Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Fell In Love With a Salad

Arugula and Mushroom Salad with Hempseed and Liquid Gold Dressing

I know I've blogged this one before (recipe included in the last post), but it bears repeating (I totally couldn't help myself with that title!).
IIt's so incredibly hot lately, all I want is fruit or salad. My all-time easy, healthy, super delicious go-to salad dressing is non other than the Liquid Gold recipe from Becoming Vegan. Just two tablespoons of this golden goodness supplies one with all of the omega's and B vitamins one needs in a day! and did I mention how delicious it is? It's base is Flax Oil, which personally I find to be pretty unpalatable, but in this dressing it shines. Matched with a half a cup of Nutritional Yeast, Tamari, lemon, and cumin it's just the best thing ever.
I really think it's perfect tossed like you see it above with some baby Arugula, hempseed, and some thinly sliced 'shrooms. I've made it with roasted portabellos before and loved that too but when you just can't be bothered to cook anything, raw is ideal. I actually love this salad so much that I eat it regularly and can't bring myself to change the ingredients or stray from this combination. I think that tossing in some dried cranberries might lend an interesting and contrasting sweetness though.
I will say that, when I first tried it, I was unsure of the cumin. I think I may have even left it out or at least gone super light on it. Since, I've learned that, for me, it's perfection just as intended and now crave the distinct flavor regularly.
Hope you're all enjoying summer's end!

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Vegan Fusion

When my amazing friend Joey (Hi, Joey!) came by to hang with me on what would have otherwise been a rather dull Saturday night, he came not only bearing great conversation and a fabulous bottle of vino, but also showed up with some super fresh, super tasty mango salsa.

I was so excited to showcase it somehow at dinner for the Cap'n and myself the following night. First my mind went immediately to the obvious, something with a Latin flare. I even put together a rub for some Soy Curls as they soaked and thought that would be what we would eat. Then I thought about it a bit more...I wasn't really in the mood for anything Latin or Southwestern, and I tried to think of what else would compliment fresh mango, peppers, onion, beans and a touch of cilantro....hmmmmmm, what to do?

One of my favorite simple throw together meals is Celine's Coconut Basil Curry with Soy Curls. You've seen that here before. I thought, 'Hey! Thai cuisine goes just fine with those ingredients, right?!' RIGHT!

I rehydrated the soy curls in some boiling water and veggie bouillon. When I made the coconut milk based sauce, I went easier on the curry than I usually do and a bit lighter on the agave I usually use. I wanted subtle. I squeezed out the excess water from the plumped Soy Curls and let them sit in the sauce for a few hours before meal time. When it was time to throw dinner together, I gently squeezed the SC's before they hit the hot pan (oiled lightly with grapeseed oil) and heated them on med hi heat until they started to brown nicely. Meanwhile, I whisked a touch of corn starch into the remaining sauce. Once the 'Curls were browned to my liking, I added the sauce and let it simmer until it started to thicken, mixed it all a bit and then took it off the heat and covered it.

Then I gave little miss smileypants a bath.
Once she was all ready for bed but still more interested in playing with the remotes and learning to climb up on top of the coffee table, I plated it up....first the saucy soy curls, next a serving of Basmati Rice (I won't lie, I totally went the Uncle Ben's in a bag nuked route there), then a couple tablespoons of salsa).

Success! The flavors really did compliment one another. The salsa was light and refreshing and the curry was mild but creamy. The Cap'n says that (you know, for when day when I get to open up my dream vegan cafe) this one goes on the menu. ;)

Monday, August 03, 2009

Vegan Rosewater Almond Shortbread

I recently helped throw a bridal shower for my husband's cousin. She wanted a tea party, and I wanted to bake something that would lend itself to the elegant, pretty set up that we'd created.

Imagine Billie Holiday singing in the background, the summer sun filtering thru the trees and the windows, and a group of lovely women adorned in their tea party best (hats and all!) sitting down for tea, laughter, and a celebration of love. What better than a sophisticated and delicate cookie to dunk in their tea? (i also bagged a couple up for each guest and they took home their tea cup and saucer and a little flowering tea ball as a favor)
After searching the web a bit I found Celine's Rosewater Sables at Have Cake, Will Travel. Everything I've ever tried of Celine's has been a total hit so I knew this was the recipe for me. The only changes I made were to add a couple drops of almond extract (I love almond) and then create a simple icing with more almond and rosewater and a touch of red food coloring to make it pink.

Total success...so much that I may have enjoyed any extra cookies that were lying around before I ever got a chance to bring them to our friends and neighbors. oops! surely that won't help get the baby weight off but hey, I'm half way to goal and these cookies were not only delicate, slightly soft, and beautiful...they were SO YUMMY, too!

Thanks, Celine!

Tea and mimosas, anyone?

The guests in attendance were not vegan or even veg so the food spread isn't something you'd want a gander at, but the cookies were a hit!!

Raw Kale? Yes, Please!

These are not words I've ever uttered, but I'm shouting 'em now. Oh, yeah...hi! Remember me? With a very active 14 month walking, babbling little one around, I rarely have time to do much other than feed, play with,and chase her. I hardly ever get to peruse the blogs, but I'm so glad I did recently and stumbled upon this yummy gem!

Vegan YumYum posted a salad much like this one as a BLT salad. She used smoky tempeh fak'n (which is fantastic, btw), but the night I made the above version (and after trying it once, I've had this salad no less than four times!) I only had tofu in the 'fridge so I went for a smoky miso tofu instead.

As I said, raw kale has never been my thing. I've tried so hard to embrace it, but it's never been all that palatable to me. I'll boil it a bit and freeze small ice cube portions and toss it in smoothies (and hallelujah for that since Taylor is in that phase where fruit rules and smoothies are often the only way I can sneak some veggies into her day). I'll occasionally boil it an enjoy it quite well with some garlicky black eyed peas or throw in a soup, but that's the extent of my kale love, typically.

But thanks to this idea and a tip from a commenter on VYY's thread, I'm HOOKED!

Basically, the original called for using Dinosaur/Lacinato Blue, raw kale and spinach, smoky tempeh fak'n, and cooking grape tomatoes in the hot oil from heating the fak'n and a homemade simple Veganaise based dressing. truly perfection just as she intended.

But while my taste buds do prefer the tempeh, I'm currently on a pretty low carb diet (thank you baby weight and high blood pressure issues!) to get down to my prepregnancy weight. (hence the never blogging because most of my quick meals are bo-ring!). So I find marinating some tofu and baking it are a nice alternative. I based my smoky miso tempeh loosely on VYY's version as I didn't really measure anything, just used her ingredients and I subbed smoked paprika for the Liquid Smoke as I didn't have any (gasp! must add that to the grocery list!)

Also, to cut on fat and because I LOVE fresh tomatoes at summer's end, I don't cook them...I just chop some plum tomatoes or a big Ugly tomato and toss it in at the end.

As for how to make the kale perfect, follow the commenter's tip (here's VYY's original recipe) and wash your kale, dry it, cut it from the stem, and cut into thin slivers. Make your dressing and toss with the kale. using your hands, massage it into the kale leaves....then cover and refrigerate. I found that preparing the kale the night before or even just in the morning and leaving it to sit in the 'fridge all day was perfect!). Before serving, cook up your protein of choice, cut up your spinach and tomato and toss with your now wilted, chilled and pliable kale. the texture is really great. the flavor sings. honestly, I don't know how you'll NOT end up eating this salad a couple times a week and wonder how you ever turned your nose up at raw kale all that time! I need to thin the dressing out a bit myself to hopefully ease up on the fat content but still offer the kale a fat and an acid to help break it down.

now if you'll excuse me, I have a crazy little girl who needs to play with her momma.
hopefully, I'll stumble upon something else new and wonderful and be able to blog about it again before oh, i don't know, another million months roll on by!

much love to all, hope you're enjoying the tail end of your summer!