Sunday, July 1, 2012

Gluten-Free Mid-E Platter

So, the other day I went to The Grit and had their Mid-E Platter. It's a tasty dish that comes with hummus, pita points, raw veggies, tabbouleh, and a lemon-tahini sauce. Oh, and two falafel. Well, I was really craving that Mid-E Platter, but was (and still am!) a little short on cash, so I thought I would make my own version at home. I decided to do a gluten-free version this time around though. I really wanted to make some GF pita, since I have a recipe, but I didn't. Because, after making the soyogurt sauce, tabbouleh, and falafel, and making the salad, I was a little tired lol. But in all honesty, these recipes are quick. I did all that in exactly one hour and have plenty of leftovers for tomorrow.

Pictured: Tahini-Yogurt Sauce, Baked GF Falafel, GF Quinoa Tabbouleh, Hummus, sliced cucumbers, and carrots on a bed of romaine lettuce.

The Falafel is a revised and perfected version of my previous falafel recipe. The hummus was store bought, the tahini-soyogurt sauce needs a little work (it's not quite right), and the quinoa tabbouleh is my version of the basic way to make it gluten-free. So you get two recipes tonight, my friends. 

Gluten-Free Baked Falafel:
1 (15 oz.) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/4 c. fresh parsley, chopped
2 Tb. tahini
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. fresh grated lemon peel
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. coriander
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2 Tb. minced onion
1/8 c. water
1/4 c. gluten-free cornflake crumbs (be sure they're vegan)

1. Pulse chickpeas, parsley, tahini, garlic, lemon juice and peel, cumin, corianger, chili powder, onion, water, and salt in a food processor until mostly smooth, but still a little bit chunky.
2. Transfer chickpea mixture to a bowl and stir in bread crumbs.

3. Make about 15 small (ping pong-sized) balls and place on a nonstick baking sheet or a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (if not nonstick). Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until golden brown and crispy on the outside. Be sure to flip it over once while baking.

Stats for one falafel (if 15 are made): 55 calories, 1.7 g fat, 1.6 g fiber, 2.2 g. protein, and a little bit of Vitamin A, C, calcium, and iron.

And they still hold together pretty nicely as well. You can eat them as part of a platter or you can stuff them in a pita or a wrap. Your choice!

The tabbouleh is made gluten-free with the use of quinoa (a seed). It's a pretty powerful little seed and definitely good for you. I think it makes a fine substitution for wheat grain. Also, I know that authentic tabbouleh is more parsley than grain, but I still like a little grain with my parsley. If you catch my drift. This recipe is based off of one from Bon Appetit.

Quinoa Tabbouleh:
1 cup quinoa, rinsed well
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large English cucumber, chopped
1 1/2 c. mini heirloom tomatoes (or reg. tomatoes), halved
2/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/4 c. onion, minced
1. Bring quinoa, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1 1/4 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until quinoa is tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

2. Meanwhile, whisk lemon juice and garlic in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in olive oil. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper.

3. Add cucumber, tomatoes, parsley, and onion to bowl with quinoa; toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

4. Once quinoa is completely cool, add the the bowl with the dressing and the chopped veggies.

The nutritional stats on this one is an estimated cause I'm not quite sure how many servings I'll get out of this one. I'd say about 6 servings at about 210 calories and 9 grams of fat. 

So that was my lunch today and will be my lunch tomorrow! It was quick delicious, and like I said, if you make all the pieces on one day, you can have very quick leftovers the next few!

I'll be making some stuff from Viva Vegan here shortly (I've already prepared my sofrito and bought the produce!) and I even tried my hand at yuca. I made Cilantro-Lime Yuca and it was delicious. Especially when served with Cuban Black Beans and a corn tortilla. More tasty things to come!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Poppy Seed Fruit Salad

I've really been hitting up those summer foods. Sandwiches, cole slaw, cool pickled veggies, and now fruit salad. Because really, I love fruit salad. I actually prefer it to other desserts that one might bring to a BBQ or potluck. Cold fruit just tastes better when you're hanging out outside!

That's right. I'm gonna eat this salad. 'Eff you urine test!

There's a lot of recipes out there that call for a creamy dressing made of mayo. Which aside from being not vegan, also makes it more fattening (completely negating the fact that you're eating fruit), and makes it more perishable. Not a good idea when you're going to be bringing a dish somewhere where it will be out in the heat. This fruit salad is unique because it's a perfect blend of ripe, tropical fruit and the summer berries that are at their peak now. Nothing boring in this salad! It also has a "dressing" made of pureed honeydew, which lightens the overall salad and gives it plenty of flavor. Oh, and it's got poppy seeds in it, which I'm a huge fan of, and can eat all the time now because I don't have to worry about losing my job. Lol.

Anywho, this recipe is based on one found on the Whole Foods website, only it's been changed to make it taste better and be more convenient. Don't get me wrong, I love papaya (which is what the original called for), but most of the time in stores they aren't ripe at all. And they're huge! Substituting mango with papaya still gives it plenty of tropical flavor, but they're easier to tell when they're ripe and you aren't left with a bunch of fruit. I also left out the cantaloupe. Cause that stuff is gross. Lol.

Oh, and just a piece of advice. Taste the fruit as you go. Nothing ruins a fruit salad quicker than fruit that's not at it's prime. Oh, and wash that fruit! Just make sure to drain off any excess water before you add the "dressing".

Poppyseed Fruit Salad:
2 c. sliced strawberries
2 c. honeydew melon, cubed, divided
1 c. fresh blueberries
1 c. chopped mango
1 banana, ripe but not overripe (it needs to be somewhat firm), chopped
2 kiwis, peeled and chopped
2 Tb. fresh squeezed lemon or lime juice
1 Tb. liquid sweetener
1 Tb. poppy seeds
Pinch of cinnamon
Pinch of ginger

1. In a large bowl, combine the strawberries, 1 cup of the honeydew, blueberries, mango, banana, and kiwi. Set aside.

2. In a blender, combine the remaining one cup of honeydew, lemon/lime juice, liquid sweetener, poppy seeds, cinnamon and ginger. Blend thoroughly.

3. Toss the dressing with the fruit, coating all of it. Cover, and let chill for a couple of hours before serving.

I didn't really do the math or anything, but it's about 150 calories a serving, and this recipe makes about six good-sized servings.

Maybe one of these days I'll veganize the fruit salad I grew up eating (swapping out mayo for Veganaise, marshmallows for Dandie's, etc.), but for now, I just really enjoy eating this one in all it's fruity fresh glory!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Summer Sandwich: Tofu Banh Mi

I've been on a packaged broccoli slaw kick here recently. That stuff is great. It's usually just a smallish packed with broccoli stem and carrot matchsticks (I'm not even sure if there's any cabbage in there) and it's very multipurpose. I use a bag every time I made Pad Thai, when I made slightly-more-authentic tacos, and as an effective time-saver when making a quick stir-fry. My newest use of it? My Tofu Banh Mi.

The Banh Mi is a Vietnamese-French fusion sandwich. Back in the days when France colonized parts of Indochina, they would take their native foods (like their glorious baguettes) and incorporate them with the local fare (like pickled vegetables and grilled meats). That's what happened to create the Banh Mi. It's usually not vegan, but I've played around and came up with a quick and easy vegan version that uses baked tofu and lots of crunchy veggies.

I usually bake up the tofu beforehand, and then when I want to make a sandwich I just pull together all the stuff and it's ready in 10 minutes. Alternatively, you can make the "pickled" vegetable mix early in the morning and take the sandwich ingredients with you to lunch (I pack my lunches) and then assemble the sandwich right before eating it. The sandwich recipe below makes one sandwich, though it could easily be doubled, tripled, quadrupled, etc. The baked tofu recipe uses a full package of tofu and makes about six servings of tofu, so you'll have leftovers for later.

Tofu Banh Mi:
1/2 c. packaged broccoli slaw mix
1/8 c. shredded carrots
1 green onion, white and green parts, sliced
2 Tb. rice vinegar
1 tsp. sugar/liquid sweetener
Big pinch of red pepper flakes
1 Tb. Veganaise or Reduced-Fat Veganaise
Sriracha, to taste
1 (4.5 inch) section of baguette (I love sourdough here)
1 to 1 1/2 servings of baked tofu cubes (depending on how hungry you are, lol), recipe follows
Romaine lettuce leaves
Sliced English cucumber
Chopped cilantro

1. In a small bowl, combine the broccoli slaw, shredded carrots, chopped green onion, vinegar, sugar, and red pepper flakes. Mix well and set aside.

2. Spread the baguette with the Veganaise and sriracha. Layer it with the lettuce, cucumber, cilantro, and baked tofu. Using a slotted spoon or fork, place the slaw mixture on the sandwich and replace the top part of the baguette. Enjoy!

Simple Baked Tofu:

1 pkg. tofu (the high-protein super firm variety is great for this recipe), pressed, drained, cubed
2 Tb. soy sauce or tamari
1 Tb rice vinegar
1/2 Tb. oil (peanut or canola is good)
1 tsp. sweetener of choice
1 tsp. sriracha or chile-garlic paste (sambal oelek)
a few drops toasted sesame oil (adds umami!)

Preheat oven to 375

1. Whisk together the soy sauce, vinegar, oil, sweetener, chile paste, and toasted sesame oil. Add the tofu cubes and swirl to coat.

2. Add tofu and soy sauce mixture to the pan and bake at 375 for about 35 minutes, or until firmed and browned on all sides. Toss the cubes around every once and awhile while baking, and swirl in marinade if necessary. 

This is a very good basic baked tofu recipe. You can also embellish on it and make a Thai version, a Chinese version, an Italian version, etc. I just find the 2:1 soy sauce to vinegar ratio my way to go. Also, the longer you bake it, the more chewy and delicious it will become.

It's not the best picture ever, but as you can see, it is a sandwich literally overflowing with deliciousness. And check out that tofu! I was mostly hungry and without the patience to stage a pretty photograph, lol.

This Tofu Banh Mi is definitely a cool, crisp sandwich perfect for a hot, summer day!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Quick Pickles and a Tour of My Place!

Hi, everyone!

I think I've finally gotten myself completely settled into my new apartment. It took me almost a month, but I guess sometimes that's how long it takes!

My place is a little 600 square feet den in the basement of a log cabin. I have windows in my bedroom (so that birds can wake me up at 5:00 am... but I love it!), so it's still nice and light inside there. I love the fact that it's "earth-sheltered" because the temperature stays fairly consistent and because I feel all safe. I have a horrible fear of storms/tornadoes and even now, as an adult, when I'm back home and I see the clouds start to darken I start to freak out. So long story short, that's why I picked a graduate school that was NOT in the Midwest (also because I'm a plant biologist and I'm not interested in studying corn or soybeans). And, when I was looking for an apartment and I found this cute little nook, I knew I had to live here. It's got an open kitchen/dining room, a bedroom, and a bathroom.

As you can see, it kind of looks like a log cabin on the inside. Lots of pine woodwork and trim. I'm also cooking with gas now. I love cooking with my gas stove, lol. The other side is just my comfy chaise that I sit in and a small tv. Oh, and I think maybe you noticed that I have a new member of my family?

This is Zoe (or Zoey). She's a four-year-old-ish lab mix. A friend of my also got accepted into grad school, but he was gonna be moving into a large apartment complex in Houston. He made the painful decision to hand her over to me so that she could be happy. You know, so she could run around on the farm all day and play with the other dogs here, rather being cramped up in a small apartment all day. She loves it here. I don't even need to put her on a leash. She just runs around and comes inside when I call her.

I normally wouldn't care too much about showing y'all my bathroom, but I have to because I have the most awesome shower curtain ever. It was sold out for ever, so I was put on a waiting list for this biatch but I eventually got one. Best $30 I ever spent!!

I got it at Plasticland ( Pretty much everything they have there is like it was made for me, and don't even get me started on those clothes or those shoes!!

Then finally, we have the bedroom. I was gonna do blue and brown, but my bed and dresser turned out to be super dark, and I didn't want to buy new blankets, so I went with purple and dark brown.

So there you have it! My apartment. It's nice and quiet. I don't have noisy neighbors, or busy streets, or anything to distract me from my studies. Heck, I don't even have a roommate to distract me (thank goodness!). I hope to stay here for a long time, and I definitely wouldn't mind staying here the entire duration of my grad school career.

Anyway, enough about me! I promised y'all a recipe in my last post and I'm here to deliver! I'm going to a cookout today and I'm bringing along my Poppy Seed Coleslaw and these Quick Pickles. That coleslaw recipe is better than before since I finally got around to updating it. I used Reduced-Fat Veganaise, but regular or another brand is okey dokey too.

These pickles are super easy to make and stay good in your fridge for two weeks. They're crispy and crunchy and just tasty. You'll be surprised at how fresh they taste when you make them! And just a word of note, I sterilize my jars before I make anything like this. I do that by boiling a canning jar and the lid for 10 minutes. I'm a little paranoid, I suppose, but it's not necessary because of the vinegar. Another bonus: homemade pickles like this have less sodium than jarred ones.

Quick Refrigerator Pickles:
1 med. sweet onion, thinly sliced
1 medium English cucumber, thinly sliced (the long skinny ones with edible peel)
1 c. rice vinegar
2 Tb. sugar (whatever kind you like, just not something with too much flavor)
2 bay leaves
1  1/4 tsp. brown mustard seeds
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1. Place onion and cucumber into a heat-proof nonreactive bowl. Glass pyrex is best. Set aside.

2. Bring vinegar, sugar, bay leaves, mustard seeds, salt, and 1/2 cup of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes.

3. Pour over onion and cucumber. Cover loosely with a clean towl and let cool completely. Make sure you stir occasionally to submerge the vegetables. Once cool place in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks.

This recipe doesn't make a whole lot, but I'd definitely say a large Mason jar full (though that depends on the size of your onion and cucumber! If you like pickles (and especially the bread and butter kind) you will definitely like these. Also, it's kind of fun to say you made your own. Have a great evening!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Green Posole Seitan Stew

So I'm sure many of you are aware of my love for Viva Vegan by Terry Hope Romero. I have a huge list of recipes I would like to make and I would love to completely cook my way through her book (and believe me, I don't say that about all cookbooks!). Her seitan recipes are killer (I've made them all) and I plan on working my way through all the beans-and-rice recipes next.

One of the final recipes I made before I left Missouri was her recipe for Green Posole Seitan Stew with Chard and White Beans. I made a big ol' pot of this, prepped all the garnishes, and ate that throughout the second-to-last week (before I had to pack up my kitchen and live off of Chipotle and Amy's frozen entrees...). Anywho, I did make a few changes to this recipe based on what I had available to me, but for the most part I tried to stay true to the recipe (she knows best, after all!).

Here are a few of the changes I made:
  • For starters, I picked up a can of crushed tomatillos. The recipe called for fresh, but I don't really know how to pick out fresh ones. Also, at the time, it was cheaper (and easier) to just use canned.

  • I used vegetable broth instead of beer, simply because I didn't want to buy extra ingredients when I was trying to use up the ones I had. I'll be buying myself a six-pack of some Modelo or something to use in the next recipes I try because I have a kitchen again (yay!!!).

  • For the white beans I picked out a can of mayocoba beans. They are a small, buttery white bean used in Latin American cooking. I scored those at Big Lots. Apparently, they are similar to a bean used in a kind of Indian curry as well (they're sometimes called canary beans). These beans held up in the stew quite nicely.

  • I used half a package of frozen, drained spinach instead of Swiss chard, since it needed to be used up. Also, I like chard, but they aren't my favorite type of greens. Though I suppose if they were free I would eat them...
  • And finally, instead of canned hominy I used dried corn. This was definitely not a time-saver. I impulse bought a small bag of it awhile back since it was labeled "blue posole" and because I had seen this recipe in the book. In order to use it to make this posole though, I had to soak it overnight, cook it for two hours on the stove, and then cook it in the recipe. It had great texture though. I would totally use it again (hmmm, maybe in the Red Posole?

I really liked this stew. I even got my boyfriend to eat a couple of bowls of it ("so this is what now? Seitan? You made it? It's pretty good. I can see why you like it". Lol.). And of course, with each bowl I ate I topped it with some raw onion, fresh lime, crunched up tortilla chips, and cubed avocado. It made a great, filling meal and the leftovers were just as tasty.

In other news, the town I live in also has a Trader Joe's. As soon as I found out, I had to go check it out myself. Kansas City had gotten one a few months before I moved but I always went to Whole Foods instead. I was all about that salad bar and kombucha off the tap, lol. It was kind of like I expected, but I was also pleasantly surprised. I'm able to get a lot of my basics there, as well as a good variety of frozen veggies, and I like that a lot. They had this fresh stir-fry mix that I combined with some tofu, a half-serving of leftover fresh fettucine, three tablespoons of Trader Joe's Island Soyaki, and some leftover sliced squash and zucchini. I topped it with a few sliced almonds and it was awesome. Especially once I picked out the baby corns and bamboo shoots that I found out I don't like. Ha. But seriously, it was good, and it came together in about 15 minutes.

I plan on doing the majority of my shopping there. I bought a lot of stuff and it only came out to be about $30. That's quite a difference from the prices I was used to paying! I also do some of my shopping at Earth Fare and Kroger when I can get good deals. For example, right now Kroger has the large cartons of Vita Coco coconut water on sale for $4.50. That's a really good price. And let's not forget Big Lots of course, lol. In general though, I'm trying to be more consciencious of my budget now that I'm a grad student and have a few more bills to pay (helloooo student loans). Anywho, that's about all for now. Have a great afternoon!

Oh, and I swear my next post will have a recipe!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

I'm Back!

Oh, man. It's been a pretty hectic month this past month, but I think all that stuff is behind me. I can finally start to relax and settle into my new home. I start school June 4th, but I still have a couple more weeks of relaxation!

My apartment is almost completely in order. I will show you guys what it looks like when I'm done. Right now I have half-assembled pieces of furniture all over the place. I'm not very motivated, lol. I have been doing a little bit of cooking but it's kinda hard since I have to completely rebuild my kitchen from scratch. Most of my ingredients got left back in Missouri since I couldn't take it all with me, though I did try and bring some of my more expensive and hard-to-find items (like vanilla beans and my gluten-free flours). But now that I have a few staples (sea salt, olive oil, curry powder, tahini) I feel like I'm starting to get my groove on again.

I don't know if I've mentioned this (I think I have) but I live on an organic vegetable farm. Their main income comes from their CSA, but they also sell extras at the local farmer's market (I can't believe I live in a place now that has both of these things! Lol). I've been helping them harvest on the farm, just for fun and to give me something to do, and in return I've been given some produce. The other day I was given a bunch of dinosaur kale, some savoy cabbage, and some garlic scapes. Since I wanted something like a stir fry, I simply sauteed it all together with an onion in some olive oil and then finished it off with a little balsamic vinegar.

It was good, especially cold the next day when I ate it as a side dish, but I think I would have preferred it with rice vinegar and maybe some Asian-style seasonings. I will play around with this some more. I ate this with a dal that I made. It was basically yellow lentils (toor dal?) simmered with 2-3 times extra water to make it thick and creamy, and then I added curry powder and salt to taste. Oh, and I put a box of frozen butternut squash puree in there too to give it a boost of nutrition. It was actually really good. It was simple and comforting and it hit the spot!

I've also tried out a couple of the local restaurants. The first day here I was super hungry, and I stopped at pretty much the first place I saw that I knew would have something for me. What I got was a hummus and vegetable pita wrap. It was good, but definitely overpriced. Since I've been on a hummus kick lately, I decided to make my own version. I then smeared it on a flatbread wrap and rolled it up with some veggies to make a cheaper (and I dare say, tastier) version at home. Normally, I jazz up my homemade hummus with some roasted garlic or roasted red bell peppers or cumin, but I'm on a tight budget, so I went with the basics here (and it's still delicious!):
Jess's Lazy Hummus:
"Lazy" because I don't really measure anything,
2 cans chickpeas, liquid from one can reserved, but the rest drained
1 small onion, quartered
1/4 c. tahini
1/4 c. olive oil
3/4 tsp. salt (or more or less to taste)
juice from two lemons

1. Toss the onion in the food processor to mince.

2. Add the chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, salt, and lemon juice to the food processor and puree. Add just enough of the reserved chickpea liquid to give the hummus a thick and creamy consistency (you could also use water, I suppose). Blend until completely smooth.

3. Cover and chill for at least an hour to allow the flavors to meld.

Once, the hummus is ready, simply spread your flatbread/wrap with hummus, layer on some cucumber, tomato, lettuce, black olives, and sprouts (gotta have the sprouts), roll it up tight and you're good to go! I wanted to make a vegan yogurt sauce to put on it as well, but I'm currently out of spices at the moment. I'll have to do that the next time around.

That's mostly what I've been doing for now, though I'll post later about the Green Posole Seitan Stew from Vive Vegan next time. That was the last thing I cooked before I left, but I never got around to blogging about it. Anywho, more food to come. I've got new pans and bakeware and I know how to use them!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Sorry For the Absence!

As you know, I've been in the process of moving to Georgia. My kitchen has been completely packed up for the last two weeks or so (and it's been driving me crazy!!), and it'll probably be another two weeks or so before I'm completely unpacked. I also don't have internet at home, otherwise I would be able to do at least something (I have pictures to post!!).

Anywho, I just wanted to let y'all know that I still plan on blogging, I've just got to get myself all situated!

I'll be posting soon,


Friday, April 6, 2012

Vive Vegan and Other Good Eats!

So my Pantry Challenge has been going quite well. I managed to use up some of my pantry basics, like brown sugar and rice noodles, and a few boxed items, like GF pancake mix. I was even able to give away a few ingredients to my mom so that she could make some homemade peanut butter doggie biscuits. Progress has been slow, but steady, and after this week's cooking bonanza from Terry Hope Romero's Vive Vegan, I was able to knock a LOT of stuff out of my pantry. More about that in a minute. But first, let's talk about Whole Foods!

I had the day off the other day and I realized that I was out of tea (Republic of Tea's Vanilla Almond to be exact). Apparently in my book, being out of tea (and craving the WF salad bar) makes a 65 minute drive completely justifiable. Of course, I also needed some groceries, so I took this trip as an opportunity to do a little stocking up (on things that I would actually use over the next six weeks!!). Since I love the salad bar, I decided to take the salad bar home with me! I got a to-go box of all the things I love on my salad (shredded beets, zucchini, daikon; marinated gigante beans, and green onions.. because I felt lazy) and then I bought the lettuce parts separately. WF has much cheaper organic produce than my HyVee so I got a bag of romaine hearts and a 50/50 box of spring mix and baby spinach. While I was over in the refrigerated section, I also noticed my favorite dressing: Follow Your Heart's Organic Tamari-Miso. I had looked all over the store for that stuff, at least everywhere but the produce aisle!

Then I did something I've always meant to do but have never gotten around to doing. I prewashed and chopped all my salad greens and tossed them together in a huge bowl. That way, when I wanted a salad, all I had to do was grab my greens out of the big bowl. I used a salad spinner so that the greens were nice and dry before they were stored. Please don't store wet greens. Food poisoning really sucks. Trust me on that one! I also ate them within 3-4 days of chopping.

Once home I cooked up quinoa and toasted up some pepitas to complete my WF salad. Two pantry items knocked out!

Then, during a fit of serious PMS, I wound up craving a milkshake (which I haven't had in years and have never made a vegan one!). I went a little Thai with this one though, and blended together coconut milk ice cream, ginger beer (it's non-alcoholic), a banana, and enough coconut-almond milk to get it to the consistency I wanted. It was quite warm that day, so it really hit the spot. It was different (taste-wise) but it was exactly what I wanted! Bonus: it used up the ginger beer I had stashed back for who knows how long and one of my many frozen bananas!


So here's the biggest use of my pantry by far. I've packed up most of my cookbooks, but I left out a couple that I thought I might use. One of the ones I left unpacked was Vive Vegan. I'm definitely a Latin-food lover and I knew that with all the beans and spices I got hanging around that it would be a good book to cook from. In just this past week I've made two of her recipes, plus I've prepped to make two more. That way, when leftovers run out on Tuesday, I'll have stuff ready to just toss together.

I was real proud of myself here: I used all my dried black beans (which was only about a pound, lol). With most of them I made the Homestyle Refried Beans (subbed black for pinto), but I set aside two cups to make Isa's Black Bean-Zucchini-Olive Tacos from Appetite for Reduction. It's definitely one of my favorite taco recipes. I then mixed up some Curdito (from VV) which is a vinegar-based slaw, some homemade pico (my recipe), and two kinds of seitan. I did a half recipe each of the White Seitan and the Chorizo. It was quite a day of cooking! Right now I'm munching up the tacos with a side of curdito, refried beans, and pico. It's sooo good:

Please ignore the dry refried beans!

Since the seitan has a longer shelf life, I'm saving those dishes for later in the week. Next up, I'm making the Chorizo-Spinach Sopes (also served with a side of refried beans and curdito), and then Tuesday (or so) I'm making the Green Posole, which is kind of a corn and bean-based soup with spinach, seitan, and pumpkin seeds, and lots of garnishes (tortilla chips, avocado, slaw). I'll post all those pictures on here as well.

With all this cooking, I've been able / will be able to use a lot of stuff: dry and canned beans, frozen greens, spices, posole (dried corn), canned tomatoes, masa harina, vital wheat gluten and other various flours, and I even used up the last of my olive oil (at least I still have coconut and canola! LOL.) If all else fails and I don't get stuff used up, I'll probably give some stuff to my mom and donate others.

But lastly, I couldn't send you away without a recipe. This recipe is the only pico I make and it can easily be adjusted for your taste my adding more or less jalapeno, salt, or lime. People get excited when I bring out the homemade pico and guac!

Jess's Only Pico Recipe:
6 Roma tomatoes, chopped (I use these because they have less seeds/juice)
1/4 c. chopped cilantro
1/4 a large yellow onion, finely chopped
1/2 a fresh jalapeno, minced
juice of 1/2 a fresh lime
a pinch of sugar (about 1/8 to 1/4 tsp.)
about 1 tsp. kosher salt (or to taste. I don't usually measure)

Put the tomatoes into a small bowl or serving dish and drain off any extra juice that settles to the bottom. Add the cilantro, onion, jalapeno, lime juice, sugar, and salt, and mix well. Let chill for at least an hour for the flavors to blend, and always taste test! You can also blend the ingredients together with a touch of olive oil to make a sort-of salsa fresca for your tacos or what not.

Buen provecho!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

More From the Pantry: Ethopian and Soup and Stuff

So, I know I've been a little absent lately, but I've been crazy busy! Like, CRAZY busy. Two weeks ago, I flew down to Georgia to look for a place to live. I was kind of freaking out because I plan on moving at the beginning of May, and I literally only had one day to find an apartment (thanks to me not being able to miss any school and only having a limited amount of PTO). We arrived early in the afternoon, got something to eat, and then walked a mile to pick up our rental car (my boyfriend was like, "you know, the commercials say they'll pick you up!!" and I was like, "too bad... we're walking!"). Since Drew was sick (of course, that might've been why he didn't care too much for walking), I ventured out on my own while he was sleeping. I needed a kombucha.

Oh, kombucha. How I adore you!

Luckily, I found some! Athens has an Earth Fare, which is a Southern chain of health foods/natural foods stores. It reminded me a lot of the Wild Oats they used to have in downtown KC back in the day (although Earth Fare is bigger!). I am so stoked to be living in a place that has an actual health food store that sells all the things I love: bulk foods, kombucha, coconut water, and every flavor of Lara Bar, lol. They also have a pretty good selection of organic fruits and veggies and GF products. Yay!

So anywho, I drank my kombucha while I made phone calls and lists like a crazy person. I HAD to find a place to live, this was my only chance to be able to see any of the places in person, and I really didn't like the idea of signing a lease blind. I had only one apartment showing scheduled and it was at 2 pm that Thursday (the only full day we'd be in town). Nothing else worked out. However, that particular apartment was my dream apartment. It was the basement apartment of a log cabin on a local organic farm, six miles from the school. I love basement apartments because I feel all cozy and safe in them (though I'm glad I have windows in my bedroom). It's from growing up in the Midwest where there's always the threat of tornadoes (storms freak me out. I HATE tornado season). Also, this place was dog-friendly (I've been longing for a dog for years), and in the words of Drew, "it's mostly kitchen". The whole place is small, about 600 square feet (but that's what makes it affordable!), and it has an open living room/kitchen plan. I will finally be able to have enough space to put all my kitchen bits! Oh, and stick in a couch somewhere. Lol.

So yeah, dream apartment, but I didn't want to put all my hope in that one place (what if it didn't work out?). So after a nice lunch at The Grit with all my future lab professors, the Plant Biology department chair, and my fungal lab colleagues, I headed out with Drew to see my (hopefully) future home. It was perfect! My landlord and his wife live upstairs and after I looked around, they asked if I wanted to sign the lease. Uh, YEAH. So I did. Immediately, it was like a wave of relief. I had a place to live for when I move down in May, and now I could actually sit back and enjoy the rest of my stay in Georgia.

So I guess now that I have that taken care of, plus the fact that my last day of class is April 30, and I've already turned in my notice at work (so ready to leave the pesticide plant!), I'm just going through the motions these last few weeks (and also filling imaginary shopping carts with all the new furniture I'm going to buy!).

Seriously, is that not the most beautiful rug ever??? It goes perfect with the vintage vibe I want to have going on. Too bad it's expensive, and not vegan. But I digress...

I guess, the point of all that is that it's put some serious fire in my pantry challenge. I've been doing a lot of cooking and I've made some really good things (I also have lots more goodies on the way!). I'm waiting to the very last possible moment to pack up all my cookbooks. Here's a few things I've made:

1. Eastern European Lentil Soup: This is one of my favorite soup recipes, and I think that I finally have it perfected. For one, fire-roasted tomatoes are a must. And for second, earlier this month I made falafel that had a soyogurt sauce made with plain soyogurt, fresh lemon juice and rind, cumin, and parsley. Topping the soup with this instead of the plain stuff added some great flavor. Pantry items used: all my lentils, canned tomatoes, spices.

2. Spicy Sun-Dried Tomato Soup with White Beans: This is a Vegetarian Times recipe (and photo!!). I pretty much stuck to the recipe with this one, other than I adapted it to fit my pantry challenge. I basically just used dry Great Northern beans instead of canned white, and I used dried spices. I also used half dry sun-dried tomatoes and half packed in oil. I was able to get rid of all my dried ones that way! Oh, and I also subbed frozen spinach. Pantry items used: dried beans, sun-dried tomatoes, spices, canned tomatoes, frozen spinach.

Mine didn't actually look like this though...

3. Ye'misir Wat and Ye'abesha Gomen: I made some awesome Ethiopian food! Translated it's yellow split peas in a spicy gravy and mild collard greens. I ordered a copy of Papa Tofu Loves Ethiopian Food a month or two ago and I finally got around to making something. It was awesome! I meant to cook some millet to go with it but I forgot. I guess I'll just save it for my next round of Ethiopian food! In general, Kittee has created an awesome zine and I can't wait to try some other recipes from it. Pantry items used: yellow split peas, spices, and the last random 2 tablespoons of Earth Balance stick hanging out in my fridge.I plan on taking a picture of this meal tomorrow.

4. Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip and Mocha Chip Cookies: This was my first attempt at gluten-free cookie baking. I only made a small half-recipe (and then divided the dough in two so that I could make two flavors), and one was more of a success than the other. The recipe suggested that you wait 10 minutes before baking, but the second pan (the mocha chip ones) came out way better. I'm guessing it was because of the additional sit-time. The cookies were still good, but I'm going to tweak the recipe a little more before I post anything. Also, in a bit of PMS ridiculousness, I made some Mocha Chip cookie bits so that I could have gluten-free, vegan cookie dough ice cream. Awww yeah.

And in general I've been eating a lot of bananas and frozen green beans. I'm not really sure what's up with me and the green beans right now (I'm going through 2 pounds a week...), but they seem to taste really amazing with country Dijon mustard. Lol. I'm definitely on a kick right now. It must be spring! I'm so ready for tasty spring fruits and veggies!! Anywho, more cooking, plus recipes, later! 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Red Beans and Rice

So I am about a week into my Pantry Challenge and I have lots of ideas for meals for the coming week. This past week I made some red beans and rice, some Chinese-style stir-fried bok choy, some black bean sweet potato soup,  and for this weekend (to take to work) some gluten-free falafel. The black bean soup was a failure, but it has some real potential. In fact, the main reason it came out terrible was because my black beans are apparently really old. I cook dry beans from scratch all the time, but there was just no saving these. They were actually give to me, so who knows how long they've been hanging out in someone else's pantry! I'm going to try to cook the rest of them (I've got two cups left), just in case I did something wrong, so we'll see... Pantry items used in the failure soup: dried beans, spices.

The Chinese-style bok choy was good, but it can be better. I originally made it with some leftover tofu, but as I was eating it, I decided that it would be WAY better if I left out the tofu (or at least just served it on the side, not with it), and stir-fried it with some shiitake mushrooms. Then, I should put a few toasted walnuts on it and serve it over quinoa. Now that would be perfection, and I'm going to make it this weekend and post the recipe sometime soon. Pantry items used: rice noodles (that's what I originally ate it with). Haha. This is supposed to be a pantry challenge, but all I want to eat are stir-fries!

I also made some falafel. I used the recipe that I have on here, but I used a cup of fresh parsley instead of dried (I'm really digging that Italian parsley!) and I made it gluten-free by using homemade gluten-free breadcrumbs instead of regular ones. I think I might just update that particular post and put those variations on there instead of writing a new one. Pantry items used: spices, canned beans.

And last but not least, my red beans and rice. Lately I've been hungering for those two humble vegan staples, so that was one of the first dishes I decided to make. Going off what I know about Cajun food (which is definitely not a lot), I sautéed together some bell peppers, onions, and celery with some thyme, added some flavorful rice, red beans, and hot sauce and voilà! A very basic red beans and rice recipe. Pantry items used: canned beans, spices, brown rice (the last of what was in the pantry), oil.

Note: I used small red beans, not kidney beans. There are some canned varieties simply labeled "red beans" or they are sold in bulk as "small red beans" and those would be best here. However, I'm sure you could use kidney beans, if you wanted.

Red Beans n' Rice:
1/2 Tb. olive oil
1 green pepper, diced
2-3 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 a yellow onion, chopped
1/2 tsp. thyme (not the powdered kind)
3/4 c. brown rice
1/2 Tb. vegan butter
1 bay leaf
1 can red beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 tsp. liquid smoke
2 tsp. hot sauce (although you can add more or less to taste)
Sea salt to taste

1. In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the brown rice (rinsed first, and excess water drained off), and sauté the rice in the butter until it's golden and fragrant. Add the bay leaf and about 1 1/2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, the reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 35-40 minutes or until the water is absorbed and the rice is tender.

2. When the rice is almost done (about 30 minutes in), sauté the green pepper, celery, and onion in olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until softened, about 5-7 minutes. Add the thyme and sauté another 1-2 minutes, or until fragrant.

3. To the pepper-onion mix, add the red beans, liquid smoke, hot sauce, and sea salt. Stir, and cook until heated through, about another 5-7 minutes.

4. Drain the rice once it is done cooking, and serve the beans over the rice. Feel free to add more hot sauce!

This recipe makes four small-ish servings for 252 calories, 2.9 grams of fat, 10.3 grams of fiber (gotta love those beans!), and 8.3 grams of protein. It's is good by itself, but it would be really good served alongside some vegan sausage (like maybe some Field Roast) and some cooked greens!