Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Last night I made Roasted Garlic and Cauliflower soup based on the version by Vegan Dad. Let me just preface this by saying I have never, ever in all my years cooking, made a creamy pureed soup. It just seemed odd to me for whatever reason. Thus any errors and the very unphotogenic soup is my fault!

I modified the recipe slightly to go with what I had on hand.

1head cauliflower
2bulbs garlic
1 sm onion, diced
1 celery heart, diced
2c Canellini beans, cooked
3c Unsweetened Soy milk
1/2c Nutritional Yeast
1c veggie broth

Now, I roasted the garlic in the oven with the tops lopped off and oil drizzled on them. The cauliflower also got a bit of oil and into the 450 oven it went for 15 min with the garlic. Next time, I will plan this ahead of time and roast it all for 30 minutes at 400.

I sauted the onion and celery until the cauliflower was ready. Then added the beans and cauliflower. The garlic was a bit of a pain to pull from the bulb but I got it all into the pot finally. Then I started the transfer process. One third went into my VitaMix blender and got mixed up on level 6 for about 30 seconds before being poured (and scooped) into a bowl. The next third did the same thing and finally the last portion. I cleaned out the blender with the remainder of the soy milk (1/2c) and nutritional yeast.

After tasting I added the 1c veggie broth and seasonings.

Now, I have in the past over blended things in the VitaMix. I was trying so very hard not to do that to this lovely soup that I fear I left it too chunky. It was akin to smashed cauliflower or as my hubby put it, gruel. Not very appetizing to look at. All the pics turned out to be a bowl of white glop. Thus you must use your imagination today. Or simply look into a bowl of cream of wheat.

The most amazing thing about this recipe though? It was very easy, very forgiving and so very filling. I did not expect to be satisfied with the texture as a main course. And despite my not blending it to a smooth liquid I was highly pleased. This soup is quite a tummy filler despite its looks in the bowl. I will be enjoying the leftovers quite a bit and have plans to make this again!

Thanks again Vegan Dad, you are quite an inspiration!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Baking with fruit!

A very nice friend from work gave me an awesome thank you gift. Three pounds of fresh fruit. The blueberries were amazingly yummy and the two pounds of strawberries just as good.

First up, a recipe from the Joy of Vegan Baking! Blueberry Cobbler. Yum

Just look how it turned out. Here it is all warm, bubbly and sweet. So good. We scarfed it down before dinner on Sunday. What good is making a warm dessert if you have to eat it cold?!

Next when I got into work on Tuesday morning they were going to throw out 6 very brown bananas that has sat in the pantry all the long weekend. This just screamed for banana bread with a little bit of finely diced walnuts.

Those strawberries got eaten straight from the carton but last night I knew I needed to use the last half up. I modified the banana bread and made Strawberry Bread!

This bread is chewier than the banana version and flatter, possibly due to the smaller amount of fruit used. But it is delicious. Lightly sweet and with that delicate berry flavor permeating the dense crumb. I cannot wait to toast some and slather it with Earth Balance margarine.

These two breads I started baking after 9pm last night. Someday I will find motivation to bake before bedtime!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Removing the boring from rice & beans!

I am a big fan of being lazy. Plus I am a devout penny pincher. These two traits sometimes clash making me confused enough to wander the produce section for hours aimlessly. Usually the lazy wins but I am always much happier with the thrifty snatches victory from the lax grasp.

One thing that I am always pleased with is dried beans. These perfect gems packed with protein always make me smile. What could be better than spending under a dollar for a two pound bag that will make more meals than I need in a week?! Paired with rice its a recipe for success.

Of course some people, who shall remain nameless *cough*husband*cough*, find rice and beans boring, uninteresting and just blah. How this is possible is beyond me, but so often I mention Rice & Beans as a meal option and he inevitably picks anything else on the list. *sigh* Thus you all must listen to my lovely essay on the perfection that is legumes and grain pairings!

First off, start dried!
One bag of dried beans is cheap and oh so easy to prepare. Bring that sucker home, pour it into a colander and rinse them. Be sure you pick out any that look bad or even little stones. No one wants to bite into that!

Next bosh them into a pot with twice as much water and aromatics of your choice. Garlic, quartered onion, herbs, spices, or kombu. Just remember this important thing: NO SALT! Adding salt will make the beans tough and they will never soak or cook to a lovely softness.

Let this pot sit on the counter for 4 to 8 hours. I have even let mine sit 20 but just make sure it all smells good when you do return to it.

Drain the beans and remove any aromatics. Boiling things like kombu just turns things sticky and clumpy. So they have served their purpose and its time for them to go into the compost or into your broth bag in the freezer. (Thats another topic to be touched on at a later date!)

Now that you have soaked beans you are ready to move on to cooking them!

Plop those soaked but drained legumes into the same pot that I know you rinsed out already. Add in twice as much water as beans and move to the stove. I like to pressure cook my beans to make things fast because I am lazy, but you can cook them the long way in a regular pot on the stove. Simply bring them to a boil, lower the temp from high to medium and keep at a very high simmer until done. Check them by scooping a bean out and squishing it with a fork. Eat the squished bean to test the texture to your desired tooth.

One quick hint if you will pressure cook, preheat two burners. One on high and one on slightly above low, the perfect temp is 2.5 on my stove. Once you seal your pot and its to pressure move it to the lower burner for the timed amount. Read your recipe book that came with your pressure cooker for the correct time! I always find myself playing musical burners as I rarely cook just one thing at a time.

Once your beans are done drain them off and they are ready for anything. Freeze them in bags for quick additions to meals. Toss them in a soup. Puree them into hummus. Bake them in a casserole! Sprinkle them on your salad. The options are endless.

If you now add these glorious legumes to rice this makes a fabulous meal. Some ideas!

  • Long Grain White Rice and Black Beans; add in salsa after cooking to spice things up!
  • Basmatti Rice with Canellini Beans; flavor with basil and thyme for a light delicate flavor.
  • Jasmine Rice with Garbanzo Beans; mix in anything from balsamic vinegar to sage and rosemary.
  • White and Wild rice with pink kidney beans; creole seasoning makes it delicious.
  • Brown Rice and Soy Beans; sprinkle liberally with soy sauce and ginger!
  • Short Grain rice with pigeon peas; boil the water with saffron first for a delicate floral flavor.
  • And my favorite Long Grain White rice with a multi bean stew with onions and garlic!

The options are endless really. Combinations that may interest me may be of no interest to you. Make your own concoction! Do not be afraid to toss those cooked beans into the rice pot before it cooks and mingle the flavors. Just the perfect combination of cheap and lazy to make me one happy vegan!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Late night baking

What do you do when chatting to your mother at 8pm? Well, I had the option of sitting on the couch or putzing in the kitchen. I ended up with banana bread and VCTOTW Basic Vanilla Cupcakes with chocolate chips. I just finished making some Cream Cheese Frosting that I bagged up and will frost the cuppers tomorrow at work. Since I am not keeping these things in the house to add to MY waistline!

So, breakfast? dessert? I gotcha covered!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Week of the Casserole

When I planned my menu for the week I went with warm, quick and comforting. Hence we have almost an entire week full of casseroles. Tonights dinner is the ever wonderful Chickpea Mushroom Casserole. Its rich, creamy, satisfying and will become a staple in your line up. I promise!

I should have added some peas and carrots but this was fabulous just basic. I even saved time by sauteing the mushrooms on Sunday. It should be entirely possible to make the creamy mushroom chickpea roux and save it for another day when you are pressed for time. Now all I need to do is learn how to make my own fried onions and not burn my mouth as I scarf this down!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

More Mexican food!

I warned you. I really dig Mexican food. Its such a great cuisine.

Tonight I showed my hubby, LB, the list of this week's menu items and despite having eaten Chile Rellenos last night he picked our ever popular Tortilla casserole.

Now, this can be made with or without soy cheese. Even homemade vegan cheese would rock. Plus its easy to change the tastes from red tomato to green tomatillo easily. Just look at this recipe! So simple it only takes 15 minutes to prep and then 30 minutes in the oven.

Tortilla Casserole

12 Corn Tortillas, cut into thirds
1 can Beans of choice
1 can Refried Beans
1 cup Corn, frozen or canned
2 cans Whole Green chilies
2 cans Enchilada Sauce
1cup Soy Cheese

Open all the cans, drain & rinse things packed in water. Cut the tortillas into thirds. Layer in a 2 quart casserole dish 1/4th of the sauce, then 1/4 of the tortillas, 1/3 of the beans, 1/3 of the refried beans, 1/3 of the corn, 1/3 of the whole chilies and 1/4 of the cheese. Repeat, ending with the last of the tortillas, sauce then cheese. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Now personally, I used black beans, green taco sauce and salsa verde. But it is just as good with kidney beans, red enchilada sauce and cheddar soy cheese.

Crepes ala Vegan Dad

Thank you Vegan Dad! Your crepe post was such an inspiration that I went downstairs and made a batch of these delicious pastries immediately and at the entire thing. My taste buds thank you but my legs will curse you come Monday at the gym! It was worth it though.

For over 9 years I have lived without crepes. Crepes were a traditional holiday breakfast in my parents house. Once I moved out I made them a few times myself. I even had a pan sitting in my cupboards, in the original bag for over a decade.

In our house we did not stuff them with anything special nor slather them with jam and berries. We simply sprinkled powdered sugar and maple syrup on them and rolled them up. So thats what I did for my first taste of crepes in so many years. Of course I had to get all fancy and use Dark Agave instead of maple syrup but oh, this was heaven.

Thank you Vegan Dad. Thank you!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Chile Rellenos

Let me just state, I love Mexican food. If you haven't noticed. Which given my few posts is probably hard to tell. But I do. It probably has something to do with being born and raised in California. My favorite way to make a lovely meal is to saute veggies in lime and chilies. Once you have flavorful veggies you can make anything from tacos to enchiladas to burritos to casseroles.

One thing I was missing was Chile Rellenos.

If you have never had these lovely entres you are missing out. Mild peppers are fire roasted and the skin removed. Then deseeded and stuffed full of cheese and fried in a corn meal breading.

Just look at these beauties!

Cali's Chile Rellenos
4 Poblano Peppers
4 oz Soy Cheese - Jack or Mozerella
1/2c Soy Milk
2t Corn Starch
2T Chickpea flour
1c Corn Meal - for dredging
1T Adobo spice with cumin
1T Cilantro, dried
2t Chipoltle Chili Powder
Oil for frying

Roast the clean whole peppers, flipping until all the skin is blackened. Place in a bag to steam for 20 minutes.

Mix together the soy milk, cornstarch and chickpea flour until well blended in a flat container. I used a pie tin.

Mix together the corn meal and spices in a different pie tin.

Remove the peppers from the bag and gently peel the thin tough blackened skin off each one. Make (or use a torn spot) a thin slit down the length of the pepper and across the top. Remove the seeds and stem gently. Stuff with cheese and other fillings of your choice and close up as much as possible. Place in the soy milk mixture and gently spoon the milk over the entire stuffed pepper. Gently place this soggy pepper in the corn meal and cover completely. Fry in the oil for 5 minutes per side.

Serve with rice and beans.

Honestly, I filled mine with leftover Lightlife Smart Ground that I had made tacos out of earlier in the week. So yummy!

Also earlier in the week was Seitan Ribz and twice baked potatoes. I just love the seitan recipe from Fat Free Vegan.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Promised Pictures and an appetizing array.

At the end of December I was cooking and baking up a storm. Promises of pics were made. And yes, I will now provide said promised images of such goodness.

Our brunch from VWaV

Bread made into small savory loaves

Cinnamon Swirl Bread that made awesome Fronch Toast for Angel and I.

Banana Bonanza Bread. This was awesome in a large loaf form. I need to make it this way more often since I prefer it over the little loaves or muffins that I normally make (in an attempt at portion control).

Basic Chocolate Cupcakes with vanilla buttercream frosting. I would have prefered cream cheese but LB loved these.

Lasagna, sorry, leftovers was all I got a picture of. Man that was good stuff!

And now, some recent foods!

Breaded Tofu Fillets.
Marinate firm tofu in Malt Vinegar and Dulse powder with a splash of lemon for 15 minutes to 4 hours. Mix a batter of 50/50 beer to flour. Dip the slices in the batter and then into bread crumbs. I baked mine at 350 for 20 min each side but you could easily fry these fillets up nicely. Went well with some veganaise doctored with minced pickles, lemon, paprika and garlic.

Tonight's dinner was so awesome, I overate hugely. Just look at that plate. Ugh!

Chickpea Cutlets, that I actually measured the ingredients for! Yay! (Ok, so I only measured because I quadrupled the recipe, hush! At least this time I did measure.) Mashed potatoes, peas, brown mushroom gravy, garlic roasted brussel sprouts and a roll with Earth Balance.

So yummy, now I must fall into a chickpea induced coma... erm, sleep I mean!