Monday, January 28, 2008

Finally, Sunday Dinner

I can’t believe it’s the last Sunday of the month and only my second Sunday dinner. I had been looking forward to spending time with my son and being back in the kitchen, so here’s what I cooked up. I’m a little out of practice with the camera – sorry.

What’s in my favorite vintage bowl?

ED&BV’s Kid’s Dynamo Hummus

I can appreciate a hummus for kids, but this didn’t have enough flavor for me, so I added a little tamari, cumin, and AP seasoning. However, I love the cashews in this, and it made for a very rich hummus. We scooped it up with these new Popchips. These two varieties contain only vegan ingredients.

The bags say the chips are not fried and not baked – just popped. They are pretty good!

For Chase I made Cashew Ginger Tofu also from ED&BV, only I used all my cashews for the hummus so it was actually Peanut Ginger Tofu. I forgot to take a picture of it, but you can see it on Chase’s plate later in the post. This sauce is omg fantastic! It’s runny when you first make it, then thickens into perfection when it bakes.

For myself, Cauliflower Steaks with Cauliflower Puree, from this month’s Bon Appetit. They were just so pretty in the magazine and to me, this was better than roasted cauliflower. We both loved this. To make, you slice a head of cauliflower in half from top to stem, then slice off two one-inch “steaks.” You sear them 2 minutes on each side in a bit of olive oil, then bake them for 10 minutes in the oven. You make puree with the rest of the cauliflower. Here’s a steak being seared.

I didn’t like the puree recipe in the magazine, so I made my own seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic, and nooch, and I must say it was awesome. Oh please try cauliflower this way. It was fantastic! Here it is plated – yummy and fun!

Also from the magazine, the ugliest thing I’ve ever made – Raisin Vinaigrette.

But it was delicious on our broccoli. The raisins are pureed with oil, vinegar, and cumin – sort of Indian style.

Black & White Rice Pilaf

Broccoli Slaw with fresh herbs and greens.

And a delicious Oatmeal Bread from the bread machine.

Here’s Chase’s plate. See how thick and creamy the tofu sauce is?!

I made Snickerdoodles from LDV for dessert. My only change was to add a little cinnamon and vanilla to the batter. I didn’t like them warm from the oven because they tasted too much like flaxseeds, but after dinner they were delicious, no flaxy taste at all. Crispy edges and soft inside, and not too sweet. Chase said “like eating cinnamon toast.”

I also made my usual big pot of beans Sunday morning, just to have handy. These are pintos.

And some Potato Leek soup (not vegan) for my dad. He still doesn’t have much appetite, so the doctors have told us to give him whatever he will eat because he basically just needs calories. For some reason he only wants coke, juice, ice cream, shortbread cookies, and oatmeal, pretty bland stuff. I hoped he would enjoy a rather plain potato soup to get just a few nutrients in him, and to my delight he ate quite a nice bowlful! I told him I was sure everyone at my regular market was looking at me funny when I went to the checkout with chicken broth and cream. But I didn’t mind. Not one bit.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Soup! (and a Couple of Rants)

It’s cold! Much as I hate the cold and rainy weather, it’s the perfect opportunity to invite my son for dinner and try out a new soup recipe. I looked through Eat Drink & Be Vegan and found a winner – Spicy Pureed Sweet Potato & Peanut Stew with Chickpeas.

It is reminiscent of Vcon’s Eggplant Peanut Soup, which is knock-your-socks-off fantastic. It’s just as tasty, although the flavors aren’t quite as complex. And it is very filling. Kamutflake Girl gave it a great review as well.

Along with, we had Lemony Brussels Sprouts…..

… and Black Rice, which my dad bought for me before his surgery.

This was my first black rice and we both loved it. I think it tastes similar to wild rice, kind of nutty and lots of texture.

And now, Rant No. 1 – This month’s issue of Bon Appetit is “The Green Issue” and it has many many wonderful recipes, some of which I hope to try out this weekend. Also included is Lake Austin Spa’s Lean Star Chili recipe which I’ve made before and enjoy very much. There’s an entire article on broccoli, and another on seasonal produce, and another on locavores. AND THEN, there are two weird articles. One is a written by a former vegetarian who explains that she cannot continue being veg due to her love of sausage – of all things! The second is written by someone familiar to us, Nina Planck, who not too long ago informed the world of the vegan parents who killed their baby. Her article in this issue, “Just the Fats,” explains that trans fats are bad for you (who doesn’t know that by now?) EXCEPT the natural trans fats you find in animal products. You see, these are natural and the preferred foods to consume. She states that “on closer inspection, it’s become clear that natural saturated fats are good for you.” She implores you to return to the good ol’ days of eating butter, lard, and beef tallow (whatever that is), because it is trans fats and not butter and lard that cause heart disease. Butter from grass fed cattle is rich with K2 and prevents clogged arteries? Lard is the equivalent of olive oil? I read the article three times trying to find any mention of healthful oils, but she makes no reference to them. To my amazement, her credit at the end of the article states she is the author of a book entitled “Real Food: What to Eat and Why.” No wonder people are confused about what to eat. I think I’m confused now too.

Rant No. 2 – All of sudden today I began getting comments on the Pretty Bread I posted several months ago. I learned I had been linked on some site called Boing Boing in a post entitled “How to Bake a Gorgeous Vegan Herb Bread.” That was nice – until I read the first comment: “Mmmm... Chock fulla eating disorder goodness! And by that I mean ‘sawdust.’” As you can imagine, this set off a quite a vegan v meateater war. One commenter hurt my feelings by calling my bread a monstrosity! It doesn't really hurt me, but if you want to read some silly banter and interesting vegan bashing, here’s the link. A big thank you to all the folks who made nice comments on Boing Boing and on my bread post.

So who wants to start eating lard?!!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Healthy Portable Foods

My dad was released from the hospital Saturday and is home recovering from surgery. As of today, all of the family and visitors have returned home. I was able to do a little cooking over the weekend to take to my parents house. There are no pictures of anything plated, but I did snap a few pictures just to let you know I made some good food.

Vegetable Soup

This is sort of a brothy Minestrone with potatoes, carrots, green beans, corn, tomatoes, and cannelini beans. I was hoping my dad would eat some broth, but his tastebuds are geared toward oatmeal and ice cream right now. I also made a loaf of whole wheat bread (no pic).

Spaghetti Squash Casserole

I know you can’t see the spaghetti squash, but it’s mixed with tomatoes and Italian seasoning underneath some roasted turnips and steamed green beans. This turned out quite tasty and we all ate lots of it.

Indian Spiced Cabbage

An Ethiopian restaurant is right next to the hospital, and my sister and I had an opportunity to eat dinner there one night. We both especially loved the cabbage dish we ordered. I knew I couldn’t replicate it, knowing nothing about preparing Ethiopian food, but my Indian style cabbage was delicious. We ate lots of this too.

I also made Super Charge Me Cookies, which I have made before and absolutely love.

Chase gave up his usual share of the leftovers so my sister could take them on the plane and share some with my nephews when she gets back home.

It was wonderful to be back in my kitchen making healthful food to share with my family. I’m grateful that my mom and sister share my love of veggies and enjoy eating meatless meals of my vegan creations. I am anxious for my dad to get his appetite back so I can cook for him as well.

Thank you all again for your thoughts and well wishes.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Thank You!

Thanks to all of you for your prayers and well wishes for my father. I am hopeful he will be able to leave the hospital and be home for a while later this week. As much as I can, I am keeping all of our visiting friends and family fortified with healthy bean and veggie salads, and the Vcon Chewy Oatmeal Cookies were a huge hit. I hope to catch up with everyone soon.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Cholent, Chickpea Sensation Patties, Roasted Kale, Kabocha, and Kahlua Cookies

It started with a few finds at the Asian market….

Coffee flavored peanuts, a kabocha squash (my first), and meatball sized veggie chunks.

I knew the veggie chunks had to be used to make Cholent. It just looks so good in Vcon. I made this a few days ago and enjoyed it very much. Cholent is a hearty, flavorful stew, even with my freakishly meaty veggie chunks.

For our Sunday dinner I made ED&BV Chickpea Sensation Patties. I made the patty mixture in the morning and let it firm up all day in the fridge. (I had to sub carrots for the icky celery.) I didn’t have any problem forming the patties and frying them up.

I did have a difficult time deciding whether to make these patties or the Chickpea Cutlets from Vcon. I went for Dreena’s gluten free version and served them with the Mustard Sauce from Vcon. These patties are truly sensational. And the Vcon cutlets are still on my “must make” list.

I was anxious to roast the kabocha squash I found at the Asian market. I love that you can eat the skin, and I love that you can enjoy the roasted wedges at room temperature. Before baking, I tossed the wedges with a mixture of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, tamari, garlic, and rosemary. After 35 minutes at 375 degrees, it was absolutely fantastic.

As soon as the squash was out, I put in some chopped kale that I had tossed with a little olive oil, garlic, and salt & pepper. It doesn’t look like much in this picture, but it too was fantastic. Most of the leaves had crispy edges. Kind of like kale chips, but you could eat it with a fork. This only needed 15 minutes in the oven.

Sunday dinner turned out very nicely.

I thought and thought about how to use the coffee peanuts. I was thinking mocha and trying to stay away from cookies, but then I found a nearly empty bottle of Kahlua in the pantry and pulled out all of Dreena’s books to find a healthy treat recipe. I decided the easiest to adapt was Double Chocolate Pecan Chippers from The Everyday Vegan. I substituted Kahlua for the ¼ cup water, used ¼ cup sugar and 1/3 cup maple syrup instead of ¾ cup sugar, and used my coffee peanuts instead of pecans. I got extremely yummy Kahlua Cookies which looked like this….

I don’t think my pictures are very good for this post, but I hope they’re good enough to inspire you to make Cholent and Chickpea Sensation Patties, and try some roasted kale.

Because all of my wonderful blog buddies are the most compassionate and kindest people I know, I will share with you that I learned over the weekend that my father is very sick. I hope you will offer up all your best thoughts and prayers for my family, as this was quite unexpected and a shock for us. I may not have much enthusiasm or appetite or time for food while I deal with this, but I’ll be around as often as I can.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Best Blackeyed Peas for Dinner

Happy New Year, Everyone! We actually had this dinner on Sunday, but we saved a couple of spoonfuls of lucky peas to eat today. I LOVE my copy of Alternative Vegan. It is full of Indian recipes which are easy to prepare, and no recipe contains tofu or faux meat so I can enjoy them all! When I saw the recipe for Blackeyed Peas Daal, I knew this would be the star of our New Year’s Dinner.

I can’t tell you how fabulous the flavor of this daal is. And I can’t wait to try many more recipes from this book.

To go with the daal, I made Palak Soyabina Panira from ED&BV.

This tofu, spinach, and tomato dish had a slightly different flavor from the daal because it had cinnamon and jalapeno in it. Dreena said she preferred this recipe with less tofu. I can tell you it is fantastic with NO tofu. We both loved this dish too.

Some basmati rice made for a perfect Indian plate.

To make the dinner completely special, I made VWAV Samosas with Coconut Mint Chutney. I wish you could have seen Chase’s face light up when he walked in and saw this on the table.

I wavered on whether or not to make these because I’ve never been able to keep filling inside any sort of pastry. Maybe since I only made a half batch I was able to focus long enough to fill 10 samosas. I didn’t lose one drop this time! These take awhile to prepare, but it’s totally worth it, especially when you’re told that your samosas are far better than any restaurant’s. (Thank you, Isa!)

I made a second loaf of bread from my new bread maker – Oatmeal bread. Isn’t it the cutest little loaf ball?!

And the texture was perfect.

I can’t give up treats cold turkey, so I made a batch of barely sweet gluten free muffins with chocolate chips and dried tart cherries.

Now it’s a new year. The holidays are over. It’s time to go back to work (sigh), back to the trainer, and back to good eating habits.

Again, Happy New Year, everyone, with wishes for a wonderful 2008. Don’t forget to eat your blackeyed peas!