Monday, November 14, 2011

Roasted Veggie Noms

I love vegetables, and one of my favorite things about fall cooking is working with lots of root vegetables. So behold, the root vegetables:

Aww. Look at that little lonely carrot.

As I was reading last month's issue of Vegetarian Times, I saw a roasted vegetable recipe that called for fennel. Suddenly, fennel sounded really good, which was super weird because I've had fennel before and I thought it was kind of "meh". But, since I'm on a veggie kick now, I decided I would try roasting the fennel to see how that would come out. My previous attempts were all sauteed.

I didn't use the recipe in VT, I just roasted the vegetables like I always do: a touch of olive oil and kosher salt, then finished off with some good balsamic vinegar. I also went crazy with the vegetables I had (note to self: stick to boiling turnips. They get kind of weird and crunchy went you roast them).

Anywho, I LOVED the roasted fennel. It tamed its anise-like flavor and became really sweet (in a good way). When mixed with the potatoes, onions, and cauliflower, the whole dish had a nice balance to it. I wanted to find a celery root to stick in here (since they're another root I'd like to try), but although I've seen them around town before, they're not here now. Maybe some other time? Also, I threw a carrot in there. I don't know why and it was only one carrot. Didn't really add much to the dish, lol (hence the lonely carrot in the above photo!). Feel free to add a carrot or two though, if you'd like!

Roasted Vegetables with Fennel:
1/2 a head of cauliflower, broken into florets
1 fennel bulb, end and top remove, thinly sliced
1/2 lb. baby potatoes (about 12), halved
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
5 cloves of garlic, smashed
1 Tb. olive oil
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
a few pinches black pepper
Preheat oven to 400F.

1. In a large bowl, toss together the cauliflower florets, fennel slices, baby potatoes, onion slices, garlic.
2. Drizzle the veggies with the olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss to coat.
3. Turn veggies out onto a large baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper and roast at 400 for about 45-1 hour, or until the veggies are golden brown, soft in the middle, and crispy on the edges. I would give them a good stir every once in awhile, and rotate your pan if your oven is the devil, like mine is.

This recipe serves four as a side dish or two as a main dish.  For a main dish (half the recipe, and not including the single carrot!) you get 114 calories, 3.9 grams of fat, 3.9 grams of fiber, 3.1 grams of protein, and about half of your daily Vitamin C. Surprisingly, fennel and potatoes have a good amount of that vitamin in them.

See, there is literally one piece of carrot in there! Bwahaha!

Oh, and those purple things are potatoes. I bought a bunch of mixed colored ones to make it a little more interesting, but it pretty much wound up monochrome anyway! I meant to make a chickpea-orzo pilaf to go along with this, but I just wound up eating it for dinner all by itself. I know I'll be roasting more veggies in the future, so maybe I'll just save it until then. Lol.

Best way to serve leftovers? Warm. In a tortilla. With a hummus. Yeah. Roasted vegetable hummus wrap.
Have a great day!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Korean Stir-Fry For One

So, I realize "stir-fry for one" isn't exactly a recipe amount that is in high demand, but I remember when I was a new vegan. I wanted to try a lot of new things and I was only cooking for myself. What if I didn't like it? What if I had too many leftovers?

Heck, even now there are days when I just want to whip up something quick for just me. Don't get me wrong, leftovers are great, but sometimes a stir-fry just takes best as a crispy stir-fry the first time around.

This stir-fry is great. It's Korean-inspired (a personal fave) and full of spicy and savory flavor. I served it on top of some soba noodles with some kimche on the side and lunch was on my table in less than 20 minutes (I would say 15 but that might be rather bold. Lol).

It's so awesome it's bathed in an ethereal mist.

So this recipe makes enough stir-fry for one person (well, as in one average me), but feel free to double this goodness if you have more than one person to feed. As a note though, if you decide to double this for two people, I wouldn't double the sauce. I think it would be fine with the amount the recipe already makes. You don't want it to be too salty.

Oh, and gochujang is a spicy, fermented Korean chili paste. It doesn't really have a substitute since it has a flavor to it, but you could simply omit it for a less-spicy version. If you still want some heat, a pinch of chili flakes would be good.

And one last thing! Extra tofu can be stored in water, in the fridge, for a few days. Just be sure you change the water every so often.

Korean Stir-Fry For One:
1 serving extra-firm tofu (3 oz. or around 1/6 of a container)
1/2 a container shiitake mushrooms, sliced
4 white button mushrooms, sliced
1/2 a red bell pepper, sliced
1 c. baby spinach, packed

2 green onions, white and green parts, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tb. tamari
1 tsp. oil
1 tsp. liquid sweetener
1/2 tsp. gochujang
1/2 tsp. white miso

1. Press the tofu for about 15 minutes, drain the water, and cut it until little cubes. Spray a skillet with some nonstick and saute it until golden brown over medium-high heat, about 5-8 minutes.
2. Add the sliced mushrooms and red bell pepper and saute another 4-5 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, make the sauce by mixing together the chopped green onions, garlic clove, tamari, oil, sweetener, gochujang, and miso until well-combined.
4. Once the mushrooms and bell pepper are done sauteing, add the spinach and stir-fry sauce and saute until the spinach is wilted and everything is coated with sauce, about another 1-2 minutes.

Serve over pasta or rice and enjoy!

The stir-fry (including sauce, but not any noodles) has 177 calories, 8 grams of fat, 12 grams of protein, and lots of Vitamin A and C! Add a grain and you get a nice calorie and fiber boost to make a healthy and satisfying lunch!

So remember my declaration of healthy eating this past Monday? Well, it's been going great. I've been eating a lot more vegetables and fruit, and a lot less sodium (you really wouldn't believe how much sodium them crystal noodles had. Lol. Way more than a person should ever eat, around 1200 mg a container... eek!). I haven't made it to the gym yet, but I'll work on that one again next week, lol. I've got deadlines!

Anywho, expect some roasted veggies (with fennel!), some stuffed poblanos, chickpea tagine, and carrot cake oatmeal in the near future. Have a great afternoon!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Weekend Beans

I realize the title of this post is called "Weekend Beans" and it's well, not the weekend, but that was when they got ate. Another good reason why I call them weekend beans? Because the recipe below makes enough for two servings, or two meals. I took these beans to work both nights this past weekend and they were gone even before I had time to get sick of leftovers, lol. Which, if you make beans from scratch very often, it's pretty easy to wind up making a TON of beans! Of course, since my recipe makes two servings of beans, you could easily double it to get enough for more than one day's worth of leftovers or to feed a couple more people.

That's another good point. These beans were made from dried, so that's a huge money saver. Seriously. A pound of red beans is about $1.50 (although, I think they're actually a little cheaper than that around here). Then say, one full bag contains about 2 cups dried beans (it's probably more, lol). If you make half the bag W(1 cup) and split what you make between two people (that would be two servings apiece since 1/4 cup dried is one serving), your meal of beans is only costing you $0.38! Talk about economical! Show me the beans!

Of course, spices and whatnot up the cost a little bit, but bottom line is: beans are cheap.

And healthy.

And since I've been working on my healthy eating (less processed food. I've gotten lazy), beans are the perfect food to get plenty of.

I also made a batch of cornbread, and I ask you, what good is that without a pot of beans?!

These are my "comfort" beans. The kind Mom made for my Dad and I. Of course, she used ham in hers and a little butter. I use a few spices, a little oil, and some liquid smoke. They're a little plain (which is how I like them) so they go best with some cornbread or rice and some caramelized onions on top. Oh, and Taco Bell hot sauce... but I'll leave that to your discretion!

Weekend Beans:
3/4 c. dried "small red beans" (that's what the bag says)
1 bay leaf
3 Tb. minced yellow onion
1/2 Tb. garlic powder
1/2 Tb. onion powder
1 tsp. olive oil
1/4 tsp. liquid smoke
Sea salt to taste

1. Rinse and pick through beans. Get rid of any stones or bad beans. Rinse beans and if any float to the surface, toss 'em.

2. Cover them with water (about 2 inches above the surface of the beans), bring them to a boil, and let them boil 3 minutes.

3. Once they're done boiling, cover them and let them soak for about an hour to an hour and a half.

4. Once the beans are done soaking, drain the water, rinse them a few times, and cover them with enough water to go about 1 inch above the surface of the beans.

5. Bring them to a boil, add the onion, bay leaf, garlic powder, onion powder, and liquid smoke. NOT THE SALT. Cover them, reduce the heat to a simmer and let them cook, stirring occasionally, for about an hour or until the beans are tender.

6. Once they're done cooking, remove a little of the broth (although you don't have too), give them a few good mashes with a potato masher to thicken them a little, and add the salt to taste.

Serve them with a grain and or cornbread, and some caramelized onions and you have a hearty meal!

Since I made this into two servings, each serving contains 110 calories, 2.25 grams of fat (from the olive oil. The beans themselves are fat free), and 10.5 grams of protein. You also get 22.5% of your RDA of iron and 24 grams of fiber (!).

Ahh. Good stuff. Hearty winter food for sure!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

I Finally Posted My Cornbread Recipe!

But before I go any further, there is something I would like to mention. Teniesha of Vegan on the Go-Go gave me the Liebster Blog award! I love Teniesha's blog and I read it regularly. Her food is always full of color and nutrition and her posts always are friendly and honest. I just happened to stumble across it one day, and I've loved it ever since!

Anywho, liebster is German for “dearest” or “favorite” and is an award given to lesser-known blogs.

When receiving a Liebster award, you're supposed to do the following:
1) Show your thanks to those who gave you the award by linking back to them.         (CHECK)
2) Link 5 of your top picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.     (UM...)
3) Post the award on your blog.                                                                             (CHECK)
4) Enjoy the love and support of some wonderful people.

Okay, so I know you're supposed to link 5 of your favorite blogs, but I always keep links to my favorite blogs on the right-hand side of the page. I like to cruise around the blogosphere and as soon as I find some goodies I post them on the side. So, I hate to be a party pooper, but I'm gonna take the easy way out and tell you that my links are on the side of the page (don't hate me!!! lol!). I've just been unbelievably busy this semester. I don't have enough to to cook, or bake, or read blogs, or even hardly workout!

Now, to divert your attention, I shall show you pictures of foodz...
Some mighty fine ears you got there.

My family is a cornbread family. Everytime we ate beans (which was quite often), we had cornbread. When I made beans or Mexican food or hearty bean stews, I made cornbread. Sometimes I just wanted cornbread... so I made cornbread. I've been using this recipe for years, so I can guarantee that this recipe is tasty and delicious. I actually tried to go out of the box a couple months back and bake a cornbread recipe from a certain well-known vegan cookbook author and I did not like it at all! I was so disappointed that I vowed I would use my recipe from now on (unless of course, I find a super decadent one to try).

MY cornbread is slightly dry and crumbly, but in a good way. It's not so dry you can't eat it by itself (with peanut butter...) but it's dry enough that it does a good job soaking up soupy deliciousness. It also stays in one piece so you don't have it crumbling all over the place. It's a tad sweet, but not too sweet. I've never been fond of sugary "Northern" cornbread. It's also not too high in calories, which I think is something a lot of health-conscious people look for in a cornbread (of course, it kind of depends on how many muffins you decide to make out of the batter...).

For this recipe I used melted (vegan) butter to give it richer flavor, but feel free to use the same amount of oil. I also used liquid sweetener instead of granular to add some moisture to the final product. I've found that most vegan cornbread tends to be unpleasantly dry, but using liquid oils and liquid sweeteners help remedy that.

Good ol' Cornbread:

1 1/4 c. unbleached, all-purpose flour
3/4 c. yellow cornmeal
1 Tb. baking powder
3/4 tsp. sea salt
1 Tb. flax meal +2 Tb. warm water
1 c. unsweetened original almond milk + 1/2 Tb. rice vinegar
1/4 c. liquid sweetener of your choice (agave, maple syrup, etc.)
4 Tb. Earth Balance, melted

1. First, preheat the oven to 400F. Stir together the flax meal and the warm water and set aside. Stir together the almond milk and rice vinegar and set aside.

2. Whisk together the all-purpose flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and sea salt until well-combined.

3. Stir in the flax "egg", the melted Earth Balance, the almond milk mixture, and the liquid sweetener until completely combined. Pour into muffin tins that have been sprayed with nonstick or pour into a 9" x 9" round pan (also sprayed with nonstick). You can also you an 8" x 8" square pan or muffin tins, but adjust the time as necessary.

4. Bake about 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Enjoy!

If cut into 16 squares or wedges or made into 16 muffins, you get: 98 calories, 3.3 grams of fat, and 1.6 grams of protein per serving (1 muffin/square/wedge). Not too shabby for a cornbread!

I love, love, LOVE retro/vintage/antique kitchen things. I have literally been looking for a cornbread pan that made "mini-corns" for ages! I mean seriously, corn-shaped cornbread?? Bwahaha!!! I've probably seen about a hundred of them, but all the ones I've came across have been pretty beat up or rusted all to heck. I found this pan at a thrift store for $1.48 yesterday and I seriously went home to make cornbread and try it out. It was everything I dreamed it would be! The little corns came out looking like, well, corns, and with a nice coating of nonstick, they popped out of the heavy cast iron just fine. My boyfriend got a kick out of them and I have a now have a new favorite vintage kitchen item!

Anywho, I've been living off a lot of vegan convenience foods because I've been so busy with work and school, but I've only got about a month left. I've been MEGA craving some vegetables and I'm sick of the sodium overload I've been feeding myself. I'm DONE. I'm going to make the time to start cooking again because I miss having veggies and leftovers around the house. I've also gained a couple "stress" pounds since I tend to munch while I study and I haven't had the time to workout. Blech. I miss being my active, healthy me, so this week I'm gonna step it up a notch. I'm gonna start running again on Tuesdays and Thursdays (hey, two days a week are better than none!) and I'm working on a list of meals for next week. I'm for sure going to post my recipes. For now, I've got roasted veggies with balsamic-flavored orzo as well a Morroccan stew planned. Teniesha's blog has got me craving squashes and chickpeas so I'm going to make sure I get a hefty dose of those this week.

I'm so ready for a change!