Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Spaghetti and Beanballs

Our most recent Sunday dinner featured a wonderful recipe from Vcon - Spaghetti and Beanballs. The beanballs were outstanding, both in taste and texture. I chose to bake them and they held together very nicely. I have a favorite spaghetti sauce I usually make with red wine and a little heat, but knew I wouldn't go wrong making Vcon's easy recipe. I did add carrots to the sauce because I love the texture they add. I served the sauce and beanballs over angel hair pasta.

I made a mango cole slaw to serve with it.

And of course some steamed broccoli and rolls.

Chase was excited to have leftover beanballs, sauce, and rolls for mini sub sandwiches.

I hope to keep up with your blogs and wonderful creations, but now I must take a break from cooking and posting to be with my family and my dad in his final days. I am so very sad.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Treats & a Vegan Express Dinner

Earlier this week my copies of Vegan Express, Vegan Fire & Spice, and My Sweet Vegan arrived in the mail. We’ve been so busy with work, school, and family that I’ve barely skimmed through them, but I did find time to make a couple of recipes (and bookmark plenty more).

My Sweet Vegan is such a beautiful book and every recipe looks wonderful. Chase is preparing for midterms and mentioned recently he hadn’t had cinnamon rolls in forever. MSV’s Oatmeal Raisin Rolls recipe was intriguing in that these yeasted rolls require no rise time and actually would require less time to make than my second treat choice from the book, Strawberry Pinwheel Cookies. I was tempted to give the rolls some rise time, but didn’t. Who am I to second guess the brilliant Hannah! I did add some cinnamon to the filling because, well, I just couldn’t help myself. The rolls turned out beautifully, the whole dozen of them.

A drizzle of icing would be a nice finish, but is certainly not necessary. The oatmeal dough is so creative and this oatmeal lover rates these delicious rolls five stars. AND, they are actually low fat and pretty healthy as far as cinnamon rolls go. Chase will love them.

I do recommend the dental floss method for cutting your rolls instead of a knife. There is much less pinching and flattening of the rolls and floss cuts those raisins like a laser, whereas a knife tends to just pop them out. If you’re not familiar, all you do is position a 12-inch piece of floss under the uncut roll. (I mark 1-inch segments before “flossing.”) Bring up the ends of the floss, cross them over at the center, and gently but not too slowly pull the floss through the dough to cut each slice. And yes, minty floss is okay! I found a visual aid on the net.

Another treat I made was Apricot Almond Cookies from ExtraVeganZa.

These were so tasty, but they are made entirely of brown rice flour and were far too crumbly the next day to even pick up and hold in your hand. So if you can’t eat them all in one day, they make a nice granola.

On an evening when I was craving a rice dish for dinner, I selected Gingery Rice with Sweet Potatoes and Peas from Vegan Express. I couldn’t believe brown rice and potatoes could be prepared in “express” fashion, but I was ready – at 7:30 – to give it a shot. This recipe had the rice I was craving plus 2 of my favorites, sweet potatoes and peas, and cilantro, which I’m crazy for. Confession: I had never before cooked sweet potatoes in the microwave. I was really reluctant to follow the recipe in this regard, but again, couldn’t believe it would only take 3 minutes. Guess what, it’s true! So everything gets prepped and stirfried while the rice cooks and dinner was in fact ready in 45 minutes. It was wonderful, topped with a few chopped peanuts as suggested.

The only change I made was to use my wonderful berbere spice instead of garam masala. I’m not thrilled with my current batch of garam masala and berbere is not too different. Plenty of yummy leftovers too!

Fire & Spice looks like a wonderful book as well, full of spicy recipes we are sure to enjoy. I just haven’t had time to cook from it yet. Hopefully we’ll get to have a Sunday dinner tonight. Last week’s dinner is actually still in the freezer waiting to be eaten.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

“No Croutons Required” and a Delicious Splurge

Tinned Tomatoes and Lisa’s Kitchen are hosting a monthly blogging event called “No Croutons Required.”

This month’s theme is vegetarian soup and my entry is:

Cabbage Soup with Chickpeas and Oats

This delicious soup can be ready in 30 minutes, although like most soups, it tastes even better the next day. The oats add creamy thickness and a sweet, nutty flavor. Since it is winter, I’ve used canned tomatoes and dried herbs.


1 small head green cabbage, shredded
1 medium onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
1 (15 oz.) can fire roasted tomatoes, chopped
3 cloves minced garlic
6 cups vegetable broth
1 t. dried basil
2 t. dried parsley
1 t. dried oregano
1 t. ground coriander
½ t. dried rosemary
½ t. dried thyme
½ t. dill seed
½ t. dried red pepper flakes
1 (15 oz.) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
½ c. oats (I used 5 minute oats)
1 T. red wine or cider vinegar
salt and pepper to taste


In a large soup pot, combine cabbage, onion, carrots, tomatoes, garlic, broth, and herbs. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cover. Simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in chickpeas, oats, vinegar, and salt & pepper. Cover and simmer 5 more minutes. Serve hot.

It’s cold and rainy and this soup was perfect for lunch today.

So what was my delicious splurge? FRESH mangosteen! Importation of these yummy fruits was illegal until recently and fortunately for me, the only market in Texas to now offer them has a location here in Austin. Mangosteens are highly nutritious and have long been used in Asian cultures as curatives. I think strawberry orange is a good description of their taste. I photo-documented my first taste experience because I’m assuming most of you have not eaten these either. (I think Amey and Emilie have.)

Here’s the package of 4 next to a can of coconut milk so you can get an idea of its size.

Here’s the first one, the tester, the one with a rind of thick leather. A clerk at the market warned me that the pink juice stains.

I noticed it has a lovely flowered bottom!

The clerk also told me how to get to the edible part. Run a paring knife through the rind around the equator of the fruit, lift off the top, then pull out the segments.

The brown spots on the segments are your clue to where any seeds are. Not every segment contains a seed.

Yes, I splurged. I paid $10 for four little fruits. I had to work hard to get to the edible segments. They are not at all filling and they stain. But they are delicious like nothing I’ve eaten before. So they were worth every penny. Perhaps mangosteen juice would be a better investment next time....

Austin is full of excitement as Uno, a delightful beagle from here, won Best in Show at Westminster. And also, my favorite all vegan macrobiotic organic restaurant, Casa de Luz, is featured in this month’s VegNews.

Oh, I also splurged on this.

I haven’t eaten any yet, but I’m sure it’s divine!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Food We Love

Our family Valentine dinner on Sunday was not as “heart-y” as last year’s dinner. I decided to just put together a meal consisting of our favorite foods.

Peanuts, in sauce form on Lettuce Wraps, an easy and tasty appetizer.

Chickpeas, in Vcon Chickpeas Romesco with Garlic Saffron Rice. This was an excellent dish. Chase has proclaimed Isa and Terry the Sauce Queens.

Roasted Veggies. We love all veggies (except okra, celery, and eggplant), especially roasted. For this dinner we had purple potatoes, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes, and onions.

Broccoli. Every meal has a side of broccoli. Here’s my plate.

Coconut. I admit dessert was a tough decision. I also love chocolate, oatmeal, and all things fruity, but not too sweet. Vcon’s Coconut Lemon Bundt Cake seemed like the perfect choice with tart lemon and no sugary frosting. I was thrilled when it fell out of the pan in perfect form.

This beautiful cake deserved special plating when sliced.

The cake is moist with subtle flavors of lemon and coconut. It is delicious. Mmmmmmm.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Vegetable Love

Susan at FatFree Vegan Kitchen is hosting the second annual Vegetable Love blogging event. My submission is vegan, completely fat free, and has scarcely any calories. It’s also more fun than romantic, but was made with love nonetheless.

This simple appetizer combines classic flavors and lets your sweetheart know...

You Float My Boat

Cucumber Boats

1 pickling cucumber
2 T. finely minced mango
2 T. finely minced red onion
1 t. fresh lime juice
1 t. chopped cilantro or parsley
dash of salt

Wash the cucumber and cut the ends. Slice it in half, then slice the halves lengthwise. (Cut the bottoms if necessary so they lay flat.) To make “sails,” cut thin slices from the tops, making sure not to cut all the way through. Secure the sails with a toothpick. Scoop out the seeds from the boat.

Mix together remaining ingredients and fill each boat.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Berbere, and This & That

My dad is still in the hospital :( I haven’t done a lot of cooking, so I just have a couple of recent meals to post and a couple of things I never got around to posting.

I’ve mentioned the fantastic Ethiopian restaurant near the hospital. On a recent visit, I purchased a container of their wonderfully aromatic berbere spice mix. I’m glad I decided to buy it, because I don’t think I could easily find these ingredients and make a batch myself.

The red pepper has just a slight amount of heat, mostly in an aftertaste. It was mild enough for me to make Berbere Broccoli, with a few greens thrown in.

I love that my spice cabinet smells of berbere every time I open it!

Under the category of “Still Trying to Love Eggplant,” here is an Indian spiced cauliflower and eggplant, with tomatoes and chickpeas.

I know there’s lots more cauliflower than eggplant, but at least I’m trying.

Veggie Girl recently posted a recipe for Banana Apricot Date Cookie Clusters that looked so good I made them the next day.

Do you know what this is?

It’s hominy. Hominy is not something I eat very often, probably because it comes in a can and I don’t shop the canned veggies aisle. But my cousin told me that one of her all-time favorite salads is Hominy Salad, so I made it for Chase and me awhile back. Here’s her recipe:

Hominy Salad

1 can yellow hominy
1 can white hominy
2-4 jalapenos, seeded and chopped
2/3 c. mayonnaise
Pinch of cumin
Pinch of garlic salt

Drain the hominy well. Mix all ingredients and chill. Best made ahead to let the flavors blend.

I obviously used corn instead of yellow hominy and I only used 1/4 cup of mayo. This simple salad was really good and something different to enjoy. Thanks, cuz!

Finally, if you are celebrating Chinese New Year, here’s an idea for longevity noodles. I made this Baked Noodle Nest several months ago.

I cooked spaghetti noodles al dente, then spread them in the bottom and sides of six ounce prep cups.

I think I baked it at 425 for about 15 or 20 minutes. I filled mine with a veggie pasta sauce.

I can’t say the noodles were very tasty, and I wouldn’t serve it as a pasta dish again. I would say these are more for decoration, like for holding some steamed greens or a little bowl of dipping sauce.

I don’t think I’ll make a Chinese New Year dinner this year, but I’m definitely planning on cooking up something for our Sunday dinner.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Sausage Supper/Crazy for Quinoa

My dad is back in the hospital tonight. Yesterday there was a 911 call, an ambulance, and another surgery. Pretty scary, but he’s okay now and should be back at home tomorrow. Chase and I spent Saturday evening with him and he seemed to be in good spirits. My mom and my brother have been with him today, so I stayed home and kept myself busy in the kitchen. Here’s everything I made for Sunday dinner with Chase.

After seeing all the posts raving about Julie’s Sausages, I just had to give them a try. They were so easy to make and turned out great.

I decided to pair them with peppers and onions. Chase put his on a little French bread loaf we found at our Asian market. I checked to be sure it was vegan. The ingredients were wheat flour, yeast, water – perfect.

I had to have a taste of the sausage. It is fantastic! They are seasoned perfectly and the texture is just right. Chase was so happy to have leftovers to take home and put in his spinach wraps for lunches next week.

I also made Lima Bean Green Chili Dip, courtesy of LK Sisters. (I felt compelled to make a dip on Super Bowl Sunday.) I spiced their recipe up just a little with red pepper flakes and garlic, but I usually put those two ingredients in everything. It’s a beautiful green color, a bit spicy, and absolutely delicious. Thanks for the recipe, LK!

I bought these 2 bags of chips for the dip. You all probably eat these all the time, but I never really snack on chips so they seem new to me. Chase liked both of these, and I especially liked the rice chips.

Sweet Potato Salad with broccoli, green beans, carrots, and green onions, and a ranch style dressing. A new way with broccoli, cold and creamy good. Chase went nuts over this. He had been missing an old fashioned, “mayo” type potato salad.

Quinoa dish 1 – Red Rice, Lentil, and Quinoa Pilaf with leeks and carrots. When my dad bought me some black rice awhile back, he also bought me some red rice. This was my first time to make it, and combining it with lentils and quinoa was tasty as well as a nice contrast in textures. Adding in the leeks and carrots made it very pretty too.

So here is our table….

.... and here is Chase’s plate of too much food!

Chase has no desire for sweets lately, so I made a fruit salad for dessert – fresh apples, nectarines, grapes, oranges, and blueberries.

Quinoa dish 2 – Quinoa Granola to top our fruit with. I couldn’t really taste quinoa, but it’s really good granola and if you would like to make it, you know, for extra protein at breakfast, simply mix together 2 cups quinoa, 4 cups rolled oats, ½ cup almonds, and ½ cup pistachios. Then mix together ½ cup maple syrup, ½ cup canola oil, 1 T. cinnamon, 1 T. vanilla, and a pinch of salt. Mix the wet and dry ingredients, spread on a baking sheet, and bake at 350 for about 30 minutes, stirring every 7 or 8 minutes. When cool, mix in your add-ins. I added craisins and dried blueberries.

For some reason I’ve been craving dried blueberries. So they are also in Quinoa dish 3 – Quinoa Breakfast Bars. These are made with quinoa flakes and turned out really nice.

I have the “big game” on, but I’m not really watching it. I am slowly but surely making my way around to all your blogs, and I apologize for falling behind on comments. Hopefully this week will be back to normal so I can catch up.