the water (I also strain mine over a mesh screen).  If you want it chunky, leave it be, otherwise toss it in the food processor or use an immersion blender to smooth it out.  If you have leftovers you can can (can-can, can you do the can-can) it or freeze it for later use.

The Finished Product!

The Finished Product!

So, in short: Buy some cheap vegetables, and find an inexpensive way to get sauce (by either buying it or making it yourself).  Scrounge around your refrigerator and use up all the produce you can.  Cook up some noodles, mix it all together, and voila–an inexpensive entree that has the added benefit of not being a greasy corpse.

Ginger Crinkles and Lemon Sugar Cookies

September 20, 2009

Vegans are not particularly famous for cookie-making.  Cupcakes yes.  Cookies, not so much.  Vegan cookies are finicky and have a tendency to turn to crunchy little bricks if they are baked even 10 degrees too high, or 45 seconds too long.  I exaggerate, but you get it.  A dessert that’s child’s play in the omnivore world takes a little more work for vegans.  Instead of trying to find just the right recipe, I sometimes give in and just buy an ABC or a Liz Lovely (can I get an amen, vegans?).

I do love a good cookie, though, and miss the memory of helping my mom roll the dough into balls and put them in little rows on the cookie sheets.  The kitchen made warm by the oven, the scent of ginger filling the house, sneaking bites of cookie dough out of the mixing bowl…those were the days.  These are two recipes that live up to my (and my mom’s!) standards for homey goodness.

Ginger Crinkles

Ginger Crinkles

I started with this recipe on Eating Well and made a few changes to make it vegan and a little more to my tastes.  First, I used granulated sugar for the cookies themselves, then rolled them in the raw Turbinado sugar as the recipe states.  I substituted 1/4 cup applesauce (natural, unsweetened) for the egg.  And instead of the wheat pastry flour, I used a 50-50 mix of white unbleached all-purpose flour and wheat flour.  They are a versatile cookie; you can under-bake them just a smidge for the folks who like a softer, moist cookie, or you can over-bake them by a minute or so to make them a little thinner and crispier, more like a gingersnap.  They travel well and stay soft for a day even when not in an airtight container.  I brought them to a potluck nestled in a cake box with some tissue and they were almost as good as they were right out of the oven.

Which is another point I should mention:  these cookies smelled so good that I could not stand the anticipation and actually ate a few right out of the oven.  Literally.  Despite burning my mouth a little (it was totally worth it).

Lemon Sugar Cookies

Lemon Sugar Cookies

These cookies are scrumptious, and I turn to this recipe often when I want a way to sneak vegan food onto non-vegans’ plates.  As with most vegan sugar cookies, they do harden rather quickly if not placed in an airtight container, so as soon as they are cool, put them away (this is also a good technique for stopping yourself from eating them all).  The recipe is from the amazing food blog Crepes of Wrath (if you haven’t seen it yet, go now!  And join a gym because you will soon be cooking and eating way too many of the recipes.  You’ll thank me later).

My only substitutions:  use Earth Balance Buttery Sticks instead of butter, and use 1/4 cup applesauce in place of the egg.  Please, please, please, do not omit the lemon extract…it’s the secret key to success!