Posts Tagged pasta

When Life Gives You Lemons…

When I finished classes at the beginning of March I had grand plans – plans to complete my required externship hours as soon as possible, plans to get back to creating new recipes and use my CSA deliveries creatively, and then…life happened, as it tends to do.  I woke up last Sunday and thought that my face felt a little funny.  At first I chalked it up to sleeping in a weird position or something, but after a few hours when I noticed that it was difficult to eat and one of my eyes wasn’t blinking properly, I really started to freak out.  Dave took me to the ER and I was diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy, a condition where the nerve that motors one side of your face becomes inflamed.  The visible symptom is that the right side of my face is mostly paralysed – it looks like I’m winking at everyone!  It is certainly no fun, but Bell’s Palsy usually cures itself after a few weeks to a few months, so I’m trying to take it easy and hoping for a speedy recovery.

How this relates to food is that I’ve found it a little difficult to eat, what with half of my mouth not really opening or chewing very well!  So, I have been making foods that I can eat with a spoon or through a straw that don’t require too much chewing, while still trying to take in a good amount of nutrition.  I have been able to eat some solid foods by cutting them into small pieces, but it’s really much easier to just slurp something up.

Mushy is easy for breakfast…

Good ol’ grits with nutritional yeast.

Amaranth with strawberries and coconut kefir.

Super smoothie – First I juiced some red cabbage, celery, ginger and swiss chard, then I blended the juice with a banana, kiwi, frozen strawberries and mango, hemp protein powder and coconut kefir.  Odd maybe, but good!

A coworker mentioned that when her mother had Bell’s Palsy she ate a lot of applesauce, so I took applesauce to the next level.  This is store bought applesauce, warmed up, topped with peanut butter, ground flax and maple syrup.  It was like a warm pb & apple butter sandwich without the bread.

Luckily, I’ve been able to work from home since my diagnosis, so my lunches have been quick and simple.

Broccoli-Avocado-Lemon Soup.  I steamed a bunch of broccoli well then processed it with three small avocados, the juice of one large lemon, dried thyme, garlic powder, salt, white pepper and nutritional yeast.  Yeah, perhaps it looks like something from The Exorcist, but it tasted nice and simple.  I wanted to bulk up the soup, so I toasted a piece of Ezekiel bread, tore it into small pieces, and soaked it in the soup until soft.

Purposely overcooked brown rice pasta with jarred sauce and nutritional yeast.  Appetizing, no?

Dahl for dinner.  I’d never made dahl before (and I was out of curry powder – doh!), so this was my thrown together version with garlic, ginger, fenugreek seed, mustard seed, turmeric, cumin, coriander and cilantro.

With the dahl, I had some of the best mashed potatoes I have ever made.  I cooked baby red potatoes until very soft, then mashed them with a few spoonfuls of Cheddar-Style We Can’t Say It’s Cheese.  So good!  Now I understand why people put cream cheese or sour cream in their potatoes.

And for dinner tonight, to use up some sweet potatoes, I made Sweet Potato-Lentil-Wild Rice Stew, seasoned with ginger, garlic, turmeric, cumin and coriander.  Ginger and turmeric have anti-inflammatory properties, so I’m telling myself that eating them will help my swollen nerve calm down!

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Random Meals & Laptop Lunches

I feel like I lost my cooking mojo there for a few weeks in July and had a hard time figuring out what to eat, so I have no theme for this post.  The theme is random!

What does one do when one has leftover filling from tomato-basil-mozzarella sandwiches but no bread?

One makes tomato-basil-mozzarella bites.  Yum!

This is a secret risotto that I tested for a friend to submit to a recipe contest.

CSA delivery…

Corn, yellow onions, peppers & lettuce mix

Grapes, red onions, peaches, tomatoes, cherries & an eggplant

I like eggplant but don’t always like cooking it.  It seems like most eggplant cooking techniques use a lot of oil, so I wanted to do something different.

My solution was eggplant and lentil curry.  This had a whole can of light coconut milk in it, so it wasn’t exactly low fat anyway…but I tried!

Thinking back, I don’t really know why I did this, but I made a little slaw to go with the curry.  This had carrot, celery and broccoli stalk and a Vegennaise-based dressing.  (Again, so much for keeping the meal low-fat!)  Oh, I think I made it cause I had broccoli stems that needed using…

I wanted to make a salsa with the corn and tomatoes, so I made some mostly-raw lettuce tacos.  On the bottom is seasoned black beans, them lime-marinated mushrooms, corn salsa and fresh cilantro.  These were very tasty but very messy to eat, because the fancy lettuce at TJ’s looks like it would be good for lettuce wraps, but in reality was decidedly not.  In the back are TJ’s corn-flax chips, which are slightly addicting.

I got a spiralizer!  I’ve been jealous of other blogger’s zucchini noodles for far too long, so I finally bought one.

…and made zucchini and squash noodles.  I used the larger noodle shredder the first time, and they were a bit too large and super curly.  The blade with the smaller holes is much better for this purpose.

I had fresh basil in the fridge and I was feeling too lazy to make a raw sauce, so I went the easy route and added spaghetti sauce, basil, toasted pine nuts and almond parmesan.  This was very tasty!  The sauce separates and gets watery if it sits with the zucchini, so I want to try a different type of sauce next time.

This is a Saturday afternoon clean-out-the-kitchen salad.  It has red potatoes, purple potatoes, cucumber, red bell pepper, celery, carrot and sliced veggie dog, with a Vegennaise dressing.  It wasn’t the most fantastic thing I’ve ever eaten, but it was pretty and it got the job done.

Farmers market purchases:  rainbow chard, okra, baby cucumbers, jalapenos, peaches and nectarines, a golden and regular zucchini, a lemon, broccoli and strawberries.  All for under $20!

The main purpose of my farmers market trip was to get ingredients to make my Southern Style Dolmades for a potluck that night.  I ran late and didn’t have time to assemble the rolls, so I just took the filling and the sauce and hoped it would be okay.  Turns out people really liked it as it was!  That was a big relief.

I realized while at the market that I hadn’t had anything with cheesy sauce for a long time (such a travesty), so I bought the broccoli with plans to make this:

Shells n’ cheese n’ broccoli.  You can’t beat it.  I used my favorite cheesy sauce, which is tofu based, but I used the wrong kind of tofu and eyeballed the ingredients and so it didn’t turn out the best it ever has, but it still hit the spot.

To go with my pasta, I roasted the okra.  Look at the size of these okras!  They are with a regular sized golden zucchini and jalapeno for reference.

All roasted up.

I still had the chard leaves from my non-roll making debacle and hadn’t a clue what to do with them since they were already boiled.  So I asked The PPK for ideas, and one member suggested peanut sauce.  Bingo!  Peanut sauce makes everything better.  I still ended up making rolls, but went a different direction with the filling.

So these are quinoa, pepper, carrot and zucchini chard rolls with fresh cilantro, basil and peanut sauce.  It was very yummy!  I was glad I could salvage my $4 worth of boiled organic chard.

I won’t be using my laptop lunchbox for a reason to be discussed in my next post, so I’ll catch up with lunches.  Most of them are repeats from the meals above anyway.

7/14 the aforementioned secret risotto, steamed broccoli,
carrot sticks, grapes & cherries

7/16 potato & fava bean salad with miso-mustard dressing,
roasted asparatus, sweet potato-chocolate chip-
walnut muffin, strawberries & raspberries

7/21 broccoli/carrot slaw, eggplant curry, brown rice,
oat bran pretzel sticks, wasabi-soy almonds, figs

7/22 lettuce wraps with seasoned black beans, marinated mushrooms,
corn salsa & cilantro, corn-flax chips, dark chocolate

7/24 zucchini noodles with spaghetti sauce, pine nuts & almond
parmesan, beanballs, maple cookie, b-complex supplement

7/27 clean-out-the-kitchen salad with lettuce & avocado, strawberries

7/28 shells & cheese & broccoli, roasted okra, gf corn muffin, strawberries

7/30 chard rolls with peanut sauce, celery, soy nuggets
with ketchup, dried figs, dark chocolate

7/31 leftover quinoa filling with peanut sauce, zucchini noodles with spaghetti sauce & almond parmesan, cherries, gherkins, sandwich cookies

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VCON On A Budget

When we got back from Vegas last month I had a serious need to curtail my spending until we got paid again.  But I also needed to eat.  So I poked around Veganomicon to see if I could find some recipes that made good use of what I already had in the house.

First, a CSA delivery from which many ingredients came.

red pepper, blueberries, apricots, peaches, Russian Banana potatoes, red onions, carrots and pattypan squash

green peppers, corn, basil, broccoli and lettuce

The first recipe I chose to make was Spaghetti & Beanballs, which I have been wanting to try forever.

I already had whole wheat fettuccine and a jar of sauce in the pantry (thought the fettuccine was actually spaghetti, but it doesn’t make much difference to me), so all I had to buy was a few ingredients for the beanballs.  The recipe calls for a 20 oz. can of beans, which I’m not sure I’ve ever seen, so I bought two 15 oz. cans and intended to increase the recipe accordingly.  Except then I forgot and added the normal amounts of everything but the beans, only remembering when I was mostly done forming the balls.  I briefly considered mushing all the balls together and adding the missing components, but I just wasn’t up for it so I crossed my fingers and threw ’em in the oven.  I was really worried they wouldn’t hold together very well since the amount of vital wheat gluten was lower than it should’ve been, but in the end they ended up holding together fine, if maybe just a little more squishy than normal.  I really liked the flavor of these little guys, and I’m sure next time when I make them correctly I’ll love the texture too.

The next cheap-ish meal I chose was the Roasted Portobello Salad.  Portobellos were actually on sale!

I left off the avocado that the recipe calls for because it was like $3 an avocado, and I was trying to keep the fat content down anyway.  I chose some spinach to go along with the lettuce I already had, and I really liked the combination of the juicy portobello, red onion and chickpeas.  Overall, though, I wasn’t a huge fan of this salad.  Something in it was much too vinegar-y and tangy for me, and I’m normally okay with a lot of vinegar.  I’m thinking it was the dressing.  I also thought the salad could use something crunchy, so I sprinkled sunflower seeds on the leftovers and that helped.

To go with the salad, I made the Lemony Roasted Potatoes.  Not a winner either!  The potatoes were undercooked, even with 10 extra minutes cooking time, and the sauce didn’t thicken up like it was supposed to.  I also thought the dish was too oily.  I’ve seen rave reviews for both these recipes, so I don’t know if I was in some sort of cooking funk that day or if they just weren’t right for me, but either way I probably won’t make either of these again.  The beanballs though, they are great!

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Pea Shoot-Mushrooms Dumplings & Kale Pesto Pasta

I must admit that when I got pea shoots in my CSA delivery for the first time, I had absolutely no idea what to do with them.  The leaves tasted nice plain, so I assumed they’d make a good salad, but apart from that I had no ideas.  So I did what I always do…I googled it.  From my extensive research I ascertained that they are good for two things – salads and asian food.  I saw some pasta ideas too, but I had other pasta plans already (see below).

Look how pretty!  I love the little tendrils, and I even got a flower.

Anywho, I decided to go the asian route and try my hand at dumplings.  As any vegan who has decided to make dumplings knows, most wonton wrappers aren’t vegan.  They all have egg.  Every darned one of them.  I figured to find a wrapper I could use I oughta take a trip to the asian market I had been eying for a while.

Their wonton wrappers had egg too, but lo and behold they had dumpling wrappers that were vegan.  Hooray!  I also bought rice noodles, sweet chili sauce, a pomelo (which I had never tried before), five spice powder, jackfruit and green onion.

Since I have just about zero dumpling knowledge, I went by this recipe  for vegetarian dumplings from Alton Brown, because I like AB a lot.   I subbed minced portobello and crimini mushrooms for the tofu and pea shoots for the cabbage, and left out the red bell pepper and egg.  I played around with two different shapes to see what worked best.

The dipping sauce is just sweet chili sauce, soy sauce and sesame oil, and I think I could probably eat an old shoe dipped in it, it was so good.

The dumplings were very tasty, and I was happy with how they turned out.  The only downsides were that the wrappers were a little thick, so the parts where the wrappers met were really chewy, and you can’t really make them ahead of time or eat them as leftovers.  They just don’t keep very well.

Since dumplings alone doth not a meal make, I also had some edamame and miso-mustard mashed sweet potatoes.  The potatoes were nice, but nothing to write home about.  Or write up a recipe for.

A few nights later, I used up the filling in a new shape.  I’m calling this one “the butterfly”.

Good, but still too doughy where the sides met.  I am no longer intimidated by dumplings though, and definitely want to have them again sooner than later.

My CSA is still sending at least two bunches of winter greens with every box, so I am always looking for new ways to eat them.  Not that I don’t like a nice plain steamed green, it’s just more fun to get creative.  I don’t recall how the idea of kale pesto popped into my head, but once it was there I had to have it.  I used this recipe, which called for walnuts instead of pine nuts.  I didn’t end up adding all of the olive oil called for, and used just less than a half cup of sesame parmesan.

Tossed with gluten free rotini and white beans for protein, this was a very tasty dish.  The pesto is much less zingy than regular basil pesto, although the garlic was intense at first.  It mellowed sitting overnight in the fridge, so leftovers weren’t quite so garlic-tastic.

I can’t seem to let myself eat just a bowl of pasta for dinner, even if it’s a very healthy bowl, so I also made a side salad to use up the rest of the pea shoots and mushrooms.

Along with the pea shoots and mushrooms, I added slivered red onion, some soy bleu cheese that was hanging around in the fridge, and some very thick tahini dressing.  For being so simple, this was one great salad.  The bleu cheese with the mushrooms and tahini dressing turned into something magical.

Well, the CSA sent me pea shoots again on Thursday, so I’ll be thinking up more ways to use them very soon!

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Fennel Experiments

When I signed up for my CSA, I knew I’d be getting fennel.  I was a bit nervous about this, because fennel is one of the few vegetables I had never tasted, and all I knew about it was that it smelled and tasted like black licorice.  And I hate black licorice.  The CSA has an option to not receive any item you don’t like, but I figured I’d give fennel a chance before I took it off my list.  And I’m glad I did, cause I think I kinda like it.

I don’t remember where I got the idea to put fennel in a quiche, but I do know I read that roasted fennel does not taste like licorice, so I knew that was the way to go for my first try.  I based my quiche off of this broccoli quiche from The PPK.  For some reason I thought it would be okay to use silken tofu (it was not) and so my first try kinda fell apart.  It tasted fantastic though, so I knew I had to get it right.

Okay, so it didn’t exactly hold together this time either.  I have a hard time waiting for it to cool!  I promise it does stay together after time in the fridge, so I guess maybe I’d recommend chiling it for a few hours or overnight to ensure quiche stay-togetherness. 

I think this would also taste fantastic with summer vegetables – yellow squash, eggplant, red bell pepper, dill and maybe even fresh corn.

Quiche art:

Roasted Veggie Tofu Quiche

1 prepared 9-inch pie crust
1/2 fennel bulb, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/2 onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 Tbs olive oil
1/2 c unsalted cashews
1 lb extra-firm tofu
1 tsp yellow mustard
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 Tbs nutritional yeast
1 tsp kosher salt
black pepper
1/2 of a 14.5 oz can petite diced tomatoes, drained
2 Tbs chopped fennel frond

If your pie crust is frozen, take it out of the freezer to thaw.

Preheat the oven to 400F. Place the fennel bulb, onion, carrot and garlic in an aluminum foil lined pan. Drizzle the oil over the veggies and stir to coat. Roast the veggies in the oven for 25 minutes, stirring once halfway through. Take the veggies out of the oven and lower the temperature to 350F.

While the veggies are cooling, process the cashews in a food processor into fine crumbs. Drain the water from the tofu, and crumble it into the food processor. Add the mustard and process until mostly smooth, scraping down the sides with a spatula.

Transfer the tofu mixture to a mixing bowl. Add the remaining ingredients (thyme through fennel frond) and mix until well combined. Use the spatula to pour the mixture into the pie crust, and smooth out the top. Bake for 40 minutes, and let cool to room temperature before serving.

This should probably serve 8, but I manage to eat it in 5 or 6 servings max.

With the halves left over from my first quiche (fennel, onion and canned tomatoes) I made a quick sauteed pasta sauce to go with whole wheat fettuccine, and topped it with sesame parmesan and (not quite toasted enough) butternut seeds.

Making this reinforced the fact that adding some pasta cooking water back to the pasta really does help with sauciness.

In an internet search for fennel recipes, I came across one for fennel-tuna sandwiches.  This recipe called only for the fennel fronds, and I had plenty of those left, so I made the Chickpea “Tuna” Salad from Vegan Deli and added lots of chopped fennel frond.  I also added some nori for fishiness.  The result was very tasty!  Perfect on a sandwich with lots of lettuce.  Although for some reason I could NOT get a decent picture of this meal.

Verdict:  Fennel is A-OK.  Give it a chance!

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Presents On My Doorstep

One of the things I was very excited about when moving to the Bay Area was the proliferation of farmers markets and CSA’s.  Ever since I first heard of the CSA concept I knew I wanted in.  There was precisely one option in Gainesville, and I tried to sign up during my last six months in Florida, but there was a long waiting list to contend with.

So as soon as I had the room in my budget, I signed up for one here.  I looked around and compared, and the best choice for me was Farm Fresh To You.  They run their own farm, as well as sourcing from other local farms to round out the seasonal offerings.  You can choose the frequency of your deliveries (every two weeks for me), postpone a delivery if need be, request to not receive certain items if you don’t like ’em, and best of all – they deliver!  To my door!  A lot of CSA’s around here require you to pick up, or charge for delivery, and with my schedule the way it is right now that wasn’t an option.  They also have different box options, including a smaller delivery, all fruit or all vegetable.  And apparently they have a permanent storefront in the SF Ferry Building, as well as appearing at multiple farmers markets.  And they send a newsletter with recipes.  Oh, and they post the contents of the box at the beginning of the week, so I can plan ahead and spend way too much time at work fantasizing about what I could make.

I think you can see where this is going.  I got my first CSA delivery.  And I love it.  I think I am going to have a long, happy relationship with all this produce.

There were far too many veggies to fit in one picture, so I went with green and not green.

salad greens, collards, bok choy, leeks, napa cabbage and dino kale

navel oranges, pinova apples, red potatoes, the largest butternut squash I have ever seen, and radicchio

I used the collards for my New Year’s Day meal, and the salad greens for…a salad.  Creative, I know.  The salad went with delivery pizza during the College Football National Championship game.  Go Gators!!!

I used the napa cabbage in some more fried quinoa, along with carrots and peas.  This fried quinoa wasn’t quite as good as the first time I made it, it was a little mushy.  I think the secret might be mixing in some rice.

I was interested in grilling the bok choy.  I found some recipes online that all included a sauce, but I wasn’t up for all that extra work, so I just sprayed them with some oil and grilled plain.  It was interesting – it has potential, but I definitely wouldn’t make bok choy again this way.  The leaves got nice and crispy, but the stems were undercooked and still crunchy, which wasn’t what I was going for.  This meal was better as leftovers, reheated in the microwave and cooked through a bit more.

I’m not a big fan of radicchio, especially raw, so I was very happy that the Farm Fresh To You newsletter came with a recipe for Radicchio and Squash Pappardelle.  I adapted it to be vegan, whole grain and lower in fat.  The taste is very simple; the sweetness of the squash, bitterness of the radicchio and heartiness of the pasta play nicely together.  It would be very good topped with toasted pine nuts or vegan parmesan.

Penne with Butternut Squash & Radicchio

2 Tbs Earth Balance
2 Tbs olive oil
1 lb butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 2 1/2 cups)
3/4 lb radicchio, cored and thinly sliced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
12 oz wholegrain penne

Melt butter and heat oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat.  Add squash and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and just tender, 6 to 8 minutes.  Add radicchio, salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until wilted and just tender, about 3 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook penne according to package directions.  Reserve 1 cup cooking water, then drain pasta.  Add pasta to radicchio mixture with 1/2 cup cooking water and toss over low heat until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes.  Add more cooking water to moisten if necessary.

Serves 4 to 5.

To go along with the pasta, I made a raw kale salad.  I’ve read about this technique to “wilt” kale without cooking, and when I saw a recipe on the Bauman College website I knew I wanted to try it.  The original recipe was for a main course type dish, so I made it more simple and side dish-like.

Raw Kale Salad with Oranges & Pecans

This would be good with dried cranberries or diced apples instead of oranges, or walnuts or pepitas instead of pecans.

1 bunch kale, cleaned, stemmed and finely sliced
2 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
3 Tbs apple cider vinegar
1 Tbs lemon juice
2 oranges, supremed
1 cup pecans

Place kale in a large bowl.  Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle sea salt over kale.  Massage the mixture with your hands, kneading and squeezing until kale begins to wilt.  Add vinegar and lemon juice and toss with tongs to mix.  Divide kale between servings bowls and top with oranges & pecans.

Serves 4.

I knew I wanted to use the leeks and potatoes in a soup, and after searching through all my vegan cookbooks without finding the right recipe, I lucked out with Healthy Life Kitchen by Marilu Henner.  I bought this book on a whim because it was on super sale.  It isn’t exactly my style of cooking, and it includes fish and eggs, but every once in a while I find a nice, simple recipe like this one.

Potato Leek Soup

2 Tbs soy margarine
1 large bunch leeks, julienned
6 new red potatoes, cubed (I left the skins on, or you can peel them)
6 cups vegetable stock
3/4 cup soy milk
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp black pepper
salt
fresh chives

Melt the margarine in a large stockpot over medium-low heat and add the leeks.  Cook, covered, for about 15 minutes, or until they have softened.

Raise the heat to high, add the potatoes and stock, and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and cook, partially covered, about 25 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.

Transfer the solids to a blender or food processor and gradually add broth, pulsing until just pureed.  Return the puree to the pot.  Do not overheat.  Add soy milk, nutmeg, black pepper, and salt to taste.  Serve garnished with chives.

The recipe says it makes 8 servings, but for me it was 4.

To go with the soup I made the Smoky Grilled Tempeh from Veganomicon (the broiled variation) and boy oh boy was it every good.  The most juicy tempeh I have ever had.

As if the CSA goodness wasn’t enough, I got another present – my PPK December swap package!  My partner was Evan of Bjorked Off, and he sent some good stuff.

Homemade truffles, dark chocolate, mini Larabars, a photo, a cupcake postcard, Canadian maple syrup, and a pretty syrup-themed trivet that unfortunately broke in transit.  The truffles were amazing, as well as the one piece of chocolate I’ve eaten so far.  I’m not a huge fan of Larabars (can’t get into dates), but these mini bars were the perfect size for snacking without getting tires of the flavor.  The brownie flavor was good for the first bite, but after that it wasn’t very appealing to me.  The cashew cookie flavor was good all the way through.  I might even consider buying a normal size bar of that flavor.  There are people who are obsessed with Larabars though, so don’t take my word for it if you’ve never tried one!  Thanks Evan!

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Weeknight Meals, Nacho Teese & Laptop Lunches

Here are a few more from the “what gets in my belly the fastest” files.

On a trip to Rainbow Grocery, which is kind of like specialty vegan product heaven, I picked up a package of frozen Nate’s Classic Flavor Meatless Meatballs.  I had seen them on a few other blogs and they seemed to be spoken of positively, so I figured I’d give ’em a try.  Here they are perched atop wheat fettuccine and covered in Whole Foods marinara.

I like the meatless balls a lot.  The taste and texture are great, and they cook up in mere minutes.  However, at 90 calories per three I won’t be getting through the bag any time soon.

I also wanted a veggie side dish, and did not want to go to the grocery store, so I cooked the only vegetable I had – celery.  Now, I love me some raw celery, and it’s nice cooked with onions and peppers as the beginning of a dish, but who eats just cooked celery?

I do.  And it’s actually good.  And it uses up that celery in your fridge.  I know it’s there.  I have the remains of a stalk in my fridge right now.  Honestly, I made this a few weeks ago so I don’t remember exactly how I cooked it, but Google braised celery and you’ll find many ways.

One weeknight I found myself with some leftover takeout white rice, and that usually means clean-out-the-fridge-fried-rice.  I only had a bit of rice though and didn’t want to take the time to make more, so I said to myself “Quinoa cooks fast, I wonder if fried quinoa is good?”.

The answer is that fried quinoa is amazing.  And I didn’t feel like I had to add tofu or edamame like normal, since quinoa has so much protein on it’s own.  This version included sweet potato, carrot, cabbage and broccoli and it was quite nice, if I do say so myself.

On the aforementioned trip to Rainbow Grocery, I also snagged a tube of Nacho Teese.  Teese!  You may recall from my past experiments with Teese that I think it’s amazing, so I couldn’t wait to try the new flavor.  I wasn’t so judicious this time since it’s much easier to come by here than it was in Florida.

I knew that I wanted to make enchiladas with homemade enchilada sauce, but since I’ve been trying to vary my grains, I thought about what I might use instead of tortillas.  I decided that swiss chard might just be a good enchilada wrapper, and I’m calling these Chard Enchiladas.  Because that’s what they are.

One of them was nice enough to open up in the oven and show us the filling, which was pinto beans, nacho teese, onions and chopped chard stem.

I didn’t precook the chard, which I probably should have because it was still a bit tough.  Overall though, this turned out pretty well.

What else do you make with nacho teese?  Duh, nachos.

Blue sesame corn chips, refried beans mixed with leftover enchilada sauce, salsa, teese, a quick guacamole, and these really good mild jalapeno slices that I found at Target.  The jalapenos made all the difference.

Closeup of the melty deliciousness:

This was so ridiculously filling, and so ridiculously good.

I haven’t made a whole lot of lunches lately because of all the holidays, but here are the few I’ve managed to take.

12-16 chard enchiladas, brown rice with corn & tomatoes,
avocado, candy cane jo jo’s

12-17 double fried quinoa (because it was that good),
edamame, persimmon & prunes

12-22 blue corn sesame chips, nacho dip (refried beans,
salsa, teese & jalapenos), carrots, clementine

12-23 toasted leftovers sandwich (tofurkey, spinach,
red onion, cream cheese, cranberry sauce), carrots
& celery, goddess dressing, dried apricot bar

Whew.  I feel better having caught up a bit.  Soon I’ll write posts about my New Year’s eats, sushi with a very special ingredient and my first CSA box, and hopefully find some time to catch up on reading other blogs too!

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VeganMoFo: Creamy Pumpkin-Almond Pasta & Greens

Last week I saw that Diann over at Eat’n Veg’n had made this Creamy Pumpkin-Almond Sauce from Have Cake Will Travel, and I knew I had to make it, especially with extra pumpkin puree in the fridge.

It’s very monotone, but very delicious!  I was afraid the other flavors would overwhelm the pumpkin, but the balance of flavors was great.  And the almond meal gave the sauce a very toothsome feel.  Rotini was a perfect choice, as the sauce got into all the nooks and crannies.  I added a bit of garlic to the seasonings and it was a nice complement, and also whisked in a teaspoon of cornstarch because I used soy milk instead of creamer.

I was planning to saute some chard I had in the fridge to go along with the pasta, but upon taking it out of the bag it emitted a very funky odor.  It looked fine and I thought about cooking it anyway, but the smell was just too much.  So I tossed the chard and grabbed the only other green veggie I had, romaine lettuce.  I’ve seen grilled hearts of romaine, and heard of it being stir-fried on Chinese restaurant menus, so I figured it might saute alright.

Saute well it did.  The crunchy part stayed crunchy and the leaves wilted nicely.  Kind of looks like bok choy, huh?  I stayed with the asian idea and just added some tamari, but I think it’d be really good with the whole sesame treatment.

Yesterday we grilled during football as usual, and I was feeling lazy so my meal was tasty but uninspiring.  It’s only blog-worthy because of the greens.

This is my new favorite way of preparing greens, beet greens in this case.  Saute in a bit of oil and add a sprinkling of chicken-style broth powder (I use this one) and a splash of vegan worcestershire sauce.  It makes just a little bit of a sauce, and the depth of flavor of both ingredients comes together to do something great to the greens.  So good.

I just finished a bowl of hot, freshly made applesauce.  It was so sweet, without any sweetener added.  Why anybody adds sugar to applesauce is beyond me!  Hope you are all enjoying this lovely fall Monday night!

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VeganMoFo: Sticking With The Plan

It’s been four days since I started focusing more on eating healthily, and I think I’m doing…okay.  I did really well Friday, including doing a 45 minute pilates video.  Saturday I only walked for 25 minutes or so, and ate pretty well except for some bbq chips.  Weekend are always hard for me, we usually have people over and barbeque and hang out, and there’s usually a bag of chips out.  In comparison with Sunday though, Saturday was great.  We went to a sports bar to watch the Raiders game at 1, so I found myself stuck and hungry, and the only thing there that I could eat was french fries.  So that was my lunch.  And dinner ended up being blue corn chips with salsa, and a whole wheat hamburger bun by itself.  I don’t think I ate too much necessarily, but the quality of food was pretty bad.  But it happens, and I’m back on track today.

As an aide for the plan, I spent some time compiling a list of recipes that either fall within my guidelines or can be adjusted to.  I’m posting them below mostly for my reference, but also as a tool for anyone else who might be looking for the same kinds of recipes.  I started in on the list over the weekend.

A few weeks ago Megetarianmade the VegNews Mac ‘n’ Cheese, and upon searching just now I see that Jessy just tried it too.  For anyone who hasn’t seen the recipe, you can find it here.  The sauce is made from blended potato, carrot and shallot.  I knew it was going to be plenty good, but had a hard time refraining from throwing a bunch of nutritional yeast in it.  I did make a few changes – I used brown rice veggie spirals pasta (in the attempt to vary my grains), and instead of blending margarine with the breadcrumb topping, I left the breadcrumbs plain then sprayed on some olive oil when the dish was assembled.  Oh, and I added steamed broccoli.

The texture was right on, but if I make it again I will definitely add nutritional yeast and maybe another thing or two to pump up the “cheesy” factor.  As is it seems like more of a saucy casserole than a mac ‘n’ cheese.  The recipe says it makes six servings which is probably a good size for a side dish.  It definitely only made four full-meal servings for us.

For grilling Saturday night I made Jerk-Spiced Portobello Steaks from Vegan Planet.  I wasn’t sure how well the rub technique would work.  I was worried the spice mix wouldn’t really stick, but it definitely stuck well enough.  These “steaks” were sweet, spicy, mushroomy, and downright great.  Served on a whole wheat bun with lettuce and grilled peppers – red, green and jalapeno.

We bought a whole bag of potatoes, so Sunday morning I tried my hand at hash browns.  Hash browns are hard to do right.  I think maybe I’m afraid to use as much oil as good hash browns would require.  They didn’t look very nice at all, but they tasted good enough.

And now, the longest list of mostly healthy vegan recipes anyone could ever need, in no particular order.

Squash Spice Bread – VT (Vegetarian Times) Oct 07 pg 82
Sunset Sweet Potato Biscuits – VT Oct 07 pg 66
GF Tempeh Stroganoff – VT Oct 07 pg 78
Vegan Moussaka – VT Nov/Dec 07 pg 64
Eastern European Red Lentil Soup – VT Nov/Dec 07 pg 81
Slow Cooker Vegetable Vindaloo – VT Nov/Dec 07 pg 37
Banana Buckwheat Pancakes – VT Jan 07 pg 77
Seitan Meatballs with Winter Tomato Sauce – VT Jan 07 pg 74
Oven Baked Wild Rice Pilaf with Mushrooms – VT Nov/Dec 06 pg 35
Three Sisters Casserole – VT Nov/Dec 06 pg 61
Spicy Tofu Bento Bowl – VT Nov/Dec 06 pg 84
Crispy Breakfast Bars – VT Oct 05 pg 77
Corn & Quinoa Chowder – VT Nov/Dec 05 pg 28
Marinated Kale & Cabbage Salad – VN (VegNews) Jan/Feb 08 pg 58
Creamy Golden Potato-Squash Soup – VN Nov/Dec 06 pg 67
Cheddary Cheese Soup – VV (Vegan Vittles) pg 83
Chickpeas A La King – VV pg 119
Not Your Mama’s Meatloaf – VV pg 126
Unrolled Cabbage Rolls – VV pg 127
Miso Soup with Edamame – YRR (Yellow Rose Recipes) pg 48
Cajun Spiced Tofu – YRR pg 158
Hot & Sour Soup – LDV (La Dolce Vegan) pg 104
Beauty & the Beet Borscht – LDV pg 116
“Chicken” & Rice Soup for the Soul – LDV pg 121
Winter Vegetable Bisque – VP (Vegan Planet) pg 85
Savory Amaranth Porridge – VP pg 221
Adzuki Beans & Winter Squash Saute – VP pg 277
White Bean Cassoulet – VP pg 290
Tofu Vindaloo – VP pg 312
The Ultimate Veggie Burgers – VP pg 462
Indian Split Pea & Vegetable Cake – VV (Versatile Vegetarian) pg 46
Sweet-and-Sour Cabbage with Peanuts – VV pg 46
Thai Salad with Tofu – VV pg 97
Falafel Sandwiches – VV pg 112
Chili sin Carne al Mole – VWAV (Vegan with a Vengeance) pg 68
Black Bean, Mushroom & Quinoa-Stuffed Peppers – VWAV pg 83
Black-Eyed Pea & Quinoa Croquettes with Mushroom Sauce – VWAV pg 88
Chickpea Broccoli Casserole – VWAV pg 96
Orange-Glazed Beets – VWAV pg 117
Ethiopian Seitan & Peppers – VWAV pg 167
Chickpea Mash Stew – EV (The Everyday Vegan) pg 84
Spicy Thai Stew – EV pg 88
Mushroom Pecan Burgers – EV pg 114
Creamy Potato Leek Bake – EV pg 124
Baked Herbed Spaghetti Squash – EV pg 146
Apple Swirl Loaf – EV pg 163
Cinnamon Cornmeal Muffins – EV pg 166
Simple Whole Wheat Pancakes – PP (The Peaceful Palate) pg 22
Oatmeal Waffles – PP pg 25
Antipasto Salad – PP pg 60
Green Velvet Soup – PP pg 72
Winter Squash & Hominy Stew – PP pg 83
Pilau – PP pg 97
Chinese Bulgur – PP pg 101
Pasta Primavera – PP pg 108
Cabbage Rolls – PP pg 123
Mjeddrah – PP pg 124
Tofu Croquettes – PP pg 126
Neat Loaf – PP pg 128
Yellow Split Pea Dal – PP pg 131
Samosa Stuffed Baked Potatoes – VCON (Veganomicon) pg 60
Creole Stuffed Peppers – VCON pg 61
Lower-Fat Cauliflower Hummus – VCON pg 68
Snobby Joes – VCON pg 98
Chickpea-Quinoa Pilaf – VCON pg 115
Mexican Millet – VCON pg 118
Mediterranean-Style Baked Lima Beans – VCON pg 121
Seitan Cutlets – VCON pg 132
Double Pea Soup with Roasted Red Peppers – VCON pg 140
Baked Potato & Greens Soup – VCON pg 146
Tempeh Shepherdess Pie – VCON p 167
Spaghetti Squash Mexicana with Tropical Avocado Salsa Fresca – VCON pg 178
Braised Seitan with Brussels, Kale & Sun-Dried Tomatoes, VCON pg 182
Pumpkin Saag – VCON pg 184
Spaghetti & Beanballs – VCON pg 189
Almond-Quinoa Muffins – VCON pg 227
Applesauce-Oat Bran Muffins – VCON pg 229

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VeganMoFo: Welcome To My New Kitchen!

Well, it’s not so much “new” as it’s new to me.  This house was built in 1970, and I’m fairly certain that everything in it is original.  Here be the kitchen:

The stove is vented through the counter.  It’s so small and weird.

There’s a double oven, which could be cool.  I haven’t tested it yet, but I did get an oven thermometer just in case.

This is where the dining table will be eventually.

My mom says the front looks like an old man, with a chimney for a nose and a bushy mustache.

My first meal in the house was a quickie, since we were busy unpacking.  I knew I could get some ready to cook food from Trader Joe’s.  I simmered their green curry sauce and chickenless strips with steamed cauliflower and carrots, and wilted in spinach at the end.  Served over precooked brown rice.

The next day I reaped the benefits of some presents I found in the backyard.

These poor plants had been neglected for months, so I turned them into a delicious chunky marinara.  Served over whole wheat rotini and topped with lots of nutritional yeast that I had just unpacked.

On the side, mixed greens cooked with worcestershire, boullion and a little bit of ketchup.  I didn’t have any tomato paste.  It worked, okay?

More bonuses from the yard:  I believe this to be a blackberry bush that sadly went unpicked for the whole season.

And what’s this hanging over the fence from my neighbor’s house?  I thought they were limes, but when I stole one for guacamole last night, it turned out they were sorely under ripe lemons.  But soon they will be ripe lemons, and I will claim what’s on my side!

I unpacked my cookbooks today, so I will delve back into them very soon.  In conclusion, I am so happy to have a kitchen again!

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