Thu

12

Jun

2014

Pinto Bean and Kale Slaw Tacos and Yellow Rice with Garlic

Wednesday, June 11

Pinto Bean and Kale Slaw Tacos and Yellow Rice with Garlic

Rating: 4.5

It’s no secret that we love tacos and there is pretty much no limit to how often we can eat them. Wednesday is the Vegetable Husband delivery day, and this week’s basket had an ENORMOUS bunch of kale in it. I was already thinking of making tacos, so I’d picked up an avocado at the store the day before and soaked some pinto beans. We love the Curry Tofu and Pinto Bean Tacos with Kale Slaw recipe from the PPK. I was thinking of doing that one, but I decided to leave out the tofu this time. The pintos are really good on their own, but without the tofu they are a tad bland, so I added a scant half-teaspoon each of cumin and oregano to the onion, bean & tomato mixture and it was perfect. I made a full batch of the sauce for the kale slaw, but only chopped up half the amount of kale. I knew I’d have leftover beans, so I wanted to have some extra dressing since it keeps well, but I didn’t want to dress the full amount of kale because it gets a little too soft if it sits overnight in the dressing. I thought about making a salad to go with this, but decided we had so much kale it wasn’t needed. I did, however, decide we needed rice. Our favorite rice is the Yellow Rice with Garlic recipe in Viva Vegan. It’s really simple to make and oh so good. Instead of buying annatto infused oil (that orange oil you see on the Mexican aisle in the grocery store) I make my own from the recipe also in Viva Vegan. It keeps pretty much forever, so I make a batch & stick it in the pantry with the other oils so I always have some on hand. The annatto seeds are easy to find in just about any grocery store (again, look on the Mexican food aisle), and people will think you’re fancy for making your own infused oil. I made a half batch of rice because I didn’t want to have a ton leftover. By the time we’d piled up our tacos, there was just enough of everything left for a nice lunch for me to have the next day.

 

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Thu

12

Jun

2014

Garlicky Thyme Tempeh, Sautéed Kale with Leeks & Garlic Scapes and Grilled Corn

Sunday, June 1

Garlicky Thyme Tempeh, Sautéed Kale with Leeks & Garlic Scapes and Grilled Corn

Rating: 4.25

We scored some really pretty kale at the farmers market along with some garlic scapes (and a million other things). Sometimes simple is best, so I decided to sauté the kale with the garlic scapes and add the leeks from the Vegetable Husband basket. I just roughly chopped the kale and garlic scapes and sliced the leeks. I let the leeks cook in a little olive oil for a bit, then added the garlic scapes and then the kale, plus a little salt and pepper. Voila! Simple yummy side dish. We already had some corn in the fridge, so that was a no-brainer. I just pop it in the grill pan and turn it every few minutes. It takes about 15 to 20 minutes to cook. The tempeh was also really simple if you don’t mind pulling thyme leaves off the stems. I used this recipe from Isa Does It and the PPK site. I let ours marinate for about five hours so it would soak up all the garlicky-thymey goodness. I added it to the grill pan when the corn was about halfway done and grilled it for about 7 minutes per side. (You steam it before marinating.) The recipe says it’s good tucked into sandwiches, as a topping to pasta or salads, or with gravy alongside mashed potatoes, but I just served it as is and it was delicious. I think I’ve finally conquered my fear of tempeh.

 

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Wed

11

Jun

2014

Grilled Veggies and Italian Marinated Tofu with Pesto and Bruschetta

Saturday, May 31

Grilled Veggies and Italian Marinated Tofu with Pesto and Bruschetta

Rating: 4.25

So we had kind of a rough month and I’ve been really slack about blogging – my heart just hasn’t been in it. I’m going to just hit some highlights of recent dinners and then try to get back to being more reliable. So, here goes. One of the things we love about where we live, not just Atlanta, but our area specifically, is that we are close to pretty much everything we want to do, and most of it is within walking, or at least biking distance. We recently got bikes and have been some riding fools. We live really close to the Eastside Trail portion of the Atlanta Beltline and we love it. It gets pretty crowded – people, if you’re walking in a group, don’t take up the entire path and if you think you’re Lance Armstrong, find a better place to ride, the Beltline ain’t meant for that – but it’s still an awesome project connecting neighborhoods and is a great way to ride your bike to check out your friends’ new house without taking your life in your hands and riding on Moreland – if you’re not from Atlanta, insert any busy road that would be a deathtrap on a bike. Anyway, we’ve been riding a lot and in addition to the Beltline rides, there’s also the Freedom Park PATH Trail, which is pretty cool and gives us a car-free safe way to ride. We took it all the way downtown the other day. So much fun. Also, hills. Lots of hills. Anyway, one of the gems on the Freedom Park Trail is the Freedom Farmer’s Market at The Carter Center. OK, we didn’t really need bikes to get there, because it’s like a mile from home, but still. Pretty much the first thing I did when we got bikes was to get a basket for the front. Because I’m a girl. And I needed a basket. I immediately rode it to Sevananda and filled it with groceries. Immediately following that, I discovered that the front end was really wobbly with all that stuff in the basket. Undeterred, we decided to get up early and go to the farmer’s market. It opens at 9:00, and while we’re always up before that, we’re not usually in any fit state to leave the house. But I wanted more veggies dammit and I wanted to ride my bike to get them. So, off to the market we went. I’m kind of in love with this particular market because pretty much all the farms are organic. One of the first things we scored was an enormous bunch of fresh basil. This meant an enormous batch of pesto was going to happen. We also picked up a small zucchini, a few turnips and potatoes, some garlic scapes, a bag full of baby bok choy, a jar of pickled green tomatoes, a bag each of shiitake and lion’s mane mushrooms, some of the last of the greenhouse tomatoes one of the farms had, and a big, giant fresh baguette. My basket was pretty full for the ride home. No. The bread did not fit. I ended up tying it to the canvas grocery bag with the handles so it wouldn’t fly off on the ride home, or in my case, the wobble home. Later that day, we rode over to Outback Bikes in L5P where we’d bought the bikes a few weeks ago and got racks for the back of both bikes and pannier baskets for mine. Much better.

So with all these veggies, and the ones we still had on hand from out Vegetable Husband basket, we had rather a lot to work with. Armed with the baguette and tomatoes, we decided to start with bruschetta. Seth used to make this all the time, and I’m not sure why we haven’t had it for a while. While the (sliced) baguette was toasting, he chopped the tomatoes, mixed the them with garlic and a little olive oil. Then he spread some pesto on the slices and topped them with the tomato mixture. We then died and went to bread heaven. When we got home from the farmer’s market I’d put up a block of tofu to marinate in the Italian Marinade from Veganomicon. I baked it while we nommed on the bruschetta, and then grilled (in the grill pan) a whole bunch of veggies – zucchini, bell pepper, Vidalia onion, garlic scapes – and mixed them up with the tofu and pesto. No tofu on-hand or soy intolerant? White beans are a great addition to grilled veggies and pesto, or if you’re a carboholic like I am, the veggies and pesto are wonderful over pasta. Grape tomatoes are also really good grilled with the other veggies, or chopped tomato mixed in with the pasta, if you go that route. We had a simple side salad topped with olive oil and balsamic vinegar to round out the meal. Happy veggieful tummies. And we've officially become those people who bike to the farmer's market. I feel so urban and hip.

 

 

 

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Mon

02

Jun

2014

Mediterranean Meatless Balls with Tomato-Thyme Gravy and Pull-Apart Pesto Bread

Saturday, May 17

Mediterranean Meatless Balls with Tomato-Thyme Gravy and Pull-Apart Pesto Bread

Rating: 4.75

This was another dinner we made from the new book, Vegan Finger Foods, and it was a winner, just like the last one. I’ll admit, it was the bread (recipe below) that put this one over the top for me. When I stopped eating meat almost 19 years ago, my mother commented one day that I wasn’t a vegetarian, I was a breadatarian. I’m still guilty of being a bit of a Carbarella and I’m a sucker for homemade bread. (Psst – there is a whole chapter in the book called “Bread Based Bites” – oh happy day!) It’s probably best to make this one on a day you have a lot of time, because the bread, like many breads, needs to rise twice. The dough was very different than anything I’d made before, using cooked steel-cut oats as part of the wet ingredient mixture. I wasn’t sure how it would work, but the result was a dough that was really easy to work with and baked into soft, pillowy yumminess. You roll out the dough and cut it into squares, then bake them in a loaf pan. The resulting squares pull apart from each other to make individual servings. The only thing I ‘ll do differently next time is to spread more pesto on the dough before cutting the squares, as Seth commented he would’ve liked a little bit more.

 

Next up, we had the Meatless Balls, which are tofu based and so delicious. I love that they have sun-dried tomato, kalamata olives, and fresh basil in them. The recipe makes about 15 or 16 balls, so if you’re having them for dinner as opposed to serving at a party, you’ll have leftovers, but no worries - they re-heated really well. I haven’t made a lot of veggie meatball recipes before because honestly, I usually think they’re more work than they’re worth, but this one was quite easy and so tasty that I know we’ll be making it again. I opted for the Tomato-Thyme gravy for the sauce just because a tomato sauce that was heavy on the thyme was intriguing to me. It was also crazy easy to make and so, so yummy. Another winner that was perfect with the meatless balls. Since we were serving these as dinner, I made a bit of angel hair pasta to serve them over and it was perfect – light enough to not detract from the focus of dinner, which was of course, the meatless balls and the tomato gravy.  We had asparagus on the side, just so no one could accuse us of not eating our veggies. This was the second dinner we’ve made from Vegan Finger Foods, and I have to say, it was another winner. I’ll be writing a full review of the book as a whole in a few days, but (spoiler alert!) this is one book that’s going to get a lot of use in our kitchen.

Recipes shared with permission from Fair Winds Press.

Pull-Apart Pesto Bread

Yeild: 1 Loaf

 

1 cup water

½ cup steel-cut oats

½ cup vegan milk, warm (I used soy)

2 tbls olive oil

2 tbls brown rice syrup or agave nectar (I used brown rice syrup)

2 ½ cups white flour

2 tbls vital wheat gluten

2 ¼ tsp yeast (1 packet)

1 tsp fine sea salt

Non-stick cooking spray (I used regular olive oil since I have a sprayer for it)

½ cup vegan pesto (recipe follows, will need to be doubled)

 

 

Bring the water and the oats to a boil in a small saucepan. Lower the heat to a simmer, and cook for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. The mixture will be rather thick. Set aside to cool to lukewarm. Stir in the milk, olive oil, and syrup.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the flour, gluten, yeast, and salt. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and knead for 10 minutes. (Alternately, knead on a lightly floured surface for 10 minutes.) Add extra flour as needed, until the dough is manageable, pliable, and not too sticky. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise for 90 minutes, or until doubled in size.

Lightly coat an 8x4 in. loaf pan with cooking spray.

Punch down the dough, and roll it out onto a lightly floured surface into a 9x12 in. rectangle; spread pesto evenly on the surface.

Using a sharp knife, cut the rolled out dough into six 1 ½ in. wide strips. Place the strips on top of each other, with the pesto facing up. Cut into six stacks, each one made up of six layers. Transfer the stacks carefully to the prepared loaf pan. It doesn’t matter if the stacks don’t all fit in a row. Arrange the stacks cut sides up, so it looks like stripes. Cover with plastic and let rise for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to  375. Lower the oven rack so the bread isn’t too close to the heating element. Remove the plastic wrap and lightly coat the top with cooking spray. Bake for 25 minutes, then loosely cover with foil and bake for another 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

Remove from the pan and let cool for at least 15 minutes before diving in. Best served fresh.

 

 

For the pesto:

(double this for use with the bread recipe)

 

 

3/4 cup fresh basil leaves

1 or 2 cloves of garlic, pressed

2 tbls toasted pine nuts or toasted walnut pieces

Salt & pepper, to taste

1 tbl fresh lemon juice

2 tbl to ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, as needed

 

 

Place the basil, garlic, and nuts in a food processor and pulse a few times to chop the basil and pine nuts. Add salt and pepper to taste, then add the lemon juice. Slowly add the olive oil with the machine running, until a paste forms.

 

 

 

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Mon

02

Jun

2014

Blackened Tofu and Wilted Swiss Chard with Lemon-Tahini Sauce

I miss my handsome boy... He was remarkable.
I miss my handsome boy... He was remarkable.

Saturday, May 10

Blackened Tofu and Wilted Swiss Chard with Lemon-Tahini Sauce

Rating: 4.5

So I’ve been pretty off-line for a few weeks now - things haven’t been great over here at Veganesp HQ. My beloved boy kitty, Chaplin, aka The Monkey aka Little Man aka Handsome Pants, came to the end of his journey at the age of 18 ½. He had a lot of health issues, but had been doing really well, until around the middle of April, when he started to decline. We got him stabilized and he was doing a lot better for a few weeks, but crashed very quickly and we had to say good-bye on May 7. Not a day has gone by without tears since then. I miss him so much. So, I’ve been cooking kind of on and off and really haven’t felt much like blogging lately.

Seth had been out of town this week and so he really wanted a home-cooked meal. While I didn’t feel much like cooking, I had a big bunch of chard in the fridge from our weekly Vegetable Husband basket and it was so pretty I decided to go with a recipe in Vegan Soul Kitchen, which yes, I just recently bought. I’d looked at the book a few years ago and it seemed kind of heavy on sweet potato recipes, so I didn’t get it. Neither of us likes those much. Well, Seth won’t touch them and I can only eat about 2 per year. Anyway, I recently came across the book again and decided to give it a shot. I’m really glad I did. (It turned out to have a lot fewer sweet potato recipes than I thought in it.) Both the chard and tofu recipes are from this book and both were really fast to make. I’ll start with the chard, because I kind of built the meal around it to begin with. The recipe actually uses a mix of chard and spinach, but because I had a lot of chard, and not a lot of spinach, I used just chard. Since I wasn’t looking for leftovers and was using half the amount of greens, I also halved the dressing. It’s really easy to make and I threw it together while the chard cooked. It is VERY flavorful, so while we both really liked it and I will make it again, I may either thin it out a bit or use slightly less of it on the chard next time. The tofu recipe calls for bigger slabs than we normally like, and it also calls for two packages, so of course, I halved this one as well. I have a few blackened tofu recipes and this one was probably my favorite so far. It calls for one or two spices not in the other recipes I have, and I really liked the difference. I cooked it in a cast-iron skillet with a little olive oil and it was perfect. The book also has a succotash salsa recipe to go along with the tofu, but it’s mostly lima beans, and I can’t stand lima beans. When I was a kid, my sister loved them and my mom would make them all the time with dinner – so gross. I don’t think I’ve eaten them since I was about 11. Blech. Anyway, we skipped the salsa, and made some ranch dressing (Cookin’ Crunk recipe)for dipping instead. We love ranch on blackened tofu, and since leftover tofu is really good in salads, I usually make a batch each time and have the leftovers for lunches. We rounded out the meal with some early-season corn and sliced tomato. Summer in the South has unofficially officially begun.

P.S. I linked to Bryant Terry's Facebook instead of his website because I got a malware warning when I went to his site. My guess is he's been hacked.

 

 

 

 

 

2 Comments

Sun

04

May

2014

Vegan Sushi Rice Rolls and Kale Cucumber Cups

Wednesday, April 30

Vegan Sushi Rice Rolls and Kale Cucumber Cups

Rating: 4.75

We were thrilled when we got a copy of the new book, Vegan Finger Foods, to review. I’d actually been looking at it to preorder online recently, since it was written by the duo of Celine Steen and Tamasin Noyes, who brought us Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day, which I love. When the book arrived, we were not disappointed. I have a bit of a habit with new cookbooks to go through and make a list of recipes I want to try out. This time, I basically ended up transcribing the entire table of contents. Since we don’t do a lot of entertaining due to limited space at home, I figured it would be a great book to use for potlucks, or the fun little food contests they have at Seth’s office. We also like to have tapas-style dinners from time to time, so I decided that would be a great way for me to try out a few recipes at a time. To start off with, I settled on an Asian-themed dinner and selected the Sushi Rice Rolls, because I love sushi, and the Kale Cucumber Cups, because we’d received kale in our veggie basket and they looked really good.  Since there are just two of us, I made a half batch of each. I started off prepping the tempeh for the rolls. The recipe calls for browning it in a skillet for a few minutes, but I also steamed it first, just because I find tempeh to be too bitter for my taste unless it’s steamed. Once it was done, I followed the rest of the instructions and let it marinate in the fridge for a couple of hours. Next I made the rice – I don’t have a rice cooker, so I just did it in a pot. Once it was cooked and mixed with the seasoning mixture I stuck it in the fridge to chill for a couple of hours because it needed to be cold for the rolls. (I used white sesame seeds instead of black because I didn’t have any black ones. While the tempeh and rice were marinating and chilling, respectively, I made the cucumber cups. The kale salad is crazy good and would actually make a great side-dish on it’s own. I wouldn’t have minded a bit more sriracha in it, so if you like spicy, add a little extra. I didn’t have a melon-baller, so I just used a regular spoon to carefully scoop out the seeds from the cukes, then pack them with kale, and put them back in the fridge. Once the tempeh and rice were ready, I started on the rolls. I always have trouble with rice wrappers being sticky, so mine weren’t as pretty as I’d hoped, but dang they were tasty. In the notes for the recipe in the book, they mention that the testers all had trouble not snacking on the tempeh while assembling the rolls. This is a real problem. The tempeh is really, really good. I can see using it in other dishes, like an Asian-inspired salad. Or burrito bowl. Or tacos.  I added sliced green onion to the rolls in addition to the cucumber and bell pepper the recipe asks for, and it was really good.  There’s a simple dipping sauce of vegan mayo, sesame oil, and sriracha that goes with the rolls. I may or may not have been dipping cucumber sticks directly into it and snacking while I made the rolls. We loved both of these dishes, and with summer upon us, I think they’ll make fun additions to picnics and cookouts. Both are served cold, so they can be made ahead, just be aware that rice wrappers get sticky, so the rolls could stick together. We also had tamari and some wasabi on the side for dipping. Recipes below are shared with permission from Fair Winds Press.

 

Sushi Rice Rolls

Yield: 16 rolls, 1 cup sushi sauce

 

For the Rice:

1 cup uncooked sushi rice, thoroughly rinsed and drained

1 ¼ cups water

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

 

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

1 teaspoon Sriracha

1 teaspoon tamari

1 teaspoon light agave nectar or brown rice syrup

1 tablespoon black sesame seeds

 

 

For the tempeh:

8 oz tempeh

Nonstick cooking spray

2 tablespoons tamari

1 or 2 cloves of garlic, pressed, to taste

2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar

1 teaspoon ground ginger

 

For the sushi sauce:

1 cup vegan mayonnaise

1 tablespoon Sriracha, more if desired

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

 

For the rolls:

16 8-inch spring roll wrappers

32 thin, 3-inch long red bell pepper sticks

32 thin, 3-inch long cucumber sticks

 

 

To make the rice:

Combine the rice and water in a rice cooker, cover with the lid, and cook until the water is absorbed, without lifting the lid. While the rice is cooking, combine all of the other rice ingredients in a large bowl. Let the rice sit for 10 minutes in the cooker with the lid on. Gently fold the rice into the dressing, and let cool before using. If preparing this step before serving, cover and store in the refrigerator until ready to use. 

 

 

To make the tempeh:

Lightly coat the uncut block of tempeh with cooking spray. Place in a hot skillet, lower the heat to medium, and brown the block until dark golden brown, about 5 minutes each side. Remove from the heat, place on a wire rack, and let it cool for a few minutes. Combine the remaining tempeh ingredients in a medium-size bowl. Cut the tempeh into ½-inch cubes, add to the marinade, and fold to coat. Refrigerate for 1 hour, or up to overnight.

 

 

To make the sushi sauce:

Combine the mayonnaise, Sriracha, and oil in a medium-size bowl. Cover and refrigerate before serving.

 

Immerse the spring roll wrappers, one at a time, in the warm water to soften. Soak for a few seconds until pliable. Handle carefully because the wraps tear easily. Drain on a clean kitchen towel before rolling.

 

 

To assemble:

Place two packed tablespoons of rice per moistened wrapper. Place three tempeh cubes on top of the rice, one red pepper stick and one cucumber stick on each side (two of each in all) of the rice/tempeh mound. Use the vegetable sticks to grab onto as you roll the rolls tightly. Repeat with the remaining rolls until you run out of one or all of the ingredients. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until serving. Be careful when separating the rolls: the wraps might stick to each other a little, but won’t tear if you separate them slowly. The rolls will keep for up to 2 days, stored covered in the refrigerator.

 

Kale Cucumber Cups

Yield: 14 Cups

 

 2 cups packed, very finely chopped kale leaves (stems discarded)

2 teaspoons tamari

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

½ teaspoon Sriracha, or more to taste

½ teaspoon white sesame seeds, more to taste

Salt and pepper, to taste

14 ½-inch thick round slices organic cucumber

 

 

Stir together the kale, tamari and lemon juice in a medium-size bowl. Using your hands, rub it together for a few minutes, or until the kale wilts and softens. Stir in the sesame oil, Sriracha, and sesame seeds. Let sit for 15 minutes for the flavors to meld. The kale will reduce in amount. Using a ½ teaspoon measuring spoon, or a melon-baller, carefully scoop out the centers of the cucumbers to create a bowl. Do not scoop all the way through the cucumber. Taste the salad and adjust the seasonings. Fill each cucumber with 1 teaspoon kale salad.

 

2 Comments

Sun

04

May

2014

Chickpea Cutlets and Mustard Sauce, Asparagus and Roasted Potatoes

Tuesday, April 29

Chickpea Cutlets and Mustard Sauce, Asparagus and Roasted Potatoes

Rating: 4.75

 

This is one of Seth’s favorite meals, and since we’d gotten asparagus in our veggie basket, it was perfect timing. The cutlet and mustard sauce recipes are both in Veganomicon, but the cutlets recipe can also be found here here on the PPK site. It calls for plain breadcrumbs, which I thought I had, but it turned out I only had panko, so I used those. It didn’t seem to matter, so if you get in a pinch, don’t panic. I bake ours instead of frying, and I freeze the extras for later. I made a half batch of the mustard sauce since it makes a lot. It freezes well, but it can really only be reheated once before it gets wonky. Instead of cooking sherry, I used regular sherry because that was what was in the cabinet, but I’ve also used white wine and it’s just as good. The potatoes were just basic roasted red potatoes, except I use a trick I picked up from the Candle 79 Cookbook, which is to add nooch to them before roasting. Trust me. Do it. It adds a little something extra flavor-wise and a nice crispiness too. We like to keep the asparagus simple and just grill it in a cast-iron grill pan with a titch of salt & pepper. It’s so good with the mustard sauce, it really doesn’t need anything else. While this is kind of an involved dinner to make on a weeknight, if you have the time, it’s totally worth it.

 

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Sun

04

May

2014

Down Home Beans & Greens Stir-fry

Monday, April 28

Down Home Beans & Greens Stir-fry

Rating: 4.75

So things have been a little weird lately and I’m a bit behind on blogging. Oh well. We’d eaten out or on the fly a little too much in the last week or so and both wanted a home-cooked meal. He had some collards from the Vegetable Husband basket, so I decided to make this dish from The Great Vegan Bean Book. It’s really easy and makes a perfect weeknight dinner. The first time I made it, I was worried it would be bland since it doesn’t have a lot of spices in it, but it really isn’t. I add a tiny bit of salt and pepper and that’s it. I don’t normally like collards, but Seth loves them. I have to say, I actually liked them in this. I’d used kale in it before, so I wasn’t sure about the different greens, but they were good. I cooked them for longer than the recipe said because tough collards are just gross. For a side, I just went with some corn. I know it’s not quite corn season just yet, but I really like corn alongside a simple dinner of beans and greens.

 

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Tue

22

Apr

2014

Vegan Quesadillas made with Pure Abundance Cashew Cheese Rating: 4.75

Thursday, April 17

Vegan Queadillas made with Pure Abundance Cashew Cheese

Rating: 4.75

We just won quesadillas. This dinner grew out of a wonderful combination of events. First, April is National Grilled Cheese Month and to celebrate, Dulce Vegan decided to feature vegan grilled cheese sandwiches as their weekly specials. They planned to do a different one each week, but the first one was such a hit, they kept it around. It’s called the Green Goddess and it is amazeballs. It’s made from Daiya mozerella, pesto, avocado, spinach, and a ridiculously good, locally made vegan cashew cheese called Pure Abundance. Pure Abundance comes in two flavors – Pan and Luna, with a third called Buddha we are anxiously awaiting. The sandwich at Dulce uses Pan, which is a little milder and is coated with an herb blend. It was a perfect fit on this crazy good grilled cheese.

Luna, relaxing in her bed of greens
Luna, relaxing in her bed of greens

So what does that have to do with quesadillas? Well. I tried the grilled cheese and was, like the rest of the vegans in Atlanta, immediately obsessed with it. I needed Pure Abundance. Now. Luckily, Vegetable Husband now offers it as one of the extras available for purchase with the weekly basket. Yeah. I can now have it - Delivered. To. My. House. This is dangerous. If you don’t use VH, don’t worry – Dough Bakery now carries Pure Abundance in the grab & go case, and you can also get it at Irwin Street Market. Anyway. Back to the quesadilla. I ordered a package of the Luna cheese (I like the stronger flavor) and couldn’t wait to use it. I was planning to make our own version of the Dulce sandwich, but Seth suggested a quesadilla instead. Since he’s much better at them than I am, he made these. We like ours loaded up, so he used some leftover black beans, along with broccoli, spinach, onions, garlic, and of course, the Luna cheese. Holy wow they were good. Seriously. Go get some of this cheese and go to town.

 

 

 

2 Comments

Tue

22

Apr

2014

Lemony Pan-Fried Chickpeas and Chard

sexy chard
sexy chard

Friday, April 19

Lemony Pan-Fried Chickpeas and Chard

Rating: 4.5

I squealed with delight when I saw the chard in our Vegetable Husband basket. I love it, and I’m pretty sure if vegetables had a beauty contest, chard would win. Not that I support the objectification of vegetables. Seth ended up cooking this one too – I was busy baking and cleaning from baking for the Vegan Bake Sale the next day. We were raising funds for Atlanta Veg Fest. Don’t worry if you missed it, we’re planning another fun fundraiser soon. Anyway, this recipe is in Color Me Vegan and is a great way to use chard if you’re not sure what to do with it. It’s very easy, especially if you use canned chickpeas. We normally use dry and cook them from scratch, but I was in a hurry, and uh, forgot to do them. What? There were muffins to be made! My sister sent me lemon-flavored salt flakes as part of my birthday gift, which I’d never seen before. Instead of using lemon juice and zest as directed in the recipe, we used that instead. It was really good, but we could’ve used a little bit more. I think the recipe is a little too lemony as written, so I normally reduce the amount of juice I use in it, but that’s just personal preference. We had some corn as a side to complete the vegan trinity: a bean, a green, and a grain.

 

 

 

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Tue

22

Apr

2014

Italian Marinated Tofu and Roasted Veggies with Pesto

Wednesday, April 16

Italian Marinated Tofu and Roasted Veggies with Pesto

Rating: 4.5

This one is a bit of a blast from the past. We used to make it all the time, but it sort of fell by the wayside as our cookbook collection grew, and my reliance on tofu lessened. Still, it’s one of our favorites, and if you’re lucky enough to have a grill, this is a great recipe for grilling. The marinade I use on the tofu is from Veganomicon, and I’ve made it so many times, I could do it in my sleep. It’s basically wine, olive oil, tamari, balsamic vinegar, garlic, and spices. Easy peasy. When we grill this, I cut it into eight slabs, but since we were baking it and mixing it with the roasted veggies, I cut it into cubes instead. If I’m not grilling it and I remember to do it, I also like to add a dash of liquid smoke to the marinade. This tofu is very versatile and is also good with vegan tzatziki, in salads, or on sandwiches. I baked it at 400 alongside the veggies and left it in the oven for about 20-25 minutes. The veggies we used were broccoli, bell peppers, onions, and garlic - simple and reliable. I made sure to massage some of the marinade into the broccoli leaves so they wouldn’t dry out while roasting, and just tossed the rest in it to coat them. I roasted them for about 30 or 40 minutes – just until they were nice and tender, but not overdone. We had some pesto in the freezer, so I didn’t need to make any this time. I mixed the tofu and veggies together when they were done, then added a spoonful or two of the pesto and mixed it all up so everything was evenly coated. We had another big salad and some warm bread along with this for a hearty meal.

 

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Tue

22

Apr

2014

Vegan Bacon Cheese Burgers

Tuesday, April 15

Vegan Bacon Cheese Burgers

Rating: 4

I put off doing my taxes until the last minute, so I didn’t exactly have time to cook. Enter the frozen veggie burger. I wouldn’t normally blog about a frozen burger, but uh, add enough stuff to it and it’s worth talking about. When we buy frozen burgers, we always buy Gardein. They are hands-down the best veggie burgers in stores. We had some Fakin' Bacon tempeh bacon in the fridge, so I decided to make vegan bacon cheeseburgers. We used Daiya cheese – I had cheddar and Seth had Jack. We both dressed ours up a little differently – Seth had Vegenaise and mustard on his. I went all in and had chipotle BBQ sauce and ranch dressing on mine. (We love the ranch recipe in Cookin’ Crunk.) I love the spicy sauce with the cool ranch, the smoky tempeh, and tangy cheddar. Of course, they got topped with lettuce, tomato and red onion. We rounded it out with frozen onion rings and fries and a side salad. Comfort food for the weary taxpayer. I’d rate this dinner higher, but, you know, it’s all processed food so it doesn’t really count.

 

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Tue

22

Apr

2014

Vegan Sushi at Ru-San’s

Monday, April 14

Vegan Sushi at Ru-San’s

Rating: 4.5

It was my birthday, so of course we went out to eat. I probably would’ve chosen Drink Art for a special dinner, but since it was Monday, they were closed. Drat. So we went to one of my other favorite places – Ru San’s. I never had sushi before Seth and I started dating, and Ru San’s was one of our date spots early on. I learned how to use chopsticks there, and Seth only laughed at me a little bit when I dropped food repeatedly. Ru San’s has a very large selection of vegan options, but we always get the same few things: miso soup, mixed vegetable tempura maki, and fried garlic maki. We’ve recently started getting the inari tofu nigiri and Age Dashi Tofu as well. The tempura maki pieces are pretty large, and are so, so good. I can’t say no to fried garlic. Seriously – whoever thought this one up was a genius. The Age Dashi is a battered & fried tofu dish served in an amazing broth and garnished with a little bit of seaweed. So good. And the tofu nigiri is a little pouch of thin tofu, filled with rice and served cold. There are tons of other things on the menu for vegans, including the asparagus roll, which is also really good. Thankfully, Seth didn’t tell them it was my birthday, so there was no loud singing at the table.

 

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Tue

22

Apr

2014

Vegan Sausage and Peppers

Saturday, April 12

Vegan Sausage and Peppers

Rating: 4.5

We’d made red beans and rice a couple of weeks ago, so I had half a package of Field Roast sausages in the fridge. It was a beautiful weekend here, so we wanted to enjoy the day and not spend too much time in the kitchen, so I decided to make a quick batch of sausage and peppers. This is seriously one of the easiest things to do – just slice up some bell peppers (we use red and green), about half of a large yellow onion, and a couple of links of vegan sausage and mince a few cloves of garlic. Once everything is sliced and minced, all I do is put about 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a hot skillet and add the onion, sauté it for a few minutes, then add the peppers. After the peppers get a little bit softened, I add the sausage and let it brown, then add the garlic for the last couple of minutes of cooking. I like to serve it over brown rice. We also had a nice side salad to go with it. I normally make my own dressings, but I was feeling lazy, so we just used olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

 

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Tue

22

Apr

2014

Salt & Pepper Tofu, Broccoli and Salad

Wednesday, April 9

Salt & Pepper Tofu, Broccoli and Salad

Rating: 4.25

 

I’d done a terrible job of meal planning this week and needed to come up with something that didn’t need a lot of prep. One of my favorite recipes is the Salt & Pepper Tofu recipe in Color Me Vegan. It’s fast, easy, and delicious. The recipe calls for frying the tofu, but our friend Becky from Glue and Glitter suggested baking it, which turned out to be a genius suggestion. All I do is spray the tofu with olive oil after it’s cut into cubes, toss it with the spice mixture, and bake it at 375 for about 25-30 minutes, stirring it around a couple of times. Once it’s baked, I add it to a skillet with the green onions, garlic, and about 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil. The original recipe calls for a lot more oil, but we like this lower fat method. I always make the Scallion-Ginger sauce recipe to go with it. I add about half of it to the skillet when the tofu, onions, and garlic are just about done and let everything get nicely caramelized. I use less brown sugar than the recipe suggests, but only because we prefer it a little less sweet. I use about half of the sauce in the skillet and reserve the rest for dipping. For the broccoli, all I did was lightly pan-steam it and splash it with some tamari and a little tiny squit of sesame oil (yes, squit is an actual measurement). We’ve been getting tons of lettuce in our weekly Vegetable Husband basket, so we’ve been eating tons of salads. I made a typical one, but with extra cucumber and carrots. I wish I’d had some snow peas or pea shoots to add to it, but alas. For the dressing, all I did was make extra of the sauce for the tofu and add about half a teaspoon of sesame oil to it. Ta da! A simple dinner with lots of veggies.

 

 

 

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Wed

09

Apr

2014

Vegan Wings Night!

Monday, April 7

Vegan Wings Night!

Rating: 4.5

 

So our friend Holly, aka Veganadian, and The Barrelhouse restaurant in Midtown got together and had a special vegan meet-up dinner. Barrelhouse always has vegan wings on the menu, which I have to say is pretty cool. But for this meet-up, they created a special menu just for us. In addition to the wings, which come with Buffalo sauce and vegan ranch, they created extra vegan sauces as well, including agave-mustard and teriyaki. But they didn’t stop there – they also had tempeh pizza, vegan bulgogi, and strawberry sorbet. We had one of everything except the sorbet. We went with the standard buffalo and ranch sauces for our wings. I really like their buffalo sauce because it’s spicy but not too vinegary, and they make a really good ranch as well. The bulgogi was nice and light: lettuce wraps filled with kimchi, vegan beef and rice. I really liked this one – I love kimchi and this one wasn’t overly hot, and was perfect with the vegan beef. The pizza was on a hearty, whole-wheat crust and the tempeh was sausage-style. It was a cheese-less pizza with fresh, sliced tomatoes and basil. Very good. There was a huge turnout. We met some new folks and caught up with old friends, too. Holly also had gift bags for everyone with samples of Vbar, Schmidt’s Natural Deodorant (score!), Bfree Organics lotion, and Rations Tofu Scramble Seasoning blend, as well as stickers and rubber bracelets with “Vegan Power- Vegan Revolution” on them. Very cool. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – if there are vegan meet-ups in your town, you should go. We’ve made so many friends and always have a great time. Plus, it’s nice to have restaurants go out of their way to cater to vegans. If you’re in Atlanta, Holly is planning to have these meet-ups pretty regularly, so make plans to go!For more photos of the Barrelhouse meet-up, visit our Facebook page. 

 

2 Comments

Wed

09

Apr

2014

Black Beans with Chipotle Adobo Sauce, Potato Salad and Kale Salad

Sunday, April 6

Black Beans with Chipotle Adobo Sauce, Potato Salad & Kale Salad

Rating: 4.5

 

I think Seth liked this one more than I did, but it was still pretty good. We’d been out of town during the day, so I wanted something that wouldn’t take forever to cook when we got home. This took longer than I’d thought it would, but still came together pretty quickly. I had boiled the potatoes for the potato salad in the morning before we left and stuck them in the fridge so they’d be nice and cold and ready to go when we got home. The first thing I did was to start the beans, since they needed about 40 minutes to cook. While they were happily simmering, I started on the potatoes. Stuff like this, I just eyeball instead of going from a recipe. I chopped up some green onion, and mixed it in with the potatoes along with some Vegenaise, a squirt of Dijon mustard, and some salt & pepper. I taste it as I go and adjust accordingly, more mayo, more pepper, whatever. For the kale, I found this recipe for a Creamy Avocado Dressing. I’m learning to like avocados, so it was perfect. I made a half batch of it and then massaged it into the kale for a few minutes. I also sautéed a little bit of frozen corn and some minced Poblano pepper and added that to the kale along with some julienned carrot. I thought the dressing was a little too sweet and will cut back on the agave next time. Still, it was good on the kale since that can be a little bitter. Seth thought it was perfect. Next up, I made the sauce for the beans. I was using the Black Beans with Chipotle Adobo sauce from Veganomicon, which I’d somehow never made before. It’s pretty easy to make, and we love chipotle, so it was a win. I don’t know quite what I did wrong, but it didn’t come out the consistency I’d expected from the recipe. The flavor was really good, but there was no drizzling of sauce happening as described in the book. It was more of a plop. I added a little bit of Tofutti sour cream to mine. Seth really liked it a lot more than I did, but it was good and it hit the spot alongside the kale and potato salad. 

 

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Mon

07

Apr

2014

Risotto Primavera

Friday, April 4

Risotto Primavera

Rating: 4.5

 

I love risotto and I love making it fresh at home, but every time I do, I forget how much I don’t love the stirring. Still, it’s worth it. I decided to try the Risotto Primavera recipe in One Dish Vegan this time, and I’m glad I did. It uses zucchini, carrot and bell pepper, so it was the perfect way to use up the bits I had left from the stir-fry. This is why I plan meals in advance – to be sure to use up all the veggies we buy or get in our weekly basket from Vegetable Husband. The recipe also called for shelled edamame, but neither of us is a huge fan of that, so I left it out. I was going to add some frozen peas, but discovered I didn’t have any when I looked in the freezer. At this point, I thought to myself, “Well. I guess we’ll go without,” and a re-written line from U2’s “One” popped into my head and stuck there the rest of the night. “You act like you never had peas, and you want me to go without.” Anyway, songs from the ‘90s reworked with vegetable lyrics aside, I soldiered bravely forward, sans peas. It was fine without , but the next time I make this, there will be peas. I just think they’d add a little something to it. Most of the flavor of this risotto comes from the veggies and it really is quite good. It makes four large servings, so there is plenty left for lunches. We also had a big salad with dinner. Our weekly basket had more fresh lettuce and some arugula in it this week, so there was plenty of green to go around. We’re not huge fans of arugula, but mixed in with the sweeter lettuce blend, with was rather good. I was pressed for time, so the dressing was just olive oil and balsamic vinegar. We also had some bread from Highland Bakery, which I picked up at Sevananda. I love that they carry products from local suppliers.

 

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Mon

07

Apr

2014

Simple Stir-Fry with Marinated Tofu

Tuesday, April 1

Simple Stir-Fry with Marinated Tofu

Rating: 4.25

 

Sometimes, a simple dinner is best. We love to have a big pile of veggies with marinated tofu, so stir-frys are pretty common around here. I rarely use anything resembling a recipe for these, but they always involve broccoli and bell peppers. I started off by pressing, dry-frying, and then marinating the tofu. There’s a wonderful Asian tofu marinade recipe in Veganomicon, which is more or less the basis for what I do, but with a couple of changes. I don’t measure, but just pour some tamari, mirin, rice vinegar, and sriracha into a bowl, then add some grated ginger and a couple of cloves of pressed garlic. A little sesame oil is good too. I always cut the tofu into cubes or triangles before marinating, and sometimes like today, dry-fry it. A few hours is best for getting the most flavor into the tofu. I like to prep it first thing in the morning and then it’s all ready to go that night for dinner. I cooked the tofu in the wok first and set it aside. I reserved the marinade and added a little bit of cornstarch to it to thicken it up and use it for a stir-fry sauce. The veggies went into the wok next, and were our usual suspects of broccoli, bell pepper, carrot, green onion, shallots, and garlic. I added splashes of the marinade-turned-sauce as I they cooked so they would be coated with the sauce, but not get soggy. When the veggies were just about done, I put the tofu back into the wok to warm up again and mixed it will with the vegetables. I normally like to use brown rice, but I always cook it in broth to give it more flavor and I was out of broth, so I used basmati rice instead. I generally make a little extra rice since the stir-fry really makes enough for three servings. That way, there’s a complete lunch leftover. We like to have spring rolls (I buy the frozen Ling Ling brand) and lately, we’ve been enjoying the gyoza from Trader Joe’s as well. Who needs take-out when you can have a yummy stir-fry dinner with all the trimmings at home?

 

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Tue

01

Apr

2014

Italianish Tofu Scramble with Hash Browns, Tempeh Bacon, and Apple Maple Links

Sunday, March 30

Italianish Tofu Scramble with Hash Browns, Tempeh Bacon, and Apple Maple Links

Rating: 4.25

 

I found some of the new Field Roast Apple Maple Breakfast Sausage at Whole Foods. They’re technically not being released until May, but Field Roast has been selling a limited quantity at certain Whole Foods stores, and lucky for us, the one near us is one of them. I bought a pack a couple of weeks ago, and had been meaning to try them sooner, but we had to change our plans for weekend breakfasts a few times and were in and out of town. So finally! I get to make a big breakfast! Like most vegans, one of my favorite things for breakfast (other than green smoothies, right?) is tofu scramble. We like to load ours up with lots of fresh veggies, and this time I used bell pepper, fresh spinach, broccoli, onion, garlic, tomato, and kalamata olives. The olives and tomato made me want a more Italian flavor to the meal, so I used oregano, basil, and marjoram to season it. I didn’t have a recipe or anything, but more or less what I did is listed below. Seth made the hash-browns because he’s really good at that. We baked one small and one medium-ish potato the night before and let them sit in the fridge overnight. He grated them with a box grater, and then cooked them in a skillet with salt, pepper, chopped onion, and minced garlic until they were nice and brown and crispy. They were so good. We both really liked the sausage links – they have a great flavor and are a nice addition to a special breakfast. We’ll buy them again, but they’re kind of pricey and we don’t like to eat a lot of processed foods, although we do make exceptions for Field Roast, Gardein, and Daiya. The tempeh bacon was the Fakin’ Bacon from Lightlife, also a favorite of ours. It was a wonderful Sunday morning breakfast, and here’s more or less what I did for the scramble:

 

 

Italianish Tofu Scramble

(makes about 3-4 servings)

1 block of extra firm tofu, pressed

3 teaspoons olive oil, divided

Splash of tamari

3-4 cloves of garlic, minced (or to taste – we like a lot of garlic in everything)

Most of a small onion, diced (I used red, but whatever kind you like is fine)

1 small tomato, chopped

½ Orange, red or yellow bell pepper (whatever you have or like best)

1 small head of broccoli, cut into itty-bitty florets

2 cups raw spinach

Handful of kalamata olives, roughly chopped

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried basil

½ teaspoon dried marjoram

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Crumble the tofu into a large bowl, and add the oregano, basil and marjoram. Mix well and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet or pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes, until soft. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more. (If you’re anti-oil, use a thin layer of water or broth to sauté instead.)

Add the bell pepper & broccoli to the onion and garlic and cook the veggies until they’re tender, but still firm-about 7 minutes. Spray the pan with more olive oil if needed.

Add the spinach and sauté until it’s wilted, but not completely cooked. Remove the veggies from the pan and set aside.

Heat the last teaspoon of oil in the pan and then add the crumbled tofu and a splash of tamari. Cook, stirring frequently until it releases the remaining water and gets slightly browned. If needed, spray the pan with more oil to prevent sticking.

Sprinkle in the nutritional yeast and stir until well combined.

Add the tomato and cook until it gets soft and starts to break down a little.

Return the cooked veggies to the pan, and add the olives. Mix well.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

 

If you have leftovers, they actually keep pretty well and make an excellent breakfast wrap or pita for a quick, workday morning breakfast.

 

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Tue

01

Apr

2014

Warm Kale and Lentil Salad

Wednesday, March 26

 

Warm Kale and Lentil Salad

Rating: 4.25

 

I’d gone to visit my family over the weekend, which of course meant I raided my mom’s garden. Right now, it’s full of lettuce, spinach, and kale. All of those are about to be done for the season, so she really wanted me to take a lot. No problem. I knew we’d be getting more greens in our weekly basket, so I went ahead and planned to use the kale I got from mom first. I didn’t really use a recipe for this, since I couldn’t find one that was really what I was looking for in any of my books, or on-line. So I winged it for the most part. I used the Dijon-vinaigrette recipe from the lentil salad in Veganomicon, and it really was perfect. It’s basically olive oil, Dijon mustard and balsamic vinegar. I put about a cup of lentils on to simmer in two cups of broth. I ended up with way more than I needed, so next time I’ll make a smaller amount of them. I had a russet potato and several sweet potatoes on hand. Seth doesn’t like the sweet ones (they came in our basket), so I roasted the russet for him, and about half of one of the sweets for me, along with three of the prettiest, freshest carrots around. When the lentils, potatoes, and carrots were almost done, I sautéed some chopped red onion (about the equivalent of one small one) and four chopped cloves of garlic in a teaspoon of olive oil. I needed to spray the pan with a little more as they cooked, but no big deal. I had harvested about the equivalent of one extra large bunch of kale from mom’s garden and tore it into large chunks. I added it to the pot along with about ½ cup of water, then covered it and let it simmer until the kale cooked down a bit and was soft. Then, I mixed in the lentils and dressing until well combined and then added and then the potatoes. We both really liked it and will definitely make this again. I thought the sweet potatoes were better than the russet, but if you don’t like or don’t have any sweet potatoes, russet will be fine.

 

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Tue

25

Mar

2014

Szechuan Tempeh and Green Beans

Monday, March 24

Szechuan Tempeh and Green Beans

Rating: 4.5

I first made this recipe from One Dish Vegan right after we got the book, and loved it. I’m just now figuring out how to cook with tempeh. It’s always kind of befuddled me, and has never really turned out the way I wanted. Still, I wasn’t ready to give up on it, and Seth had been on a bit of a tempeh kick, so I decided to give it another go. I’m really glad I did. This recipe is so crazy easy to make – it’s less than 30 minutes start to finish – and is ridiculously good. It also uses very little oil, so it’s a really healthy alternative to Chinese take-out. The beans are lightly steamed, so they’re still nice and crisp. The tempeh crumbled more than I’d wanted the last time I made this, so I made the cubes bigger this time, but they were  a little too big and I ended up breaking them up in the pan a bit. We served it over basmati rice this time, but brown rice would be really good, too. It’s impossible for us to make any Asian meal without spring rolls, which I buy frozen. This time, I also decided to try some of the gyoza I’d gotten from Trader Joe’s. They were really good, and I made a dipping sauce from tamari, sriracha, sesame oil and a splash of rice vinegar, which we both really enjoyed. If you need a quick, healthy and delicious weeknight dinner, look no further.

 

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Tue

25

Mar

2014

Linguini with Veggies and Black-Pepper Chardonnay Sauce

Friday, March 21

Linguini with Veggies and Black-Pepper Chardonnay Sauce

Rating: 4.25

 

When I was a kid, I was a really picky eater. I did what most kids do and declared that I didn’t like things I’d never tried and refused to touch things I knew I didn’t like – like tomato sauce. The only way I would eat pasta, was plain with butter on it. No sauce. Nothing else on it. Just butter. If my mom forgot to set some aside and out sauce on all of it, I’d make her wash it off. I was a horrible kid to feed. Thankfully, the days of plain pasta are but a distant memory (although, kind of a funny one), and these days, I want my pasta loaded with veggies. The more the better. I thought one of the hardest things to “give up” when we became vegan would be the creamy, gooey sauces I’d come to love in the years since my plain-pasta-only phase. Then I found out about cashews and what can be done with them. Oh happy day! We love this recipe for Black-Pepper Fettuccini with Chardonnay Sauce from Vegetarian Times. I really just used the sauce portion of the recipe this time. It’s an alfredo-style sauce, with lots of black pepper and a little something extra from the wine. I use those little mini-bottles of wine when I cook. That way there’s not a whole bottle opened for just a cup or so for cooking. I don’t drink wine, so it would be a real waste. Anyway, I decided to make a double batch of the sauce. The recipe says it makes two servings, but I wanted to have leftovers because we had a lot of veggies to go in with the pasta. I really could’ve gotten away with making just a single batch, because we had a lot leftover. It was also thicker than I’d meant it to be, because the recipe calls for straining out the solids from the cashews after blending, so you’re left with just the cream, but uh, with a Vitamix, there really aren’t any solids left. Note to self – do not reduce the wine all the way next time so there is more liquid in the sauce. For the veggies, we used broccoli and red pepper I’d picked up at the store, along with spinach and carrots from our Vegetable Husband basket. I also used linguini instead of fettuccini. We made a big salad with lettuce also from the basket we’d gotten on Wednesday, and a batch of Seth’s Eighth Deadly Sin Garlic Bread.

 

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Fri

21

Mar

2014

Lion’s Mane Mushroom Tacos

Happy Mushrooms
Happy Mushrooms

Friday March 21

Lion’s Mane Mushroom Tacos

Rating: 4.5
So. There were some lion’s mane mushrooms in our basket from Vegetable Husband this week. I may have mentioned before that Seth does not do mushrooms. At all. Ever. For any reason. I, however, LOVE them, so I’m always ecstatic when there are some in the basket because I get to eat all the mushrooms. Last time it was shiitake mushrooms, which I’d never cooked with before. I made them into a Bahn Mi sandwich. It was crazy good. This week’s lion’s mane mushrooms were another new-to-me variety. Now, I can’t take credit for the idea to make these into tacos. It actually came from one of the Vegan Drinks meet-ups we went to that was at Across the Street Mexican restaurant. They made a vegan version of their oyster tacos using, as one might guess, oyster mushrooms. OK, I know. Lion’s mane & oyster mushrooms really aren’t alike, but since everyone described the texture of them being kind of like lobster (which I’ve never eaten) and people also say oyster mushrooms are really similar to oysters (which I’ve never eaten) I figured, “Eh. Close enough.” Only trouble was I had no idea really where to start.

 

 

Gettin' crispy
Gettin' crispy

To the Batcave! Er, internet! Did you know that there are no lion’s mane mushroom taco recipes on the entire internet? So. OK. Fine, Google. Have it your way. I looked for oyster mushroom recipes instead, and found this one, which I used as my starting point. I didn’t want to batter & deep fry – the tacos at ATS were coated in cornmeal and I really wanted to stick closer to that idea. I didn’t measure anything that I put into the cornmeal mixture, but I kind of wish I’d put more of everything, because the coating could have been more flavorful. As I found out, lion’s mane mushrooms have a really delicate flavor, so you’ll want to be sure to give them a boost with the spices. To get the coating to stick to the mushrooms, I used a mixture of almond milk, cornstarch & flour, which worked really, really well. I don’t like to use too much oil, so I started with about half a tablespoon and then added more by spraying the pan with olive oil, and adding about another teaspoon or so about halfway through cooking. Everyone told me that I needed to cook these babies more slowly than other kinds of ‘shrooms, so I started them at a medium heat and reduced it to medium-low when the coating started to brown nicely. I expected the mushrooms to shrink a bit more, so I ended up with enough for 3 tacos instead of the 2 I was aiming for. When it came to garnishes, I went with corn - which I tossed into the skillet when the mushrooms were almost done and cooked until it was lightly charred – and the tiny little bit of I had left. I also made a quick chipotle mayo, and dribbled a little sriracha on top because really, sriracha just goes on pretty much everything around here. So here’s the sort-of-recipe I used. I seriously need to start measuring things when I cook. It will make this whole thing so much easier.

 

Lion's Mane Mushroom Tacos


1 large and 1 small lion’s mane mushroom, cut into chunky pieces/slices

 

 

For the breading:

Cornmeal – about ½ cup

Garlic Powder – about ¼ teaspoon (it really needed more)

Dried Oregano – a pinch

Smoked Paprika – about ¼ teaspoon (it really needed more)

Sea Salt & Black Pepper (to taste)

Cumin  - I sprinkled this on while the mushrooms were cooking – I wish I’d added it to the cornmeal mixture up front

 

For the milk mixture

Almond milk - about ½ cup

Cornstarch – about 2 teaspoons

Flour – about 2 tablespoons

 

Olive oil for frying (start with ½ tablespoon and add more as needed while cooking)

 

 

Flour tortillas (fajita size)

 

 

Garnishes:

Corn – about 3 tablespoons, charred in the skillet (I used frozen and didn’t thaw it)

Cabbage - as much as you like, shredded or finely sliced

Chipotle Mayo

Sriracha

 

 

1. Cut the mushrooms into sort-of bite sized pieces. I made     mine just sort of chunky bits that looked like they’d be easy to manage. Set aside.

2. Heat the oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat.

3. Mix the almond milk, cornstarch and flour in a small bowl & whisk well to combine.

4. Mix the cornmeal, paprika, garlic powder, salt, pepper & cumin in a separate bowl.

5. Dunk the mushroom pieces into the milk mixture so that they get nicely coated, then dredge them in the cornmeal mixture and flip over to coat evenly on all sides.

6. Place the breaded mushrooms into the heated skillet and cook, turning occasionally, until they are tender and lightly browned on all sides. Reduce the heat to medium-low about halfway through cooking time – mine were starting to brown faster than they felt like they were becoming tender, so I reduced the heat. I didn’t keep track of the time, but it took them maybe 10 or 15 minutes to cook.

7. When the mushrooms are almost done, add the corn to the skillet and toss gently in the pan until the kernels are starting to become lightly charred.

8. Put about 1/3 of the mixture into a flour tortillas that you’ve heated to soften (or use corn if you like those better)

9. Top with cabbage, corn, and chipotle mayo. Drizzle with sriracha. (For the chipotle mayo, there are tons of recipes out there, or you can buy premade Veganaise brand now.)

10. Post photos on the internet and declare that you have won lunch.  Or dinner. Whichever.

 

 

Oh, a couple of other things. I don’t think I would put salsa on these. It seems like it would be weird to me, but maybe not. Definitely don’t skip the mayo – the dry nature of the coating on the mushrooms really wants a creamy companion in there with it.

 

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Fri

21

Mar

2014

Red Beans & Rice

Thursday, March 20

Red Beans & Rice

Rating: 4.25

 

You know how people always say things like, “Well, I’d be vegan, but it’s too expensive.” My answer to that is always, “Beans and rice. Bulk bins.”  We’re lucky that we have access to what I think are the best bulk bins in the city just a mile from home. They’re stocked full with almost all organic beans, rice, flours, vital wheat gluten and nuts. Even if you don’t have a store with bins like these near you, you can still eat vegan on the cheap. Dry beans are so much cheaper than canned, especially organic beans, and rice is pretty cheap regardless. This is so much less expensive than say, flesh from an organically raised cow. And nicer too. Seriously. Don’t eat cows. Or pigs. Or any animals. Even organic ones. It’s mean and they don’t like it. Anyway, my point is: it’s cheaper to eat vegan, unless you buy tons of processed foods, like burgers and stuff. We weren’t having beans and rice because it’s an inexpensive dinner that goes a long way, that’s just a bonus. We were having beans and rice because we genuinely love them - especially red beans and rice. Like most vegans, we have about 80 recipes for this dish, but we have a favorite and it’s from Color Me Vegan. It’s so simple and has really just a handful of ingredients, most of which are probably already in your kitchen. You can use a can of beans (if you must), but I like to cook mine a day or two ahead of time and stick them in the fridge (meal-planning, people – do it), so it’s just as easy as opening a can.We had a couple of green peppers in the fridge from the Vegetable Husband basket we’d received last week. Since Seth was travelling for work for a few days, we didn’t get to use them until now. But that’s ok, because they keep well in the fridge and this was the perfect dish for them. The recipe calls for four vegan Italian sausages. We like Field Roast brand, so that’s what we used. I know right? After I just said how it’s not cheaper if you buy processed foods? The thing is, we don’t buy them that often, and if you want to, you can make your own. Also, we use two instead of four, mostly because I think four is too many. That’s just our personal preference, though. Anyway, beans? Check. Peppers & onions? Check. Sausages? Check. Rice? Check. I make one other minor tweak to the recipe, and this is once again just our preference, I add bouillon instead of using plain water. I just like the way brown rice tastes with broth better than without. Once it’s all in the pot, just cover it and leave it alone until the rice is done. Then mix in the parsley (thank you veggie basket for the bunch this week!) and go. I also made a batch of collards for Seth.  He was so excited when I told him this week’s basket had a bundle of them in it. I used our super, duper top-secret method for cooking them, but this time I added a tomato kind of near the end of the cook time, and I didn’t have a turnip so it was just a couple of small potatoes and some of the really pretty carrots we’ve been getting in our weekly baskets. We got several servings of both the collards and the beans & rice, so there are plenty of leftovers for lunches. One more way to save money and eat yummy vegan grub – make a lot and pack it for lunch.

 

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Thu

20

Mar

2014

Blackened Tofu with Grilled Corn, and Slaw

Tuesday, March 18

Blackened Tofu with Grilled Corn and Slaw

Rating: 4

 

Seth was out of town for a few days, so  I was a little out of the habit of cooking real meals. Seriously, I make stuff like frozen burgers topped with tempeh bacon, Daiya and BBQ sauce when I’m left on my own. Yummy, yes, but not really cooking. I also just eat leftovers a lot. I will put almost anything I find in the fridge in a tortilla and call it dinner. Anyway. One of my go-to meals when I want something simple (as in I was still in my not-cooking mode) is blackened tofu. There are two different recipes I use, the one in Appetite for Reduction, which is broiled, and this one from Daily Garnish, which is skillet-fried. I didn’t want to get the apartment all hot by using the broiler, so I went with the skillet version. We cut our tofu into eight smaller pieces instead of four larger ones, so I always make a little bit extra of the spice blend to be sure to coat everything evenly. We like to dip our tofu into some ranch dressing, and we usually have some from the Cookin’ Crunk recipe in the fridge. The cool and creamy dressing is perfect with the crispy, spicy tofu. I grabbed a couple of ears of corn from the store the other day. I’m in a bit of a hurry for summer veggies this year, and yes, I know corn is a grain but whatever. I just grilled it in the grill pan until it was tender and had nice little charred spots on it. It’s also really good roasted in the oven, still in the husks. (Roast for about 30 minutes at 350.) In keeping with my “I want a summer dinner” theme, I made some slaw to go with it. We received a beautiful head of cabbage in honor of St. Patrick’s day and some really pretty young carrots in our Vegetable Husband basket, so the slaw was extra good with such veggies. I don’t really use a recipe, but when I first started making slaw, I used the one from 1,000 Vegan Recipes. Really, you could just take your grandma’s slaw recipe and swap out some Vegenaise for whatever mayo granny swore by. Easy peasy summer-ish dinner.

 

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Sun

16

Mar

2014

Ammazza Pizza

Saturday, March 15

Ammazza Pizza

Rating: 4.75

 

Being vegan in Atlanta just keeps getting easier and easier. There have been some really exciting new choices for us coming on the scene lately. First, there was Drink Art opening a few weeks back. In case you missed it, we went there earlier in the week and holy yum it was amazing. But, back to the pizza. We’re always glad when pizza places have vegan cheese available, and we really do appreciate it, but Ammazza just raised the standards a bit. They apparently ran a special recently, which included house-made cashew cheese. It went so well, they decided to make it a regular menu item. Yes. You read that right. A non-vegan restaurant has added cashew cheese, that they make themselves, to the regular menu. There are two different specialty pies you can order with it. We got the Piccatta, which consisted of their house tomato sauce, spicy peppers, caramelized onions, marinated artichokes and red bell peppers, plus that wonderful, cashew cheese. The other is the Giardino, which has the sauce and the cheese, plus spinach, basil, raw onions, mushrooms, and artichokes. Both are clearly marked vegan on the menu, which I love. It’s great to see restaurants embrace “the v-word” instead of shying away from it. And it’s not just the cheese either, the staff there actually understands what we mean when we ask if something is vegan or not. We ordered a spinach salad, and Seth asked them to be sure to not put any cheese or anything on it. I asked if the dressing was vegan, and the girl taking our order told us it had honey in it, but she could give us oil & vinegar instead. Bonus points for knowing honey isn’t vegan. So how was the food? It was so freaking good. I’m picky about pizza being from the ‘burbs of NYC and all, but I have to say, this was really good pizza. The crust was perfect - thin and soft and foldable. The sauce was delicious, the veggies on the pie were cooked just right and also were an awesome combination. And the cashew cheese could not have been better. We loved it. We made sure to tell the server how good it was, and to thank them for adding the vegan options to the menu. He told us that they thought they would sell a few vegan pizzas a day, but it’s been a few every hour. Goes to show, if you build it, we will come. And eat. Often. If you live in Atlanta and want to try Ammazza, it’s on Edgewood between Boulevard and Krog, and has it’s own parking lot. They have an outdoor seating area for when the weather is nice, and a really good selection of craft beers to go with your yummy vegan pie. So go. And thank them for raising the bar of vegan pizza in Atlanta.

 

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Sun

16

Mar

2014

Chipotle, Potato & Seitan Tacos with Salvadoran Slaw

Friday, March 14

Chipotle, Potato & Seitan Tacos with Salvadoran Slaw

Rating: 4.5

 

No, we really can’t get enough tacos around here. I built this meal around some veggies we had and went from there. Since St. Patrick’s Day is coming, the Vegetable Husband baskets included cabbage, and we still had a few of the carrots from the previous basket on hand, so I decided figured I should make some kind of slaw. We haven’t had the Salvadoran Slaw from Viva Vegan in a little while, and it had been a whole week since we’d had tacos. So. There you go. Maybe not exactly an Irish dinner, but I did use both cabbage and potatoes so it counts right? Whatever. I still have enough left for Monday. Anyway, we also had some seitan in the freezer, so I flipped through Viva Vegan to look for a taco recipe. I know, I know, this should really be a no-brainer that doesn’t require a recipe, but I buy cookbooks because the people who write them are cleverer in the kitchen than I am, so even for things like tacos, I sometimes use an actual recipe instead of just stuffing things into tortillas. Besides, Viva Vegan is an amazing book filled with stuff you probably never thought of. These two recipes are both really simple to do. The slaw is just a handful of ingredients and is vinegar based as opposed to the mayo-based slaw we’re used to here in the South. I make it first so that it has time to marinate while I cook everything else. It goes in a bag in the fridge, and then you put something heavy on it so the marinade gets pressed into the cabbage and it gets tender and yummy. The seitan for the tacos gets marinated for a short while; it really just needs about 15 minutes, but I let ours sit for about an hour while I prepped and roasted the potatoes. The marinade is so simple, but so good - it’s mainly beer and chipotle in adobo.  Once the seitan is ready to go, it gets pan fried, and then the potatoes get cooked in the same skillet with the leftover marinade. Seth likes corn tortillas, so I put his tacos in those and used flour for mine. I used plain old store-bought vegan sour cream, but there’s also a cashew crema recipe in the book I plan to make for our next meal like this. These tacos, or others like them, will definitely be making regular appearances in our dinner rotation.

 

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Fri

14

Mar

2014

Curried Chickpeas & Greens with Naan

Thursday, March 13

Curried Chickpeas & Greens with Naan

Rating: 4

 

Hooray! Vegetable Husband sent a big, beautiful bunch of kale in this week's basket! We both had a craving for Indian food, so I decided to make a recipe I haven’t done in a while and made the Curried Chickpeas & Greens from Appetite for Reduction. As with all the recipes in that book, it was simple to make, healthy, and delicious. My only gripe is that it calls for a 12 oz can of crushed tomatoes, and I can only find 28 oz cans. I always freeze the extra to use later and then forget about it until like, a year later and then it’s not good and I waste it. I’m starting to think I need a spreadsheet inventory of what’s in my freezer & how long it’s been in there so I can plan better. Anyway, frozen crushed tomatoes aside, this dish really does come together in the 30 minutes the recipe promises, and it makes a lot, which is good because Seth loves to have leftovers for lunches. Since this has the beans and greens all in one dish, I didn’t make any other veggies to go with it. We had some naan from Vegan Eats World in the freezer, so I thawed that out and heated it for a few minutes so it would be all soft and warm. I love that naan recipe. It’s amazingly good, easy to make, and makes a lot. It freezes really, really well so you can have homemade naan pretty much any time you want it. If you don’t have Vegan Eats World, get it. I swear it’s worth it just for this one recipe alone, but every, single thing we’ve made from it has been amazing, so you won’t be disappointed. We also had some Sukhi’s brand samosas on the side because we pretty much can’t have Indian food without them anymore.

 

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Thu

13

Mar

2014

Black-Eyed Pea & Corn Cakes and Sautéed Zucchini

Wednesday, March 12

Black-Eyed Pea & Corn Cakes and Sautéed Zucchini

Rating: 4.25

 

The other day, I saw a post on Facebook of a cooking demo Bianca Phillps aka Vegan Crunk did at the Southern Women’s Show in Memphis, where she made her Black-Eyed Pea & Corn Cakes from her book, Cookin’ Crunk. We really enjoy that book and loved this recipe the last time we made it, so I decided to do it again. These are super-duper easy. I mean, crazy easy to make – a quick batter, black-eyed peas and corn. They get pan-fried just like pancakes or fritters, so basically, you only need about 15 minutes to make dinner. The last time we made them, we did the red pepper cream sauce recipe that goes with them, but this time I went with remoulade instead. I did it for a couple of reasons. First, I didn’t have any red peppers and second, I did have remoulade (from 1000 Vegan Recipes) leftover in the fridge from the zucchini cakes we made on Monday.  The red pepper sauce is really good, so if you have what you need, by all means make it. If you don’t though, the remoulade was also really good on these. And so was the ranch dressing (also from Cookin’ Crunk) I made to go with the side-salad we had with dinner. Basically, the cakes are so good, you can put probably pretty much whatever creamy-type sauce you like on them. Our Vegetable Husband basket that came today had zucchini and more lettuce in it (score!) so I sliced up the zucchini and sautéed it with some onion, salt and pepper for a side. It was enough zucchini to serve two, so it was perfect. And it was delicious. Sometimes the simplest dishes are the best thing to do with really fresh produce. Our salad was made from the super fresh and delicious lettuce from the basket. We had a small piece of ciabatta left in the freezer, so I warmed that up to round out the meal. Easy Southern supper.

 

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