Saturday, April 28, 2007

Wasabi Meal, Brownies, Store Finds

I recently found some tamari with wasabi and mustard with wasabi and was anxious to try them out. Both products are rather mild, so I wasn’t able to get my food quite as spicy as I wanted, but here’s what I came up with.

Wasabi Peas and Tofu

This was inspired by a recipe for peas and tofu in Asian Vegan Cooking. I marinated the tofu overnight in a mixture of wasabi tamari, wasabi mustard, Braggs, broth, etc. Then I stirfried a bag of frozen peas with the tofu and some onion, added more wasabi tamari, and wasabi paste. I served it over rice and sprinkled some sesame seeds on top. It was a very nice stirfry, but it wasn’t spicy. I couldn’t get wasabi peas. The peas are just too sweet. A spicy wasabi tofu steak alongside some sweet peas would have been a better idea.

Potato and Red Bean Salad

I must say this potato salad was awesome. I cooked 5 or 6 new potatoes, quartered them and put them in a bowl with a can of red beans, some green onions, sesame seeds, and cilantro. I made a dressing with the wasabi tamari, rice vinegar, sesame oil, garlic, crushed red pepper, and wasabi mustard. I marinated it overnight and served it slightly warm. It was spicy good!

I anticipated needing a cold salad to cool us off, so I made slaw/salad with cucumbers, tomatoes, broccoli, and cilantro and made a peanut butter dressing using the wasabi tamari. Too bad we didn’t have to put out a fire with this, but you can’t go wrong with a fresh salad.

I made a treat too, those brownies Bazu posted about. Crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside. Perfection!

Thanks, Bazu!

On a shopping trip earlier this week, I picked up dinner and two new items. Dinner was a Thai Falafel Wrap from a local vendor. It had three huge falafel patties, carrots, and too many rice noodles, but a great spicy sauce.

I liked it okay, but I actually deconstructed it and put it on a salad.

I also found Eddie’s Spaghetti – ingredients are simply semolina, spinach, beets, red peppers, and paprika. (I may just like the name!) I haven’t used it yet, but it’s bound to make a beautiful pasta.

And I found roasted carob powder, a new item in the bulk bin. I don’t want to just put it in a smoothie. I’ll have to bake something with it. Any suggestions?

Lastly, I needed to use my yellow squash from the farmers market. If you haven’t ever roasted yellow squash, I highly recommend doing so. The insides don’t turn to mush, which for me makes them much more enjoyable. I roasted mine with some onions and green beans, and seasoned them with tarragon and dill. Mmmmmm!

It’s great to be vegan!

Monday, April 23, 2007

The Best Thing I've Ever Eaten?

Well, if not THE best, then certainly one of the best.

Broiled avocado. It’s like avocado buttah. It reminded me of the breaded and fried avocado a local chef makes. I filled mine with homemade salsa, knowing deep down it would be better with plain tomatoes, but there were no tomatoes at my farmers market, so the homemade salsa won out. When it was ready, I plated it and had a bite of just avocado. My spoon glided through the pulp like it was – well, buttah! The flavor was smooth. And after a bite with salsa, I broke down and had to get the store bought roma, chopped it, scooped out the salsa and added the tomato and yes, it was even better. So if you want to try this, here’s how: Halve the avocado and remove the pit. Leave the skin on. Fill the hole with chopped tomato and season with salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet and broil for 5 minutes. I had a plain Sunshine burger patty with mine. Oh so good.

Here’s what I did get at the farmers market.

The purple lettuce is leafy and a beautiful color. I was told it is “firecracker” lettuce. It doesn’t have a lot of flavor, just slightly bitter. The swiss chard I used to make Chickpeas and Chard, simply seasoned with cumin, tamari, and pepper.

The strawberries – I sliced them and put them on top of pineapple, and topped it with chopped dates, toasted almonds, and powdered sugar. They were the second best thing I’ve ever eaten and unbelievably red!

I found some beautiful asparagus at Whole Foods, and at Laura’s suggestion, I roasted it with balsamic vinegar. Simply delicious. Laura is going to think I’m stalking her or something, but I also had to try amaranth after she posted about it. I didn’t pop it, but I cooked it up with some quinoa, then added some edamame, carrots, green onion, parsley, and lemon juice. It has a distinct nutty flavor that I would love to use to bake bread.

Thanks, Laura. It was a great dinner!

I used one of the roasted asparagus stalks to try out an old recipe I used to make. You take a slice of fresh bread, flatten it, brush it with oil and season it, then wrap the asparagus and broil it for a few minutes. I had some rather stale spelt bread so it didn’t hold together well. And it wasn’t as good as I remembered, but that’s probably because the roasted asparagus was just so good on its own.

I also roasted some cauliflower.

One more picture – Thai style salad, with broccoli slaw, sprouts, cilantro, green onion, and peanuts.

Have a great week!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Double Dinner

This week we had our Sunday dinner on Friday. My son is working all weekend and worked hard all day Friday. I knew he would come over extremely hungry so I was ready – 2 entrees, 2 veggie sides, and 2 desserts. It was nearly 8:00 by the time he came over and I figured his hunger wouldn’t allow for picture-taking, so I took pictures as I cooked.

Entrée 1 - Pureed Chickpea Pasta on soba noodles from Vive. This was delicious and so easy to put together.

Entrée 2 - baked tofu. Always great.

Side 1 - stirfried veggies: broccoli, carrots, sprouts, onions, red and green peppers, lots of ginger. (Somehow I let that d**n mandolin take a chunk off my right thumb knuckle. I also burned my right ring finger on the tray of baked tofu. Maybe I’m not supposed to work so hard on a Friday night.)

Side 2 - zucchini fries and herb dip. The fries are breaded with panko and cornmeal, and the dip is silken tofu with lemon juice and lots of spices and fresh herbs. The dip turned out really good.

How did Diann get her fries so uniform? She cheated! With this gadget…..

Put the veggie in, push down on the handle......

and out come the little slices!

I don’t use it that often because I actually love to chop. I’ve used it for sweet potato fries, but it honestly takes all my strength to get a piece of potato to go through that grate.

I did manage to get a quick shot of my plate.

I was worried that I was just throwing together a bunch of food, but it actually all went together nicely.

Dessert 1 - Peanut Butter Muffins from Peanut Butter Planet. These are not my normal healthy muffins. They have white flour (which you almost have to use for peanut butter, right?) brown sugar, pb, chocolate chips, and raisins. Oh, well. They were meant to be treats, not health food. Yum!

Want one?

I just got sad thinking about my old trainer. I worked out on Mondays with him and would always take him a sample of treats I made on Sunday :(

Dessert 2 – I finally made Fronch Toast, on spelt bread with fresh strawberries, powdered sugar, and maple syrup for some of us. Personally, I would rather eat plain strawberries, but it was very good and a nice change of pace.

Chase is working at one of our outdoor festivals all weekend. He wanted to take his own food and since we didn’t leave much in the way of leftovers from this meal, he basically cleaned out my refrigerator. (Laura, I even gave him my leftover Refried Lentils! That was quite a sacrifice!) I did pick up a few things from the farmers market this morning, so I need to get cooking and restock!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The First and The Last

Perhaps I’m the first to post about Laura’s yummy Refried Lentils. I always have lentils in the pantry and I always want to make Indian dishes with them, so I was excited to find a recipe using them in a TexMex way. I followed the recipe exactly, and also added a red pepper that I didn’t want to go to waste.

I made a taco salad without the tortilla shell.

Thanks for sharing your recipe, Laura. I really enjoyed the Refried Lentils!

Perhaps I’m the last to make the Seitan O’Greatness. Seitan is not a gluten free girl’s friend, but I wanted to make it for my son. I did have a taste of it and I thought it was excellent, very spicy and a great texture. Chase loved it too, and he commented that he thought it was not as good warm as it was cold. It didn’t turn out too dry, except for the end where the foil exploded for some reason. I guess I need to look for super duper extra heavy duty foil.

And thanks to ppk forums for posting the nutritional information. (Chase said he was glad to know he could eat the whole thing!)

Sometimes I get stuck in a food rut, tending to eat the same foods all the time. Now I only want Indian food, so I’ve tried to get away from that. I made some Italian Broccoli and Cauliflower…..

…. and some Italian Green Beans with red peppers and yellow squash….

….. and a cucumber and radish salad simply dressed with vinegar and oil.

Have a great week! I hope it’s warm and springlike where you are.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Healthy Homestyle

We had our Sunday dinner on Saturday so Chase could devote all of Sunday to studying for a big Monday exam. I wanted to fill him up with good food and have plenty of leftovers for him to stay fortified while he studied. Although it was a sunny day, it was 55 degrees and the wind was gusting to 40 mph – a perfect day for staying in the kitchen. Oh, yeh, I cooked up lots of food.

I have never had much luck with “meat” loaves, but this month’s Veg Times featured a recipe, and dgmgv made it and posted her good results on her blog, so I decided to try it. The recipe was actually for sandwiches, but I served mine warm so we could have it plain or as a sandwich. The only diversion from the recipe I made was to leave out the celery because Chase and I both hate it. The loaf turned out great, just as dgmgv described. The taste was excellent and so was the texture - it didn’t fall apart.

Jess posted her lower calorie version of Mac ‘n Cheez from the New Farm Vegetarian Cookbook which I happen to have. That recipe needed some serious fat reduction! I decided to try Jess’s recipe instead of making the usual mashed potatoes and gravy to go with “meat” loaf. I followed her recipe exactly, which allowed for some add-ins, so I went for a texmex version. I added in tomatoes, onions, green chilies, and spinach, and spiced it with chili powder and red pepper. I admit Chase and I hadn’t had mac ‘n cheez in a very long time, but we both thought this recipe was fabulous! Thanks to Jess for sharing her recipe. Here’s a pic without the topping.

I also made a black bean, corn, and red pepper salad.

Roasted veggies – broccoli, zucchini, yellow squash, onions, green beans, carrots, mushrooms. It would have been perfect if I had remembered the red bell pepper!

Chase thought cornbread would go well with our homestyle meal, but I told him I was going to try a new recipe from Real Food Daily – Multigrain Quick Bread. Well, it’s not very quick. It has cornmeal, millet, quinoa, oatmeal, and brown rice in it, and I had to prepare the millet, quinoa, and rice the night before so it could be mixed in cold. I baked it for 90 minutes and I’m not sure it was completely cooked. I really did like the bread, but it was unusual. The only liquid in it is apple juice – 3 cups! I used half juice and half cider and it was still very sweet – like a very sweet cornbread. In fact it was so sweet we decided to have it with dessert instead of dinner.

Dessert was to be just fresh fruit – strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, apples, grapes, and pineapple (canned). No sweetener except the pineapple juice from the can.

Oh, yeh, I felt bad about not making the requisite mashed potatoes, so I made sweet potato fries. Here’s my plate and the table.

I bought a pint of vanilla soy dream to have with the fruit salad, and also toasted some almonds and coconut for a topping. Now we had “cake” too, so here’s how we revamped dessert. We pan fried some of the bread in a dry skillet, then plated it.

Put the fruit on top of the cake.

Then added the toasted goodies and a side of ice cream. Of course my camera battery died as soon as I put the ice cream on the plate, so it melted a bit. But oh yum! It was so good we had seconds.

So make the loaf, try the bread, eat your fruits and veggies, and definitely make the mac ‘n cheez!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Around the World Cooking

I guess I’ve just been plain ol’ hungry lately, cooking up whatever looks or sounds good to me. I did play with my new mandolin and yes, I did slice my pinky pretty good playing with baby carrots. All the while I kept saying, this is not smart, this is not smart. But I didn’t contaminate the food, and when the bleeding stopped, I kept on going. First I practiced on a cucumber and made a simple ribbon salad.

Then I made a carrot and peanut salad I had seen on a couple of blogs. I didn’t really like it. Maybe I was mad at my new toy.

This dish I totally loved. Red Beans and Peas from Japanese Vegetable Cooking. It has kidney beans, peas, and dried apricots, and is seasoned lightly with sugar and salt and served warm.

Dal Masala – I used a spice mix from a box I got at Gandhi Bazar. It just doesn’t compare with toasting my own blend of spices.

Chase dropped by hungry one night. I was already prepping to stirfry some bok choy, so we made a tofu stirfry to go with it.

I found baby baby bok choy at my Asian market and I have just gone nuts over them. I hope they’ll have them again sometime. Aren’t they just the cutest little things you ever did see?

Chase was kind enough at his birthday dinner to let me take a picture of his plate. He ordered veggie tacos – avocado, mushrooms, nopalitos, and veggie chorizo on red corn tortillas. Served with black beans and rice topped with bananas!

I ordered veggie enchiladas. I asked the waiter if the filling had cheese in it and he said no. For some reason our food took an hour to come out, and my plate arrived covered in cheese! I was scraping it off, starving, and the waiter saw me and said, “You didn’t want ANY cheese?” Why would I not want it IN my food, but want it ON my food? I know I’m weird with food sometime, but geez! He promised to fix it quickly and sure enough, I had a new plate with no cheese in 3 minutes – and it was free. I’m still wondering why it took an hour to get the first food, and only 3 minutes to get the next plate.

I finally took a small box of meat cookbooks to Half Price Books. They paid me $26 for them. I was only expecting $20, so I was pleased.

Here’s a couple of shots from the last day of my visit from my sister and nephews. These were taken while we were playing washers while our barbecue dinner was cooking.

Aunt Diann and her boys....

The family, except my mom, who's taking the picture....

I hope everyone enjoys their Easter holiday!