Thursday, February 17, 2011

Kiss me I'm really, I am!

In honor of St. Patrick's Day (which is exactly one month away) I made Vegan Irish Stew and some Vegan Soda Bread. Also, I have a cold sore right now so you may not want to kiss's taking over my face and is VERY painful. I have no idea where it came from, but it's here! Anyway....

I'm pretty sure there is nothing better or more satisfying than peasant food. You know, good earthy food...potatoes, bread, soups, stews, food that you can eat with your hands or a big ol' spoon. It's simple, it's easy to make, it's cheap, it feeds a ton of people and it tastes amazing. Peasant food is defined as..."those dishes specific to a particular culture made from accessible and inexpensive ingredients and usually prepared and spiced to make them more palatable. They have often formed a significant part of the diets of poor people. Peasant foods often involve skilled preparation by knowledgeable cooks using inventiveness and skills passed down from earlier generations. Such dishes are often prized as ethnic foods by other cultures and by descendants of the native culture who still desire these traditional dishes even when their incomes rise to the point where they can purchase any food they like."

Here are the recipes....

Vegan Irish Stew
4 cups red potatoes, diced
1 large onion, diced
2 parsnips, diced
1 turnip, diced
3 whole cloves
1-12 oz. bottle Guinness
32 oz vegetable or mushroom broth
3 sprigs thyme
1 cup baby carrots cut in bite-sized pieces
1 cup mushrooms, quartered
1 cup baby Brussels sprouts, halved
1 tbsp onion powder
2 cloves garlic, sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup frozen peas (add last 30 minutes of cooking)

Place all ingredients in crock pot (except peas, those will be added the last 30 minutes of cooking). Turn crock pot to low and allow to cook 6-8 hours. Last 30 minutes of cooking, turn heat up to high and add peas.

Irish Soda Bread
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup oats
1 cup soy milk mixed with 1 TBSP vinegar

1. Mix the flour, baking soda, salt and oats in a bowl.
2. Mix in the buttermilk and form a dough.
3. Shape the dough and place it on a baking sheet or in a loaf pan.
4. Bake in a preheated 375F oven for 40 minutes (the top should be golden brown).

Seriously the EASIEST bread ever. I added about 4 tsp caraway seeds to mine for some extra flavor, some people also add raisins...but I really don't like raisins, at all!

Until next week!

Friday, February 11, 2011

On my honor, I will try:

Girl Scout cookies, I remember selling them, eating them, freezing them so we would have them throughout the year....especially the Thin Mints (better frozen in my opinion!). This year when I went to order some Girl Scout cookies from a co-worker imagine my dismay to find out no vegan ones are on sale this year. That only leaves one option, make my own. Here is a pretty amazing recipe for Vegan Thin Mints I found on the Internet. I'm pretty sure this it the first dessert recipe that's been featured on the blog, so that should tell you how good they are!!

Vegan Thin Mints
Wafer Cookies:
1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
½ cup cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¾ cup vegan margarine
3 tablespoons nondairy milk (I use almond, rice, or soy)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon pure peppermint extract

Chocolate Coating:
2 cups dairy-free semi-sweet chocolate
1 tablespoon vegan margarine
½ teaspoon peppermint extract

Wafer Cookies:
In a food processor, pulse flour, sugar, cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda until combined. Add margarine, milk, vanilla, and mint extract. Pulse a few times until mixture comes together. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and knead with your hands in the bowl for one minute. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silpats. Remove dough from refrigerator. Roll a heaping teaspoon of cookie dough into a ball and place onto prepared baking sheets, leaving about 3 inches in between each ball. Evenly flatten the dough with your fingertips so that it is about ¼ inch thick and bake for 12-14 minutes. Let cool completely.

Chocolate Coating:
Melt chocolate chips and margarine over a double boiler or in the microwave. Stir in the mint extract and mix until smooth. Dip completely cooled cookies into the chocolate and remove with a fork, gently scrapping off excess chocolate using the side of the bowl. Or, spread a thin layer of the chocolate on top of the cookies. Place cookies on a parchment-lined plate or tray and refrigerate until chocolate coating sets. Store in the refrigerator.

I also made a new recipe for dinner, Rustic Winter Stew Over Polenta, except I didn't have mine over Polenta (I made the Polenta, but it was WAY too salty, so garlic bread substitutes nicely!!). Here is the recipe for the stew and the polenta as well....

Rustic Winter Stew Over Polenta
Olive oil (from 1 teaspoon to 2 tablespoons, depending how much you feel like using)
1 small onion, diced medium
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
Several dashes fresh black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup green lentils
1 1/2 cups baby carrots
2 lbs plum tomatoes, chopped
4 cups vegetable broth
1 lb small Yukon gold potatoes, sliced in half (if using large ones, cut into about 1 inch pieces)
2 bay leaves
3 leeks, white & light green parts only, in 1 inch chunks (and washed well)

For the polenta:
4 cups vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup dry polenta

To make the stew: Preheat a 4 quart pot over medium heat. Saute the onion in olive oil, along with a dash of salt, for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme, celery seed, pepper and salt and saute a minute more. Add the lentils, baby carrots, tomatoes and vegetable broth. Cover pot and bring to a boil. Stir occasionally for about 20 minutes, until lentils are slightly softened (now is a good time to start the polenta.) Add potatoes and leeks. Lower heat to simmer. Cover and cook for about 20 to 30 more minutes, until potatoes are fork tender and lentils are soft. Let sit for 10 minutes or so to allow the flavors to meld. Serve over polenta, garnished with fresh herbs, if you like.

To make the polenta: Bring vegetable broth and salt to a boil in a 2 quart pot. Add oil. Lower heat to simmer. Add the polenta in a slow steady stream, stirring constantly with a whisk. Whisk for about 5 minutes, until polenta is thickened. Keeping heat low, cover and let cook for 20 more minutes or so, stirring occasionally.

The stew is super hearty and very filling!! So enjoy it, until next week!!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

I'd like to introduce my friend the mushroom, he's a real fun guy...

Growing up one of my favorite meals was Salisbury Steak w/Mashed Potatoes & Peas, at the mere thought of it I start drooling (like I am right now). Until now I haven't even thought to transform this into a vegan recipe, but the other day I bought three vegan cookbooks for my iPod (I use the kindle app), one of them being The Happy Herbivore. This book is full of yummy, healthy, low-fat vegan recipes that I am excited to try out. One of the recipes is for a Mushroom Burger, which immediately made me think of Salisbury steak smothered in gravy (drooling again!!). So now is the time to creatively transform this delicious omni recipe into an amazing vegan recipe.

On a side note if you are interested in looking up all the health benefits associated with mushrooms (which aren't vegetables, but are actually fungi) check out this link from the World's Healthiest Foods website...

Here are the recipes for Vegan Salshroom Steak recipe...

Mushroom Burger
1 slice whole wheat bread
8 oz cremini mushrooms
1 15-oz can pinto or kidney beans, drained
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/3 cup vital wheat gluten
2 TBSP soy sauce
2 TBSP steak sauce
2 TBSP BBQ sauce
pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 450F. Grease or line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place bread slice in a food processor and allow the motor to run until breadcrumbs form. Transfer to a mixing bowl. Place whole mushrooms in the food processor and pulse until coarsely shredded to the size of sliced olives. Transfer to a mixing bowl. Repeat with beans. Combine all ingredients. Using your hands, form 7 patties. Place patties on cookie sheet, spray with cooking spray, and bake for 10 minutes. Flip, re-spray and bake another 8 minutes. Flip, re-spray for a third time, and bake 5 minutes more. Burgers can also be pan-fried or grilled.

(makes 7 patties...113 kcals/0.7g fat/17.5g carbs/3.5g fiber/8.4g protein) 3P+ for WW

Vegan Mushroom Gravy
2 cups Imagine Mushroom Broth
2 TBSP flour
1 cup sliced onion
1 cup sliced mushrooms
salt & pepper, to taste

In a large sprayed skilled saute onions and mushrooms, seasoning with salt and pepper. Cook until mushrooms release juices and onions are almost translucent. In a bowl whisk together broth and flour, until blended. Pour into skillet with mushrooms and onions and cook until thickens into gravy, stirring often to avoid scorching. Serve over mashed potatoes and Mushroom Burger. This dish is GREAT with fresh or frozen green peas.

I also made some Roasted Cauliflower as another side dish....I love roasted cauliflower. Roasting this vegetable changes the flavor and the texture. There is something pretty amazing about roasted cauliflower! Here is the recipe...

Roasted Cauliflower with Sea Salt
3 cups cauliflower florets, about 1 medium head chopped into florets
Olive oil cooking Spray
kosher salt, Maldon sea salt or other artisan flaked sea salt.

Preheat oven to 425F. Spray cauliflower florets with cooking spray and sprinkle with sea salt. Spread cauliflower in an even layer on a cast iron pan or a cookie sheet. Roast 10 minutes. Turn cauliflower over and re-spray. Roast another 10-15 minutes, or until cauliflower is just browned and fork tender. Season with more salt if desired.

P.S...I didn't want to leave you wondering what health benefits cauliflower has to offer, so here is the link... ...and now you know!!

P.P.S....Now that I've made the dish, I'm gonna have to say the Mushroom Burgers were good but probably better for a BBQ. The Vegan Mushroom Gravy was AMAZING, and when poured over the mashed potatoes and mixed with the peas it was probably the best gravy I've ever had. I could just eat the mashed potatoes and gravy (with peas) and be completely satisfied. Everything was really good and super flavorful, I would just eat them separately next time! Until next week!!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Don't ditch the kale!!!

I was supposed to make Roasted Red Pepper Pizza (that's what I had said I was making last week), but I changed my mind. We had a youth group game night Friday; the day after our bible study, and were having two nights in a row is a bit excessive! So I changed the menu to Chili Verde con Papas and Corn & Scallion Corn Bread. Thankfully the girls were OK with the change, and enjoyed it. It was really good. Very flavorful, hearty, kinda spicy and thoroughly delicious. Also the addition of kale may seem strange, but it adds a lot of if you make this don't ditch the kale, use it!!

Not to leave out the cornbread (as if I could forget about the cornbread!) was also really good. There's just something about adding real corn to cornbread that makes it extra yummy! Then adding the green onion took it up another notch. Really good on it's own with some Earth Balance spread, and really good the next day!

Here are the recipes.....

Chili Verde con Papas
1 lb baby Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 tsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3 jalapenos, seeded and sliced thinly
1 green bell pepper, medium diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 TBSP ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup white wine
1 pound tomatillos, papery skins removed, washed and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1 pound kale (about 2 bunches), coarse stems removed, chopped into bite-size pieces
2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro
1/4 cup scallions
1 1/2 cup navy beans
juice of 1 lime
1 tsp light agave nectar

Place the chopped potatoes in a small saucepan, cover with water and bring to a boil. Let boil for about 15-20 minutes. Drain and set aside. Preheat a 4-quart pot over medium-high heat. Saute the onion, jalapenos, and green peppers in the oil for about 7 minutes, until everything is softened and the onions are slightly browned. Add the garlic, cumin, oregano and salt. Saute for a minute more, until the garlic is fragrant. Add the wine and tomatillos, turn up the heat a bit and let the wine reduce and the tomatillos release their juices, about 5 minutes. Add the vegetable broth, scallions and 1/2 cup of the cilantro. Turn down the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for about 5 minutes, just to heat through. Use an immersion blender to partially puree everything. If you don't have one, transfer half the mixture to a food processor and blend smooth, then transfer back to pot. Add the kale, cover and cook for about 10 minutes, until the kale is soft. Add the cooked potatoes and the beans, and simmer for a few more minutes, until everything is heated through. Add the remaining cilantro, lime juice and agave. Ladle into bowls and garnish with cilantro and scallions.

(6 servings...220 kcals/2g fat/42g carbs/10g fiber/10g protein) 5P+ for WW

Corn & Scallion Corn Bread
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 TBSP olive oil
2 TBSP agave nectar
1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
1/2 cup finely chopped scallions

Preheat the oven to 350F and lightly spray an 8-inch baking pan. In a measuring cup, whisk together the almond milk and the vinegar, and set aside to curdle. In a large bowl, sift together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt. Create a well in the middle and add the almond milk, agave and oil. Mix just until combined. Fold in the corn and scallions. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and bake for 28 to 32 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Slice and serve warm.

(8 servings...160 kcals/4.5g fat/20g carbs/3g fiber/4g protein) 3P+ for WW

I also made dessert but it was a repeat from last week, Banana Chocolate Chip Crepes. I normally don't make a dessert twice in a row, but it was requested by Ms. Toni Monique Gonzalez, so I was happy to oblige her request! After all she was Lady Liberty for a few weeks, and I am patriotic!! See last weeks post if you are interested in the recipe.