Friday, September 11, 2009

Summer Squash




The garden is still going strong. Lots of summer squash this week! Emma loves yellow squash sauteed in olive oil. I like it pureed with soy milk. My husband and oldest son, Paul, will eat it any old way. And Will won't touch it at all.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

A Bumper Crop


The garden is full of eggplant now--both regular and Japanese. We had Baba Ghanoush a few days ago. Today I think I'll just slice, saute, and serve with hummus and pitas.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Indian Tofu, Tomatoes, and Peas

I made this recipe a few weeks ago. It was adapted from a recipe in Delicious Living magazine, one of the freebie publications I pick up occasionally at Whole Foods. It was easy, and very tasty--I think I'll make it again this week, and throw in some dried curry leaves.

Ingredients:
1 lb extra firm tofu
1/8 t salt
2 t curry powder
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 T minced fresh ginger
1 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes
2 cups frozen peas
1/2 cup packed cilantro leaves
cooking spray, optional

Procedure:
Press excess moisture out of the tofu with a towel. Cut tofu into cubes. Sprinkle with salt and 1 t of the curry powder. Spray a nonstick skillet lightly with cooking oil spray (if desired). Cook the tofu in the skillet until it starts to turn golden. Remove tofu to a bowl and set aside. Saute the garlic and ginger in 1 T water in the same skillet. Add tomatoes and the remaining curry powder. Stir and cook 3 - 4 minutes, until the moisture in the tomatoes is reduced. Add frozen peas; cook covered until peas are almost tender, about 3 minutes, adding 1 T of water if needed. Scatter the tofu over the tomato-pea mixture and heat 2 minutes. Stir in cilantro. Serve alone, or on top of pasta or rice.


Graduation!



My middle son, Will, graduated from high school on Wednesday evening, as one of the two co-valedictorians for the Gateway Institute of Technology's 2009 graduating class. (Gateway is a St. Louis public magnet school). In the photo, my son is the tall one in the back row. He gave a fine valedictory address--we were so proud of him! In fact, I'm proud of all his accomplishments. He set himself a goal to graduate from high school in just three years, and he worked very hard, taking extra classes in addition to his regular courseload, in order to reach his goal. Along the way, he found time to devote many, many hours each week to his school's FIRST Robotics team. He was the driver of his team's robot, and traveled with the team to the Kansas City Regional competition (where they won!) and to the FIRST World Competition in Atlanta. He designed and built a prototype for a new and improved game controller for the FIRST Tech Challenge, another robotics program his school participated in--and is currently working with his engineering teacher to build a large, multi-controller version of his design. He'll start college at Washington University in the fall, majoring in electrical engineering. Hooray, Will-- you did it!

Mother's Day Muffins


My daughter Emma made me these delightful and delicious heart-shaped muffins for Mother's Day! She used the recipe for Cinnamon Swirl Muffins from the FatFree Vegan recipe index. She had to do a bit of creative substituting for ingredients we were out of, like substituting soy "buttermilk" (soy milk with a tablespoon of vinegar added) for the orange juice.
That evening, we had dinner at Cafe Natasha's, a Persian restaurant on South Grand. I had the Rice and Curry Vegetable Platter, as well as my favorite appetizer, Baba Ghannouj.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Black Lentil and Split Pea Dal


I originally checked 660 Curries by Raghavan Iyer out from the library. But you can only make so many curries in a two-week loan period! I couldn't in good conscience keep renewing the book over and over again, even if my husband is the library director. Finally, I gave in and bought my own copy.


Now that I own the book, my goal is to make at least one curry per week. At that rate I should be able to work my way through all 660 curries in, uh ... about twelve and a half years! This week's choice is an adaptation of Black Lentils and Split Peas with Cardamom--or Chilke Waale Urad Aur Chane Ki Dal. As usual, I omitted the ghee and other oils, and changed amounts of ingredients. I doubled the amount of lentils and split peas. I served the dal with brown rice and papads Italiccrisped in the microwave (as suggested by Madhur Jaffrey).


The legumes and Indian spices can be found in Asian and international food stores. I bought mine at Global Foods in Kirkwood, MO, one of my favorite places to shop.


Black Lentil and Split Pea Dal

1 1/2 cup split black lentils

1/2 cup yellow split peas

1/2 t ground turmeric

1 onion

8 cloves garlic

chunk of fresh ginger approximately 1" x 1" x 1 1/2", sliced

3 fresh Serrano chiles, stems and seeds removed

2 t cumin seeds

1/2 t asafetida

6 cardamom pods

1 t sea salt

fresh cilantro for garnish



  • Place the lentils and split peas in a pot, and cover with cold water. Rub the beans between your fingers. When the water gets cloudy, pour the beans into a strainer, return to pot, and cover with water again. Repeat this three or four times until the water is fairly clear. Drain the beans and return to the pot.

  • Add 6 cups water. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Skim off and discard the foam that forms on the surface. Stir in the turmeric and simmer uncovered 30 minutes until beans are tender and most of the water has evaporated.

  • Meanwhile, put the onion, garlic, ginger, and chiles in a food processor. Pulse until minced.

  • Cook cumin seeds in a skillet until they begin to turn reddish brown, about 1 minute. Add the onion-chile mixture, the asafetida, and the cardamom pods. Stir-fry until the onion is lightly browned, about 10 minutes.

  • Stir the salt into the onion mixture. Add 1 cup water, and set aside until the lentils are ready.

  • When the lentils are tender, stir in the onion mixture. Simmer gently 15 more minutes.

  • You can remove the cardamom pods before serving. (Or you can leave them in, as I did, and listen to people exclaim when they get an intense bite of cardamom!)

  • Sprinkle with cilantro and serve. I put more cilantro on the table for additional garnishing.






Saturday, April 25, 2009

Everest Cafe

Last week we visited Everest Cafe, a St. Louis restaurant that serves authentic Nepalese, Korean, and Indian food. The owner, Devi Gurung States, grew up in Nepal, and his wife is from South Korea. Dr. States is committed to promoting better health and serving high-quality food. His amazing story can be read here, on the restaurant's website.

First, we ordered an appetizer tray that contained Vegetable Mo-Mo (Tibetan dumplings stuffed with vegetables, cumin, garlic, ginger, and spices), Vegetable Samosas (pastry puffs filled with potatoes, onion, and coriander) and Vegetable Pakoras (vegetables coated in chickpea flour and--gulp--deep fried). The appetizers were served with the best tamarind sauce I've ever tasted.

For my entree, I had Tama Bodi Tarkari, a wonderful combination of blackeyed peas, potatoes, bamboo shoots, and tomato sauce, served with steamed rice. My husband chose Mixed Organic Vegetable Tarkari with Tofu, cooked in a Nepali-style sauce, and served with green onions-- spicy and delicious. The two kids who came with us didn't eat vegetarian, but my daughter's entree came with Everest Dahl, a mellow lentil soup made with Himalayan herbs and spices.

The food was fantastic, there were good vegetarian options, and the ambience was casual and enjoyable. I'll definitely visit The Everest Cafe again!

Kidney Bean Salad


Lunch today was kidney bean salad made with a delicious tofu mayonnaise from one of my book fair books, Instead of Chicken, Instead of Turkey: A Poultryless "Poultry" Potpourri. This book was written by Karen Davis, the founder of United Poultry Concerns, a non-profit education organization involved with the treatment of domestic fowl.

I'm not normally a big fan of tofu mayonnaises--they always seem too heavy to me, and I never use up the leftovers. But this one was good--light, sweet, and tangy. I only made 1/4 the recipe, so I didn't have gobs of it left like I usually do--just a little dab, which we'll be able to use up in the next few days.

Here's the way I made it:

Oil-Free Tofu Mayonnaise


4 oz Mori-Nu lite silken tofu, firm
1 small clove garlic
1/4 tsp dill weed
1/4 tsp onion powder
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
juice of 1/2 lemon
water, if needed to thin

Blend all ingredients. (I used my little Cuisinart mini-blender that the Smart Stick fits into).


Kidney Bean Salad
2 cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
3 T oil-free tofu mayonnaise (above)
2 T sweet pickle relish

Mash kidney beans with a potato masher. Mix all ingredients. Serve with pitas or crackers.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A Bento Box Give-Away!

Mission: Vegan is honoring Earth Day by giving away awesome bento boxes for packing your own lunch! Here's the link to the contest. All you have to do is post a comment on the contest post on Mission: Vegan's blog answering this question:

What will you do to reduce your carbon footprint?
The contest deadline is midnight on Earth Day (April 22).

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Vegan Easter Soup

Before we married (25 years ago this August!) my husband had a recipe for a Greek Easter soup called Mayeritsa. It contained lamb, and involved beating eggs until stiff, stirring in lemon juice, then combining the egg mixture with the hot broth, and "stirring furiously".

I created a vegetarian version of this years ago, taking out the lamb, but could not (at that time) come up with a substitute for the eggs.

Here's this year's attempt at a vegan version, which my family judged a success. I substituted "No Chicken" broth for the lamb broth, but you could use any vegetable broth you like that is not tomato-based. I also used Yves Heart's Desire Meatless "Beef" Strips. The guys liked this addition, but my daughter and I felt the soup would be just as good--and maybe better--without them. I used tofu blended with soy milk for the eggs.


2 bunches green onions, sliced
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup white cooking wine (optional)
1 T dried parsley
1 cup fresh spinach, chopped
8 cups Imagine "No Chicken" vegetable broth
2 Rapunzel vegan vegetable bouillon cubes
1 1/2 cups long grain brown rice, cooked
1 1/2 cups white basmati rice, cooked
Yves Heart's Desire Meatless "Beef" Strips (optional)
3 oz firm silken lite tofu
1/3 cup soy milk
Juice from 2 large lemons
salt, pepper



In a large soup pot, saute the onions and celery in 1/4 cup white wine or water, until golden. Add parsley and spinach and saute until soft, adding more water if needed. Add the vegetable broth, rice, and meatless "beef" strips, and simmer 10 minutes. Blend the tofu and soy milk in blender until very smooth (or blend in a bowl with immersion blender). Add lemon juice to tofu mixture and blend briefly. Pour the tofu-lemon mixture slowly into the hot soup, stirring constantly. Serve immediately.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Potato and Spinach Masala





This is really, really good. Okay, so it's not as low in fat as most of my recipes--it contains lite coconut milk, which adds 3.5 grams of fat per serving. But it's soooooo good! The combination of lime and coconut milk is incredible.



This recipe was adapted from Yukon Gold and Baby Spinach Masala in the April 2009 Vegetarian Times.





Ingredients:
2 1/2 lbs Yukon Gold or Klondike yellow-fleshed potatoes, cut into cubes
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 T minced fresh ginger
1 jalapeno chile, chopped
1 t ground coriander
1/2 t ground cumin
1/2 t turmeric
1 13.5-oz can lite coconut milk
4 oz fresh spinach, chopped
1 1/2 t garam masala
2 T lime juice
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Procedure:
Steam the potatoes in steamer basket for about 10 minutes, until just tender.
Meanwhile, saute the onion in 1/4 cup water in a large nonstick skillet. Add the garlic, ginger, and jalapeno, and continue sauteeing until golden and fragrant, adding more water if needed. Stir in the coriander, cumin, and turmeric. Stir in the potatoes. Add coconut milk and 1/4 cup of water. Bring to a simmer, and cook 5 minutes. Stir in the spinach and garam masala, and cook 2 minutes until spinach is wilted. Stir in lime juice and cilantro just before serving. Serve over brown rice.

A Critical Look at Vegetarian Times


Probably I'm just too critical.

I've subscribed to Vegetarian Times for years, but lately it seems to have changed its focus. For one thing, a lot more of the recipes seem to be based around eggs and dairy. Of course, they do include some vegan recipes--like the current (April '09) issue's feature on making your own vegan faux cheeses--but most have a lot of oil. (See? I'm never satisfied!)

Obviously, a commercial publication has to appeal to a broad spectrum of people in order to stay in business; I can't fault them for that. And there are alternative publications that cater to vegan readers; among them are Vegetarian Resource Journal, a quarterly publication, and Dr. McDougall's monthly newsletter containing health-related articles and a selection of health-promoting recipes. These publications don't include dairy or egg recipes. (They don't include beautifully-styled, glossy food photos either, but you can't have everything!)

Back to VT--another thing I've noticed is that many of the articles in recent months seem to be aimed at the proverbial young person who doesn't yet know how to boil water. Of course, this may be a conscious decision, an attempt to appeal to a new generation of vegetarians--and, looked at from that perspective, it's not a bad idea.

I have to admit, though, that every month there are several recipes in Vegetarian Times that I enjoy tremendously; recipes that can easily be adapted to be lower in fat. Last month (March '09) there was the Mixed Vegetable Kootu and the Spicy Asian Stir-Fry with Whole-Wheat Linguine.

And this month? My copy arrived only a few days ago, and already I've made--and blogged about--three of the recipes. All were absolutely delicious! Tonight's dinner--Potato and Spinach Masala--is definitely something I'll make again. I also enjoyed the descriptions of readers' favorite vegetarian restaurants in the Dining Out awards.

So I guess I should just quit my griping and enjoy the beautiful magazine, skipping over the parts that don't interest me. Like the obligatory Easter article about eggs.

What do you think? If you're a vegetarian or a vegan--or even if you're not--please leave a comment and give your opinion. Do you read Vegetarian Times? Do you like it? Is there another food-related publication you like better?

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Veggie Hot Pot


This is adapted from one of the many, many delicious recipes in The Garden of Vegan by Tanya Barnard and Sarah Kramer.
Ingredients:
1 onion, chopped
4 cups vegetable stock (I used
Imagine No-Chicken Broth)
2 carrots, chopped
4 potatoes, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 T curry powder
1 t ground cumin
1/4 t cardamom
1/4 t nutmeg
1/8 t allspice
1 red chili pepper, seeded and minced
1 T grated fresh ginger
1 apple, chopped
1 cup (or more) frozen cut green beans
1 cup (or more) frozen cauliflower
2 cans chickpeas
handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
Procedure:
In a large, deep skillet or saucepan, saute the onions in a few tablespoons of the broth until beginning to brown. Stir in 2 cups of the stock and the carrots, potatoes, garlic, curry, cumin, cardamom, nutmeg, allspice, chili pepper, and ginger. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 8 minutes. Add the apple, green beans, cauliflower, chickpeas, and the rest of the broth. Return to a boil, and cook 3 minutes. Stir in the cilantro. Serve with pitas or over rice.



Japanese Asparagus Dengaku

There's not much my 15-year-old daughter, Emma, likes better than asparagus (unless it's lentils ... or potatoes ... or anything with lots and lots of garlic).

Emma made this as a side dish for our dinner tonight. It's adapted from a 5-ingredient recipe published in Vegetarian Times--this one is from the April 2009 issue that arrived yesterday. The description explains that dengaku is a Japanese barbecue tradition in which foods are coated with a miso-based sauce, then grilled (or, in this case, broiled).

Ingredients:
2 lb. asparagus, rinsed and trimmed
3 T white (Shiro) miso
juice of 1 lemon (about 2 T)
2 T tahini
1 T maple syrup

Procedure:
Place asparagus in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet.
Whisk together miso, lemon juice, tahini, and maple syrup in a bowl. Brush the miso mixture over the asparagus. Broil 6 minutes, or until asparagus is tender and starting to brown.

The miso sauce is absolutely delicious. I'm thinking about trying it on brussels sprouts next.

What's-Left-in-the-Pantry Lunch


A good lunch that everyone liked--even the one who views vegetables with suspicion. Amounts and ingredients are approximate; the idea was to use up the dribs and drabs that were lurking in the freezer and pantry.

Ingredients:
4 oz whole wheat shell noodles
4 oz tri-color rotini pasta
1/2 cup frozen broccoli
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup frozen green beans
1 lb. tofu, cubed
2 T tamari
2 T balsamic vinegar
2 T maple syrup
2 T sweet and spicy mustard

Procedure:
Bring a pot of water to boil. Cook pasta 7 minutes, then add frozen vegetables. Cover pot and return quickly to a boil; boil 7 more minutes. While pasta and vegetables are cooking, brown tofu cubes in a nonstick skillet, stirring frequently. Whisk tamari, balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, and sweet/spicy mustard together in a small bowl. Drizzle a few tablespoons of the sauce over the tofu and continue cooking, stirring frequently. When the pasta and vegetables are done, pour into colander to drain, then return to pot. Stir in tofu cubes and remaining sauce.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Chocolate Cookie Bars





Sometimes you just want chocolate.




After dinner, Emma got a craving for chocolate chip cookies. She found a recipe, sweet-talked her brother into taking her to the grocery store for chocolate chips, and set to work.




Before long, the cookies were out of the oven, and the kids were making them disappear--fast. Meanwhile, I was trying to come up with a low fat treat that I could make without another run to the store. These are very sweet, but at least they have no added fat. And they taste great with a mug of cold soy milk.






1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder
2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
8 oz lite firm silken tofu
1/4 cup vanilla soy yogurt
1/4 cup agave nectar
2/3 cup maple syrup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine dry ingredients and whisk together. Combine wet ingredients, including tofu, in a separate bowl, and blend with immersion blender (or blend in regular blender). Add wet mixture to dry mixture and stir to combine. Spread batter in a nonstick 9" X 13" cake pan. Bake 20 minutes. Let cool in pan briefly, then cut into bars.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

VT's Vegetable Kootu

The most recent issue of Vegetarian Times magazine (March 2009) features South Indian recipes--including this delicious Mixed Vegetable Kootu.

I tweaked the amounts of cayenne pepper, vegetables, and oil--the recipe called for 2 tablespoons of coconut oil, and I simply omitted it. It had plenty of coconut flavor already, from the coconut in the recipe. I followed VT's suggestion to substitute dried coconut soaked in hot water for the fresh coconut. I also substituted frozen cauliflower and green beans for fresh.

Here's the recipe as originally written, with my changes in red.

Mixed Vegetable Kootu

1 cup firmly packed cilantro leaves
1/2 cup fresh or frozen grated coconut (or dried coconut soaked in hot water for 15 minutes and then drained)
1/2 cup low-fat coconut milk
5 cloves garlic, peeled
1 serrano chile, stemmed and seeded
1 T ground coriander
1 t cayenne pepper (I used only used 1/2 teaspoon)
2 medium carrots, cut into 1/4-inch diagonal slices
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch rounds (I used 2 sweet potatoes)
1/2 head cauliflower, cut into florets (I used 1 16-oz bag of frozen cauliflower)
1/4 lb green beans (I used 2 cups of frozen green beans)
2 T coconut oil (I omitted this)
1 t mustard seeds
8 curry leaves, optional (I used 8 dried leaves--I buy fresh curry leaves and dry them in the
oven for future use)

Procedure:

1. Puree cilantro leaves, coconut, coconut milk, garlic, serrano chile, coriander, and cayenne pepper in food processor until mixture forms a smooth paste. Set aside.
2. Place carrots and sweet potatoes in large skillet and cover with 1 cup water. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, and cook 2 minutes. Add green beans, cover, and cook 2 minutes more, or until vegetables are just tender (they will need to cook about 10 minutes if you are using frozen vegetables--read the directions on the package). Stir in cilantro-and-coconut paste, and season with salt and pepper if desired. Cover and keep warm.
3. Meanwhile, heat oil (or dry skillet) over medium-high heat. Add mustard seeds and cover. Cook 30 seconds, or until sizzling/popping subsides, then stir in curry leaves. Stir mustard seeds and curry leaves into vegetables. Serve hot or at room temperature. We ate them with papads.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Vegan BLTs

No picture--we ate them up too fast.

For two sandwiches:
4 slices whole wheat bread, toasted
1/2 avocado, sliced
1 small tomato, sliced
Lightlife Fakin' Bacon, browned
Lettuce

Arrange avocado and tomato slices, Fakin' Bacon, and lettuce between pieces of toast. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Ten Things That Made Me Smile



1. The sweatshirt I got for Christmas (see photo).
2. Finally finding bulk baking yeast at River City Natural Food Market in Kirkwood so I don't have to use those silly little paper packets of yeast any more.
3. Sipping a soy latte at Foundation Grounds, the new eco-friendly coffee shop in Maplewood, Missouri.
4. Walking at Route 66 State Park. This area was once the town of Times Beach, Missouri, which, in the 1980s, became uninhabitable due to dioxin contamination. Residents were displaced, incinerators were brought in, and all the soil was dug up and burned to remove the toxin. Now, 25 years later, the earth is recovering from the disaster. The area is now a park with trails for hiking, bicycling, and horseback riding. Lots of smiles on people's faces on Saturday--everyone was so happy to be outdoors!
5. The unseasonably warm, spring-like weather St. Louis enjoyed this weekend.
6. Making my own soy milk.
7. Trying out the new kinds of beans my husband brought home from Global Foods--pigeon peas (gandules), cow peas, and Roman beans (also called cranberry beans). They were delicious in 5-bean dal made from a FatFree Vegan recipe--sorry, no photos (we ate it up too fast)!
8. Going to a Saturday night movie on impulse (Last Chance Harvey, with Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson).
9. Finding out that my son is a National Merit Scholarship finalist!
10. Settlers of Catan (to be discussed in a future post).

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Super Bowl Dips


For Super Bowl Sunday, I made two great dips to serve with pita bread and chips. Both were from one of my all-time favorite cookbooks, The Accidental Vegan by Devra Gartenstein.

I just discovered Devra's blog, The Quirky Gourmet, and was thrilled to find out there is a new edition of The Accidental Vegan--with additional recipes!

We had Babaganoush, which is so good my daughter and I could live on it--and Anasazi Bean Dip. Here are the recipes as written; I'll explain any modifications I made at the end of each recipe.



Babaganoush

2 medium eggplants
1/4 cup tahini
1 T fresh parsley
2 T lemon juice
1 T olive oil
1 t sea salt
1/2 t black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Poke the eggplants all over with a fork or knife, then roast them on a baking pan until they're wrinkled and soft, about one hour.
When they're cool enough to handle, scoop out the pulp and puree it in a food processor or blender with the other ingredients.

I left out the olive oil to make this lower in fat; since we're used to eating foods without added oils, the oil in the tahini gives it plenty of richness.

Anasazi Bean Dip

2 cups Anasazi beans
water to cover
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small can diced green chilies
1 t sea salt
1 tomato, chopped or 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
1 T chili powder
1 t ground cumin
1 t dried oregano
2 T red wine vinegar

Soak the beans for a few hours or overnight.
Change the water and cook them in a medium saucepan with all the ingredients except the vinegar for about an hour and a half, until the beans are soft enough to break down when you stir them. Add more water if necessary.
Add the vinegar and serve.

I used canned pintos. I've never seen anasazi beans in any store around here--but they could probably be ordered. They sound interesting! I also left out the tomatoes because my husband is not a huge tomato fan. When cooking the beans and other ingredients, I added about 1 cup of water and let it simmer for about 1/2 hour, since the beans were already cooked. If anyone has tried anasazi beans, or knows where to get them, please let me know!




Broccoli and Cheez Soup--Seriously Good!


I first saw the recipe for this soup a couple of weeks ago on this thread at the the McDougall Forums. People there were raving about how good it was, and I decided I had to try it soon. It originated over at FatFree Vegan as Shelly's Cheez Please Soup--here's a link to the original recipe.

The version posted by Kai on the McDougall forum, is simpler--fewer ingredients--and it is incredibly good.

Yesterday, when the new McDougall newsletter came out, guess what was in the recipe section? Yep, a variation on this soup. Below, you'll find the recipe as it appeared in the newsletter, complete with Mary's comment. If you'd like to subscribe to Dr. McDougall's newsletter, there's a link on his home page.

When I made this for lunch today, I used lots of shortcuts: frozen potato shreds, Imagine No-Chicken broth, frozen broccoli, and my favorite 365 Brand canned cannellini beans. It couldn't have been easier. I blended it with my awesome new Cuisinart Hand Blender (my old Oster immersion blender recently bit the dust).


Potato and Broccoli Soup

This recipe came from the McDougall Discussion Board a while ago and it is so good and easy that I wanted to share it with all of you.

Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 2-3

2 cups frozen hash brown potato chunks
3 cups vegetable broth or water
1 15 ounce can white beans, drained and rinsed
½ cup nutritional yeast flakes
1 teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
2 cups small broccoli florets

Place the potatoes and broth in a large pot. Cook for about 10 minutes until potatoes are tender. Place in a blender jar with all the remaining ingredients except the broccoli. Blend until smooth. Return to pan, add the broccoli and cook until tender, about 10 minutes.

Hints: Fresh potatoes that have been peeled and cut into chunks may also be used, but since I usually have the frozen chunks in my freezer, I saved time by using those. Frozen broccoli florets may also be used in place of the fresh broccoli.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Aya Sofia



I haven't posted any recipes or menu ideas all week--I've been too busy to do more than throw together some very basic meals. My son Will is heavily involved in his high school's FIRST Robotics team (see photos above), and they're in the midst of their intense robot-building season. The team has just six weeks to build a functioning robot to compete in the FIRST Robotics regionals beginning in February. This year's game has a moon rover theme--the robots must maneuver on a low-friction playing field that simulates lunar conditions. The object is to throw balls into trailers towed by the opposing teams' robots, while preventing other teams from placing balls in your robot's trailer.

At the same time, my daughter Emma has been working on a theatrical production--scroll down to the next post for more on this--and my husband is rehearsing for his role (Mr. MacMillan) in an upcoming production of Big! with Shrewsbury Community Theatre. Add in work, and meetings, and ... yeah, we've been a little busy.

Last night between attending Emma's play and getting over to the Fox for Legally Blonde, we went to Aya Sofia, a wonderful Turkish/Mediterranean restaurant in our neighborhood. As an appetizer, we ordered pitas with a tray of three dips--Biber Ezme (a roasted red pepper dip), Hummus, and Baba Ghanous. Next came a Turkish salad. For my entree, I had Imam Bayildi--baked eggplant with tomato sauce, served with lightly braised green beans and orzo. The eggplant was wonderful--it absolutely melted in your mouth! It was certainly higher in fat than what we usually eat, but it was a special day; we were celebrating Emma's dramatic accomplishments.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Whole Wheat Baguettes


My brother, sister-in-law, and little nephew joined us for dinner: Creamy Broccoli Pasta from The McDougall Quick and Easy Cookbook, some baked winter squash, a marvelous beet salad brought by our guests--and this crusty bread. I got the bread recipe from Diary of a Locavore. The cool baguette pan came from the Viking Store .

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Mushroom Pie with Spinach Crust


This is my adaptation of a Mollie Katzen recipe that appeared in the newspaper's food section last week. My version substitutes vegan ingredients for the oil, eggs, and Swiss cheese. The three of us who ate it enjoyed its rich, savory taste. The two mycophobes in the family found themselves other nourishment.

Crust Ingredients:
12 oz. fresh spinach, chopped
3/4 t salt
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
ground nutmeg
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a glass pie pan with cooking spray and set aside. Saute the spinach and salt in a very small amount of water until the spinach is limp. Revove from heat. Add flour, bread crumbs, and a few dashes of nutmeg; mix well. I used an immersion blender to mix it more uniformly. Pat into prepared pan using a fork, then used moistened hands to mold the crust. Bake for 15 minutes. Fill immediately OR let cool, wrap tightly, and refrigerate.

Filling Ingredients:

1 onion, diced
1 t. salt
12 oz. mushrooms, sliced
2 T fresh lemon juice
3 T whole wheat flour
2 t dry mustard
1 t dried basil
1/2 t dried thyme
1/2 cup canned cannellini beans
1 small (2-oz) jar pimentos
1 T tahini
2 T nutritional yeast
2 T ground flaxseed
1 cup plain soy yogurt
black pepper
1/3 cup water if needed
paprika

Saute onion and salt in a little water in a nonstick skillet until onion is soft. Add mushrooms and lemon juice. Cook, stirring often, about 5 to 8 minutes. Sprinkle in the flour, dry mustard, basil, and thyme; stir in. Cook and stir 5 minutes, then remove from heat. In a bowl, combine the canellini beans, pimentos, and tahini. Blend with immersion blender (or in regular blender) until smooth. Stir in the nutritional yeast, ground flaxseed, soy yogurt, and pepper until well blended. Stir in the mushroom mixture. Pour into prebaked pie crust, and lightly dust the top with paprika. Bake 30 minutes or until set. Let cool at least 10 minutes before serving. Can be served hot, warm, or at room temperature.

The crust can be made a couple of days in advance, tightly wrapped in plastic wrap, and stored in the refrigerator. The entire pie can be made up to two days ahead and stored in the same way. To reheat, let pie come to room temperature, then cover lightly with foil. Reheat in a 300 degree oven about 20 to 30 minutes.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Baked Beans and Muffins


Baked beans and muffins--a good, comforting meal for a cold day. The baked beans are from a recipe in The McDougall Quick and EasyCookbook, with just a few minor changes. I added Fakin' Bacon. The Cinnamon Swirl Muffins are from the FatFree Vegan Kitchen recipe index. These are some of our favorite muffins--they are sweet and delicious. I used two cups of white whole wheat flour this time instead of one of white whole wheat and one of unbleached. That's probably why mine came out flat instead of rounded on top--but they still tasted fine!






Baked Beans:
1 green pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 cans kidney beans
1 package Lightlife Fakin' Bacon Smoky Tempeh Strips, chopped
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1/3 cup mustard



Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine green pepper, onion, beans, and Fakin' Bacon in a bowl. Combine the remaining ingredients in a separate bowl. Pour over the beans and vegetables and mix well. Pour into a casserole dish, cover, and bake for 1 hour.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Pudding Toast


We didn't shop for food over the weekend--we were too busy with other stuff, such as Will's college scholarship applications. When I came home after work on Monday and looked into the pantry, it was a Stone Soup moment. There wasn't a whole lot to work with.

We had a loaf of bread in the freezer downstairs, and a pound of tofu in the fridge. Signs pointed to French toast. I tossed the tofu into the Vita-Mix with some maple syrup and orange juice (we were even out of soy milk, and I almost never let that happen--I love my soy lattes too much!)

Emma came along right after I poured the blended mixture into a bowl. She swiped a spoonful and reported, "Tastes like pudding." When the rest of the family came home, she announced, "Mom made pudding toast!"
Pudding Toast
1 lb. firm tofu
1/2 to 3/4 cup orange juice
2 T ground flax seed
2 T maple syrup
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
10 slices whole wheat bread
cooking spray
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly spray a nonstick baking sheet with cooking spray. Place the tofu and 1/2 cup of the orange juice in blender or food processor. Add flax seed, maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt. Blend well to pudding consistency, adding more orange juice if needed. Pour mixture into a shallow, flat-bottomed bowl. Dip each slice of bread in the mixture to coat both sides. Place coated bread slices on baking sheet, and bake five to eight minutes until beginning to brown. Turn over and bake about five minutes on other side, until golden brown. Serve hot, topped with maple syrup or applesauce.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Simply Irresistible Lentil Dal


If only I could stop the Robert Palmer song, "Simply Irresistible" from playing in my head whenever I make something from John and Mary McDougall's wonderful McDougall Made Irresistible DVD.
In spite of the mental soundtrack, I managed to make a pretty good dinner using Mary's Festive Lentil Dal recipe. (The link will take you to a PDF of the recipe--scroll down, it's the second one on the page). If you want to view all the recipes from the DVD, go here for a list of links.