Posts Tagged pasta

Team ASPCA Raffle & Dinners for Busy People

It’s been a while since I wrote anything here about my regular, every day eats.  I have been cooking (and of course eating) but I’ve also been extremely busy, so my meals have had to be more of the simple and quick variety.

My current project is that I’m training for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Los Angeles Half Marathon with Team ASPCAThe ASPCA’s mission is to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States, a mission close to my heart.  I’m really happy to be a part of Team ASPCA and honored to be raising both awareness and funding to support the ASPCA’s programs!

As part of my fundraising, I’m hosting a raffle!  Head on over to the Raffle Page and check it out!  The list of prizes is really awesome, if I do say so myself, with an estimated value of over $1,100.  There are over 30 great prizes to be won, and you can enter for as little as a $5 donation!  To entice you, here’s a pile of some of the prizes, just waiting to be shipped.  The bottom right box might be of particular interest to some people…

Please check out the Raffle Page on The Vegan Weight Watcher and consider donating to The ASPCA!  The deadline to enter for the first drawing is this Friday, September 14th, at 12PM noon PDT.

I started running around July of last year, and have been training for one race or another ever since.  Between working full time, training, and other obligations, I don’t have much time to cook, but on the other hand, I need healthy meals to fuel my training.  So, I’ve turned to a few particular cookbooks and fast meals to get by.

First up, Appetite for Reduction by Isa Chandra Moskowitz.  I posted a review here and more photos here, and this continues to be my go-to for flavorful and balanced meals that don’t take a long time.  The book has an index of recipes that are ready in under 30 minutes, which makes it even easier to pick out quick meals.

This is Goddess Nicoise Salad.  I don’t normally love olives but liked them in this, and the cooked green beans and potatoes made it feel hearty enough to be a full meal.

Thai Roasted Root Vegetable Curry is the perfect way to use fall CSA produce.

Pasta con Broccoli may look a little dry, but it’s actually quite flavorful and moist.  I added chickpeas to round out the meal, as the author suggests.

With only about 20 minutes active cooking time involved, Kidney Bean & Butternut Jamba Stew is a delicious, spicy meal in a bowl.

Forty-Clove Broccoli & Chickpeas and Colipots was really intensely delicious, but not as filling as I had hoped.

Fusilli Roasted Vegetable Primavera teaches you a great way to make a flavorful summer pasta without too much effort.  I added mushrooms and chickpeas, and wouldn’t make it again without.

Quick Fix Vegan by Robin Robertson is a cookbook which is geared specifically toward speedy vegan meals.  Luckily, most of the recipes are relatively healthy too, with plenty of veggies.  Looking through the index, there are plenty more recipes from this book that I want to try!

The Roasted Asparagus Soup gets its creaminess from potato and non-dairy milk.  The soup was delicious, but I thought it missed some of the asparagus flavor by adding the other ingredients.  On the side, I made a quick potato, corn, and black bean hash.

Barbecue Pinto and Portobello is like a souped up version of baked beans, with a fast homemade barbecue sauce.  It’s intended to be a sandwich filling, but in an effort to keep it a little more light, I had the beans on their own with a side of coleslaw pasta salad.

This Indonesian Vegetable and Tofu Scramble was a great way to use up all the bok choy I receive from the CSA.  Adding hoisin sauce and ground coriander made it really different from other scrambles.  On the side is chili-lime roasted sweet potatoes.

Tropical Quinoa and Black Beans develops the flavor of the islands in a short amount of time.  I served it over steamed kale, topped by pumpkin seeds, which were nice textural contrasts.

Since I’m also watching my budget, I turn to Vegan on the Cheap by Robin Robertson as well.  The recipes tend to rely on fresh vegetables a little less than I like, which is understandable based on the title, but I have found a few good ones so far and plan to try out more.

The mix of sweet and spicy in this Moroccan-Inspired Lentil Soup was great.  I served the thick soup over grits.

I added some chipotle chili powder to this Southwestern Black Bean and Corn Chowder, rendering it spicier than expected, but it was still quite delicious topped with avocado and served with sprouted blue corn tortilla chips and steamed broccoli.

I really like raw foods during the summer months, both for their speed and simplicity.  One book I’ve really been enjoying is Practically Raw by Amber Shea Crawley.  Some of the recipes require time or dehydrating, yes, but many of them are really quick and accessible.

The Deconstructed Sushi Bowl was a really fun way to enjoy sushi without cooking rice and bothering to roll anything.  Since the meal was mostly vegetables, I bulked it up by adding edamame and a quick spicy sauce.  I’ll write a full review of Practically Raw once I’ve had the chance to try more recipe!

These Gingery Sunflower Seed, Cabbage, and Red Apple Rolls from Choosing Raw were simple and delicious!  I wrapped mine in collard leaves instead of the nori sheets, just because that’s what I had, and the sweet apples were a great contrast to the bitter greens.

One obvious time saver is the slow cooker, which I don’t utilize nearly often enough.  Maybe once the weather turns cool again I’ll yearn for more stew-like, comforting dishes.

Here’s a non-soup recipe from The Vegan Slow Cooker by Kathy Hester, Sweet Potato Enchilada Casserole.  You layer corn tortillas and sweet potatoes with canned enchlada sauce and beans.  The recipe called for one can of beans and vegan chorizo, but I used two cans of beans instead to try to keep it a little more whole-foods oriented.  I topped the casserole with a little slaw and salsa verde that we happened to have in the fridge, and served roasted brussels sprouts on the side.

Slow cooker minestrone, adapted from this recipe, with leeks, yelllow squash, zucchini, lima beans, green beans, swiss chard, and quinoa pasta.

I LOVE salads for summertime meals.  I’ve been known to use an entire head of lettuce for an entree-sized salad!

Kale salad with avocado, blood orange and chipotle-ginger tempeh.  Since the tempeh was the only cooked component, this one came together quickly.

Black bean, zucchini and corn fajita salad with salsa and Daiya Jack style wedges.  I really like the new Daiya wedges!

Reuben-ish salad with lettuce, carrot, celery, dill pickle, roasted chickpeas, sauerkraut, bacon bits, sunflower seeds, and Healthy Thousand Island Dressing from Eat to Live.

Blackened seitan salad with cusabi dressing.  The seitan was broiled with the blackened seasoning mix from Appetite for Reduction, and the cusabi dressing was a first stab at veganizing the cucumber-wasabi dressing that turned out okay, but not great.

Kale salad with red cabbage, carrot, edamame, tahini dressing, and sesame seeds.  Shredded red cabbage in kale salad is my favorite!

And, of course, the easiest way to make quick meals is to have some cooking knowledge and experience up your sleeve so that you can throw something together from what’s in the fridge that turns out edible!

Sesame-tangerine soy curls with bok choy, bean sprouts and brown rice.

Red curry lentil stew with wild rice, brown rice and spinach.

Clean-out-the-fridge tofu scramble with shallot, mushrooms, tomato, broccoli, shredded carrot, alfalfa sprouts and leftover grilled potatoes.

Socca with herbed white beans, Daiya mozzarella, and balsamic roasted carrots and raddichio.  Socca is the best, you just mix equal parts chickpea flour and water, a pinch of salt, and a little olive oil if you want, then cook it like crepes!

Broiled tofu and roasted cabbage over brown rice with dulse flakes and sesame seeds.

And lastly, the SUPER simple.  I can’t tell you how many times over the past year I’ve come home from a workout and warmed up a veggie burger because it’s all I could muster!

Tofurky and hummus, my very favorite sandwich!

Grits, canned refried beans, salsa and pickled jalapeno.

Grilled Daiya mozzarella sandwich with tomato-miso-leek soup.

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VeganMoFo: Vegan on the Cheap

I learned about some of the recipes in Robin Robertson’s Vegan On The Cheap by seeing them on the blog Two Vegan Boys.  All of the dishes looked really tasty, so I bought the book and gave a few recipes a try.  I’m not on as strict a budget as I have been at some points of my life, but I still try to keep my grocery bill to a reasonable amount, so I liked the idea of choosing recipes specifically for the low cost.

One thing that this book has going for it is that the recipes are generally hearty, comforting and filling.  This is a great quality, but for someone who’s watching their portions and calorie intake, it can make recipe selection a little more complicated.  Many of them are higher in carbs than I usually prefer, and I like to bulk up my plate with veggies.  So, I picked recipes that worked best for me, lowered the amount of oils called for, and supplemented with veggie side dishes.

These are Mu Shu Burritos, and for a recipe with so few ingredients it was really delicious.  The main seasoning is hoisin sauce, which helped with the depth of flavor.  (Whole Foods has an organic house brand of vegetarian hoisin which I like.)  The recipe calls for seitan but I used soy curls because I already had some in the pantry.  What could be more cheap than food that’s already in the pantry?  The texture of the cooked cabbage was a nice contrast to the soy curls.  I served my burritos with a little chopped broccoli salad seasoned with rice vinegar and sweet chili sauce.

I served up the Three Bean Loaf with beets and roasted brussels sprouts.  The loaf was held together by bread crumbs, oats and vital wheat gluten, and it actually loafed!  The beans and binders were combined with carrot, celery, ketchup, soy sauce, mustard, brown sugar and cider vinegar, and the combination of sweet, savory and tangy flavors was mouth watering.

The Peanutty Pumpkin Stew was a meal unto itself.  The broth was thickened with canned pumpkin and peanut butter, and other ingredients included carrot, potato, tomato, curry powder, kidney beans and green chiles.  I added a pinch of cayenne powder for a little bit of heat.  The thick/chunky texture may not be pleasing to some, but it really worked for me.  Most of the ingredients could be already found in your pantry and vegetable crisper.  To get some green in my meal, I steamed some kale and mixed it into the soup.

This Blushing Alfredo Fettuccine was the perfect way to use up a partial jar of marinara that was lingering in the fridge.  The sauce includes your typical vegan alfredo ingredients such as cashews, silken tofu and nutritional yeast, but you pump up the flavor even more by starting with sauteed onions and garlic.  I served the sauce over shirataki noodles, which are tofu based, very low-cal noodles.  They’re not amazing, but I do like to use them instead of pasta sometimes so that I can have a big dish of food without lots of calories.  I topped the noodles and sauce with roasted cauliflower, baked tempeh and fresh parsley.

I really enjoyed every recipe I’ve tried from Vegan On The Cheap so far.  The recipes and techniques are solid, the flavor combinations are familiar yet tempting, and the recipes live up to the book title’s promise by costing less at the grocery store, and using up some pantry items if you plan well.

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Cruciferous Calzones

After I made the Lasagna with Roasted Cauliflower Ricotta from Appetite For Reduction, I was immensely curious to see how the cauliflower ricotta would hold up in other applications, specifically a calzone.

For the crust I used this recipe for Pumpkin Pizza Crust, substituting sweet potato puree for the pumpkin.  You can’t tell from the photo, but the crust was pretty orange.  The flavor of the crust was good, but it was a little too puffy for calzones.

For the filling I mixed the cauliflower ricotta with blanched broccoli florets and some shredded mozzarella Daiya.  I really liked how the filing turned out, and the meltiness of the Daiya gave it a cheesy authenticity.  It did taste cruciferous though…I wouldn’t recommend this meal to someone who doesn’t love broccoli and cauliflower.

I had some of the filling leftover, so I baked it with brown rice pasta and marinara.  Pasta bake!

Side notes:

- I started another blog, The Vegan Weight Watcher, which will chronicle my adventures with weight loss and fitness.  I’ll be writing short posts every day-ish, and the content will be a lot more personal, as weight loss topics tends to be.  Check it out if you like!  I’ll keep writing here as well, talking more about food and cooking, and occasionally posting recipes.

- I’m going to Portland next weekend for Vida Vegan Con!  I’m giving consideration to the idea of live blogging using my phone, but I feel like the event might be busy and intense enough without trying to blog constantly too.  However I report it, I’m sure there will be hundreds of other accounts around the web.

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Mendocino Birthday

My birthday was this weekend, and I asked Dave to take me to Mendocino as my present.  We only went for one day and one night, so we didn’t have a whole lot of time to sight see, but we had a great time and ate some excellent food.  Despite living in the bay area for over two years now, I haven’t spent much time in the north bay, which is really something I should remedy!

Mendocino is a good three and a half hour drive from home, on quite possibly the windiest road I have ever driven.  By the time we arrived, we were starving.  Thanks to a timely post on Vegansaurus, I knew just where to go.  We pulled into the tiny town of Mendocino and parked right in front of The Mendocino Cafe.

I took it as a good sign that they had my favorite flower, alstroemeria, on the table.

As suggested in the Vegansaurus post, I ordered the Thai Burrito with tofu.  I thought the whole bush of cilantro on top was an interesting touch!  This didn’t taste authentically Thai per say, but maybe “California Thai”, by which I mean the blend of flavors suggested Thai food.  The inside was stuffed with onion, zucchini, red pepper, celery, brown rice, sauteed tofu and peanut sauce, and it was served with the most delicious chili sauce.  I also had a glass of malbec, because when it’s your birthday and you’re in Mendocino, you can have wine with lunch.  This was a tasty and filling lunch, and the service was very friendly, and I would definitely return to the Mendocino Cafe.

After lunch we wandered around a bit, and came across this health food store, Corners of the Mouth, which appears to inhabit what used to be a church.  The store was small, but had a good bulk section and lots of healthy staples, including plenty of vegan stuff.

I bought both powdered and flaked dulse from Mendocino Sea Vegetable Company.  I love dulse!

We settled in to Patterson’s Pub for a while to watch the end of the A’s game.

I believe this was Dave’s favorite part of the trip…

After checking in to our room and resting for a bit, we headed for the main attraction – dinner at Raven’s Restaurant.  Raven’s was the reason I chose Mendocino; it’s a fully vegan, gourmet restaurant in the Stanford Inn, about two minutes south of Mendocino.  If we could’ve afforded it, we would’ve just stayed at the inn, but…the rooms are a little pricey.

The Stanford Inn grounds have a wonderful garden, with lots of vegetables and edible flowers and other pretty plants.

giant fennel!

giant chard!

There was also a llama and two horses, which sadly I did not get close enough to pet.  I think the llama might have spit at me, anyway.

We arrived a bit early and enjoyed a local beer by the fireplace.  The restaurant is fully vegan, and not afraid to show it!  They had a host of vegan books on sale in the lobby, including some health-related books.

local wines

The Stanford Inn is very dog-friendly.  I watched this little guy while we waited for our table.

Amuse bouche (so fancy!) -  sweet rice balls with some sort of tamari sauce.  These were delicious, and tasted of charred onion in a good way.  Dave was abhorred when I ate the leaf underneath.  I’m pretty sure it was just a shiso leaf!

The wine list tells you what is vegan!  This is a very cool feature that I’ve never seen anywhere else.

I chose the Meyer Family Cellars Syrah, and liked it a lot.  I’m a sucker for a good shiraz.

Appetizer #1 – Spicy King “Crab” Roll, made of mushrooms, with spicy sauce and cucumber salad.  The bigger pieces without sauce were okay, but the pieces with spicy sauce were outstanding.  Before I went vegan, I would order veggie sushi just to have something to dip in spicy sauce, and it had been a long time since I had it!  Dave was again abhorred when I ate the little flower on the plate.  I told him they wouldn’t put anything on the plate that wasn’t edible, but I guess he’s not into the idea of eating flowers.  It tasted nice!  Tasted like you would expect a flower to taste.

Appetizer #2 – Crab(less) cake with some sort of tangy sauce, fried capers and arugula.  (The menu changes seasonally, so I don’t remember exactly what the sauce was, but it was delicious!)  There were whole oyster mushrooms in the cakes, which gave it an interesting texture.  The only small thing I would change for this dish would be to lightly dress the arugula, since it was a little dry.  Very minor complaint!

My entree – potato gratin with maple-glazed vegetables and oyster mushrooms.  Dave was flabbergasted that carrots come in a color other than orange!  Damned if I don’t know what the sauce on top of the potatoes was, but I could’ve dove into a pool of it and eaten my way out.  There was a green puree under the potatoes that you can’t really see, which was a nice counterpoint to the potatoes and sauce.

Dave’s entree – house-made ravioli with some sort of squash filling, cashew alfredo sauce, kale, leek and mushrooms.  This sauce was really amazing too!  Raven’s really knows what they’re doing with those creamy sauces.

For dessert, we chose the bananas foster, which came with house-made chocolate, vanilla and strawberry ice creams.  The chocolate and strawberry ice creams were outstanding.

I would highly recommend Raven’s Restaurant.  Even Dave, who doesn’t always love vegan food, said he really enjoyed the meal, and was stuffed by the end of it.  The food was fantastic, the setting was beautiful and relaxing, and the service was impeccable.  I can only hope that some day I get to choose from the breakfast menu!  And pet the llama.

After a good night’s sleep, we headed south, stopping at The Little River Inn for brunch.

More alstroemeria!

I ordered the Vegan Rancheros, which is corn tortillas with black beans, spinach, green onion, peppers, chiles, pico de gallo and avocado.  There’s another corn tortilla under that pile of green.  This was very, very tasty, but unfortunately not as filling as I had hoped.  Regardless, I never complain about finding a vegan menu item at a non-vegan restaurant, and they had soy milk for the coffee, which is always a bonus.

I’ll leave you with a few pictures of the scenery.  By the way, I haven’t forgotten about my 31 by 31.  I’ll post a roundup soon, then get to working on 32 by 32!

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Food For Sports

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you probably know that Dave and I like sports – we like inviting people over to watch sports, and we love going to games!  Here are some foods that we ate while watching or preparing to watch sports.

Our friend Tom is a biiiiig Green Bay Packers fan, so we were very excited for their final playoff game against the Bears.  (Yes, all the way back in January.)  We had some friends over and observed what we’re told is a Green Bay tradition.  Apparently, Packers fans bring chili to their tailgates, then mix all the chilis together in a giant pot.  We didn’t have a pot big enough to hold all the chilis, so we just mixed them in our bowls.  Well…everyone else mixed them, I just ate my vegan chili.

For an attempt at authenticity, I based mine on this recipe for Wisconsin Chili.  I used soy crumbles instead of meat, and the only other major change I made was to saute the vegetables before adding the rest of the ingredients.  This was a simple chili, and very tasty!  Even the meat eaters liked it.

I topped my bowl of hot chili with some shredded cheddar Teese.

Oh, yes I did.  I made a chili cheese dog, and it was amazing.  Carbs on carbs, mmmmm…

Imagine our delight when the Packers won and advanced to the Super Bowl!  Naturally, we had friends over for a Super Bowl party.  Aaron Rodgers vs. Ben Roethlisberger, to me, was practically good vs. evil, so I was rooting for the Packers big time.

Jake greeted our guests by the door.

I made a seven layer dip a la this post, and served it with Trader Joe’s Corn Chip Dippers, which are awesome.  I also put out some TJ’s Trek Mix with chocolate, which is also awesome.  All on a green tablecloth, of course.

Dave was preparing some sort of meat with baked beans and mac n cheese, so I put together a similar plate.

Buffalo Tempeh from Appetite for Reductions.  SO GOOD.  I will be making this again and again.

Mac and Trees, no trees, also from Appetite for Reductions.  I put some breadcrumbs on top and baked (overbaked) it.  Also so good!

Fantastic football dinner!

I made a Packers cookie cake!  Toward the end of the third quarter, when the Steelers were threatening to mount a comeback, we decided we needed to “consume the power of the Packers” in order to help, and we dug in.  Cookie cakes are always loved.  After The Great Cookie Cake Catastrophe of 2008, when I dropped a blob of icing on the top of the N in NY, I was very careful with the frosting, and so happy with how it turned out!  To make a cookie cake, I just prepare the chocolate chip cookie recipe from Vegan With A Vengeance then press the whole thing onto a round pan covered with foil, and bake maybe a bit longer than the recipe calls for.  The edges get chewy but the middle stays nice and gooey.  The topping is just regular buttercream; I used the recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.

I like to believe that the cookie cake aided the Pack in the win.  After football was over, we had nothing to do other than look forward to baseball season.  For the first baseball tailgate, we needed a cold side dish to go with some barbecue, and I went with potato salad.

I don’t think a picture of potato salad can really ever do potato salad justice, because this potato salad was super duper delicious.  I started with Betty Crocker’s recipe for Creamy Potato Salad and replaced the mayo with half regular Vegenaise, and half low-fat.  I left out the egg, obviously, and added some relish and fresh chopped dill.  You can never have enough fresh dill.

Perfect meal for eating in a parking lot – potato salad, grilled mushrooms and barbecue tofu.

I wanted to make a special dessert for our first tailgate of the season, and I had a crazy idea about making something with Cracker Jacks.  I googled it, and found out that rather than baking with Cracker Jacks, I could make cookies that taste like Crackers Jacks.

I veganized this Cracker Jack Cookie recipe, swapping out egg replacer for the eggs and using organic brown rice cereal instead of Rice Krispies.  I also added peanuts, because what good are Cracker Jacks without the peanuts?  Somehow, the cookies actually did taste a little like Cracker Jacks.  I don’t like shredded sweetened coconut at all, but it was fine in this cookie since there were so many textures going on.  The cookies spread a little more than I would like, so I want to make these cookies again with more binder, and I’ll post a recipe once it’s perfected.

Finally, I know the Kentucky Derby isn’t very vegan, but its official drink is.  Dave is a fan of horse racing, so he invited a few friends over for the derby and we mixed up some mint juleps.

Apparently there are a few different ways to make a mint julep, but I followed the recipe on the derby website.  It’s super easy.  You just make a simple syrup and chill it with fresh mint, then strain out the mint.  Put ice in a glass, add syrup, whiskey and fresh mint, and sip!  Seriously though, sip.  This is one strong beverage.

We don’t have highball glasses or julep cups, so we drank ours out of half-pint mason jars.  We’re classy like that.

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Appetite For Reduction – Review & Giveaway

When I first heard about Appetite For Reduction, Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s latest cookbook, I knew it would be right up my alley.  The recipes are similar to how I usually cook – whole foods, high flavor, low fat and calories.  I bought the book a few weeks before Christmas and having been cooking from it since.  Most of the recipes I’ve chosen so far have been based on what has been in my CSA deliveries, and there are a lot more recipes I look forward to trying.

Broiled Blackened Tofu.  You just coat the tofu with the spice mix and broil it.  Simple and tasty!

Butternut Coconut Rice.  Mixing in mashed butternut squash is a smart way to make rice yummy and coconutty without adding a lot of fat.  The only thing I would change with this recipe is to dice the shallot instead of slicing it, because the long slices were  kind of weird compared to the texture of the rest of the dish.

Pineapple Collards.  This maybe doesn’t look too appealing because my ginger was stringy, but the flavor is great.  I just wish I had used more collards, because the pineapple/garlic/ginger combo was a little overpowering.  Plus, I wanted to eat more of it.

All packed up to take for lunch.

Curried Cabbage & Peas, served with quinoa.  The texture on these veggies was great – they were cooked enough to be tender, but still have a bite to them.  The curry flavor isn’t incredibly complex, but the dish comes together really quickly, so I’m not complaining!

Not from AFR – I ate this Romanesco Carrot Salad with the curried cabbage.  The recipe was in my CSA’s newsletter, and it was a nice way to use the romanesco.

Irish Stew with Potatoes & Seitan.  This was a bust for me, but not due to the recipe.  I used the steamed white seitan from Viva Vegan, and even after being sauteed the seitan was squishy like raw dough, and really unpleasant to eat.  I’ve heard about other people having trouble with the seitan recipe, and also others who have had success, so perhaps it was just me.  I picked all the seitan out, and the stew was pretty good.

Tempeh Helper.  This is one I was really excited about.  The recipe is posted here, on The PPK blog.  This is super good!  It tastes like junk food from a box, but isn’t junky at all.  I was skeptical about the technique – you cook the pasta and other ingredients in a pan with a smaller amount of water than normal – but it worked out well.  The pasta came out al dente, and the water cooked off without the dish getting dry.  Next time I want to crumble the tempeh more finely so it’s spread throughout the dish.

The Gravy Bowl, slightly modified.  I know how to put together a “bowl” on my own, but the suggestions in the three-page bowl section are good when you’re looking for something easy to throw together.  Brown rice, baked tofu, steamed kale and collards and silky chickpea gravy.  The gravy is not as flavor-intensive as some gravies, but for a gravy made with 1 teaspoon of oil it’s darned good.

Sushi Roll Edamame Salad.  I’m no stranger to the sushi salad.  I had tried this salad previously at a potluck, so I knew how good it was, which is why I was surprised that mine didn’t taste as good.  I think I put too much green onion in the dressing (maybe my onions were particularly strong), and then added more as garnish, and the onion overpowered the whole thing.  Less green onion next time, and it will be great.

Orange-Scented Broccoli, which I served alongside the sushi salad.  This one was not my favorite; it tasted like ginger, garlic, broccoli and orange separately, as opposed to coming together as one big flavor.  It was more cohesive as leftovers the next day, after the flavors had a chance to meld.  Still, next time I would probably just steam the broccoli.

Morrocan Chickpeas & Zucchini served with Caulipots.  I used some early-season, tender zucchini in this dish.  The flavor in this soup is fantastic.  It’s really easy to make, and turns out with a really wonderful spiciness throughout.  The caulipots (mashed potatoes made partly with cauliflower) were a nice, creamy counterpart.  I looked forward to eating these leftovers each day.

Butternut-Apple Soup and Fresh Corn & Scallion Cornbread.  Sadly, this soup was another dud for me.  It’s not a bad recipe by any means, just a matter of taste.  I think I’m learning that I just don’t like apples in soup.  The cornbread was nice dipped in the soup, and the whole corn kernels made for good texture.

Lastly for today, Yam & Black Bean Soup with Orange & Cilantro.  I wasn’t expecting anything amazing from this recipe, so I was pleasantly surprised that it tastes amazing!  The simple ingredients combine to make one wonderfully tasty soup.  The two serrano peppers really turn up the heat, and the orange juice keeps it fresh.  I baked some corn tortilla chips for dipping.

Considering how much I’ve enjoyed the recipes I’ve made so far, this might be the first cookbook that I end up making almost every recipe from.

Luckily for you guys, my mom is an excellent present-buyer.  She also knew that I would love AFR, and bought me a copy for Christmas, which I am now passing on to one of you!  And, I got the book signed when I had the pleasure of attending a cooking demo that Isa did a few weeks ago.  She made the Thai Roasted Root Vegetable Curry and Sweet Potato Drop Biscuits, both of which I now want to make myself.

To enter to win this copy of Appetite For Reduction, leave a comment on this post with a healthy cooking tip.  It doesn’t have to be anything complicated, just any tip for cooking healthy vegan food.  The contest will be open until midnight PST this Wednesday, March 9, and I’ll pick a comment at random.  Please be sure to include your e-mail address (unless I’m able to find it by following a link to your blog).  I’ll be back on Thursday to announce the winner and show you a few more recipes I’ve made from AFR.  Good luck!

PS – I should mention that this is open to residents of the US and Canada only.  Sorry, everyone else!  If shipping was less costly, I would love to send it around the world!

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Vegan MoFo and September CSA’s – Simple Food


I bit the bullet and signed up for VeganMoFo.  To be honest, I’m excited but dreading the work and extra time it’s going to take to blog more often, but in the end I’m sure it will be worth it.  My goal is to blog at least every weekday.

If you’re unfamiliar with VeganMoFo, this oughta explain it:  http://veganmofo.wordpress.com/about/

VeganMoFo Headquarters will post roundups and updates, and this dedicated forum at The PPK will provide lively discussion and inspiration.

My plan for November is such:

Week One – Random but interesting posts to get caught up and eased in.
Week Two – Other bloggers’ recipes.  I read so many food blogs with so many good recipes but never get around to making them, so I’ve picked five of my favorite blogs and will prepare their recipes.
Week Three – Vegetarian Times week.  I’ve subscribed to VT for over five years, and I read regularly but rarely make any of their recipes.  I’ve picked out meals from the October or November issue of VT from the last five years.
Week Four – Flavor Bible Challenge.  The Flavor Bible is a big book which lists flavor matches for tons of different ingredients, so to get my creative juices flowing I flipped to five random pages and will make a dish with a match from that page that is either unusual or something I’ve never paired.  I haven’t decided yet whether I’ll adapt recipes or create my own, or both.

My criteria for choosing MoFo recipes is essentially that they fit the way I eat, which is seasonal, relatively low-cal/low-fat, and not ridiculously time-consuming.

Also, you must be living under a rock if you’re a vegan blogger who doesn’t know about this yet, but the first vegan blogger conference, Vida Vegan, is taking place in Portland next August.  I haven’t registered yet but plan on doing so as soon as possible.  I can’t wait to visit Portland for the first time!

On to the food!

9-9-10 CSA:  fingerling potatoes, broccoli, zucchini, radishes, basil and lettuce

pears, tomatoes, purple peppers, plums, cantaloupe

The first thing I did with those fresh veggies was a big salad for lunch.  This one had lettuce, cucumber, radish, tomato, purple peppers, and an herbed balsamic vinaigrette heavy on the dried oregano.

I wanted to use the zucchini raw, and I had what I thought was the great idea to blend it with the basil and some silken tofu to make a pasta sauce.  I don’t know which ingredient was the culprit, but it turned out bitter and not that good.  Thank goodness I added marinara and vegan parmesan to the whole wheat penne, which saved my dinner!

One day, I craved a big ol’ veggie plate.  Roasted fingerlings, seasoned tomato, steamed squash and black eyed peas with onion, turnips, turnip greens, some other sort of green, and some liquid smoke.  The plate was perfectly tasty and filling.

9-23-10 CSA:  grapes, bok choy, radishes, honeydew and fennel

turnips, basil, swiss chard, pears, peppers and tomatoes

I actually did a really poor job of using this CSA delivery, and some of it went straight in the compost bin :(  My coworker did give me some Thai basil from her backyard, which inspired me to put what was left into this.

Red curry soup with onion, green pepper, turnip, carrot, swiss chard and peas.  I started with coconut oil and red curry paste and added everything else according to cooking time.  I didn’t have any coconut milk on hand, nor did I want the extra fat, so I added some almond milk at the end to make it a little creamy.

10-7-10 CSA:  green beans, collards, a leek, fennel, cilantro, lettuce

fingerling potatoes, swiss chard, purple peppers, plums, oranges, tomatoes, apples and radishes

Tofu scramble brunch with carrots, collard greens and Ezekiel toast with Earth Balance.  I don’t normally butter my toast, but man-oh-man it was so worth it!

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Two Amazing Potlucks: Dumplings and Rainbows

My friend Amey has the BEST potlucks.  Whenever Amey hosts, I’m happy to make the drive down to Santa Cruz because I wouldn’t want to miss it!

Back in July, the Santa Cruz PPKers had the brilliant idea for a Dumpling Potluck.  Anything was fair game, as long as it was in dumpling form.  The turnout was smaller than usual, but the food was great.

My contribution was “chicken” and dumplings, a reinvention of a dish I used to enjoy every year at Thanksgiving with my very southern family.

I based the soup on this recipe, and used a baked chicken seitan recipe for the chicken part.  I wasn’t thrilled with how the seitan came out, but the dumplings and broth were dead on.  Fantastic.

Mini Empanadas

Chinese Barbecue Seitan Buns with a Spicy Soy-Ginger Dipping Sauce

Some sort of tasty, doughy dumpling with a German name and delicious tomato herb gravy.

Mini Farmer’s Market Tamales with Pico de Gallo

Savory plate.  I liked that everything was mini-sized.

With some chicken and dumplings and blood orange soda.

Mini Cherry Pies with Marzipan

Mochi Daifuku with Red Bean Paste

Lavender Berry Cream Pie.  The crust on this pie was so good!

Dessert plate, with vanilla ice cream.

For a more timely and detailed account, check out Amey’s post here.  While all of the food was supremely delicious, we quickly realized that it was all very beige and didn’t exactly leave us feeling light in our loafers.  Someone came up with the idea of a rainbow theme for our next potluck, with the goal of more colorful and less carby food in mind.

So, a few weeks ago we got together at Amey’s house again to taste the rainbow.  We tried to go for a double rainbow of both savory and sweet, in tribute to the double rainbow video.  I came to the color-claiming party late, and accepted a challenge by choosing a blue savory dish.  I wasn’t really sure what blue foods I could use other than blue cornmeal, and then I learned that you can dye foods blue with red cabbage water.  Red cabbage basically acts as a pH indicator, and turns colors depending on its pH.  Fun with science!

I decided to make blue pupusas, with hopefully blue curtido.  First, I cooked some small white beans in the red cabbage water.

Then I refried the beans with onion, garlic, cumin and coriander.

Then I used cabbage water for the liquid in making the pupusa dough.  I tried to make the curtido blue as well by cooking red cabbage in baking soda water, and it turned the cabbage a beautiful teal color.  Unfortunately, when I added the vinegar-based dressing the acidity turned the cabbage back to purple.  It was actually kind of fortunate, as the violet portion of our rainbow would have been lacking otherwise.

Amey decorated the table with construction paper and color-matched beverages.  From left to right:

Red – Borscht and berries
Orange – Annato-coconut soup

Yellow – Mini Corn Muffins with Maple Frosting, Mac n’ Cheese, Mini Lemon Bundt Cakes

Green – Green Tomato Bruschetta (on a snail plate!) and Basil-Coconut-Lime Ice Cream

Blue – my Pupusas, which actually turned out kind of blue, and Blueberry Cocoa Cupcakes

Violet – Red Cabbage Curtido and Lavender Simple Syrup hiding in the back.

Gorgeous Rainbow Salad to finish things off.

All together now, with rainbow steamer.

I made less pupusas than there were people, so I cut them in half to reveal the pretty blue insides.

Savory plate, with both soups.  Everything was so fresh and tasty!  We definitely had more veggies than usual due to the color requirements.  The mac n cheese was based on the VegNews recipe, and it was one of the best I’ve ever had.

Dessert plate, upon which everything was awesome!  The standout was the basil-coconut-lime ice cream, which was outrageously good.  The lemon bundt was also intensely lemony and wonderful.

Sadly, I don’t have any people pictures from either party, because once I sat down with all the delicious food I just wanted to eat and enjoy the company.  Amey has more details and some people pictures on her blog post here.  Can’t wait for another Santa Cruz potluck!

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Showin’ Off My Skills

As part of the Natural Chef Program at Bauman College, each student had to present a 15 minute cooking demonstration with a recipe including three assigned skills.  It was like teaching a cooking class in front of my classmates, complete with nutrition information.  My skills were blanching & shocking, cutting a medium matchstick, and using a food processor.  I racked my brain for about a month for a good way to combine these seemingly unrelated skills, and here is what I came up with!

Broccoli Pesto Pasta Salad with Apples & Chickpeas

This gluten free pasta dish is easy to prepare and features a great variety of textures.  It is a little high in calories as a four-serving main dish, but if you want to reduce the calories you could omit the apples or chickpeas, or divide into smaller portions and serve with a salad.

8 oz gluten-free spiral pasta, such as Ancient Harvest Quinoa Pasta Garden Pagodas
2 medium heads of broccoli, cut into small florets (about 5 cups)
1/2 cup walnuts
1 Tbs white miso
2 Tbs nutritional yeast
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh parsley
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for coating the pasta
1 cup chickpeas, cooked
1 medium apple, cored and diced
1 large carrot, shredded
water (if desired)

1. Cook the pasta according to directions on package, just to al dente.  Drain, rinse and put in a mixing bowl.  Drizzle with a little bit of olive oil and toss to coat.  Set aside.
2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and have a bowl of ice water ready.  Add the broccoli to the water and boil for 2 minutes.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer the broccoli to the ice water to shock.  Drain and shake off as much water as possible.
3. Place the walnuts in a food processor and process to the size of large breadcrumbs.  Add the miso and nutritional yeast and pulse to combine.
4. Add the garlic, parsley, broccoli and salt and process until incorporated, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed.
5. With the processor running, drizzle in the olive oil and blend until well combined, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed.  If needed, add a little bit of water to thin to desired consistency.
6. Add the chickpeas, apples and carrots to the pasta.  Add the pesto and mix gently to combine well.  Serve at room temperature.

Servings: 4

Amount Per Serving
Calories 695.29
Calories From Fat (49%) 341.75
% Daily Value
Total Fat 39.3g 60%
Saturated Fat 4.82g 24%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 623.75mg 26%
Potassium 614.6mg 18%
Total Carbohydrates 77.36g 26%
Fiber 10.86g 43%
Sugar 6.27g
Protein 15.61g 31%

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And For My Next Post…Here’s a Bunch of Food.

There’s always a bad reason for not blogging, but here’s a good one:  My internet didn’t work for two weeks!  But I’m back now, and what better thing to do than post a whole bunch of random food and get caught up?  Some of this stuff dates from last October.  Eep!  I’ll jump right in.

Ginger Cashew Tofu from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan, with fried quinoa

Salad with chickpeas, sauerkraut, crackers and “special sauce” dressing

Whole wheat pasta with cooked beets and beet greens.  Turned the whole thing red!

Pizza burrito!  Leftover pizza toppings wrapped up and served with pizza sauce.

These potatoes were sold as “teeny tiny potatoes” at Trader Joe’s.  How cute!  Roasted whole, with broccoli & tofu scramble.

Roasted Fennel Salad from Veganomicon – test run before Thanksgiving.

Amaranth porridge with apples and pecans

Tempeh Tetrazzini, adapted from a magazine recipe.  Was tasty but dry.

Teriyaki tofu and veggies with red quinoa

This was a total clean-out-the-fridge dinner before I left to visit family for Christmas:  sauteed cabbage and carrots with shredded bleu Sheese and brown rice.  It sounds weird, but it worked well enough.

Shells n’ cheese n’ Tofurkey.  Mom was making mac n’ cheese with leftover ham for the rest of the family, and she made the white sauce with Earth Balance and soy milk so that I could partake too.  I added shredded Follow Your Heart cheese, cooked shells, diced Tofurkey slices that needed to be used up, and some spinach so I could pretend that it was slightly healthy.

“Special Tofu” with peanut sauce and jasmine rice, from Royal Orchid restaurant in Ocala, Florida.  Beautiful and delicious.

Fried rice with red cabbage and baked tofu

Braised red cabbage and carrots

Roasted root veggies with greens and tahini sauce

Tofu scramble and an English muffin to scoop it up

Butternut squash stuffed with rice, kale and vegan sausage, served with mushrooms.  This was super tasty.

When the weather started warming up, we decided to grill twice in one weekend.  For this plate, I bought every vegetable worthy of grilling – baby squashes, radicchio, mushrooms, asparagus and garlic scapes.  We also had some grilled toast and drizzled everything with balsamic reduction.

The next day it was a little more simple – store bought baked tofu, a marinated portobello, brown rice with carrots and hijiki, and steamed veggies with gomasio.

Hot and sour cabbage stir fry with noodles and cilantro

For this tofu scramble, I crisped some diced potatoes first then added the tofu and other ingredients, and finished it with fresh dill.

Savory amaranth with broccoli and pecans

Pasta with parsley pesto, artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes and balsamic-roasted veggies

Crunchy salad with black eyed peas, hemp seeds and spicy apple cider vinegar dressing

Teriyaki tofu bowl with short grain brown rice, raw red cabbage, steamed broccoli, green onion and extra teriyaki sauce

Gardein Crispy Tenders!  I bought these to try when I had a coupon, and I LOVE them.  They’d be good with any sauce, but they were especially good straight out of the oven with warm marinara.  The only problem with these guys is that I could easily eat the whole package at once.

Seasoned mashed fava beans with red bell pepper on Ezekiel toast for breakfast.

Springtime brown rice risotto with fresh peas, aspragus and dill

For a light side to go with the risotto, I dry-roasted some cauliflower that was liberally seasoned with a dry rub mix.

Ahhhhhhh, I feel better having purged my unposted photos a little!  Hope you enjoyed it too.

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