Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Vegan MoFo: How to Supreme a Citrus Fruit

This post goes in conjunction with my post on Grapefruit-Soba Noodle Salad.  That recipe calls for a supremed grapefruit. "Supreming" is a method of removing fruit sections from the membrane. It's done with citrus fruits and it's a good idea for when you want to serve citrus slices in fancy salads and whatnot. It's done particularly with grapefruits because they have a tough, unpleasant membrane. 

Now let's begin the supreming!

1. Trim ends all the way to juicy flesh.

2. Stand fruit upright, and remove peel and pith with knife, following curve of fruit from top to bottom. (A small, serrated paring knife works best.)

3. Holding fruit over a bowl, cut sections along membranes as if you were slicing out a wedge, releasing them one by one. My wedges don't look that awesome, but they got better as I went, lol.

4. Set supremes aside, and squeeze membrane "skeleton" over bowl to release any remaining juice. These juice can be used in the recipe you're making. 

Or if you're like me, you will eat the fruit off the skeleton and the peel as though you were eating an artichoke! I'm not about to waste any tasty fruit! 

I once saw a cooking contest on tv where people were seeing how fast they could supreme an orange. I can do one it about two minutes, but they were doing them in like, 30 seconds. Perfectly. Maybe one day, lol.

Vegan MoFo: Grapefruit-Soba Noodle Salad

I have a confession.

I love, love, LOVE grapefruit. 
I love it so much I don't even put sugar on top! 

Every year as it starts to get cold outside, I trade it my navel oranges and granny smith apples (fall fruits) for my clementines and grapefruits (winter fruits). With the grapefruits comes the one inevitable recipe: Grapefruit-Soba Noodle Salad.

This recipe came from the January 2009 issue of Vegetarian Times, and I've made it so often that the magazine page it once resided on is now half sticky and covered in juice stains. I'm sure I'll get around to putting it on a recipe card eventually... It comes with a peanut sauce, but I have a confession...

I HATE peanut sauce. I've tried 15 million different recipes and tried it on all sorts of things, but it gags me. It's just too rich or too vinegary or too goopy. I can't stand it. That's why every time I make this recipe, I don't make the peanut sauce...

Anywho, the recipe calls for radishes. Radishes are alright, but they're not a vegetable I would pay for. Instead, I used daikon. Daikon is radish-like, but it's sweeter and milder. It's also more fun to cut up! The key to picking out a good root o' daikon is picking one that is nice and firm. I had to wade through all the floppy ones up front to get a good one from the back (I love where this conversation is going!). So after cutting the ends of it, I peeled it with a vegetable peeler, then I cut it into matchsticks. It's flavor was perfect in this recipe. On a small note, aside from the fact that it is super low in calories (18 cals in one cup! Yay vegetables!), it contains about 30% of your daily vitamin C! Awesome. The label on it had a recipe for some shredded daikon salad. I think I might make a bowl with the little bit of root I have left over. I'll tell you how it is. :)

Oh, and buckwheat soba is a good source of protein. One serving of soba has about 7 grams of protein. The VT nutritional info is mostly correct, though it actually has more protein in it that it states, even without the peanut sauce!
The mystical root of mystery that is daikon.

So, although this recipe is from Vegetarian Times, I'm going to repost it here (it's available for free on the website already) with a link back to the original. My picture is slightly different than theirs (I added celery, subbed daikon, left off the cilantro, and forgot to take a picture of the sesame seeds), but I've many the original plus many variations and they've all been awesome. To have a step-by-step picture guide on how to supreme a grapefruit, click here.

Grapefruit-Soba Noodle Salad:
Peanut Sauce:
¼ cup seasoned rice vinegar
2 Tbs. smooth peanut butter
1 Tbs. low-sodium soy sauce
2 tsp. agave nectar
2 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. chili oil
1 clove garlic, minced (1 tsp.)

Noodle Salad:
1 small red bell pepper, sliced (1 cup)
5 radishes, thinly sliced (2/3 cup)
5 green onions, sliced (1/3 cup)
6 oz. snow peas
8 oz. buckwheat soba noodles
2 tsp. canola oil
8 oz. seasoned tofu, cut into 4 slices
3 grapefruit, supremed

To make Spicy Peanut Sauce:
1. Purée vinegar, peanut butter, soy sauce, agave nectar, sesame oil, chili oil, and garlic in blender or food processor until smooth (or use a whisk and some elbow grease... you have less to clean up that way).

To make Soba Noodle Salad:
2. Toss together bell pepper, radishes (do the daikon!!), and green onions in large bowl. Bring large pot of water to a boil, add snow peas, and cook 2 minutes. Transfer snow peas to bowl of ice water with slotted spoon; drain, and add to vegetables. Return water to a boil.
3. Cook soba noodles in same pot of boiling water according to package directions; drain, and rinse under cold water. Drain again, and set aside.
4. Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Add tofu, and cook 1 minute per side, or until lightly browned.
5. Toss tofu, grapefruit supremes, and soba noodles with vegetables. Divide among 6 bowls, drizzle with Spicy Peanut Sauce, and sprinkle with cilantro and sesame seeds, if desired.

Here's my sideways-assed photo:

Blogger wouldn't let me flip it and I was getting seriously annoyed, so I've decided to just post it anyway! It is a cold noodle salad, and it tastes better once it's sat in the fridge for awhile, but I'm sure it would be just as good if the veggies were stir-fried. I might have to make that variation later...

Here's the link to the original recipe: Grapefruit-Soba Noodle Salad with Spicy Peanut Sauce. 

Have a great evening!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Vegan MoFo: Poppy Seed Coleslaw? Why Not?

So, the other day my Dad came home with a bag of shredded coleslaw mix. It was a not-so-subtle hint that he'd like me to make him some. My Dad's pretty awesome and he does a lot for me, so I always give in to his "hints" and cook things for him. I don't mind one bit though, because the kitchen is probably one of my favorite rooms in the house!

Anywho, my not-so-secret secret to making this coleslaw is Veganaise. It's my go-to vegan mayo and I honestly think it is a dead ringer for mayonnaise. Actually, I like it BETTER than mayo because not only is it free of eggs and milk (and a million other things on its unusually long ingredients list), but I think it tastes... cleaner? You know, it's not so greasy on the tongue... That's kind of a weird way to say it, but eh. You catch my drift. Lol.

So yeah, my Dad eats my vegan coleslaw and he loves it. I love it as well. I only put enough veganaise on there to give all the cabbage a nice coating. I HATE goopy coleslaw. I also ensure that it's neither too vinegary nor too sweet and I balance everything out by giving it a nice dosing of poppy seeds. Though most coleslaw recipes here in the Midwest use apple cider vinegar or white vinegar, I always use rice vinegar because I find the flavor more pleasant. This is just my preference though, and you can use whatever kind you like. I previously posted this same recipe, but it was a guesstimate based on what I tossed in the bowl. In this recipe, everything is nicely measured out and the final product has been tested and approved! Enjoy! Even in November!

Also, I used two small heads of savoy cabbage to yield 5 cups, but I'm sure a large green one will yield five cups easy. Also, a mandoline makes real easy of the cabbage and onion shredding.

Poppy Seed Coleslaw:
5 c. shredded cabbage
3/4 c. shredded carrots
1/2 c. yellow onion, thinly sliced
2/3 c. Veganaise
2 Tb. sugar of choice (I use liquid sweetener)
1 Tb. poppy seeds
1 Tb. olive oil
1 Tb. rice vinegar
1/2 tsp. sea salt

1. After washing shredding cabbage, ensure that it is COMPLETELY dry by spinning it in a salad spinner and drying it with paper towels. If there's excess water, it will become goopy. Place the cabbage mix, carrots, and onions in a bowl, toss to combine, and set aside.

2. In a small bowl, combine the veganaise, poppy seeds, oil, vinegar, sugar, and sea salt. Mix well.

3. Pour veganaise mixture over the cabbage mix and mix until all the cabbage is coated. Cover and refrigerate at least two hours before serving. Ta-da!

I realize this is a very un-Thanksgiving-like post, but hey, I figured I'd spice things up a bit. Also, you can come back to this recipe later and make it for BBQs with the weather is nice! Have a great holiday!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Vegan MoFo: Sausage and Kale with White Beans

Thursdays are my cooking day. I only get one day off a week, so I usually spend it in the kitchen. Not only do I enjoy cooking and baking on Thursdays, but my Friday through Sunday are such messes that if I don't cook up something I won't have anything to eat. In addition to making more minestrone (except this time I didn't have a zucchini so I upped the rest of the vegetables), I also made some super tasty sausage and kale with white beans. Aside from kale probably being one of my favorite vegetables, I think that Great Northern Beans are probably one of my favorite beans. That makes this recipe an automatic regular in my diet. Yay!

So, yeah, let me tell you what, this recipe is super tasty. I bought two bunches of kale with the intention of trying to get some more kale chips made, but I'm pretty sure I'm just gonna wind up making more of this! It was so quick and easy to make. It took about 5 minutes prep time and less than 10 minutes cooking time. That categorizes it as awesome if you ask me. This recipe makes two nice sized-servings or one very large (ssshhh, I won't tell...)

Sausage and Kale with White Beans:
1-2 tsp. olive oil
1 Tofurkey beer brat (or favorite vegan sausage of choice), sliced
1 bunch of kale, tough stems removed, washed, chopped
1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 Tb. minced garlic (about 3 cloves)
3/4 c. Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
about 10 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 c. vegetable broth
Sea salt and pepper to taste

1. In a large skillet, heat olive oil and add Tofurkey slices, onions, and garlic. Saute until the tofurkey is browned and the onions are softened, about five minutes.

Lately I've been cutting all my onions into rings. I'm not sure why...

2. Add the kale, beans, tomato halves, and vegetable broth. Give everything a good stir and allow to simmer/steam uncovered for about another five minutes or until kale is bright green, beans are heated through, and tomatoes have softened. Salt and pepper to taste and enjoy!

I've also spent most of today baking my famous chocolate chip cookies for an event. I think I made six dozen. I'm not sure. I'm trying hard not to munch on them, since they're not for me, but that makes me want them even more! Lol. I also dyed my hair back to my natural color (it's been a busy morning!), because I've decided to quit dying my hair for awhile and I didn't want to deal with any roots. It's kind of weird. I'm a natural dark blonde (it's seriously an ugly color. Like, the dirtiest dishwater of blonde you can imagine), but I've been dying my hair red since I was 15. I'm 23 now, and I think my scalp would appreciate the break, lol.

Anywho, next week is Thanksgiving and what better month to have Vegan MoFo than November! I'm really excited to see what everybody is creating for the holidays! I'm pretty sure I'm going to be making some more broccolini and I'm definitely going to be make some baked sweet potatoes. I have some ricemallow creme in the cabinet that's calling out to be used as a topping! I'll be thinking seriously about what I'm making the next day or two, because if I wait any longer the grocery store will be sold out of everything!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Vegan MoFo: Broccolette and a 5K

So this past Saturday, I did something I've been meaning to do for six months. I ran my first 5K!

I had planned to do my first one last May, but I wound up over-training and getting burned out. By the time it came time to register for the race I had lost interest. When I moved back home in September I decided to head to the track at the middle school, which is about six blocks from my house. I started running again, for the fun of it, and when a 5K came up at church a few weeks ago I was all over it! I was much smarter about it this time. I balanced my running days with days on the elliptical and I didn't work out the day before the race. The only thing I regret was not getting more sleep, as I only got about five hours. However, I was so excited when I woke up that I think that made up for any sleep loss!

The run was a benefit for the cold weather shelter, so being out in the 35 degree windy weather was a good reminder to why this run was a good cause. I was only cold until I started running, but then I was fine. I made sure to get some under-armor, gloves, and a band that went around my ears so that could run without freezing any parts of me off.

The course itself was alright. The first mile was flat, the second mile was all uphill, and the third mile was all downhill. Actually, I'm lying. I really liked the course, though it was kind of weird to run downtown through traffic. My time wasn't too bad. It was 33:42, which I'm not proud of, lol. I did all right, through the part of the race where my iPhone dropped out of my pocket and I had to go back and look for it on the street kind of set me back. I also said, "eff that hill! I'm walking it!" when I saw its 45 degree incline over two blocks. Anywho, I'm not an athletic person at all, so I don't mind being slow. I mostly focus on crossing the finish line. This is me after the race with my boyfriend, Drew:

So after running this race I've decided that I'm going to run in every 5K my town has to offer. All two of them. We have a Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day (which is actually like a third one), but I'm seriously going to be sleeping in on that day (then stuffing my face). Also, it's cold. Really cold. I'm done running outside for the year.

Anywho. My mom found a couple of old issues of Shape magazine at the library for free and she picked them up for me. The day before, I had gone to HyVee and found some organic broccolette  (baby broccoli?) on sale for 2/$4. In between deciding how I wanted to cook it and reading Shape magazine, I found what seemed to be the perfect recipe. I adjusted it just a tiny bit, and voila! Now have a tasty new vegetable recipe in my repertoire! So, yes, this recipe is adapted from one found in a November 2006 (!) issue of Shape. The only changes I made were to make it taste better. 

Oh yeah, I went there.

I also keep wanting to call this stuff broccolini. I'm pretty sure they're the same thing, though I know for SURE that this vegetable isn't broccoli rabe. I haven't heard nice things about that one.

Argh. Forget it! I'm just going to call this stuff broccolini. Lol. Ignore me! Ok, now, the recipe says to trim the stems, so I basically just cut them in half to get most of the tough part off. There was still plenty of stemmage leftover. I just used orange juice, but if you want it to have more orange zing you can add about 1/2 tsp. of fresh orange zest when you add the broccolini to the skillet.  

Sauteed Citrus Broccolini:
2 bunches broccolini, washed, stems trimmed
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 orange, juiced
1/2 c. vegetable broth
1/2 Tb. minced garlic (2 cloves)
1/4 tsp. salt

1. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, saute the onions and garlic in 1/4 c. of vegetable broth for about five minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Add the broccolini, the juice of the one orange, the rest of the vegetable broth (1/4 cup) and the salt. Turn the heat up to high, cover, and cook for four minutes. Remove the cover, give it a good stir, and cook another four minutes or until the broccolini is just tender and most of the vegetable broth has evaporated. Enjoy! 

Broccolini with marinated, baked tofu and brown rice = super tasty meal! 

This is really one of my newest favorite vegetable recipe. It has no added oil (bonus!) because cooking it in the vegetable broth gives it a lot more flavor and the orange juice gives it a hint of sweetness that compliments it very well. Also, I think that it's a little "milder" that regular (adult?) broccoli, so I would definitely give it a try. In fact, I might even make this dish for Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Vegan MoFo: Hazelnut-Chocolate GRAWnola and What's in my Kitchen

I really love granola. I make batches of it at a time and then bring it to snack on when I'm at class. This time around, however, I decided to go a little wild and crazy and make up a batch of raw granola.

Chocolately, hazelnutty, raw granola.

This recipe is super simple, and as you can see by my picture I make it in a $30 WalMart dehydrator with no problems. It makes a LOT more than that, I just took out the extra trays for clarity in the picture. It's super tasty on top of oatmeal or Cream of Wheat. In the summer I like to eat it by itself with sliced strawberries and bananas and almond milk, but it's a little too cold for that now. I really enjoy eating raw foods, but I find that I'm just not as interested in them when it's cold outside. They say you should just kick the spices up a notch and use such warming ones as ginger and cayenne, but I live in a real small town and my produce selection pretty much shrivels up during the winter. However, I think that if I lived on the West Coast and had access to more affordable, local, organic produce, I would definitely be raw. I don't even mind doing the prep work and waiting for it to dehydrate.

Anywho, let's do the recipe first because I have a photo slideshow for you! In this recipe, I measured the dry, whole hazelnuts first, then soaked them, then chopped them. Your granola might turn out a little differently if you use 1 1/2 c. pieces or something. 

Chocolate-Hazelnut GRAWnola:
1 c. dates, pitted, soaked at least 1 hour
2 1/2 c. buckwheat groats, soaked at least 1 hour, then rinsed well
1 1/2 c. whole hazelnuts, soaked at least 1 hour, then rinsed well and chopped
1/2 c. dried, unsweetened coconut
1/4 c. pepitas, soaked at least 1 hour
1 c. water (use the soak water from the dates first)
1/4 c. agave nectar (raw) or maple syrup (not raw)
1/4 c. raw cacao powder
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. almond extract
Dash of sea salt

1. In a large bowl, combine the buckwheat groats, chopped hazelnuts, coconut, and pepitas.
2. In a food processor, process the dates with the water, agave nectar/maple syrup, cacao powder, cinnamon, almond extract, and salt until well-blended and liquid.
3. Add the chocolate-date paste to the dry ingredients and mix well to thoroughly cover all the ingredients.
4. Spread on a dehydrator sheet (may need to coat it first with parchment paper) and dehydrate four hours.
5. Crumble all the granola pieces and stir everything up. You may also need to switch or rotate trays. Let dehydrate for another four hours or so, or until the hazelnut pieces are completely dried out (you don't want the center of the nuts to still be moist from the soaking process). Enjoy!

I recently moved back in with my parents. I moved out when I was 18, and I'm 23 and a senior in college now. I have a good job, but it's only part-time and I was struggling to pay my bills. I moved back in with them to save some money, and when I graduate I'll be moving back out. Basically, what I'm trying to say here is that I got a small kitchen and my stuff already takes up half the space available. We don't have a pantry so I don't really have the room for the produce. Seriously. I buy my fruits and veggies weekly, but I'm often running out of space. I'll be able to have more raw food available for myself when I'm not so crammed in. Lol.

I know! Lets do a photo exhibit! Here's what my kitchen looks like:

 Exhibit A:
This used to hold mostly kitchen collectibles, but some of the stuff had to be cleared out for me so I'd have room to put my kitchenware (food processor, mixer, giant jar of cookie cutters...). I know also use the top to store my various flours, spice rack, and extra milks in aseptic containers (that one is hemp!). The glass bowl holds my raw food bars!

Exhibit B:
Here's our only cabinet used for food. We don't have much cabinet space and the rest is used for pots/pans, glasses, dishes, etc. The top one is mine and the bottom one is my parents. The glass jar is full of buckwheat crispies! I always dehydrate a bunch of those at once.

Exhibit C:
This is one the top rack above the fridge. The only thing that's mine is the generic Cheerios to the bran flakes. It's Arrowhead Mills organic Cream of Wheat (I love that stuff!!), cake flour, buckwheat pancake mix, and 7-grain fusilli.

Exhibit D:
This is our microwave. It's 24 years old and it just won't die. It's kind of a running joke in the family. The thing is huge and it takes like, 30 seconds to warm a biscuit (from room temperature!), but now we're all just curious to see how long it'll last. Anywho, the jar on the left contains lentils and the one on the right contains currants. As you can see, I'm all about reusing my glass jars, lol. Oh, and that Wonder bread is not mine!!!

Final Exhibit E:
The bottom row of the lazy susan is mine. It's where I keep my few canned goods and the rest of my jarred beans, seeds, and grains. You can see my Artisana coconut butter in there. Do you see the can of gravy on the top shelf? Yep. That's canned gravy. Nobody in my house will eat it, but my dad bought it to show my mom that it exists...

I'll spare you the fridge. It's a little messy in there. Basically though, the only thing I have in there is my produce (oranges, apples, broccolini, dates, and a ripe avocado), leftovers (cooked collard greens, cooked brown rice), hemp seeds, my Amazing Grass chocolate powder, various forms of flax, and my vegan butter. Oh, and my figgy jam. Mmm. Figgy jam.

And one last thing, I did happen to find an an awesome package of organic strawberries at HyVee (so these are in my fridge too, lol). Not only was it the last one, but I had a coupon for $.50 off. It was magical. I normally eat seasonal (regardless if I can buy it or not), but these berries were irresistible!

Yay! Now I have something to munch on with my granola in the mornings and you have a bright picture of strawberries stuck in your head! Have a great day!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Vegan MoFo: Southern-Style Supper

Alright. This recipe was EASY. It took me no time to make. Okay, well, it took some time because brown rice tends to take about 35 minutes to cook, same with the collards, but you basically just walk away after that. Simple.

This recipe is basically a version of Hoppin' John, the only difference is that I used butter beans instead of black-eyed peas because that's what I had hanging around. I LOVE butter beans. They're so creamy and tasty. I can never get over how different one kind of bean tastes from another. Don't get me wrong, I like black-eyed peas, but they're, well, beany. Lol.

Also, keep in mind I've never had authentic Hoppin' John (made with a ham hock), so I used vegetable broth to give it some flavor. 

When I cook collards, I cook them slow. At least a half an hour. Otherwise, I find that they seem to be a little bitter (I seriously can't imagine eating a raw collard wrap!). When I cook them for myself I usually just remove the hard stems and chop them up, put them in a large, covered pot with about 1/4 inch of vegetable broth covering the bottom, and allow them to steam/cook for at least 30 minutes. For this recipe I started them at the same time I started the rice.

Hoppin' John:
For the bean part:
1 Tb. olive oil
3/4 c. green pepper, diced
3/4 c. yellow onion, diced
1/2 c. celery, diced
1/2 Tb. minced garlic
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 can of butter beans or black-eyed peas, drained
Salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste

For the rice part:
1/2 c. brown rice
1 c. vegetable broth + 1/4 c.
1/4 c. water
1 bay leaf

1. Rinse the rice well. Add the vegetable broth, water, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil and allow to simmer, covered, for 35-40 minutes. Allow to stand 10 minutes before serving.
2. When the rice is almost done cooking, saute the green pepper, onion, celery, and garlic in oil about 5-7 minutes or until tender. Add the thyme and saute until fragrant.
3. Add the butter beans and 1/4 c. vegetable broth. Allow the broth to heat the beans through over medium heat and let it cook until pretty much evaporated, about 5 minutes.
4. Stir together the rice and the bean mixture. Add salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste (a few dashes for flavor to 1/4 tsp. for mucho heat). Enjoy!

To give this meal that Southern flair, I served it along with some cooked collard greens, also covered in some hot sauce.

I was eating this as I was typing this (cause that's how I roll), and I put habenero hot sauce all over this plate and my mouth is pretty much on fire. Haha. I love it!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Vegan Survey!

Not gonna lie, I totally love answering surveys. Why? No clue. But don't fret, I'll have a food post later. Dinner tonight is gonna be tasty!

I stole this survey from Amber at her Almost Vegan blog.

1. What is one food you thought you’d miss when you went vegan, but don’t?
Cheese. It wasn't like I ate it that often, but I tended to use it as a "garnish" on soups and bready things and salads. Also, I was like, "how am I gonna eat a veggie sandwich without cheese?!". Answer: Easily.

2. What is a food or dish you wouldn’t touch as a child, but enjoy now?
Raw tomatoes and cucumbers. Luckily, most of the stuff I refused to eat then, I still won't eat now!

3. What vegan dish or food you feel like you should like, but don’t? 
Tempeh. Maybe an expert should cook it for me or something, but seriously. I just can't do tempeh. Or eggplants (I like the flavor, but I hate those tiny little seeds in it. It grosses me out!!).

4. What beverage do you consume the most of on any given day?
Water. Lots of water. With coffee as a distant second, and ginger kombucha a close third.

5. What dish are you famous for making or bringing to gatherings?

Homemade "sausage" and pecan stuffing and some badass chocolate chip cookies.

6. Do you have any self-imposed food rules (like no food touching on the plate or no nuts in sweets)?
Nope. In fact, I usually dip one food in another and I LOVE nuts in sweets.

7. What’s one food or dish you tend to eat too much of when you have it in your home?
 Bread. I'm a carb addict!

8. What ingredient or food do you prefer to make yourself despite it being widely available prepackaged?
Umm... definitely seitan.

9. What ingredient or food is worth spending the extra money to get the good stuff?
Oils and nut butters. And organic produce.

10. Are you much of a snacker? What are your favorite snacks?
I snack all day long. I'm definitely a "grazer".

11. What are your favorite vegan pizza toppings?
All the veggies: tomatoes, olives, artichoke hearts, bell peppers, onions, broccoli bits, and roasted garlic on a nice layer of vegan pesto or spicy marinara. Awesome.

12. What is your favorite vegetable? Fruit?
I love pretty much all vegetables, but I'd definitely say my favorite is the lowly onion. I joke that I eat an onion a day. As for fruit, I adore red grapefruit and clementines (and the season is fast approaching us, yay!).

13. What is the best salad dressing?
I actually eat a lot of salads with salsa. Haha.

14. What is your favorite thing to put on toasted bread?
Depends on the bread, but if we go with the general term "toast", I like either Smart Balace Light with peanut butter or coconut butter with peanut butter.

15. What kind of soup do you most often turn to on a chilly day or when you aren’t feeling your best?
I love Amy's No Chicken Noodle soup when I got a cold, but I also adore my homemade minestrone.

16. What is your favorite cupcake flavor? Frosting flavor?
Coconut-vanilla-almond cupcake with dark chocolate frosting. Match made in heaven. I need to put that recipe up...

17. What is your favorite kind of cookie?
Not gonna lie... double chocolate chip.

18. What is your most-loved weeknight meal?
Usually leftovers, but I make pancakes for supper more often than for breakfast (but I don't eat them that often, lol!).

19. What is one dish or food you enjoy, but can’t get anyone else in your household to eat?
Anything with leafy greens.

20. Favorite non-dairy milk?
Coconut milk and almond milk. Just bought some hemp milk to try!

21. Most disastrous recipe/meal failure?
There's like one broccoli-tofu quiche floating around on the internet. Ok, there's more, but they're all like the same thing. I made one this past weekend and it was alright, but it was seriously missing some pizazz. It wasn't really a disaster, but it was a waste of effort.

22. Favorite pickled item?

23. If you were stranded on an island and could only bring 3 foods…what would they be (don’t worry about how you’ll cook them)?
Black beans, baked tofu, and clementines. Lol.

24. Fondest food memory from your childhood?
I made my first batch of cookies when I was seven. :)

25. Favorite vegan ice cream?
I've only tried two kinds. It sells for almost $7 a pint here (stupid local grocery stores jacking up prices), but I tried some chocolate almond rice dream that I liked a lot.

26. Most loved kitchen appliance?
Vitamix. Nah. Just joking. I ain't got one of those, but I do got a coffee grinder that I use for various things (and coffee). I love it!

27. Spice/herb you would die without?

28. Favorite flavor of jam/jelly?
Blackberry or raspberry, WITH seeds.

29. Favorite vegan recipe to serve to an omni friend?
Pasta dishes with lots of veggies.

30. Seitan, tofu, or tempeh?
I love seitan and tofu, though I think tofu is the winner. Tempeh can burn in Hades.

31. Favorite meal to cook (or time of day to cook)?
I like to cook in the early afternoon so I have stuff to munch for lunch AND dinner.

32. Name 3 items in your freezer without looking.
Strawberries, sweet potato fries, and banana halves. I hate freezer food, but these items are acceptable.

33. What’s on your grocery list?
Sprouted wheat bread, oranges, collard greens

34. Favorite grocery store?
Whole Foods, I guess, out of necessity. I’m ready for Trader Joe’s to hit KC.

35. Name a recipe you’d love to veganize, but haven’t yet.
Rice Krispie Treats.

36. Food blog you read the most. Or maybe the top 3?
Wow, it’s very hard to pick just 3. I’d have to say:
Almost Vegan Blog. She's attending 105Degrees (a raw food cooking school) and I love to read about what she's making.

Wandering Hen. She's a friend of mine who's living her dream of seeing the US in her home on wheels. Right now her and her husband are working a Ren Faire in Louisiana. 

Kamutflake Girl. Last I heard she was going to Taiwan(?). She's a Canadian art student who has such a fun sense of humor (as seen in her posts). She's been gone for awhile. Maybe she'll come back?

And so many more!

37. Favorite vegan candy/chocolate?
Umm... I really like sort of dark chocolate with nuts, seeds, and/or fruits in it.

38. Most extravagant food item purchased lately?
Tofurkey beer brats. They're super tasty but almost $6 a package (stupid local grocery store. Grumble. Grumble).

39. I have to ask… last meal, what would it be?
Not gonna lie. A salad from Chipotle: fajitas, black beans, rice, corn salsa, hot salsa, and guacamole. And for dessert it would have to be some sort of coconut milk ice cream covered in every imaginable add-on.

40. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
I always thought I'd like a nice, quiet, country town somewhere in Spain or the Netherlands. :)

41. If you could meet anyone on earth, who would it be and why?
I have no clue!

42. Favorite quotes? 
I don't know about this one either. I'm sure ones I like are out there somewhere. Lol. 

43. Where’s the most exciting place you’ve been?
I haven't been anywhere yet. I got to get out of this college/work drag first.

44. Think about something you didn’t think you could do, but did. What was it?
Lose 55lbs. and run for enjoyment!!

45. If Bobby Flay was your personal chef for a day, what would he make you? Well, what would you politely ask him to make you, rather?
Some sort of spicy dish with black beans. And it better be damn good.

46. If you could have any animal in the world as a pet, what would it be?
A pygmy goat. I'm gonna get one when I get my farm though. :) Well. Maybe two...

47. What’s something that, if you don’t do, your day feels incomplete?
Read blogs!

…Your turn! Copy and paste this survey to your blog with your own answers filled in, and/or answer some of your favorite questions in the comments section below.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Vegan MoFo: Super Easy Chili

Yesterday I had some time to kill so I went to the library to see if I could wrangle me up a few good books. I was disappointed because they were fresh out of Hunter S. Thompson (one of my favorite authors) so I meandered over to the cookbook section, which lead me over to the science section. I found an awesome book on the history of phosphorus (which really is more interesting than it sounds!) and as I was searching for some books on molecular biology I came across The China Study by T. Colin Campbell, PhD and Thomas M. Campbell, II. I've been meaning to read this book for years and now that I finally have it in my hands, I can't put it down!

Veg bloggers the world over have mentioned this book, which is basically an interpretation of the results of one of the most comprehensive studies ever conducted on nutrition (it promotes a plant-based diet based on the researchers' findings). I haven't got very far, but I'm liking what I'm reading!

Anywho. Now that I've got a couple of good books to snuggle up with when it's cold outside, I need a good ol' bowl of something tasty to go with it. What better meal to enjoy while reading about plant-based nutrition than a bowl of vegan chili?

This chili is perfect for beginning cooks because it's so quick and easy to make. It also makes a good-sized pot so you'll have plenty of leftovers to eat during the week. You could also use some of the leftovers to make nachos, burritos, or tacos in a snap, or you can top some baked potatoes (like in my photo). In this recipe I use Gimmie Lean hamburger style to provide some of the "meaty" bite, but you could also use bulgur wheat. Just be sure you add enough liquid to thoroughly cook it up. I used preseasoned chili beans to make it quick (though I add a little spice of my own). I recommend Bush's Beans though because they don't have any high-fructose corn syrup in them. It's one of the food additives I always avoid.

Also, remember than leftover half a can of tomato paste you have from making the minestrone (assuming you make my food, lol!)? You can use it here! Yay for no waste!

Super Easy Vegan Chili:
1/2 a roll of Gimmie Lean, beef flavor
1 can Bush's beans in chili sauce, mild flavor (undrained)
1 can Bush's beans in chili sauce, hot flavor (undrained)
1 can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
1/2 (4 oz) can tomato paste
1/2 a yellow onion, diced
1 Tb. minced garlic (3 cloves)
2 tsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. cumin
1/4 c. brewed coffee (opt.)

1. In a skillet sprayed with some nonstick, cook together the Gimmie Lean, onions, and garlic until the Gimmie Lean is browned and the onions are softened, about 5-7 minutes. Be sure to "crumble" the Gimmie Lean as you cook it. Add the cumin and saute everything until it's fragrant, about 1-2 more minutes.

2. In a large soup pot or dutch oven, combine the beans in hot sauce, beans in mild sauce, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, cooked Gimmie Lean mixture, brown sugar, and brewed coffee. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.

3. Let simmer (I usually let it go uncovered) about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Enjoy!

And as with all chilis and soups, the flavor the next day has had more time to develop. Tasty!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Vegan MoFo: Autumn Apple Pie

Luckily, most fruit pies are vegan. The fillings are simple: fruit, sugar, maybe some nuts, some spices and the crusts are too: flour, salt, water, shortening. Of course, I've seen recipes that call for an egg or some milk in the crust, but the real good old-fashioned recipes almost never do.

I made this pie the standard American way: white flour, white sugar, shortening, etc. So this is a great thing to take to a Thanksgiving dinner as it will blend right in, lol. However, the next time I make a pie I'm going to do it the look-at-me-I'm-a-foodie way. We're talking no refined sugar, less refined flour, and a coconut oil pastry crust (among other things). But until we get to that point, we've got an Autumn Apple Pie that's about as American as you can get!

Pie making can be a little tricky in the crust department, but the homemade crust is always 100% worth it. Like everything else, it just takes a little practice. To get you started in the right direction, I have a sort-of pie crust tutorial.

Flaky Vegan Pie Crust:
(makes two 9-inch crusts)
1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 c. shortening (please make this non-hydrogenated though!)
1/3 c. ice-cold water
3/4 tsp. salt

1. Combine flour and salt; add shortening. Mix it with your fingers until it gets crumbly and looks about the size of small peas. Meaning: no clumps of shortening bigger than a pea, smaller is okay. It should look like this:

2. For that ice-cold water, I really want you to put ice cubes in it and make it ice-cold. The coldness works with the fat in the crust and together they help create that awesome flakiness. So, once it's super cold, add the ice-cold water and stir it until a dough forms (20 seconds? it's quick).

3. Form the dough into a ball, then cut the ball in half. Roll each half out on some waxed paper/parchment paper. Recipes usually say "floured surface", but when you're rolling it out to like, 1/8 inch thickness, you ain't getting it off the table in one piece! Place this rolled out half into your pie pan. Most cookbooks say to roll it out 2 inches past the edge of the pie pan, so if you can do that, you officially awesome. Mine usually covers the pan with a little hanging over and that's good enough for me. Gently press the crust down into the pan so that there isn't any air bubbles; trim off any extra crust pieces. SAVE THE CRUST PIECES!!

4. Roll out the second ball of dough in the same manner as above, except leave it on the parchment paper and let it hang out while you prepare the filling.

At this point I quick taking as many photos because my hands were covered in pie dough. Lol.

Not all apples are treated equally. To make a good pie, you need good pie apples. They need to be tart, firm, and juicy. I literally had an apple squirt me in the face when I cut it with a knife. Seriously. Anywho, some apples excellent for a pie are: Cortland, Rhode Island Greening, and McIntosh. Some apples that are rated very good for a pie are: Golden Delicious, Jersey Red, Jonathan, Rome Beauty, and Fuji. You can also google your apple to see if it'll make a tasty pie. I used Golden Delicious ones for this recipe. If you choose to use tart Granny Smith ones, most recipes suggest upping the sugar another half cup.

Also, you'll want to cut these apples thinly, and definitely uniformly. The apple slices need to be cut about the same so that they all finish cooking at the same time.

This is my mess.

Autumn Apple Pie Filling:
(for a 9-inch pie)
3/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
dash of salt
6 c. thinly sliced apples, pared (about six medium apples)
2 Tb. vegan butter

1. Heat oven to 425F (I'm assuming your pie crust is already made and we're moving on). In a small bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Mix well.
2. In a large bowl that contains your apple slices, mix together your flour mixture and your apple slices. Turn it into your prepared pie pan. Top with dots of vegan butter.
3. Top your filled pie with the second crust. Press together all the edges to seal and cut a couple of silts in the top to vent the steam. You can mix up a little cinnamon and sugar and sprinkle it on top of the pie for extra tastiness. Place a strip of aluminum foil around the edge of the pie to keep it from burning. Bake it for about 45 minutes, and remove the foil from the pie during the last 15 minutes of baking. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before serving.

Note 1: I like to place a large sheet of foil under my pie to catch any drips.
Note 2: If you cut it when it's hot it will be runny. If it's completely cool when you cut it, the filling will be solid.

Hehe. It's my pie.Wait. No. Get your mind outta there!

Now you can enjoy your slice of pie with some vegan ice cream or maybe some soy whipped topping!

Remember those bits of crust? Now what you do is spread then with a little vegan butter and some cinnamon-sugar and bake them next to your pie for about 10-15 minutes. These little tasty bits of crust are the main reason I like to make pies! 

This pie will be enjoyed by vegans and non-vegans alike! 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Vegan MoFo: Hearty Minestrone

This is my first MoFo post, I'm intending to post one MOST days of the week, so we'll see how this goes! 

My fellow vegans, soup season is upon us!

And ohmigoodness did I want some soup today. I wanted thick, chunky, vegetable-packed, entire-meal-in-a-bowl, soup. Luckily, I planned for this morning and I had everything on hand to make some homemade minestrone!

I haven't ate any in awhile because I've been too lazy to make some and most canned varieties contain chicken broth. I always hate it when they ruin a good soup by doing that. Anywho. This morning I set out to make my soup. I was babysitting my two-year-old niece as well and she was very intrigued by all this cooking business. She asked what each of the ingredients were as I added them and since she was curious about the "hot smoke" coming up out of the pot I lifted her up to see it all cooking. She ate a bowl of it when I was done, though she picked out all the spinach. Lol. She's not vegetarian (though her dad is), but any time she's with me we try lots of new foods together. She loves beans, so we eat a lot of those, and she loved my gluten-free pumpkin bread. We also like to snack on lots of fruit. It's kind of fun because she gets really excited when she tries something new and likes it (kind of like me...).

So, back to soup!

This soup is pretty easy to make. Using a mixed of canned and frozen vegetables really cut down on the prep time. It's also thick and hearty, just like a good soup should be (I'm not even mentioning how low in fat and calories and how high in fiber it is. Except I just did...).

Since minestrone contains pasta I always cook it separate and add it as I eat the soup, otherwise it will get all mushy as it sits in the fridge. If you plan on serving the whole pot at once, you can add the pasta to the pot, but you might need a little extra liquid to compensate for it. This recipe makes a large pot of soup, probably about 10-12 good-sized servings. You're gonna love it! My picture doesn't really look like soup but I promise it is! I just added a little extra pasta to it (and I didn't have any of the small kinds, lol).

I leave the peel on my zucchini, but to get off the wax I wash it with a little dish soap and give it a good rinse. It works great, lol. Still have half a can of tomato paste left? Use it to make my homestyle vegan chili (coming soon) or a double batch of seitan

Hearty Minestrone:
1 Tb. oil
1 Tb. minced garlic
1 onion, chopped
1 c. chopped celery (about 3-5 stalks)
1 zucchini, chopped
1 1/2 c. frozen corn, pea, and carrot blend
1 1/2 c. frozen green beans
1 (15-oz) can diced tomatoes, in liquid
1 (15-oz) can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained.
1/2 (6-oz) can tomato paste
3 c. vegetable broth
3 1/2 c. water
1 small pkg. (about 5-oz) baby spinach, rinsed
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. dried parsley
1 tsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. dried basil
Sea salt and pepper to taste

Pasta of choice (a good ol' elbow, shell, or ditalini pasta works well), about 1/2 serving per person

1. Saute onion and celery in oil for about five minutes. Add the garlic and continue to saute another two or three minutes.
2. Add the vegetable broth, water, and tomato paste. Bring to a boil, and add the zucchini, the corn/pea/carrot blend, the green beans, diced tomatoes, kidney beans, sugar, parsley, oregano, and basil. Reduce heat to a simmer and let simmer 40 minutes. Add the spinach and let simmer about five minutes, or until wilted. Salt and pepper to taste.
3. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package directions during the soup's last 15 minutes of cooking.
4. Combine the pasta and the soup before serving.

So that's what I've been eating when I haven't been eating breakfast. I've mentioned before that I've been eating a lot of bowls o' goodness and I have another one for you today. Today's bowl is brought to you by the one of my favorite fall fruits:

(yep, it's a fruit. This might explain why I like it covered in sugar...)

This breakfast is kind of large, but I got a busy day ahead of me today (and also a two-year-old niece next to me demanding "toast" and "bite"). The Cream of Wheat is cooked with a large scoop of canned pumpkin and topped with pumpkin pie spice, vanilla stevia (yeah! Cutting the sugar out of brekky!), and some of my homemade Everything Granola. The toast is sprouted wheat toast from Alvarado St. Bakery, it's similar to Ezekial, and it's topped with Smart Balance Light. The sausage is Gimmie Lean and my coffee is of course, black. It was sooo good and good for me!

Coming Soon: vegan apple pie, easy chili for new vegans, broccoli quiche, and pumpkin pie pancakes!