Saturday, June 25, 2011

Easy Mexican Brunch

You get two recipes for the price of one today! Lol. I guess I feel a little bad for slacking on my blogging...

But anywho, today I woke up kind of late and decided to have myself some brunch. Normally, my "brunches" usually consist of awesome pancakes and orange juice or vegan breakfast burritos, but I decided to step out of the box and make something a little different.

I've really been wanting to eat chilequiles for a long time because I'm in love with Mexican food and have an unsatiable appetite for all things carb-y and covered in salsa. So, this morning while I was browsing recipes I found a glorious authentic one made with homemade salsas... however, I tucked that one aside for later and just modified the method in order to make it quick and easy for everyone. I didn't really have a pound of tomatillos on hand, but I did have a jar of Pace!

I served these chilequiles alongside tofu rancheros and a glass of grapefruit juice, since I'm giving up coffee for the weekend (hey, I gotta start small!). It made for an easy Mexican brunch! These recipes will make two average or four small portions.

Easy Chilequiles:
8 (6 in.) corn tortillas, cut into eighths
2 Tb. olive oil
1/2 (a 16? oz.) jar of medium salsa (you want about a cup)
Sea salt to taste

1. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat.
2. Once the oil is hot, add the cut tortillas. Stir the pieces around until covered with oil and then cook until all the pieces are golden brown and crispy (about 10 minutes). You will need to flip and separate the pieces occasionally.
3. Once browned, place the pieces on a paper towel to drain and sprinkle with salt.
4. Wipe out the pan, if necessary, and add the salsa. Cook for about a minute until hot and bubbly and then add the tortilla pieces. Toss the pieces so that they are all completely covered with salsa. Serve with tofu rancheros.

Tofu Rancheros:
1/2 a red bell pepper, diced
1/2 a yellow onion, diced
1 large tomato, diced
1/2 a jalapeno, minced (optional)
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tb. olive oil
6 oz. tofu (about a third of a package), drained and pressed*
2 tsp. nutritional yeast
1 tsp. Bragg's liquid aminos
1/2 tsp. Mexican oregano (can use regular, but Mexican is *awesome*)
1/4 tsp. smoked paprika
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/8 tsp. turmeric

1. After draining and pressing the tofu, mash with a fork and add the nooch, Bragg's, Mexican oregano, paprika, garlic and onion powder, and turmeric. Stir well until everything is all mixed up.
2. In a skillet over medium high heat, heat the olive oil and add the diced bell pepper, onion, and jalapeno. Saute for about five minutes or until softened.
3. Add the tofu mixture, tomato, and garlic, and saute another 5-8 minutes or until tofu is golden and the tomatoes are softened (I like my tofu to be a little browned, but that's just personal preference). Enjoy!

*BONUS: Tofu that has been previously frozen and then thawed overnight makes the most awesome tofu scramble ever (heh, I needed the emphasis). It's easy to squeeze every last drop of water out and it creates the perfect "fluffy" egg texture. It also soaks ups spices and flavors real well. I highly recommend prefrozen tofu for this recipe and every scramble recipe!

This brunch was real easy to pull together. I first fried the tortilla strips and set them aside, then I made the tofu scramble and placed that in a serving bowl, then I finished off the chilequiles. By waiting until the very end to finish the chilequiles (coat them with salsa), you can make your tofu rancheros without getting them all salsa-y or having to use another pan.

And there you have it! An easy, peasy, Mexican-inspired brunch (also, it's quick. Did I mention it's quick?). Enjoy!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

AfR... How I Love You!

So, I apologize for the lack of blog posts. I've been taking physics as a summer lab course and it has seriously been draining all of my free time. Luckily, it's half over, so in four short weeks I'll be able to enjoy the last of my summer before it all starts again, lol.

Anywho, lately I've been doing a lot of cooking from Appetite for Reduction, which is Isa Chandra Moskowitz's latest cookbook. I seriously love it! Everything in there is pretty quick, made from ingredients you probably have on hand, and good-for-you!

The first dish I made was the Sushi Roll Edamame Salad:

I'm not gonna lie though, I totally left off the nori. I just don't like that stuff. So this was a fishy-less tasting sushi roll salad, but I loved it! I've already made it like, five times. The green onion-miso dressing is awesome too. In fact, I used some of the little bit I had leftover to dip some vegan gyoza in. The only thing I did differently was reduce the amount of toasted sesame seed oil with walnut oil, just since it can be a little strong. Oh, and I always added the optional avocado, since I lurve it so much. 

I also made the Pad Thai Salad:

If I launched this salad at 11.89 km/s, how long before it reaches the moon?

This was pretty good. Though I loved the veggie combination (I added a little cucumber and red bell pepper, and like, tripled the red onion...), the dressing was just alright. However, I think that's just a personal preference right now. You know how you go on "kicks" and only eat a bunch of a certain kind of food (hopefully I'm not the only one who does this, lol...), well right now I'm having a food aversion to soy sauce, so the thought of it is kind of grossing me out. I discovered that after making this salad...

Another dish I made was the Black Bean, Zucchini, and Olive Tacos:

These tacos were made from a mixture of black beans, olives, zucchini, and my favorite Mexican salsa and although they may sound a little odd, they were great! But you totally have to put the Lemon-Yogurt Sauce on them. It's what brings them all together. I added some additional chopped romaine and green onion and served them with some leftover brown rice to round it out. 

I also made the Smoky Tempeh and Greens Stew (which was not very photogenic), and although it had great flavor, I just CANNOT get past the texture and odd taste of tempeh. I even steamed it and cut it into very small cubes... they're was just no disguising it. So folks, I have given tempeh THREE tries and it strikes out!! No more for me. I'll just stick to my beloved tofu.

And last but not least, I shall send you off with some dessert. I made Katie's awesome Fudge Daddies and they did not disappoint! I used silken tofu, agave, and applesauce with one tablespoon of coconut oil, as suggested. I also added some 65% cacao dark chocolate chips for extra chocolate-y-ness (is that word even possible?!). My boyfriend and his friends (as well as me!) loved these. It's definitely a keeper recipe and one that I'll play around with to make even more decadent in the future. However, since you can get them down to about a 100 calories per serving, I'd say they'd make an awesome snack for just about anytime (like breakfast...).

Not pictured: the melted coconut butter goodness I slathered on top.

So that's all I've got for you now. I cannot wait for my class to be over because I've got a serious bread-making itch that just will not go away. Also, I've got a special post coming up about an old-fashioned Midwest special: the infamous gooseberry pie. Have a great evening!

Monday, June 13, 2011

VCIYCJ: I Made Cookies!

Like practically every other vegan out there, I love Isa Chandra Moscowitz and Terry Hope Romero's cookbooks. I own "Vegan with a Vengenance" and I've currently been scoping another one I'd like to lay down some cash for (I'll give you a hint... it's Latin and delicious and cruelty-free all over it). We recently had a Border's go out of business (the only bookstore in the entire city), and Mom surprised me with a cookbook:
Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar!

I was shocked! I had just been in there the day before and had somehow missed this baby on sale for $5. Luckily, I have a Mom who supports my cookbook habit, so she picked it up for me. Since I've been on a ridiculous ginger kick lately (seriously... ginger green tea, ginger kombucha, ginger chews, ginger beer, ginger stir-fry...) I immediately turned to the Macadamia Ginger Crunch Drops. These cookies are just full of macadamia nuts and crystallized ginger with just a hint of nutmeg (that's what really brought them together). They were glorious!! Isa and Terry have yet to fail me! I won't post the recipe here, because it doesn't belong to me, but I will tell you how my cookie making went down.

There were two things I did different. First thing I did was use a chia seed "egg" instead of a flax seed "egg". I love these because they are just like an egg! They also don't have a taste so you can put them in just about anything. Also, when you use chia seed powder, you don't really get any whole seeds or specks in the cookies (meaning, that even though the seeds are black, you can really see them in the baked cookies).

Chia Seed "Egg":
1 1/2 tsp. chia seeds
about 3-4 Tb. warm water

1. Place the chia seeds in a coffee grinder and grind for a couple of seconds, until powdered.
2. Add the warm water, mix with a fork, and allow to sit until nice and thick (about 10 minutes). Whisk with a fork again before using.

If it doesn't thicken up enough, you can add more chia powder. This will make ONE "egg". You can also grind up chia seeds ahead of time so that you have the powder on hand. They're not like flax seeds, they won't go rancid. However, after my baking fiasco a couple days ago, I wouldn't recommend using more than one chia egg at a time. The gelatinous moisture they contain causes your batter to go all wonky (it can displace any fats or oils your have put in your batter!).

The second thing I did differently was use a split mix of half coconut oil and half vegetable oil. The recipe called for 2/3 cup oil (I almost died!), but I went ahead and used the full amount anyway. HOWEVER, I will definitely reduce the oil next time because they left little grease spots wherever they sat. I'm thinking like, a 1/2-ish cup would be good time. I honestly don't think it will compromise the recipe that much. But seriously, these cookies were awesome. I'll definitely make them again!

I also made the Cherry Almond Cookies:

I kept this recipe the exact same as in the book, except I used 1/2 c. chopped almonds instead of 3/4 c. slivers. I just didn't have those. But man, these cookies were pretty much awesome. I LOVED these! So did my mom. She was like, "these are good.... very good.... very, very good... I think they're better than chocolate chip... and that's saying something!".

I left the majority of the batch at my boyfriends house for two hours, and I when I came back, they were all gone! Success! Everybody that ate them liked them better than the Macadamia-Ginger Crunch Drops, but I think that's just because you have to really like crystallized ginger to enjoy that cookie. Which is a given. It's pretty distinct. Lol.

The third cookie I tried was the Chocolate Agave Trailmixers:

Instead of 2/3 c. oil I used 1/2 cup. This made the cookie a little drier, but it stayed together without many crumbs). I also used only whole wheat pastry flour because I was out of all-purpose. Then, for the nut/fruit/chocolate combo I used chopped, dried cherries with chopped walnuts, and 65% cacao dark chocolate chips. I did reduce the amount of dark chocolate chips, but only because some of the people I bake for don't appreciate it as much as I do... These were awesome as well. I've never made cookies with agave and they really do create a cake-like texture, just like Isa said. These remind me of those cake-mix cookies from days past... only 1000x better!

So anyway, I highly recommend this cookbook! I love, love, love it! Not only that, these cookies are seriously liked by everyone, vegans and non-vegans alike! I'm pretty sure that I'm going to make every single cookie recipe in there by year's end. And I'll let you all know how each one turns out. Have a great day!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Regal Ramen

So, I walked into my local Big Lots (I lurve that place), so big greeted by the most awesome site ever:

Yes! Your eyes do not deceive you! That is an entire selection of Bob's Red Mill products, and about half of them are the gluten-free ones! Some of them are still about the same price (quinoa, $7), but the huge bag of GF rolled oats was only $3. I'll be stocking up with some of these products in the very near future! I also found recycled Reynolds aluminum foil for $1 and three new flavors of Clif Bars (at the usual $0.70). I love how that store is constantly changing. Anywho, this is not an post about what I've been buying, rather, it is a post about what I've been eating. And by eating, I mean hurriedly tossing in my face between school, work, and working out.

So what's quick? RAMEN. But not just any ramen will do!

I love Koyo brand vegan ramen. It's pretty much my favorite ramen ever. I always have to stock up on it when I go to Whole Foods though, because they don't sell it where I live. I think I've tried every flavor except for Seaweed, just because I'm not ready for that, lol. I think my favorite is a toss-up between Lemongrass Ginger and Tofu and Miso. I'm kind of picky about lemongrass. Since it's so aromatic, it can make the food you're eating taste extremely... floral? But when you get the right amount, it just adds the perfect flavor. Koyo gets the lemongrass perfect! My least favorite flavor is the Garlic Pepper one, but "least" is on a scale of liking, which means I will still buy it and eat it, but only after I've ate all the other flavors I like better first. Haha. You know, like eating all the chocolate chip cookies first and the oatmeal ones last. It's good. We all do it! Lol.

Of course, with packaged food I can never leave good enough alone. In order to balance out my ramen into a more wholesome lunch I alway have to soup it up (literally...). Frozen edamame is a perfect addition because not only does it increase the nutritional value of the ramen, but it cooks in the same amount of time! My perfect bowl of ramen (as an example):

1 pkg. Koyo Lemongrass and Ginger ramen
1/2 c. frozen, shelled edamame
2 lime wedges
1 green onion, sliced
1 tsp. sesame seeds

Make the ramen according to package directions, but increase the water to 1 1/2 cup. Place the edamame in with the water and allow them to come to a boil together, before you add the noodles. After cooking the noodles (don't drain!), stir in the seasoning packet and garnish with the green onion and sesame seeds. Douse with fresh lime juice and sriracha before serving. Tasty! I've also been know to add leftover tofu, tiny broccoli florets, snow peas, frozen peas, grated carrots, chopped fresh asparagus spears, chopped leafy greens (bok choy, napa cabbage, cabbage, spinach), and/or diced onion. The more veggies, the better! For most veggies, you can just toss them in at the two minute (left) mark, and you wind up with the perfect tender-crisp texture.

This makes a satisfying light lunch or lazy dinner for sure!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Garden Update and What I've Been Eating!

The garden has been growing splendidly! I made sure that I took a lot of pictures so you all could see the progress. Here's a pan of the garden. It is going to be a jungle by fall! A tasty, tasty jungle...

The corn is about up to my knees. We planted it in early April and it's just growing up great. I am sooo going to roast that stuff.

We also have quite a few pepper plants: poblanos, sweet bananas, bell peppers, and long cayennes. I am most excited about the poblanos because I'm going to make a bunch roasted chili-corn salsa with it and some rajas. My boyfriend's grandpa (the one who is showing us the way to garden) has never eaten a roasted poblano. I'm excited for him to try them. The only plants that have peppers on them are the sweet bananas and they are literally as large as the plant itself. Not sure what's going on with them. Lol.

Here's my babies: the little zucchinis I planted from organic seed. That's my foot for comparison! Some already have little zucchinis going on them. I'm curious to try squash blossoms, but you only eat the male blossoms and all my female ones are currently growing squashes!

Here's a good shot of the potatoes (background). To be honest, I can't remember what the two rows in front of them are. I guess I'll find out when they start sprouting things.

Our tomatoes are doing great. His grandpa put cages on them and covered their bottoms with hay. I also put cages on the tomatoes that I have at home (heirloom cherokee purples!), but I haven't gotten any hay yet. The hay helps keep pests off them and the cages give them support. They become really heavy when the tomatoes start growing in size and they help keep the fruit off the ground.

So that's the garden. I've been learning a lot!

So anyway. Here's some of the foods I've been munching on.

Coconut yogurt with raspberries and chia seeds:

Okay... story about the berries. I was at the store awhile back and I saw some glorious looking strawberries. Though I usually buy organic berries, these were just so cheap and I was a little hungry so I impulse bought them on the way out the store. I ate a couple. They were fine. The next day I went to eat some more. One of them had a little bad spot on it, but I was like, whatever. I don't care that much. I'll eat it anyway. As soon as I put it in my mouth, I got the overwhelming taste of chemical. I gagged and spit it out and I tossed the rest of the carton. I seriously tested pesticide on those berries and if one was contaminated, they all had to be. This wasn't a guilt reaction from buying non-organic berries. I know chemicals. I'm a chemist at a plant that makes pesticides and herbicides... I've ran tests on some of the same chemicals that routinely get used on strawberries (same active, though not necessarily the same product). My thinking is that these berries might have been sprayed before harvest (which is illegal) or that it was harboring chemicals in its bad spot. All around bad.

A couple days ago I bought some non-organic raspberries and used them in the above photo. I ate them and they were tasty. They next day, the tasted so strongly of chemical (the same one), that I got rid of them. I was absolutely horrified! What really takes the cake though, is that they were the SAME brand, grown in relatively the SAME area, and bought within a week of one another. I can't dismiss that there wasn't contamination. I almost always buy organic berries, but had a lapse in judgement on those two occasions. I will NEVER buy a non-organic berry again. EVER.

So yeah. That was my story!

I also made up a batch of sun-dried tomato pesto. It was AWESOME. My boyfriend loved it. We had it for lunch with flatbreads, grilled veggies, and roasted garlic hummus. It was good stuff. I basically just tossed together:

1/4 cup packed basil
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil (drained)
a few tablespoons of toasted walnuts
some walnut oil (you could use olive)
a couple cloves of garlic

I like to keep things nice and chunky, for texture, but you could always add up to 1/4 cup oil and blend until smooth. It doesn't need any salt either. I want to make Isa's Pizza (from VWAV) and put some on there.

I've also been eating a lot of grilled vegetables. I've been using my boyfriend's George Foreman grill to cook them up in no time. It's small so I basically cook one veggie at a time (respray with some nonstick between veggies) and then put it on a plate until I finish cooking them all. Even though it sounds a little tedious, it's still quicker than any other method (except maybe stir-fry...). If you have a George Foreman, you should totally try this out. Basically it's:
  • Mushroom caps: 5 minutes
  • Onions, 1/2" slices: 5 minutes
  • Bell peppers, cut into 1/2" pieces, 5 minutes
  • Asparagus spears: 6-8 minutes, 6 for the thin ones and 8 for the thicker ones.
  • Eggplant, 1/2" thick slices: 8 minutes
  • Tomato slices (1/4" inch thick), cherry or grape tomatoes: 3 minutes
  • Zucchini or yellow squash, cut into 1/4" in slices: about 6 minutes
While these were grilling, I put on a few halved baby potatoes to boil, and voila! Grilled veggies! These would be awesome with some flatbreads. I usually ate them with balsamic vinegar and salt, but with the mushroom caps I'd fill each cap with a little sun-dried tomato pesto and then place one of the grape tomatoes in the center. It was like a little fancy appetizer, lol. For the meal pictured above, I ate them with some avocado slices. The good fats in avocado helped me to absorb all the Vitamin A and K I was ingesting. Plus, salted avocado goes really good with potatoes!

Although I hate the heat that comes with summer, I sure love the produce! I'm going to try my best to keep up with blogging, but I am taking a summer class that is sucking up all my fun. Bleh. Anywho, have a great evening!