Monday, April 28, 2008

A Saucy Sunday Supper (and recipes!)

I love minimally prepared foods. I love the sweetness of homemade beans, broccoli with a splash of lemon and a dash of garlic, lightly seasoned grilled or roasted veggies, and of course, fresh fruits. My son, however, has always been a believer in “the sauce makes the meal.” I think sauce mainly adds unnecessary calories, but occasionally, including a good sauce (or 3 or 4) can be quite a nice enhancement for any dish. So for this meal, and especially for Chase, all food is saucy!

First, you must have toast for all the sauce! (Is this the first picture of plain ol’ toast on a blog?)

Baked Tofu with Pineapple Chipotle Sauce

I sliced a pound of thawed frozen tofu into 4 steaks. After draining I marinated them in the sauce overnight.

Pineapple Chipotle Sauce:
adapted from “The Complete Vegan Kitchen”

Saute half a medium onion and 1 clove minced garlic in 2 teaspoons canola oil. When soft, add in:

1 cup pineapple juice
juice of a lime
¼ cup cider vinegar
1 T. sugar
dash S&P

Bring to a boil, then add in:
1 chopped chipotle pepper
2 t. chipotle paste
slurry of 1 t. arrowroot in 1 T. water

Cook and stir until thickened. Add in ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro if desired.

Pour into a baking dish, add the tofu and marinate. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes, turning halfway through baking time.

This sauce is fabulous! I could eat it by the spoonfuls. Sweet and spicy is always so nice. I couldn’t decide which picture I liked best.

Lentils in Onion Gravy

Since I don’t do tofu, I made myself some tasty lentils. This is from Vegan Fire & Spice, although I did not use Indian spices, and I added in a small bag of fresh spinach. This was also very, very good.

New Potato Salad in Creamy Dill & Green Onion Sauce

I served this as a cold salad. I boiled a pound of quartered new potatoes for about 9 minutes. When they were done and still slightly warm, I stirred in the sauce.

Creamy Dill & Green Onion Sauce

3 T. cream cheese, warmed
2 T. milk
2 chopped green onions, white and green parts
1 T. chopped fresh dill
S&P to taste

We have always preferred a mustard type potato salad and are not big fans of cream cheese, so this version seemed rather decadent and we had trouble eating more than a couple of bites. Potatoes with green onions and fresh dill sprinkled on top would have been just fine for us. But for those who are cream cheese fans, this is a perfect sauce and would win over any omni.

Steamed Veggies Mornay

Okay, “Mornay” is probably a stretch. But I did start with a roux. I adapted a recipe from “The Complete Vegan Kitchen,” which, if you haven’t noticed by now, is a cookbook I have come to love. This sauce is soooo good. I always thought folks who covered their veggies with cheese didn’t really like veggies, but Chase and I both really really loved this sauce. Really really.

Vegan Mornay Sauce

2 T. nutritional yeast
4 T. chickpea flour
1 cup warm almond milk
2 T. ground raw cashews
½ t. garlic powder
½ t. salt
½ t. black pepper
½ t. paprika
2 T. Earth Balance
1 t. Dijon mustard

Put the yeast and flour in a small sauce pan and toast lightly over low heat. Slowly whisk in the milk to form a smooth mixture. Whisk in the cashews and spices, then the EB and mustard.

Makes 1 cup

We put our veggies on toast, then topped with sauce.

My lovely plate:

Chase’s beautiful plate:

Chase was so happy with all the saucy foods, but went completely over the top when I showed him dessert.

Mango Cream Pie with Toasted Coconut Topping and Strawberry Sauce

I have more mangoes than I can eat, so I thought I should put them in a dessert. Again turning to “The Complete Vegan Kitchen,” I found a recipe for Mango Cream Pie, so I used the mango cream portion (which is basically 3 pureed mangoes, a box of silken tofu, and sugar) for my pie. Since this pie is for Chase (again, no tofu for me) and he loves graham cracker crusts, it’s hard not to buy a premade “to go” crust, so that’s what the mango cream is in. It was actually not quite sturdy enough for the filling.

The strawberry sauce is your basic fresh strawberries cooked with sugar and water, then thickened with an arrowroot slurry. It’s such a beautiful color.

Mangoes and strawberries are one of our favorite flavor combinations and this pie with the sauce was perfectly delicious. Strawberry pie with mango sauce may have to be the next dessert I make!

And finally, I had to make Anna’s Vegan Chocolate Pepper Cookies. Anna has a fabulous cookie blog and quite often posts vegan, vegan option, and/or healthy cookie recipes. (Remember Oreo Cookie Cookies?!?!) Of course spicy chocolates are all the rage now, but these cookies are not made with chili peppers; these are made with your basic black pepper. The cookies are wonderful! Chase stopped himself after eating 4. They are super chocolatey, crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside, and have just a hint of heat. If you’ve been curious but tentative about baking with heat, these cookies would be the perfect starter for you. I highly recommend you put these cookies on your “must make” list. You won’t be disappointed. Thanks, Anna, for another outstanding cookie recipe!

I’ve been away from the computer all weekend and it’s late now. Tomorrow evening I see my trainer, so after my workout I will be ready to come home and just sit at my desk and visit as many of your blogs as I can.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


On Saturday my mom, sister, and I went to a farmers market in a park next to the Earth Day Fair. This was my mom’s and my first trip to the market without my dad, so it was sort of bittersweet. It was an all day event, but we started early at the market, then made our way through the fair. Here are a few pictures of the highlights.

As you can see, it was a beautiful day for an Earth Day Fair. (My mom and sister are on the right.) There were many booths with energy saving guides and gadgets, and many repurposed items, e.g., feed bags made into shopping bags and XXL men’s shirts made into women’s shirts. ("Repurposed" is my new favorite word. I'm a word nerd like Chocolate Covered Vegan.)

I don’t know why the bike with wings was there, but it was just lovely!

This was the solar powered stage for the live music.

This was my favorite thing at the fair.

A giant solar powered oven!

It’s called "The Villager" because it can feed a village in an hour.

Click on the picture so you can read the sign to see what this baby can do.

I bought myself a looseleaf tea maker and some wonderful locally made Zhi Tea.

Sample teas too. If you're a tea lover, you really should take a look at the Zhi Tea website to see all the wonderful flavors they offer.

I also got tons of sample Clif bars, including flavors I have never before encountered, including Cool Mint Chocolate. I brought home broccoli and sunflower sprouts from the market and my mom took home onions, tomatoes, and lots of salad greens. I also bought a locally made Lemon Currant Granola for my mom and me to share. I had never tasted nor ever even seen Lemon Granola and it was delicious! As I was eating some chopped apples sprinkled with the delicious granola, I grabbed the bag to check the ingredients because I was thinking I need to make up a batch of this stuff myself. Rolled oats, zante currants, lemon extract, butter…..

Who puts butter in granola!!?!!??

In honor of Earth Day today, I made myself a Green Tea Smoothie after a grueling session with my trainer.

Green Tea Smoothie
serves 2

¼ cup green tea, cooled (I used a wonderful Acai Green Tea)
1 cup fresh strawberries
½ medium banana
1 T. agave nectar
lots of ice cubes

Blend all together until smooth and enjoy!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Black Foods

I’ve been plagued by seasonal allergies lately. The weather has been beautiful and I’m trying to enjoy spending time with my family while my sister is here visiting. We’re keeping my mom company and helping her take care of things around the house. I was in charge of salads for the three of us on Saturday night, and as I was loading the food into the car to take over, I thought to myself, This is how you can tell I don’t feel good. All my food is black!

I was asked to bring my Black Bean Salad which everyone loves and I’ve made a hundred times, but here’s another look. This one has black beans, yellow corn, orange bell pepper, purple onion, tomatoes, and cilantro. It’s much better with an avocado too, but we had eaten all we had on hand so it didn’t make it into this salad.

The second salad was Black Rice and Chickpea Salad. This salad also has green onions, sunflower seeds, and chopped dried apricots and is seasoned with a mustard vinaigrette and some cumin. This was really tasty.

I brought sweet treats too! In keeping with my black mood, I made Double Chocolate Mini Muffins. These are a test recipe for Happy Herbivore, so I’ll just let you look.

See, all black!
I've also made a couple of other test recipes for HH – yummy Maple Glazed Veggies

… and super fabulous Apple Oat Muffins. I think they were even more delicious the second day!

One more treat – Celine’s Oreo Cookie Cookies. Mmmmmmmmmm! A HUGE hit! I heart all of Celine’s recipes. I especially heart this one because she adapted it from Anna.

I have one more day to spend with my mom and sister, then my sister goes home early Tuesday morning. Thanks for coming, Sister. It’s been great having you here and especially great for our Mom!

I’ll be back later in the week with a few pictures from our Saturday farmers market/Earth Day Celebration!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Three Cookies

I baked three batches of cookies recently. All were delicious. One was easy to prepare, and the other two required a bit more skill, time, and patience.

Cookie No. 1 - the easiest and probably my favorite.

No Bake Peanut Butter & Popcorn Crispies

In a medium heavy saucepan over low heat combine:
½ cup creamy peanut butter
½ cup brown rice syrup
2 cups cornflakes
1 cup popped popcorn
1 cup toasted shredded coconut

Bring just to a boil, stirring constantly until combined, then add in the cornflakes, popcorn, and coconut. Turn heat to very low. Drop big spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and let cool. (You really couldn’t taste the coconut in these cookies. I think you could sub in cornflake or popcorn crumbs instead and save your coconut for another treat.)

These were so peanutty delicious with a fun popcorn flavor and crispy flakes for a great texture contrast.

Cookie No. 2 – medium difficulty, and my new favorite non-chocolate cookie.

Citrus Ribbon Cookies

The only veganizing needed for this recipe is to replace the egg. You should only us Ener-G egg replacer. Anything else will interfere with the delicate flavor of the citrus. As you can see from my picture, I used a flax egg and that was wrong wrong wrong.

A bit of skill is required to evenly divide your dough into equal thirds, flavor and tint it, and then pat it into even layers in a loaf pan. Your cookies will turn out prettier and be much easier to mold if you wait to make these until your son returns your clear glass loaf pan instead of prepping them “blind” in a metal bread pan as I had to do; hence, the rather uneven layers.

Oh, well, I still couldn’t wait to bake these. Here’s how they looked after slicing and ready to go into the oven.

Even though the flax flavor was strong, once I got past that (which I really didn’t mind) the citrus flavors, layer by layer, came through very nicely. These cookies would be perfect for bridal or baby showers, Mother’s Day, or any sort of spring fling party. Oh, the cookie at the front of the plate was made with leftover dough all mushed together. You could just make all tie-dye cookies!

Cookie No. 3 – so time consuming and so messy I vowed never to make them again. Until I tasted them.

MSV Turtle Shortbread Wedges

I guess I actually made Goober Shortbread Wedges because I used peanuts instead of pecans (I’m not a fan). These cookies are insanely delicious. My whole family went crazy for them. I have dreamed of making a vegan Snickers, my favorite candy bar that I can’t remember the last time I tasted. These cookies are probably as close as I could ever hope to get. You definitely should make these, but there are a few points to consider.

1. It took much longer to make these than the recipe seems to indicate. The candy topping takes 30 minutes or more to reach 300 degrees; the recipe says 5 – 7 minutes, then until done. I hardly ever make candy so I wasn’t expecting it to take so long.

2. The recipe states that when the cookie is finally done, you should wait 20 minutes before cutting into wedges. When I took these pictures it was nearly midnight and I had waited an hour, so I had to go ahead and cut. But you can see it’s still not completely set.

3. It will take you a good half hour to clean up. Hot candy cools and solidifies on anything it touches and is extremely difficult to remove. You will have to clean up rock-hard glued-on clumps of sticky sugar from the stovetop, spoon rest, pot you cooked in, sink, countertop, floor, and anywhere else it may have dripped. (I’m still finding spots on the floor!)

4. My biggest issue when I read through the recipe was which type of baking pan to use. The recipe said to use an 8-inch round cake pan. I couldn’t imagine turning out or sliding out delicate shortbread with a soft topping. I decided to use a disposable 8-1/2 inch pan I had on hand. To remove the cookie, I cut the sides of the pan and folded them out flat, then carefully slid the whole cookie out. A cheesecake pan would work even better, as my pan was so full with the liquidy candy topping I was nervous moving it in and out of the oven.

But like I said, it’s definitely worth the time and mess to make these goodies at least once!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Salads, Soul Burgers & a Tester

I worked really hard on our Sunday night salads. For our main dish I made Texas Quinoa Salad, which is inspired by a recipe from Texas chef Paula Disbrowe.

I think it’s absolutely beautiful and it tastes fresh and fabulous. It was a little time consuming to prepare, but my recipe shortcuts some of the chef’s steps. I hope you will take the time to make this tasty salad.

Texas Quinoa Salad

1 cup quinoa
2 cups vegetable broth
1 can red beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup salsa verde
salt & pepper
half of a medium cucumber, sliced thinly
half of a small red onion, sliced thinly
1 red bell pepper, sliced thinly
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced thinly
3 green onions, sliced thinly
half of a lime

Dry roast the quinoa in a sauce pan. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 15 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed. Set aside to cool. When cool, add the salsa and beans.

Spread onto a large platter and garnish with all the veggies. Finish with cilantro and a good squeeze of the lime.

Another fantastic salad I made was Roasted New Potato and Asparagus Salad. This recipe was also quite time consuming, but again, worth the effort.

I didn’t know what one of the dressing ingredients was – runny honey – and I didn’t have the suggested apple concentrate to substitute, so I just used agave nectar. Chase kept asking how I got the potatoes to taste so good. I got lucky, I guess!

I’ve had my eye on Vegan Addict’s Blackeyed Pea Soul Burgers ever since she posted them. How lucky was I to find another burger with broccoli in it?!!

These are super delish, just as I knew they would be. (I had to sub carrots for the mushrooms because Chase is a hater, but VA says you can use any veggies you want. I also used oat flour to keep them gluten free.) If you don’t make the burger, at least make the fabulous spice mix that’s added to the burger. It’s what gives the burgers soul! I made 4 giant patties instead of 6 (cuz we’re pigs) and baked the patties 20 minutes each side. Look at these beauties!

AND, I’ve signed on to test recipes for Happy Herbivore. My first tester was Crispy Chickenless Nuggets. Nuggets are kid friendly and kids of any age will enjoy these. I know Chase was looking forward to eating these all day. He was not disappointed. He absolutely loved them. He didn’t even want any dip for them! I think he ate six and was thrilled to have a bagful to take home.

I had a Soul Burger and salads for my dinner plate. I love meals full of color.

We also had two kinds of cookies for dessert, but I’m saving those for a post later in the week. My sister will be here Tuesday and stay a week, so there probably won’t be a Sunday dinner next week to write about. But please stop back by later for cookies!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Rawtatouille and Raw Treats

The editor of Texas Monthly magazine was interviewed recently on radio after a brief hail storm one morning. He commented that he drove through hail the “size of edamame.” Oh, boy, he caught a bunch of flack for that! Listeners thought it made Austin sound too frou frou. I thought it sounded very veggie and I love it!

Anyway… Earlier this week I made Raw Ratatouille from an e-recipe I got from Chef Jason at Vegan Culinary Experience. He actually calls it “Ratatouille Diablo,” but with only 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne, this Texas lady didn’t find it worthy of that name. However, it was super simple to make and yet another way for me to try to enjoy eggplant. I diced eggplant, onion, bell pepper, carrots, yellow squash, zucchini, tomatoes, and garlic, then put it in a big bowl and sprinkled the mixture with salt. I weighted it down and let it sit for a couple of hours to draw out moisture.

The next step was to drain the veggies, reserving the liquid to add back in after rinsing, but I wound up with LOTS of drainage!

There was no way I was putting all that salty liquid back in. It would have become raw salty soup. So I just put back in a tablespoon, and then added the spices – thyme, fennel, fresh basil, paprika, and cayenne. The flavor was excellent and I have enjoyed eating this, even the eggplant.

I found a couple of new products recently. First, “Baking Dates.”

Very smooth and really sweet.

I thought this was a great find, like I wouldn’t have to goop up my food pro, and that may be true for certain recipes, but not for the raw treats I made. I chopped up raw cashews in the processor and poured them into a bowl. I then added in an equal amount of the dates, but just wasn’t able to stir it. So I ended up putting it in the food pro after all. I took out that mixture and added in my two favorite ingredients for raw treats – cacao nibs and goji berries.

Lastly, a really nice find, which happens to violate my “never drink your calories” rule – Coconut Water.

Pure coconut water in a tetrapak, the smoothest drink of water I’ve ever had. It’s supposed to be the best rehydrator for your body and also great for your skin. It’s actually only 60 calories for 11 ounces, and with all the beneficial nutrients I get from it, I’ll make an exception to my rule for this stuff!