Monday, February 26, 2007

Liquid Gold Salad Dressing & Mmmmm, Chickpea Casserole

For the last two days I've been drinking straight from the jar, er... I mean, enjoying dressing my salads with the Liquid Gold Salad Dressing recipe found in Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina's Becoming Vegan: The Complete Guide to Adopting a Healthy, Plant-Based Diet. Here, I enjoyed it with just a simple salad of Romaine lettuce and roasted portabellos. Today I devoured it mixed with Romaine again but also baked tofu and fresh tomato. wow!

When I first made the natural progression from vegetarian to vegan this book was invaluable (still is!), full of nutrition info given in clear explanations and tables, making for peace of mind to ensure that I'd be doing it right, eating as healthfully as I could.
I still pick it up all of the time to kind of cement in my brain what I need and what nutrients both aid and hinder the absorption of others (confession: I'm a nutrition junkie who never retains what she's 'learned'), what foods to rely on for specific vitamins and minerals, and here and there a spectacular recipe packed with nutrition.

I typically don't share recipes from cookbooks, but this book is such a wealth of information that I think just trying the recipe might turn a few people on to purchase it.

'Just 2 tablespoons of this dressing (I dare ya to only drink, I mean use two!) provides 3.8g of omega-3 fatty acids (your days supply and then some) along with 40% of your B12 for the day (80% if you use the higher amount of yeast...and why wouldn't you?!). This creamy dressing is packed with riboflavin and other B vitamins - plus it's very tasty.'

Liquid Gold Salad Dressing

1/2 c. flax seed oil
1/2 c. water
1/3 c. lemon juice
2 T balsamic or raspberry vinegar
1/4 c. Bragg liquid Aminos or tamari
1/4 to 1/2 c. Red Star Nutritional Yeast Support Formula Nutritional Yeast

2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. ground cumin

Blend until smooth. Dressing can be kept in a jar with a lid, refrigerated for up to 2 weeks. Makes 2 cups.

per T: calories - 78, protein - 1g, carb - 2g, fat - 7g, dietary fiber -0 .4g, sodium - 180mg

I tell ya I am loving this stuff!

I also finally tried out VWaV's Broccoli Chickpea Casserole. Heeding Isa's advice I made it just as the recipe called subs, no extras.
This one is right on the money for me. I thought, at first, that the broccoli was a little more done than I like but the overall flavor is soooo good, I forgot about that entirely after just a few bites and look forward to the mounds of leftovers each day still in the 'fridge.

I love how something so simple can taste so amazing and comforting. I served it over a 1/2 c. of brown rice. Another winner from my favorite vegan cookbook to date. Thanks, Isa!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Easy Beans 'N Rice, A Loaf (of sorts), & More Biscuits 'N Gravy

Is there anything easier or more satisfying than Beans 'N Rice? Here, I just drained and rinsed a can of organic black beans (tho I'm thinking next time I'll double that, but that's all we had this time), put them in a sauce pan that I'd sauteed onion and garlic in olive oil, added a can of no salt added tomatoes with their juices, added some cumin and coriander, sea salt and black pepper and allowed to heat thru while the pressure cooker blasted some brown rice in minutes flat (i LOVE this thing!).

We topped it with some jarred Zapata fire roasted salsa verde, a bit of Tofutti BTSC, and fresh avacado.

A side of our favorite sauteed broccoli
(lots of garlic in a bit of olive oil, toss in the broccoli and allow it to unleash it's nutty aroma, sprinkling with sea salt, oregano, and basil...then, just before the florets start to brown toss in a T or two of water, cover, lower heat allow to steam until just perfect!) and dinner was served! And lunch today too, for that matter! ;)

One night I realized I had some leftover lentils (cooked in leftover mushroom broth) and leftover quinoa. What to do? I processed half the lentils in the food processor with some sauteed onion and garlic, oregano, and thyme, then mixed that in a bowl with the remaining lentils and quinoa. The idea was to make patties, but I was feeling lazy so in a loaf pan it went.
When I turned it out, the inside was still a bit mushier than I'd like so i sliced it, basted it with organic ketchup and baked it some more. A quick roasting of brussel sprouts and steaming of cauliflower that I'd later mash with a little EB and soy milk, sea salt and pepper made for a surprisingly easy and tasty dinner.
I think it's painfully obvious, my love for all breakfasts biscuits 'n gravy, no? I know this one looks much like one you've seen previously but it's a bit different. I made the Mushroom Gravy and Baking Powder Biscuits from La Dolce Vegan, and the usual tempeh fauxsage crumbles from VWaV.
I like these biscuits even better than the Fancy version (tho those are fab) I mentioned previously, I think because they're not in your face with flavor. There's a hint of oregano that gives them a nice savory taste without being a flavor you have to compete with.One more thing....I've been totally in LOVE with La Dolce Vegan's ease of seitan preparation and can't seem to stray from the faux chicken flavoring. I'm trying to help a friend in need of more protein discover a love for all things wheat meat as I have, so i ask all of you....what's YOUR favorite seitan preparation/flavoring?

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Lazy Meals

I'm a big fan of tofu scramble, but some days? I just don't wanna wake up and start cooking first thing (this is rare for me as i usually wake up and wanna experiment in the kitchen, but it happens).

This is why I'm glad there's Amy's frozen entrees. Granted, very few are vegan, but the ones that are are really right up my alley.This one's the Tofu Scramble. I nuke it for four min, then stick it in a pan with some olive oil, add about 2T nutritional yeast, and stir occasionally as it gets nice and browned. I enjoyed this one with some diced avocado, a Banana Blueberry Muffin, and a sliced mango.

With the leftover pizza dough and basil tofu ricotta (I can't help but wanna call it 'riNOTta. hehe) from our Vday Anniversary dinner, I made a quick, very rectangular calzone for lunch.It contained some sauteed swiss chard with garlic and sundried tomatoes. I had enough dough for a couple knots on the side. This was great and lasted for days as it was about four servings. while it baked I broke out the Saladaccio and shredded some zucchini which I tossed with some of VWaV's sundried tomato/almond pesto. ( i used the jarred sundried tomatoes and just added water and left out the oil so this really is a quick easy version).I wanted healthy for dinner with little effort and both my bags of organic spinach* were looking rather iffy. I don't do iffy veggies so I cooked up some lentils in some mushroom stock I had left over from the bisque and cooked up some quinoa.

While that was cooking I sauteed some garlic, onion, carrot, and leeks, with oregano, thyme, sea salt, and black pepper, then tossed in a cup of frozen corn while roasing some portabellos in the oven. Lastly came the garlic broccoli, which is always easy and fast to prepare and POOF!
a healthy, hearty (easy!), scrumptious dinner was served!

*Vivacious Vegan: remember your question about spinach? sorry i never got around to ansering it. Spinach contains oxalate which can inhibit the absorption of iron as it binds with it and removes it from the body. It binds with calcium as well. Oxalate is also a contributing factor to kidney stones, which I've had a history of. To get the most folate out of spinach, it is best to steam it, not eat it raw or boil it for too long. I made the comment I did as I love to eat spinach raw in salads but think that, that way, it's not nearly as nutritious as once believed. Still very good for you and full of vitamins A, C, E and antioxidants. hope that helps!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Banana Blueberry Muffins 'n Stuff

Behold, my new favorite muffins, complements of La Dolce Vegan, fresh outta the oven...
I had a banana or two lying around that was browing quite nicely and just begging to be mashed into something worth baking. These muffins are totally just that. They're easy and amazingly delicious. Not too sweet, and fluffy as all get out.

I mean, just look at it! You know you want one (or three).

Yeah, I've made these three times now and they freeze so well. I usually leave six out and freeze six. Then, a few days later, when I'm sad that I don't have any muffins left? I just take out the frozen ones and put them on a plate. They're defrosted in no time, pop 'em in a warm oven for 10 min and they're good as new!

I think that same day I tried my hand at baked Nutritional Yeast tofu.
I was going for something I love at a restaurant in Gainesville (from the 43rd St. Deli's breakfast menu). I just marinated the tofu in some tamari, coated liberally with NY, and baked til I thought it was done. I think at the deli they pan sear it, but I didn't wanna bother. Still yummy if not a tad too salty. Next time I'll go easier on the tamari.

I'm not the biggest yogurt fan, but when I do want some I love Silk Live! with cut up banana and some almond granola.
Lunch was my go to salad of butter lettuce, cukes, carrots, tomato, green onions, and That Ginger Dressing. I could drink that stuff, I tell ya!
and the TuNot sandwich on vegan rye bread made fore a satisfying meal.
I don't have any idea what we had for dinner that night but I DO know that we ended things with a dessert I haven't had in ages. This vegan jell-o like dessert, cherry flavored with chopped strawberries in the bottom. YUM! I love that the date container I got recently doubled as the perfect mold!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Valentine's Anniversary Dinner

Ya see, 13 years ago on Valentine's eve, the Cap'n invited me to accompany him and some friends to the beach after work. We'd met and worked, back in the day, at a local college town pizza joint. I could think of nothing more fun to do than to drive the hour and a half with new friends to a beach i adored but had yet to explore much of. Long story shorter than it could be, everyone else bailed but us. We spent the day (after slumbering in the car upon our arrival) climbing rocks, collecting shells, and sharing life stories on a beautiful inlet. That Feb. 14 marked the day that each of us decided we would never settle for anything less wonderful, less spectacular than the friend we'd found in one another.

Thirteen years later we're the most blissfully married couple I know and spent this VDay with a quiet night in, a home cooked meal and a great movie/documentary, Who Killed The Electric Car* (nothing says I Love You more than putting a doc on your Netflix list that will spark in each of you a shared desire to stamp all out all things unjust. Thanks, baby!). hehe

On the menu?
Vegan Planet's Thyme Scented Wild Mushroom BisqueThis may not photograph well but is my new favorite soup. Making the stock a day ahead is a smart move and the rest comes together easy enough. I really need to think about getting a hand blender tho since my last one just broke into pieces after being used just twice!

Also from Vegan Planet, Spinach and Asian Pear Salad with Warm Walnut Vinaigrette
Not my favorite salad dressing, but we LOVE Asian pears and spinach is always yummy

Next, to commemorate the thing that brought us together in the first place, PIZZA!I tried out La Dolce Vegan's pizza crust as it's herbed and easy and topped it with a simple jarred red sauce, VwaV's Tofu Basil Ricotta, quartered artichoke hearts (there's the obligatory heart in our meal! ;) and black olives. So good!

For dessert?
from Veg. Times' March issue, Vegan Choc. Mousse (using mango and avocado and a splash of rum, yum!) in Ginger/Maple cups. I served with fresh blueberries and a strawberry and a sprinkling of toasted coconut on top! I love that you can eat something so decadent and rich and not feel crazy full and icky when you're all done!

So glad to see everyone elses' VDay creations. Hope everyone had a wonderful day/night! I've a bunch of other food odds and ends to catch up on, but thought I'd just share this one for now. Have a great weekend!

*Go rent this movie!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

10:15 on a, Friday night

Ok, so maybe I'm just a dorky Cure fan of old and can never come up with clever post titles. ;) But it really was just after 10 when I finally sat down to eat on this recent lonely Friday eve when the Cap'n was working late.

Funny, 'cause I'd been dreaming up this dinner for m'self even before I saw that Urban Vegan had enjoyed a very similar meal on her recent Girl's Night In. Seeing how yummy hers turned out just clinched it!

So, mine started out with a simple salad that I found in my The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen cookbook. It's very basic in that it consists of romaine lettuce and the dressing.The dressing is pretty interesting as it showcases lemon juice, cinnamon, and chopped dates among it's ingredients. I found that, when you get a dateless bite it's very (almost too, but not quite) lemony. Then you snag a sweet little date and it's a flavor party in your mouth! The cinnamon really shines thru then. I'm thinking of giving the whole dressing a whirl in the food processor next time, making the dates more a part of the dressing and seeing what happens that way.

As the recipe only calls for romaine and the dressing, it makes for a pretty boring picture but refreshing and delightful and easy salad to start a meal. this would go great with something spicy.

For dinner I made some tofu sticks from Vegan Planet using homemade millet bread breadcrumbs and also made Isa's Sweet Potato Fries. I love the cumin/coriander spice with a little homemade agave mustard dipping sauce (equal parts of vegannaise, agave nectar, and dijon can add Tofutti Sr. Crm. too but it's not imperative).
I like their seasoning of the breadcrumbs for the tofu stix but not so much the marinade or dipping sauce. I think next time I'll marinade like the basic asian inspired one found in VWaV and Dreena's ginger dipping sauce from Vive, as they each suit my tastes better.

Vegan Biscuits...Oh Yes, I Can!

I've never had much luck with vegan biscuit recipes. They typically fall short, often literally, being flat, or too dense, or not flavorful enough. I figured it was me, that I had yet to master the art of carefully blending the ingredients without overworking them.
But then, in thumbing thru my copy of How It All Vegan, I came across Fancy Biscuits. Having some fresh Dill in the 'fridge from my recent tempeh pate making, I knew I had to try these. Sooo glad I did! I've been enjoying them with Fauxsage Gravy for days and some fruit and LOVING it!They're tasty, light, they fluff up in the pan like a muffin but have the texture and taste of biscuits, which I've always loved. They paired amazingly well with the spicy gravy and are incredible on their own with just a touch of EB.

The Cap'n likes his Fauxsage free with just a bit of gravy (whole wheat flour, nutri. yeast, water/broth/soy milk, tamari, paprika, onion powder, sea salt, and black pepper, all to taste)but i love to dump in a whole mess of the fauxsage crumbles that Isa's come up with in VwaV.

Food, Food, 'n more Food!

Now, where were we?......
VWaV's Edamame Samosas, complete with coconut mint chutney (wow, i could pour this stuff on just about anything and love it. sooo yummy!) with a side of Isa's coconut rice (thanks to my handy new pressure a great deal from on one that they were selling out of) and some steamed spinach with garlic.

this was an incredible meal. felt like we were dining out, you know, 'cept for the crazy messy kitchen we faced after our dinner. hehe. i will totally make this again, can't wait to make it for guests, and LOVE that the samosas freeze so well and the chutney comes together in no time and is truly delectable.

Even our little kitty Coda was keen on these little pockets of we soon found upon tackling the aforementioned messy kitchen. She nibbled a few of the samosas still cooling on the counter. too funny! our cats always seem to make the best testers!
I really can't say enough how much I'm loving Vegan Planet's Tuna Free Salad. I call it TuNot. I've made it both just as the recipe states and with celery salt instead of celery when we were out, and both times it's just perfect! I've enjoyed it on crackers, pita, as a sandwich, but my favorite is like so, in a garlic/herb wrap with avacado, carrot, and some fresh ground black pepper. This stuff is so simple and really nice for a quick lunch or snack.
On a night I particularly didn't feel like cooking much, I fished a box from Pacific Natural Foods, their Organic Butternut Squash Soup, out of the pantry, sauteed some garlic, olive oil and a huge bunch of beautiful organic kale, and viola! easy satisfying dinner was served. I think there was some bread warmed out of the freezer as well. I do admit, the sweetness of the soup made the kale seem more bitter than I typically find it. This must be why I normally saute spinach in it's place. Still good this way, tho.
The next morning, a repeat, but one of my most favorite breakfasts (and i love that it will last me a couple of days), my take on VwaV's Sundried Tomato and Zucchini Frittata (Isa uses asparagus, but I just love it with zuke). This stuff is a cinch to throw together and has the flavor of a veggie lasagna. The fresh basil makes it wonderful. I often make up some roasted potatoes with this but just toasted some homemade bread instead this week.

Speaking of homemade bread....the Cap'n got me a nifty breadmaker for xmas. Even tho I've recently just found I have a deep love for the art of kneading your own dough, of immersing myself in flour and creating wonderful baked breads from simple vegan recipes, I was excited and figured this new appliance would just make more recipes available to me. It appears I'm still working out the kinks of my particular machine. I followed the manufacturer's directions and the recipes directions perfectly and still I came out with two lumps of dense, hard, though totally delicious whole wheat oatmeal bread.While it's obviously not the sliceable sandwich loaf I'd been hoping for, it spurred the idea for dinner with which it paired marvelously....
Bean and Barley Stew with Bread and a crisp salad with homemade ginger dressing (dressing recipe at bottom of post). For the stew, I took a recipe off the package of barley (which now I can't seem to find anywhere) and added one can of great northern beans, one can of Cannellini beans, and an extra can of tomatoes. This made soo much stew that I brought it with me out of town for a meal and froze the rest for a later date. I love how the barley stays firm and pops in your mouth while the beans lend it a creaminess. The rest of the ingredients were just onion, celery, carrot, herbs, and veggie stock. very basic but extremely tasty and filling.oh yeah, i guess we did decide to roast some brussel sprouts to lay in the middle. shocking, i know ;)

Here's my plate at a recent family birthday dinner. They had ribs on the menu and know that I always come prepared with my carry along cooler of vegan goodies, but they were so accomodating to me so that I could have similar fare. They saved some of the potatoes from the potato salad and I mixed mine with Vegannaise, roasted brussel sprouts, salt, pepper, and a tad bit of pickle relish. They saved me some plain slaw which I threw together and, while not your typical slaw recipe turned out pretty interesting! I mixed in mine a bit of Vegannaise, tamari, fresh ginger, garlic, salt, pepper, and some fresh squeezed orange juice in lieu of lemon as we had oranges for our Blue Moon beers. This was good if not great and I'd make it this way again maybe without the tamari as it's a bit overwhelming flavorwise. The beans were totally veg as were the greens, wich were collard and sooooo very good. See? ya don't need a ham hock to make good greens! You also see a bit of my bread fiasco slathered, a bit too enthusiastically, with EB. Hey! I knew I wouldn't be indulging in cake, after all! ;)

But what did I do for a bit of protein? We had nuts to snack on before our meal, lots of raw veggies, and I whipped up this for the fam, as it's quickly become a favorite among all who try it, Native Foods' Tempeh Pate. This stuff is addictive! We eat it happily with Wasa salsa also made an appearance as I'd gifted them some recently. This little pepper dish kept needing refilling. yum!

all that great food and a nice fire.....sigh. Back at home I was having a craving for something old and something new. The old? A favorite at our house, Mac Uncheese 'N Peas! the new? Dreena's Artichoke Spinach stuffed Portabellos from TEV. I ate two. burp. 'scuse me!
for the Mac Uncheese, I have yet to find one I like better than the one from The Nutritional Yeast Cookbook. I just add about a cup of frozen organic peas before baking, used the remainder of my ww oat bread for bread crumbs (this was outstanding. such a great mishap was never before had in my kitchen!). The Cap'n couldn't stop commenting on how perfectly the crumb topping compliemnted his already much beloved macaroni dish.

I am just floored by how simple, healthy, and out of this world tasty the stuffed shrooms are. how did i miss this recipe? my mouth is watering right now at the thought of doing them again soon! I urge those of you who've yet to try this one to do so imMEDiately!

While out of town visiting the Cap'n's fam, I came across these, the only fake meat product I'm totally smitten with...They don't sell them near where I live anymore so I snatched some up to bring home knowing just what I wanted to do with them....Fajita Chik'n Tacos!!!
I just saute them in a skillet with fajita seasoning then stuff them into hot corn taco shells with tomato, lettuce, avacado, Tofutti BTSC, and fresh homemade salsa. My favorite kinda dinner. Quick, easy, and always fantastically tasty.

And when I run out of taco shells the next day but have corn chips and all the makings leftover? Taco Salad! Yum!
Next, we have the Mac Uncheese leftovers with the addition of this product, Sheese, of Scotland, and a side of steamed spinach with garlic...
I gotta tell ya...for all the hype and great reviews of this product on Vegan Essentials, where I bought it? I dont see how it tastes any different from Vegan Rella. It tastes like a smoky blue cheese and is supposed to be cheddar. It's entirely too overwhelming for me, doesn't melt at all, and is $10 for one round of it! The Cap'n loved it, tho so it's not a total wash, but I won't be purchasing this one again. I think I just need to give up on fake cheeses. I don't think any of them are all that good or even necessary. I just can never help but try a new one...just to see. ;)

wow. I think I'll stop now and leave the last couple items, including the most AMAZING breakfasts as of late, for my next post. sorry that was so incredibly long!

That Ginger Dressing
(I think this is a copy cat recipe for a chain Japanese restaurant. not sure where I got it but I've been using it for years as my go to ginger dressing recipe when I'm wanting to make my own)blend together in blender or food processor until smooth:

1/4 c. chopped onion
1/4 c. peanut oil
2 T rice wine vinegar
1 T water
1 T grated fresh ginger
1 T minced celery
1 T tamari or soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp tomato paste
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt