Sunday, December 16, 2012

Quick Veggie Stir Fry & Sticky Rice

My very favorite stir-fry combination is a blend of Asian eggplants, good mushrooms, and red pepper; they're so incredibly delicious together. I know some of the ingredients feel fussy, but I promise, if you take the time to visit your local Asian market and pick up mushroom soy sauce and aji-mirin (sweet rice cooking sauce), you will not regret it.

I also want to mention that there is oyster sauce in this recipe. Ian and I do eat bivalves (oysters, clams, mussels, scallops) as they do not have nervous systems (although we do try to be careful about where they're grown/collected for environmental reasons). If you do not eat oyster sauce, I would recommend subbing that some vegan black bean and garlic sauce.

Get your rice started first, then the stir fry. Easy, fast, and good!


Quick Veggie Stir Fry

Originally posted on This, That, and the Other
 
For the hottie in a hurry. You could really throw any veggies in here, just adjust the cooking time as needed.

Ingredients 
1 Tbsp vegetable or peanut oil
1-2 long, Asian eggplants, sliced down the center lengthwise and cut 1-inch slices on the diagonal.
8 oz mushrooms, oyster or shiitake if you can, otherwise baby portabellas will work fine
1 red pepper, julienned
1 Tbsp. oyster sauce
2 Tbsp. mushroom soy sauce
2 Tbsp. aji-mirin (sweet rice cooking sauce)
1/3 cup water
dash of pepper
 
Directions
Mix oyster sauce, mushroom soy sauce, aji-mirin, and water in a small bowl. Set aside.

Heat oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Once oil is smoking, add the eggplant. Cook the eggplant for  a minutes or so before tossing, letting it brown. Cook for 1-2 more minutes more, tossing occasionally. Add the red pepper, also giving it a little time to brown. Cook for 2 minutes, then add mushrooms. Stir-fry vegetables for about 5 minutes more. Once vegetables are pleasantly browned, add sauce, stirring so that vegetables are coated evenly. Cook for a few more minutes until sauce has thickened and dash with pepper, adding water if you need to to avoid sticking. Serve immediately over rice. 
 
Serves 2, 175 calories per serving with 8 grams of protein. High in fiber, manganese, piacin, potassium, riboflavin, selenium, and vitamins A, B6, and C.

The Perfect Rice

Perfected after much trial and error! This rice is great for stir-fries as it is nice and sticky. Leftovers used within a day or so make great fried rice

Ingredients
2 cups rice, jasmine preferred although any white long-grain will do
3 cups water
1/2 tsp salt

Directions
Mix the rice, water, and salt into a pot. Cook, uncovered, over medium-high heat for 8-10 minutes, until the water level is just at or below the rice and the water is bubbling through the rice. 

Reduce the heat to low and cover. Cook for 14-16 more minutes. 
 
Serves 6, 215 calories per serving with 4 grams of protein per serving.
 

Recipe: Watermelon Strawberry Lemonade

I realize it's wildly inappropriate to post a recipe for lemonade using fresh strawberries and watermelon in the winter. I would go so far as to call it mean. So I'm sorry. Again, all part of the process of moving recipes from This, That, and the Other that are vegan or easily made vegan. So hate me a little bit, and try to remember this recipe for next July.

Watermelon Strawberry Lemonade
Originally posted on This, That, and the Other.

We found small, beautiful strawberries at our farmers market, I would recommend using this type of fruity instead of the traditional large strawberries found at the supermarket.

Ingredients
3/4  - 1 cup sugar
3 - 3 1/2 cups water, divided
1 small seedless watermelon, cut into 2 inch chunks
1 cup fresh lemon juice, preferably from Meyer lemons
1 cup strawberries, hulled
fresh mint (optional)

Directions
Mix sugar with 1/2 cup water in a microwave-proof bowl. Microwave for 2-3 minutes until sugar is completely dissolved, to make a simple syrup. Refrigerate to cool down quickly, if possible.

Blend watermelon and lemon juice in batches. Mix in a large pitcher with the simple syrup and strawberries. Top off with water and add mint leaves.

Chill until cold, or serve immediately over ice.

Recipe: Coconut Vegetable Curry

Occasionally the gods smile upon a home chef, and you have a wing-it moment that turns into something really special. I made this vegetable curry two and half years ago, and still remember it very well. In fact, I'll probably make it this week; we have a butternut squash and some potatoes and carrots that need to be eaten before we leave for Minnesota for Christmas for a couple of weeks.

Coconut Vegetable Curry

 Adapted from This, That, and the Other

You could probably put any vegetables you wanted in here, just adjust the cooking time as needed. Serve this curry over basamati rice, or in a bowl with Naan.

2 Tbsp coconut oil, divided
1 onion, sliced
4-5 medium potatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes (I used a variety of small potatoes, including reds and purples)
1-2 cups butternut squash or sweet potatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 cauliflower head, chopped
2 carrots, cut into 1/2-inch cubes/slices
1 14 oz can coconut milk
1-2 cups vegetable broth
2 Tbsp garlic paste (or 4-5 cloves garlic, crushed)
1 Tbsp fresh grated ginger (or ginger paste)
2-3 Tbsp garam masala (to taste)
1 tsp coriander
1-2 tsp cumin (to taste)
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp turmeric
salt and pepper

Heat a large pot over medium heat (I would recommend using an enameled cast iron french oven, like a Le Creuset). Add 1 Tbsp coconut oil until melted. Add the onion. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion starts to brown and is softened.

Add the rest of the coconut oil. Add the potatoes and cook for 3-5 minutes, then add the squash, cauliflower, and carrots. Cook the vegetables, stirring them occasionally, for about 10 minutes, letting them brown a little bit. Add the coconut milk, 1 cup broth, and all of the spices. Stir everything until the vegetables are well coated and the spices are evenly incorporated. Depending on the amount of vegetables and size of pot, add more broth until the vegetables are almost covered. Stir and cover, allowing the heat to increase until it reaches a nice simmer.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to cook, stirring occasionally. Depending on the amount of time, you can cook this until the potatoes are just tender, about 20 minutes or so, or cook longer (recommended) so the flavors are better combined and the potatoes start to fall apart and thicken the sauce, anywhere from 30-60 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 5-6, about 400 calories per serving with 8 grams of protein. This recipe is high in Vitamins A and C, and is a decent source of iron.

Recipe: Mollie Katzen's Spinach-Rice Casserole

Moosewood Cookbook is a staple in vegetarian cookbooks; I've been cooking out of my copy since I was a freshman in college, and the thing is starting to fall apart, partly from use, and partly because, despite my mother's best efforts, I'm terrible about not cooking immediately next to my cookbooks, which means they are constantly getting splattered and spilled on.

This Spinach-Rice Casserole  from Moosewood Cookbook is one of those recipes that can easily be veganized.

Spinach-Rice Casserole

Adapted from Moosewood Cookbook, originally posted on This, That, and the Other

We gave this recipe a solid 'A' in our cookbook notes. It's easy to make and a delicious, wintery, comfort-food. While you can use short, medium, or long-grain brown rice, you will save yourself calories by avoiding short grain brown rice. For your flax egg, either run your flax meal or flax seeds through a coffee grinder or food processor before mixing with the water, or put in the blender with the water. The broccoli slaw can be found by the salad mixes in the produce section. Our mix was a "rainbow mix," with a little bit of shredded carrots and cabbage in addition to the broccoli. Yum!

 2 Tbsp. finely ground flax
 4 Tbsp. water
1 1/2 cups uncooked brown rice
1 Tbsp. Earth Balance (or olive oil)
1 large onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups shredded broccoli slaw mix / diced broccoli stems and florets
2 bunches fresh spinach, stems removed and roughly chopped
2 tsp. salt
5 garlic cloves, minced
dash of nutmeg
pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 cup sunflower seeds, separated
1 cup unsweetened soy milk (or almond milk, for soy-free)

Whisk the ground flax and water together and set aside for least 10 minutes.

Cook the rice per the manufacturer's instructions. When the rice is finished, remove from heat and fluff with a fork.

While the rice is cooking, heat the oven to 350F. Heat the Earth Balance in a dutch oven or deep skillet over medium heat. Saute the onion for 5-7 minutes until it start to brown and soften. Add the broccoli and a few teaspoons of water. Continue to saute, stirring occasionally, until the broccoli turns bright green and starts to soften as well. Add the spinach, garlic, and salt. Continue to cook over medium heat, about 5 minutes or until the spinach wilts and cooks down. Remove from heat and mix in the cooked rice, nutmeg, cayenne, and 1/4 cup sunflower seeds (not full 1/2 cup!).

Beat the flax eggs and soy milk together until well combined. Pour the milk-mixture over the vegetables and rice and stir.

Spread into a greased 9x13 inch baking pan. Use a scraper to press the mixture down evenly. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of sunflower seeds on the top of the casserole.

Bake, uncovered, for 35-40 minutes until the casserole is heated through and is beginning to brown on top. Remove and let rest for about 5 minutes, then serve!

Serves 8, at about 205 calories per serving, with 8 grams of protein per serving. This recipe is high in iron, manganese, magnesium, and Vitamins A, B6, and C. 

Recipe: Blackberry Ginger Ale

I made my first Blackberry Ginger Ale when I was three weeks pregnant (but didn't know it yet), and was suddenly craving anything sweet and fizzy.

Blackberry Ginger Ale

Originally posted on This, That, and the Other.

This drink is good with your standard ginger ale, like Verners, but will much better with a local artisanal ginger ale. 

Place 3-4 frozen blackberries in a small glass.
Top with your favorite ginger ale, and garnish with a sprig of fresh rosemary.

Variation: Add a shot of vanilla vodka, coconut rum, or gin if you want some alcohol.

Recipe: Green Breakfast Smoothie

This is a breakfast favorite that I really ought to make more often. Much healthier than the bagels and toffuti cream cheese we've been obsessed with lately.

Green Breakfast Smoothie

Originally posted on This, That, and the Other
 

Blend the following:
1 sliced banana (could be frozen)
1 apple, cored and in large chunks
1 1/2 cups chopped kale (stems removed)
1/4 cup soymilk, coconut milk, or almond milk
3/4 cup orange juice
1 Tbsp sugar (optional)
Dash of salt (optional)
10-12 ice cubes

This is seriously delicious and an excellent way to start the day. Serves two!
About 200 calories per serving, 4 grams of protein and lots of vitamins and nutrients to get you going.

Variation: Peanut Butter Green Smoothie
Add a 2 Tablespoons of peanut butter for some extra protein.  

Recipe: Winter Bean Soup

As I'm working through my old recipes, I'm surprised at how many of them are vegan, or easily made vegan. Here is an example of a good, winter soup that we really enjoyed when Felicity was only two months old, and still liked to sleep in her chair on the kitchen table while I cooked (such fond memories!). 

I will admit that I haven't found a good vegan bacon yet, and so that part of the directions may be a little strange. But, based on my memory of veggie bacon from years ago, I think it should all work and taste delicious.

Winter Bean Soup

Adapted from This, That, and the Other
Serves 6

If you don't have vegan bacon on hand or don't want to use it, cook the kale in some olive oil and add a few drops of liquid smoke with the vegetable stock. For the best use of time, de-stem and chop the kale while the onions reduce. Ian gave this a "Straight A" when he tasted it. Little did he know it only took about 40 minutes to make!

Ingredients
4-5 strips vegan 'bacon', chopped (optional)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp dried or fresh rosemary
bay leaf
6 cups vegetable stock
few drops liquid smoke (optional)
45 ounces canned cannelloni beans
1/4 cup chopped basil
1 bunch kale, steams removed and chopped coarsely (could use spinach here as well)
balsamic vinegar (optional)


Directions
Heat dutch oven over medium-high heat and add 'bacon', if using. Saute until the fat begins to render, then add the onion, adding more olive oil if needed. Saute until the bacon is browning and the onion starts to soften. Add garlic, stirring about 30 seconds until garlic becomes fragrant. Add the rosemary and 2 cups stock.

Stirring occasionally, allow the vegetable stock to cook down until it's very thick and almost gone, almost syrupy. Make sure to scrape up any browned bits stuck to the pot.

Add the remaining vegetable stock, beans, basil, and chopped kale and reduce heat to medium. Add liquid smoke, if using. Stir occasionally and bring to a gentle simmer to warm everything through and cook the kale. Once the kale is cooked (10-15 minutes) the soup will be ready to eat, but you could reduce the heat and allow to cook longer to better infuse the flavors if you have more time.

Top with a few drops of balsamic vinegar, if desired.

Serves 6, approximately 350 calories per serving with 22 grams of protein

Recipe: Wild Rice & Mushroom Soup

When I first made this soup last spring, we were eating dairy. Of course the soup had milk in it, but it also featured a Parmesan cheese rind cooked in the soup, which made it absolutely magical. As in, best soup I've ever had, magical.  I know the soup will be good without it, but I'm not sure what would give it the same depth of character. If you have any ideas, please do share. I think using cashew cream will be a start.

Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup
Adapted from This, That, and the Other

Serves 4 main courses or 6 side courses

1 cup wild rice
1 large onion, diced
4 celery stalks, diced
1/2 lb baby bella mushrooms, diced
1/2 lb portabella mushrooms, stems removed and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon oregano (dried or fresh)
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup white wine
2 bay leaves
2-3 cups vegetable stock
2 teaspoons rosemary (dried or fresh)
1 cup cashew cream
2 teaspoons salt, divided
pepper

Bring 4 cups of water and 1 teaspoon of water to a boil. Add the wild rice and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 45 minutes until the rice is tender. Set aside rice, undrained.

While the rice cooks, prepare the rest of the soup. Warm a teaspoon of oil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onions and celery with a half teaspoon of salt, and cook until the onions are very soft, and starting to brown, 6-8 minutes. Turn the heat down to medium and stir in the mushrooms and another half teaspoon of salt. Cook until the mushrooms have released all their liquid and turned dark brown, at least 20 minutes.

Add the garlic and oregano, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Sprinkle the flour over the veggies and stir until the vegetables become sticky and there is no more visible dry flour. Increase the heat again to medium-high and pour in the white wine. Stir and scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Continue simmering until the wine has reduced and thickened a bit.

Add the bay leaf, rosemary, wild rice, and cooking water from the rice. Add two cups of broth to start. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 20-30 minutes to meld the flavors. Add the cashew cream. Simmer for another 10-15 minutes, until the soup has thickened to your liking. Add additional broth if needed.

Salt and pepper to taste.

Approximately 375 calories per serving, 12.5 grams of protein per serving, and the soup is high in phosphorus and niacin.

Recipe: The Relaxation that is Milk Tea

I will boldy admit that milk tea is not quite the same using a milk substitute. And, believe you me, you all coconut milk or almond milk is just gross. Soy is pretty good, and a mixture of soy with coconut milk is lovely.


Milk Tea (Two Varieties)

Originally posted on This, That, and the Other

Milk tea is delicious with all sorts of teas, but my favorites are a classic English Breakfast or Irish Breakfast, Chai, or Earl Grey. I want to try to make this with a black vanilla or marzipan tea, when I can get my hands on them again. 

Milk Possibilities
All soy milk, or blend of soy milk and water
2 cups soy milk, 1 cup water, and one cup coconut milk (recommended) 

#1 (The Best Way)
Put four cups of milk and 1 heaping tablespoon of loose leaf tea (or 2-3 tea bags) into a small-medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir occasionally until the milk starts to simmer. Stir/whisk often for 4-5 minutes as the milk simmers, then reduce the heat to low (or medium-low, depending how hot your stove gets). Continue to cook the tea for at least ten more minutes, but really, the longer it cooks, the better it will be, so I suggest letting it simmer for 45-60 minutes on low. Add a splash of real vanilla if desired, strain, and serve. You can also sweeten the tea many ways (succanat, sugar, brown rice syrup, maple syrup), but my very favorite is brown sugar.

#2 (For Milk Tea in a Hurry)
This milk tea won't have the complexity or rich texture, but it's ready in a few minutes. That's right, you nuke it! Just make sure that whatever the microwave-safe implement you use to cook the milk in, it has at least 2x the capacity for the milk you're using (for four cups of milk, use something that holds at least 8 cups), unless you fancy wiping down your microwave. Microwave on high for 4-6 minutes, letting the milk get to a nice rolling boil so it cooks down a little. Strain, sweeten, and serve as you would above.

Recipe: Roasted Beet Sald with Lemon Basil Balsamic Dressing

Roasted Beet Salad with Lemon Basil Balsamic Dressing

Originally posted at This, That, and the Other

Serves 4 (with leftover dressing)

I would strongly recommend using a nice aged balsamic vinegar is possible, it makes a big difference. I prefer to serve this salad with warm beets, but the beets could certainly be roasted in advance and served at room temperature, or even cold.

Ingredients
3-4 beets, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 lb salad greens of your choice (I used a lovely spring mix from our farmers' market, mescalin greens would also be lovely), washed and dried
1/4 cup (generous handful) of basil leaves
1/4 cup sliced almonds
Lemon Basil Balsamic Dressing (see below) 

Directions
Heat the oven to 425F. Toss the beets with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread beets in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet (two if needed). Bake for 40-50 minutes, tossing beets halfway through. The beets should be tender, sizzling, and starting to brown.

Split the greens between four plates and top with basil leaves roasted beets, and almonds. Serve with dressing alongside.

Approximately 205 calories per serving (with dressing) 


Lemon Basil Balsamic Dressing

 Ingredients
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2-3 Tbsp agave syrup, succanat, or brown sugar (or more to taste if you prefer a sweeter dressing)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup olive oil (basil flavored, if possible)
juice from 1/2 a lemon
1/4 cup water
2-3 Tbsp minced basil (optional, use if you don't have access to basil-scented olive oil)

Directions 
Mix the dressing ingredients together, adjusting the sweetener as needed to taste.



Recipe: Baked Portabella Burgers with Roasted Red Peppers & Pesto

As I was updating my recipe list tonight, I realized that all of my recipes thus far are either soups, scones, or cupcakes. After almost six months of blogging (albeit it not consistently), this is sad and not representative of what we actually eat.

I decided to go through some recipes from my primary blog, This, That, and the Other and put those up that are vegan, are easily made vegan. Hurray! More recipes!

I'll start with a yummy favorite, Baked Portabella Burgers with Roasted Red Peppers and Pesto


Baked Portabella Burgers with Roasted Red Peppers and Pesto

adapted from epicurious.com, originally posted on This, That, and the Other
  
This is easily a fast and easy meal if you are using jarred roasted red peppers. Have more time and want them fresh? Do it up! Gluten-free if you've got the right buns.

Ingredients
2 red peppers (or 2 jarred roasted red peppers)
4 portabella caps, stems removed
olive oil
spring greens or arugula
2-4 Tbsp vegan pesto
or vegannaise
4 potato/hamburger buns

Directions
Using your broiler or gas stove, char the peppers (here's a useful tutorial, if you haven't done this before). Place in a medium bowl and cover with saran wrap (alternatively use a small saucepan and lid) and let sit for 30 minutes. Then peel off the skin, remove seeds, and cut peppers into four pieces.

While peppers are steaming, heat oven to 350F. Remove stems from portabella caps, and place on a slightly-greased  baking sheet, gills up. Drizzle with olive oil, and generously salt and pepper. Bake for about 30 minutes.

If you have time, toast the hamburger buns. Spread the mayo and pesto on each bun, and stack with mushrooms, peppers, and greens.

Serves 4, About 130 calories before the bun with 1/2 Tbsp of pesto and 1/2 Tbsp of vegannaise.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Recipe: Creamy Tomato & Roasted Pepper Soup

It's almost winter. I have Christmas music playing almost non-stop, and will do anything to stay cozy, which may or may not include playing 3-hour fireplace videos on my laptop, which is placed strategically in our non-functional fireplace in the living room.

Before baking cookies tonight, I made some seriously yummy soup for dinner. It was a really good end to a really good day.

It's creamy without any dairy products, and packs some serious flavor for only a few ingredients and a fairly short cooking time. I took my time making this soup and it took about 40 minutes from start to finish. I'd bet anything that a savvy cook (such as yourself, yes you, darling reader) could knock this out in 30 minutes flat.

Creamy Tomato & Roasted Red Pepper Soup

6 Generous Portions

If you think about it ahead of time, get your cashews soaking for an easier and faster blending process. I would strongly recommend using an immersion blender for both the cashew cream and the soup - it will save time, not to mention space in your dish rack. I prefer a really nice, smooth soup, but you could blend for a shorter amount of time to leave a some chunks in it.

Ingredients

1/2 - 3/4 cup cashews
1/2 cup water

1-2 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1/3 cup water
1/2 tsp dried basil
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
2 28-oz cans of whole tomatoes
1 jar roasted red peppers, drained and peppers roughly chopped

Garnish options: fresh, chopped basil, balsamic vinegar, or basil-infused olive oil

Directions


First things first, add the cashews and water together to get your cashews nice and soft.

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, and add onions with a generous pinch of salt. Saute onions until they start to turn golden, about 4-5 minutes. Add garlic and saute one more minute, then add 1/3 cup water and the dried basil. Stirring often, continue to cook the onions down until very soft, another 5 minutes or so.

Add the cans of tomatoes, sauce and all, and the chopped roasted peppers, reducing heat to medium. Stir occasionally, bringing the soup to a gentle simmer. Cook for about 10-15 minutes.

While the soup is cooking, blend the soaked cashews until completely smooth (1-2 minutes), then add to the soup. Remove the soup from heat, and blend.

Garnish with a sprinkle of fresh basil, or a dash of flavored balsamic vinegar or olive oil.

Serves 6.
Approximately 160 calories per serving, 5 grams protein, and high in Vitamins A, B6, C, Magnesium, Potassium, and Manganese.



Recipe: Cookie Butter Cookies!

Photo from Trader Joes
I win the love and affection of my neighbors by baking constantly and then shoving my baked goods at them. This does good things for me: our elderly next-door neighbor leaves us the NY Times crossword every morning in exchange for whatever chocolate goodies I bake up, and our neighbors across the hall rave about whatever I make send their way, which feeds my enlarged baking ego. It's a win all around.

Ian and I bundled the baby up this afternoon and took the train down to our local Trader Joe's to shop for the week. Someone had actually stacked jars of peanut butter in front of the TJ's cookie butter, but I was a dedicated (if not obsessive) hunter, and uncovered a precious jar so I could make some cookie butter cookies. (And, let's be honest, eat this stuff straight from the jar).

I know it sounds counter-intuitive. After all, isn't cookie butter made from... cookies? Yes, it is, so yes, these cookies are... cookie flavored. But I've been obsessed with making these cookies after uncovering a vegan cookies list on Food52 a few nights ago (which for the life of me, I cannot find to link to this evening, my apologies).

[Please note the gorgeous picture below isn't, mine. I did actually take pictures of my cookies, but of course cannot find my adapter to connect the camera to my computer]

Photo from http://havecakewilltravel.com/2009/10/13/tripping-over-speculoos/

They are AMAZING, best served about 5 minutes out of the oven, when they're still soft and gooey.

Cookie Butter Cookies

Adapted from Have Cake, Will Travel

Makes approximately 24 cookies.
If you want a much crunchier cookie, reduce the soy/almond milk to 3-4 tablespoons.

Ingredients

2/3 cup Trader Joe's Speculoos Cookie Butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
6 Tbsp unsweetened soy/almond milk

Directions

Heat over to 350°F and line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Mix the cookie butter, both sugars, the salt and cinnamon in a large bowl until well combined. You may need to use your hands to get it smooth.

Sift the flour and baking soda over the cookie butter mixture, and combine. Again, you may have to use your hands here.

Add half the soy milk (3 Tbsp) and combine, then add the rest. The cookie dough will be thick. If it is still crumbling a little bit, add another tablespoon of your milk substitute.

Roll cookies into balls, about 1-inch in diameter (roughly a rounded tablespoon). Drop them a good 2 inches apart from each other the baking sheet. I was able to fit around eight on a cookie sheet at a time.

Bake for 10-11 minutes until the cookies have spread, cracked on top, and are starting to lightly brown.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Recipe: Potatoes and Eggplant (Aloo Baingan)

Ian and I made Potatoes and Eggplant (Aloo Baingan) from Color Me Vegan: Maximize Your Nutrient Intake and Optimize Your Health by Eating Antioxidant-Rich, Fiber-Packed, Color-Intense Meals That Taste Great by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, and it was insanely yummy. Rich, flavorful, easy to make, and really healthy, you can't go wrong with this meal.

We served ours with some quick chapati (Indian flat bread), which I won't say that I've mastered making, by any means (mine were ugly, I'll be honest), but they were yummy. You could also serve over brown basamati rice, which realistically would be a little healthier and not make your kitchen look like it was attacked by squirrels playing in flour (which is how our kitchen looked after we got done making our chapati).

Potatoes and Eggplant (Aloo Baingan)

Adapted from Color Me Vegan

Ingredients
1 medium Italian globe purple eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 Tablespoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1-2 jalapeno peppers
2 large yellow potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
4 medium tomatoes, diced
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro or parsley (optional)

Directions
In a steamer basket on the stove top, steam the eggplant cubes until tender, about 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, add 2 tablespoons coconut oil to a large saute pan and heat over medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and fry until they are fragrant and start to pop, but make sure you stir them so they don't burn. Add jalapeno and continue to stir frequently, and cook for 3-4 minutes.

Add the potatoes, water, ginger, coriander, turmeric, paprika, and salt. Cover and cook about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, and add extra water if needed.

Throw in the eggplant and tomato and stir to mix thoroughly. Cook for 5-10 minutes longer so the flavors combine and everything heats thoroughly. Remove from heat, and garnish with cilantro or parsley if you choose.

4 Servings, about 190 calories per serving with 5 grams of protein.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Book Review: Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World

Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World: 75 Dairy-Free Recipes for Cupcakes that Rule the World by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Let me first admit that I have held on to my library copy of VCTOTW for far too long. In fact, the library doesn't even seem to think that I have it, despite not accruing any fines. I feel equal amounts of shame and glee, and do plan on returning it. Soon, I swear. As soon as I try every single recipe... (of my husband buys this for me for Christmas because he is ashamed of my dishonest ways, and wants the cupcakes to keep coming).

This is a goldmine for the vegan that bakes, even if that vegan has never baked before. The ingredients aren't strange and use things out of your vegan pantry (I spent $75 purchasing crazy ingredients at Whole Foods for one recipe in Babycakes that was mediocre at best), the instructions are easy to follow, and, best of all, these cook up into amazing cupcakes - and I am freaking FUSSY about my cupcakes (and other baked goods).

My two favorite recipes are for the chocolate cupcakes (Your Basic Chocolate Cupcake), with a little extra vanilla extract, and some coconut extract for good measure, with the Chocolate Buttercream Frosting (ditto with the vanilla and coconut here too), and the Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting. So. Amazing.

I made both of these recipes in mini form for my daughter's first birthday party, and they were a hit with all of my non-vegan friends (I kept hearing, "And can you believe they're vegan?!" around the room).

The only thing I've made so far that I haven't cared for was the batch of Thick Chocolate Fudgey Frostin'. I suspect this has more to do with my lack of good-quality soy milk powder that the actual recipe.



View all my reviews

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Recipe: Herbed Pumpkin Soup with Carmelized Onions & Parsley Cashew Cream

New York City was plunged into Autumn this week. The trees have started changing colors, we've all broken out our fall jackets and scarves, and the heat was turned on in our apartment building (thank goodness! Felicity and I have been bundling in quilts in the mornings to stay warm!). To me, fall means pumpkin. Pumpkin scones, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin oatmeal, and pumpkin soup.

Rewind to last Friday afternoon, a lovely day in the mid 70s with sunshine: I was skyping with my mom, wondering what on earth to make for dinner. I wanted something really tasty and easy, and that wouldn't be considered too veganish for my dinner guest. My mom, bundled in a sweater and sipping tea in Minnesota, with weather in the mid-40s, suggested some pumpkin soup.

I had pumpkin in the fridge from muffins I'd made earlier that week. Pumpkin soup sounded easy and wonderful. Felicity and I put on our shoes, and walked to the store to purchase some onions, garlic, parsley, and a lovely loaf of jewish rye bread.

This pumpkin soup got a strong stamp of approval from my non-vegan dinner guest, who is really into good food and is herself an amazing cook. The baby loved it, and I loved it. It was so yummy that Felicity and I finished off our leftovers on Saturday for lunch. It was so yummy that I thought about it longingly for days afterwards, and then cooked it again for Ian last night. It's a good pumpkin soup.

Both times I served this soup with a simple green salad with a balsamic vinaigrette, and rye bread toasts. When I ate my leftovers for lunch today, I cubed my very stale rye bread and made croutons, which was absolutely amazing and ramped up the "yum" factor even more.


Herbed Pumpkin Soup with Caramelized Onions & Parsley Cashew Cream

You can really use almost any herbs in this soup that would go well with a Thanksgiving meal. I chose sage and some thyme the first time I made this soup, then tried sage and rosemary last night. I tend not to like cinnamon in my savory things, but if you're into that, this would be a good place to try it.

If you don't have an immersion blender, go ahead and use your blender to puree the soup. Don't worry about cleaning it out after you make the cashew cream - it will only enhance the soup. I would also suggest soaking the cashews in the water as you make the soup, it will help them blend more easily , and give a smoother textures to your cashew cream.

Ingredients

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped

large pinch of salt
pinch of sugar/sucanat (optional)
1-2 teaspoons of wintery herbs (sage, thyme, rosemary, etc.)
3 cloves garlic, minced
handful of chopped parsley
2 cups fresh pumpkin, or 15 oz. canned pumpkin
4 cups vegetable broth (or vegetable Better than Bouillon and water)
splash of apple cider vinegar (optional)
Parsley Cashew Cream (see below)

Directions 


Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven over medium heat until glistening. Add onion and toss to coat in olive oil. Add salt and sugar (if using), add herbs, and stir again. Allow onions to caramelize, stirring every few minutes to prevent burning or sticking. Continue to cook onions about 20-30 minutes in this manner until they have a deep brown color and are very soft. You can skip this step and just brown them, but caramelizing the onions creates a lovely sweetness to this soup, and is a lovely pair with the pumpkin.

Create a small well in the onions, add a touch more olive oil, and add the garlic and half of the parsley. Saute until fragrant, then stir into onions. Stir in pumpkin and broth and stir until well incorporated. Let the soup cook, stirring occasionally, for at least 15 minutes to let the flavors combine. If the soup is starting to simmer, reduce the heat a bit, you don't want it to cook at more than a very gentle boil.

When the soup is done cooking, remove it from the heat. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup thoroughly, so no chunks of parsley or onion remain. Add a splash or two of apple cider vinegar if desired, and salt and pepper to taste.

Serve the soup with some of the cashew cream drizzled on top, or stir all of it in the soup if you're more excited about a decadent taste than a decadent presentation - it will make the soup very creamy and add an extra two Yum Points.

Serves 6, 175 calories per serving. 6 grams protein per serving and high in Vitamin A.

Parsley Cashew Cream

I would suggest soaking the cashews the water for at least 30 minutes before making your cashew cream. If you do this, blend the cashews with their soaking water. If you are unable to do this, the cashews will still make a lovely cream, you may just have to blend them for an extra minute or two. 

Cashew cream can enhance many things and can be used in the place of dairy cream. This recipe can be made without the parsley (and even the salt), and will be equally delicious and a bit more versatile.

Ingredients

1/2 cup cashews
1/2 cup water 
2-4 Tablespoons parsley, chopped

Directions


Place the cashews and water into the blender. Blend using the high speed until it forms a cream. Slowly add the chopped parsley, and a pinch or two of salt. Continue to blend 2-3 minutes until the cashews and parsley have completely broken down and have created a smooth cream. If the cashew cream seems to thick to you, feel free to add a Tablespoon or two of water, perhaps even more.

50 calories for every 2 Tablespoons, with 4 grams of fat and 1.5 grams of protein.

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Cupcake Adventures [Part II]

After making cupcakes this weekend, I felt invigorated,and ready to continue my quest for the perfect vegan chocolate cupcake. Damn it, I know you're out there!

This afternoon, I whipped up the chocolate cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World (referred to as VCTOW moving forward) by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. Everything felt a little easier with these cupcakes - the ingredients were straight-forward, the measurements made sense, and they were lovely and simple, from start to finish.

Granted, these cupcakes aren't gluten-free, but they also don't claim to be the best cupcakes in NYC (by the way, there is no way on earth that the same cupcake recipe I followed carefully on Saturday matches any sort of recipe from the baker that makes the best cupcakes in the city, Ian and I call bunk!), and so don't have impossible standards to live up to.

So, my initial thoughts to compare:

The cupcakes I made two days ago from Babycakes are more interesting; the flavor of the cake itself is much deeper and fudgier, though a bit muffinesque in texture and crumb. The frosting was a big fail: too high maintenance (has to set 6+ hours before spreading, then requires the cupcakes to be refrigerated for storage, which completely destroys the texture of the cupcakes), difficult to spread (these are some ugly cupcakes!), has a very distinct 'soy' taste to it, and is grainy.

The cupcakes I made this afternoon from the VCTOW cookbook were good. My neighbor L., Designated Cupcake Taster #3, said her cupcake was comparable to one you'd find in a bakery. Ian, to quote, said, "This tastes like a cupcake from childhood. I can't believe this is a vegan cupcake." All good, right?

Maybe... I agree that it was a very good cupcake, certainly more of a success than the Babycakes recipe, but it tasted generic to me. The cupcake tasted and felt like it came from a box mix, and while the frosting had a slightly deeper chocolate flavor than you'd find in a frosting tub in the store, it was almost identical in texture and taste.

Some might be satisfied with that, but, as you may recall, I am an obnoxious baker that is looking for amazing texture paired with an interesting and distinct flavor. It was a good cupcake, but it didn't sing. So how do I accomplish this?

The quest continues.

   Overall Grade: 7.625
   Cupcake Flavor: 6
   Crumb: 9.5
   Frosting Flavor: 6
   Frosting Texture: 9

Your Basic Chocolate Cupcake

Adapted from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World 
Makes 9-12 Cupcakes

Ingredients

1 cup plain, unsweetened soy milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 cup all-purpose flour or white whole-wheat flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 granulated sugar or sucanat
1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions


Preheat oven to 350°F and line standard muffin pan with paper or foil liners.

Whisk together the soy milk and vinegar in a large bowl and set aside for at least 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. You may need to sift the mix if you have any lumps or clumps. Set aside.

Stir in the sugar, oil, and vanilla into the soy milk mixture and beat until foamy and well combined (if you used sucanat, it will be grainy and settle towards the bottom - don't worry about this). Add half the dry ingredients to the wet in two batches. Beat until no large lumps or clumps remain.

Pour the batter into the liners, so they are almost full (a little over 1/3 cup). Bake 17-19 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

Let cupcakes cool completely, then frost.


Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Adapted from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World 

Ingredients

1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup Earth Balance margarine (vegan buttery sticks)
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-4 Tablespoons soy milk or soy creamer

Directions


Using a hand mixer, beat the coconut oil and margarine until well combined and fluffy. Add the cocoa powder, continuing to beat until smooth. Keeping the mixer on medium, add the powdered sugar in batches, adding a splash of soy milk here and there as you go to keep it moistened (but be wary of adding too much!). Add the vanilla, and beat until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes more.



The Cupcake Adventures [Part I]

If you know me at all, you know I'm am obnoxious baker. I'm the person that will spend all day in the kitchen, tell you I spent all day in the kitchen, linger as you take a bite of whatever I spent all day in the kitchen making, and wait for you to tell me that I am your baking goddess, and this is the best [insert whatever it is I've crammed in front of you and expected to you eat] you've ever had.

But wait, pause for a moment - vegan baking is a whole new monster. No longer can I refer to my well-loved copy of Cook's Illustrated Best Recipe Cookbook, or spend hours poring over recipe reviews on Epicurious.com to make sure I have the best possible [insert whatever it is I've crammed in front of you and expected to you eat]. I've been baking since the third grade, and I seriously feel like I'm starting from scratch.

Enter the CUPCAKES.

Felicity's first birthday is on December 1st. Being the obnoxious baker I am, I want to make cupcakes. I want to make the most amazing, delectable vegan cupcakes, like the ones from The Cupcake Station in Ann Arbor, Michigan (which can and should be held responsible for what is going on in my thighs). I want to make perfect cupcakes.

I started with Babycakes, the cookbook from the famed bakery in New York City (which I've yet to visit, because it involves one-too-many train transfers for my lazy self). Babycakes (the store) was apparently voted the #1 cupcake in NYC, despite the fact that they are vegan and gluten-free. Wow. Gotta try it, right?

I spent way too much at Whole Foods purchasing things I'd never even heard of, things like coconut flour, potato starch, and soy milk powder. My friend A., who was visiting for the weekend, and I got to work yesterday afternoon, doing the very tedious job of halving the recipe for two-dozen cupcakes in the actual cookbook. Good heavens - halving things like 1 Tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder called upon our very serious math skills, my baking conversion magnet on the fridge, and a calculator. It was intense, but A. and I were up for the challenge. It was only today I found a halved recipe online (doh!)

   Overall Grade: 6.75 (out of 10)
   Cupcake Flavor: 8.5
   Crumb: 7 at room temperature (4 when chilled, as suggested by the authors for storage)
   Frosting Flavor: 7.5
   Frosting Texture: 4


Chocolate Cupcakes

Adapted from Babycakes
Makes 10-12 cupcakes

If I was to actually serve these at a party, which I might, I would make the frosting the day before to really let it set. I would make the cupcakes about 6 hours, before the party, let them cool completely, and frost the cupcakes 30-60 minutes before the guests arrive, so that the frosting didn't melt, but the cupcakes could avoid being chilled, which really does absolutely nothing for a cupcake. If you must serve these chilled, please let them sit out for an hour or so before serving, it really does make a big difference.

Ingredients

1/2 cup + 6 Tablespoons garbanzo-fava bean flour
1/4 cup potato starch
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 Tablespoons arrowroot
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup coconut oil
6 Tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
1 1/2 Tablespoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup hot water
Chocolate Frosting (see below)

Directions


Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line a regular-sized muffin tin with liners.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, potato starch, cocoa powder, arrowroot, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk the coconut oil, applesauce, vanilla, and hot water until well blended, then incorporate into the dry mix until the batter is smooth.

Pour approximately 1/3 cup batter into each prepared cup, almost filling it. Bake the cupcakes for 15 minutes, then rotate the tin and cook for another 5-7 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Cool the cupcakes in the tin for twenty minutes, then move to a wire rack until cooled completely. Frost and enjoy!

Cupcakes can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days.



Chocolate Frosting

Adapted from Babycakes

I know the 6 hour chilling thing sounds crazy, but you really do need to wait this long, the texture is much more consistent and smooth, and the flavor is much better.

To make vanilla frosting, eliminate the cocoa powder, increase the dry soy milk powder by an additional 2 Tablespoons, and increase the coconut oil by an additional 1/4 cup.


Ingredients

3/4 cups plain soy milk
1/4 cup dry soy milk powder
2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coconut flour
2 Tablespoons agave nectar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup coconut oil
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Directions

In a blender, combine the soymilk, soy powder, cocoa powder, coconut flour, agave nectar, and vanilla until smooth, then blend for an additional two minutes. With the machine still running, slowly add the oil and lemon juice, alternating between the two until both are fully incorporated.

Pour the mixture into an airtight container and refrigerate for at least six hours before using to frost the cupcakes.


Monday, October 1, 2012

Protein for Babies and Kids

Ian and I have been trying to find information on raising a healthy vegan baby lately. All is well while she is getting most of her nutrients from breast milk (this baby, 10 months today, still loves to nurse), but when we move to only 1-2 breastfeeding sessions a day in a few months, we're going to have to be more intentional with her diet to make sure she is getting everything she needs.

I was happy to find this post on Dreena Burton's Plant-Powered Kitchen today, which discusses in detail some myths about the amount of protein that humans need, and where we can actually find sources of protein.


Infographic originally posted here.
I especially like the above visual. One ounce of meat has approximately 7 grams of protein, so it's easy to do the math here. Deena Burton cites the following approximate protein amounts necessary for vegan babies and kids:
  • Ages 1 to 3 years: 10-13 grams/day
  • Ages 4 to 13 years: 19-34 grams/day
  • Ages 14 to 18 years: 34-50 grams/day

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Recipe: Green Chile Stew

Image from American Potager
I made my very first Green Chile Stew yesterday afternoon. I wrote all about the history of green chile stew on This, That, and the Other, but I wanted to post my recipe here for anyone and everyone interested in this fine New Mexican comfort food.

When Ian came home from work and tasted the stew, simmering on the stove, he walked into the bedroom where I was nursing Felicity, and told me the taste of it actually choked him up (and not, I think, because it was too spicy, though this soup is hella hot). I write this to a) show how awesome I am, and b) to exemplify that this is an authentic tasting New Mexican recipe, even though I'm super-pale and hail from Minnesota.

That said, I absolutely cannot tolerate the heat of this soup. I am a baby and load it down with vegan "sour cream" and tortilla chips, which is delicious. This revokes my status as an honorary New Mexican, and for that, I apologize.

Green Chile Stew

If you want the real deal, you need to use green chiles from Hatch, New Mexico. You can buy them online and get them shipped to you by the pound - raw, roasted and peeled, or frozen. Ian states that, "Under great duress you could use canned green chiles." You would need approximately 30-35 ounces to make this soup rock. For instructions on roasting green chiles at home, see this link

A meat substitute is completely optional - the stew will taste great without it - but it does add a little something and gives it a more authentic feeling. I used Beefless Tips from Gardein (found in the frozen section of our local Whole Foods), which I browned and sliced before adding towards the end of the cooking time, but vegan chorizo would be good (I strongly recommend Trader Joes), or even 1/2 cup of TVP/TSP.

Ingredients

Roughly 1.5-2 lbs New Mexican green chiles, roasted, peeled, and diced (seeds included, my lovelies!) (see note above)
3 Tablespoons oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 tablespoon minced/crushed garlic
4 large red potatoes, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1-2 carrots, cut into 3/4-inch cubes (optional)
4 cups vegetable broth ("beef" flavored, if possible)
meat substitute of your choice (optional but recommended)

Directions

Heat oil in a dutch oven over medium heat, swirling to coat the bottom completely. Add the onions and a good pinch or two of salt, stirring them to evenly coat in the oil. Continue to cook over medium heat for 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they are very soft and starting to caramelize. If they are browning too quickly, reduce the heat a bit. Add garlic, and cook for 1-2 more minutes, until fragrant.

Add the potatoes and carrots. Bring heat back to medium if you reduced it before. Cook for about five minutes, just to give the veggies a quick brown. Pour in the broth and add the green chiles, stirring everything. Keep over medium heat until the stew reaches a nice simmer. Then reduce heat to low, and cover.

Let the soup simmer for a good hour or two, stirring occasionally to avoid burning/sticking. The potatoes and carrots (if you're using them) should be falling apart and really thickening the stew. If you want, take a hand-held masher and give three or four good mashes to the pot. You want lots of potato chunks, but the stew should also be thick and lovely.

Towards the end of your cooking time, say 20 minutes before you want to serve, add your meat substitute, if you're using one. Stir to incorporate, and continue to simmer over low heat. If you feel the stew is a little too thick at this point, feel free to add a little more broth, or some water.

Five minutes before serving, take the stew off of the heat, and allow to rest. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with your favorite vegan sour cream (if you're wimpy like me), and some fine tortilla chips.


Serves 6-8, about 250-300 calories and 8 grams of protein before added meat replacement, sour cream, and chips. High in fiber, potassium, and Vitamins A and C.



Monday, September 3, 2012

Recipe: Mocha Java Cake

I requested and received a copy of Vegan Diner: Classic Comfort Food for the Body & Soul by Julie Hasson when we first returned to New York City a few weeks ago. This cookbook has some seriously yummy recipes, and we've had a whole lot of fun cooking out of it.

Ian's favorite recipe so far is the Mocha Java Cake. I made it for our breakfasts last week (it's technically in the 'Breakfast' section, so we felt justified eating this in the morning), and currently have another loaf in the oven for a potluck brunch we're attending today.

I didn't have french roast or espresso coffee, so I ground the darkest blend I had, as finely as I could. I also don't have canola or vegetable oil in the house, so both times I've made this, I've subbed 1/2 cup coconut oil, and 1/2 cup applesauce for the oil. 

Mocha Java Cake
From Vegan Diner by Julie Hasson

Ingredients
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons soymilk, heated to steaming and kept warm
1/4 cup finely ground espresso or French Roast coffee
2 tablespoons instant coffee
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons soy flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 9 x 5-inch metal loaf pan with parchment paper and grease well with vegetable shortening. This cake will have a tendency to stick if not greased and lined well.

In a small bowl, whisk together the soymilk, espresso, and instant coffee until smooth. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, soy flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt, mixing well.

In a large bowl, combine the sugar canola oil, and vanilla, whisking until smooth. Add the flour mixture to the bowl, alternating with the milk mixture, stirring just until mixed. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Scoop the batter into the prepared pan and bake in preheated oven for 60 to 70 minutes, or until the top of cake is puffed with a crack down the center, and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean.
Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes, and remove to a rack to cool to room temperature.
 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Recipe: Coconut Banana Scones

I love scones. There is nothing quite like a scone on a cool, stormy morning. To sit and sip tea, while eating a flaky, slightly-sweet pastry is a little blissful.

I made my first batch of vegan scones about a week ago, based on a mostly-healthy blackberry scone recipe I enjoyed awhile back. They didn't turn out great. It was probably because I wanted to experiment with not using an egg replacer (EnerG), and so replaced my eggs with applesauce and almond yogurt. The scones were too moist, and the texture was all wrong. We still ate them, of course, but it wasn't a success. I will probably try again with EnerG (sigh), who knows.

When I woke up this morning, it seemed like a good time to try again. Ian was sleeping in, so I put Felicity in the kitchen with me (to play in a box, I'm not going to lie), and got to work. I'm pretty proud of what I came up with.

Coconut Banana Scones
These scones have a nice texture with small pieces of coconut throughout. If you would like a more consistent texture, you could mix the dry ingredients in a food processor, and process in the coconut oil, and the banana mixture. You would just need to be very careful to not overmix.

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2  tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup coconut flakes (unsweetened)
1/4 cup sucanat (can be eliminated if you prefer more of lightly sweetened scone)
1/4 cup coconut oil, in solid form
2 very ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup coconut milk

Heat oven to 375F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper

Combine the flours, salt, baking powder, coconut flakes, and sugar (if using). Stir in coconut oil until mixture forms into small crumbs.

Whisk the mashed bananas and coconut milk until well blended. It is okay if your mixture has some banana chunks. Pour this into the dry mix, stirring until just blended.

Drop dough onto well-floured surface and shape into a disk about 1 inch high, 9 inches round. Slice into triangles (batter will be very loose, so this may be a little difficult), and slide them carefully onto your prepared pan.

Alternatively, you could just drop the dough onto your prepared sheet, I imagine about 1/3 cup of batter would be about right (?).

Bake for 15-18 minutes, until golden brown. Enjoy!


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Recipe: Eggplant & White Bean Soup with Garlicky Croutons

Can you tell we're on an eggplant kick? Summer is here, and there are gorgeous eggplants everywhere, just asking to be prepared in some delicious way or another. We see them at the farmers' market, at the co-op, and even winking at Meijer.

And, when my body is tired and achy, even if it's in the 80s outside, what I want is soup. Homey, wonderful soup with lots of heart, served with a substantial bread and some white wine.

When I have a little extra time when making a soup or a sauce, I like to cook my onions down in broth or stock to give more depth and richness to the base of the soup. I picked this technique up in college when looking at reviews for artichoke dip on epicurious.com. It seriously can make the difference between "good" and "this is a damned fine bowl of soup!" if you know what I mean.

Eggplant & White Bean Soup with Garlicky Croutons
 If you don't want the extra hassle or calories of the croutons, you could serve this soup with bread on the side, or even tear up a piece or two of bread into small chunks and mix into your bowl. If you do make the croutons (you know you want to!), I would prepare them in the ten minutes or so while your onions cook down. This soup can be served as is, with chunks of eggplant, onions, and beans, or it can be partially or completely pureed.

Ingredients
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, diced
generous splash of white wine (about 1/4 cup)
3-4 cups of broth, separated
1 large eggplant (or 2 small eggplants), chopped into 1/2-inch cubes
28 oz. white beans, drained and rinsed
juice of one lemon (about 4 Tbsp)
chopped parsley
salt and pepper, to taste
Garlicky Croutons (see below)

Directions
  1. Heat olive oil in a dutch oven over medium heat. Add the red onion and generously salt, stirring to coat onions. Cook over medium heat for five minutes or so, until onion begins to soften and brown slightly. Add a generous splash of white wine, and saute to burn off. 
  2. Add about one cup of broth to onions. Turn the heat up, almost to high. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the broth is almost absorbed and has thickened considerably.
  3. Reduce the heat back to medium and add all of the eggplant, tossing to coat in the onions and remaining broth. Add a little extra broth here, if you feel it's necessary. Cook eggplant for about 5-10 minutes, sauteing to avoid sticking. 
  4. When eggplant is softened and beginning to cook down, add the beans and the rest of the broth. Stir to combine, and allow soup to come to a simmer. I would recommend letting your soup simmer on low for 20 minutes or so, to thicken and combine the flavors, but you could skip this step if you're in a hurry.
  5.  Remove soup from heat and stir in lemon juice. If you desire a thicker soup but don't want to puree it, take a potato masher and spend a minute smashing some of the beans.
  6. Salt and pepper to taste. Top with garlicky croutons and chopped parsley, and serve.
Makes 4 generous servings
About 275 Calories (before croutons) per bowl, 12.5 grams protein

Garlicky Croutons
Homemade croutons add such a nice touch to salads and soups. I would suggest a fresh sourdough or multigrain loaf, but really any freshly baked bread, preferably unsliced, will do. You can use as little or as much olive oil as you would like. General rule of thumb, of course, is that the more oil you use (up to a point, of course), the better these will taste. But a tablespoon or two will be quite nice as well.

Ingredients
Olive oil, for frying
2 cups of bread cut into 1-inch cubes
salt and pepper
garlic powder
optional: rosemary, thyme, or italian seasoning blend

Directions
  1.  Heat olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat until glistening. Swirl to evenly coat the bottom, then add bread in a single layer (you may have to do 2-3 batches, depending on the size of your pan). 
  2. Brown bread, tossing occasionally to avoid burning. Once all sides of the bread have made contact with olive oil, generously salt and pepper, and sprinkle with garlic powder. Toss bread so the seasonings are disbursed.
  3. Continue to cook, tossing as needed, until cubes are well-browned, and add additional olive oil if you feel it is needed.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Recipe: Peanut Butter & Chocolate Energy Bites [Energy Bite Attempt #1]

You've heard that pregnant women are ravenous and eat all the time, right? Crave weird things? Always eating? Sounds familiar. It's true that your body burns about an 300-400 calories a day while you're pregnant, building that baby and all that. What you probably don't know (unless you've been through it yourself) is that you burn 500-600 extra calories a day nursing. And you are freaking hungry all the time. Especially when you make the transition to a plant-based diet and are eating lower-calorie meals, even if you are cramming your face at mealtimes.

In fact, in a recent study, 100% of Ians polled about their wives' hunger complaints were, to quote "fed up." One annoyed source said, "We ate like two hours ago. Seriously!"

The latest scientific data on Ians and their wives' hunger.
After spending admittedly way too much time on Pinterest lately, I've come across dozens of recipes for vegan energy balls. Apparently, there are a million ways to make these. What a great solution to my nearly-always gnawing sense of hunger!


Today was the first attempt, and I give it a B on the success scale. Easy? Super. Delicious? Yup. But the texture isn't quite right; they're a little crumbly and it was difficult to roll them into balls. I also think I would toast my wheat germ next time as there is a bit of a grainy aftertaste. They firmed up nicely though, so maybe I needed to chill them for more than 30 minutes.

But, and I can say this confidently as I was "helping" my mix as I was making it, these fit the bill, at least for now. Ian is also a little obsessed.

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Energy Bites [Energy Bite Attempt #1]
These should make around 24 bites. Or a little less if you happen to sample the dough a few times while you're mixing it to make sure it's absolutely delicious.

Ingredients
 - 1 cup oatmeal
 - 2/3 cup unsweetened, raw coconut flakes
 - 1/2 cup ground wheat germ (I would like to try ground flax seeds next time, or toast and then chill the wheat germ in advance)
 - 1/2 to 2/3 cup natural, unsweetened peanut butter (I used a 1/2 cup and I think it needs more)
 - 1/3 cup agave nectar
 - 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
 - 1/2 cup mini semi-sweet dairy-free chocolate chips

Directions
  1. In a medium-sized bowl, mix the oatmeal, coconut, and wheat germ/ground flax together.
  2. Add the peanut butter, agave nectar, and vanilla and stir until combined. Add the chocolate chips.
  3. Cover and refrigerate dough for 30-60 minutes.
  4. Shape dough into small balls, about 1 inch in diameter by grabbing a large spoonful of dough, compressing in your palms a few times, and then rolling between your palms to smooth.
  5. Keep the energy bites refrigerated; most of the recipes I looked at said they should keep for about one week (as if they'll last that long!).
The Energy Bites are around 85 calories each with 3 grams of protein.

Variation #1: For the nut-lover, omit chocolate chips and add chopped walnuts instead. About 90 calories per Energy Bite, protein increases to 5.5 grams.

Variation #2: Omit chocolate chips and add 1/2 chopped craisins. About 85 calories per Energy Bite with 3.5g protein.


Saturday, July 28, 2012

Recipe: Creamy Eggplant Stew

It's been so long since Ian and I have cooked a meal together! It was much easier when Felicity would sit in her bouncer seat on the kitchen table and happily watch us work, but now that she's quite mobile and wants lots of input, we typically have to delegate - one person on dinner, one person on baby watch.

Tonight, we improvised and put her Pack 'n Play in a corner of the kitchen, and were careful to avoid the usual dangers, such as knife-throwing, and flinging of hot vegetables.


This was a really lovely soup; very thick, creamy, and had wonderful depth. We added leeks to this stew because we had one that needed to be used. I'm not sure that it added anything, but it certainly didn't detract from the stew. We also used dried chickpeas (they're cheaper!), cooking them while we did the food prep and started the vegetables.

In addition, this delicious soup is pretty low-cal at about 230 calories per serving, has lots of protein, and is high in iron, vitamin C, and dietary fiber. What's not to love?


Creamy Eggplant Stew
Adapted from The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions

Ingredients
 2 Tbsp. oil (separated)
1/2 onion, diced
1 leek, chopped and rinsed well (optional)
1 lb eggplant (about two small), cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 tsp. salt
3 garlic cloves, minced/crushed
6 oz. tomato paste
1/4 cup natural peanut butter (slightly more if desired)
1-2 Tbsp. garam masala (to taste)
2 1/2 cups water (supplement chickpea water if you cooked them yourself)
16 oz canned chickpeas or 1/2 dry chickpeas, fully cooked
1/4 cup chopped parsley

Directions 
  1. Heat dutch oven over medium heat, add 1 Tbsp. oil. Add diced onion, and cook until softened. Add leek and eggplant and the rest of the oil. Toss well to coat vegetables and add salt. Cook, stirring often, to soften the egpplant (about eight minutes).
  2. Add garlic, tomato paste, peanut butter, and garam masala. Stir to coat vegetables and cook for one minute until fragrant. Slowly add water (or cooking liquid) and stir to incorporate (veggie mixture will be thick), then add the chickpeas.
  3. Bring stew to a simmer, than reduce heat to low and cover. Cook for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Take off of the heat and let soup rest for a few minutes.
  5. Serve with chopped parsley.
Six Servings.
About 230 calories per bowl, 20 grams of protein



Excellent Morning Edition Story: A Nation of Meat Eaters

It amazes me how blind I was to the environmental destruction caused by my diet. This story by Morning Edition  highlights why the habits of the world's elite countries is unsustainable and unhealthy for the earth and our bodies.
So, think about your own bathtub. You'd have to fill it 140,000 times. I mean, that's far more than you'd fill it in a lifetime, right? That's how much water it takes to produce one ton of beef. And if you break this down to an individual quarter-pound hamburger, it works out to be about 53 gallons of water for one burger.