Saturday, January 30, 2010

Roasting Broccoli or Brussels Sprouts

This is so easy. Heat a dry skillet for several minutes over medium heat. Add a bag of frozen broccoli florets to the hot skillet (no oil). This cooks quickly, so don't leave it. Stir the broccoli frequently to prevent burning. You want some browned places on the broccoli. Cook for 7-8 minutes, or until the broccoli is cooked to the tenderness you like. Add a couple splashes of Bragg's or soy sauce and let it cook down. Remove the broccoli from the pan to a serving bowl and drizzle a little hot chili oil over it Optional, of course). Cover this with some foil to keep it warm while everything else is cooking.

This method works for brussels sprouts and green beans as well. You can add mushrooms to the mix too.

Pantry Challenge Day 14 - Lovely Lemons and Sausage and Bean Soup

This past week was a very trying one. My dear friend lost her sister to cancer and her 15-year-old nephew to suicide within a few hours of one another. Sometimes there are just no words for the grief. I haven't given much attention to food or cooking since Monday.

So, it was a delightful surprise to come home yesterday to a UPS delivery on my front porch. It was a box of sunshine! Really! My friend Anile in San Francisco sent me lovely, fresh Meyer lemons from her neighbor's back yard (I hope her neighbor knows.....). Oh what a wonderful sight and smell on a cold, snowy Kentucky day! Paul laughed at me and suggested he give me some "alone time with my lemons" when I started dancing around the kitchen, sniffing in their fresh citrus-y scent!

I have several ideas for their use - hummus, to begin with. I'll keep you posted!

Thanks, Anile!

On a savory note, last night's dinner was a concoction of leftover. Paul always says he loves my "concoctions" the best. The photo may look just like a soup I made last week but it is quite different. And quite tasty!

Here is the list of leftovers. You can come up with your own "concoction" based on the leftovers in your fridge!

about 2 cups of leftover tomato-spinach pasta sauce
2 cups vegetable broth
1 can diced tomatoes (fire roasted, of course)
2 vegan sausages, sliced, then slices quartered
about 1 1/2 cups leftover basmati rice
about 1 cup leftover vegetarian baked beans

Threw it all together in a soup pot, brought it to a simmer, and left it there for 10 minutes. That's it. And it was hot and spicy and satisfying while the snow was falling outside and we watched reruns of "The Unit" inside.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Game Day Pizza! GO COLTS!!! GO VIKINGS!!!

Can't call this one part of the pantry challenge 'cause I went shopping for this one!  One of my friends made a post on Facebook early this morning about making pizza for today's playoff games.  I was inspired!  So off to Meijer I went and here is the result.  I intended to make one thin crust and one thick crust, but what I ended up with was one thick crust and one deep dish.  

I topped these with Glen Muir Organic Pizza Sauce, diced red onion, roasted red pepper strips, sliced criminis, crumbled, browned vegan sausage, and shredded vegan cheeze. The crust recipe is below.  

Thanks, Rene T., for the inspiration! 



Pizza #1 - deep dish just out of the oven.

Move over, Bearno's!

Pizza #2 - thinner crust

Here is the crust recipe. I doubled this recipe and had enough dough left to make some bread sticks later in the week. 

2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast and brown sugar in the water, and let sit for 10 minutes.

Stir the salt and oil into the yeast solution. Mix in 2 1/2 cups of the flour.

Turn dough out onto a clean, well floured surface, and knead in more flour until the dough is no longer sticky. (I used my Kitchen Aid.) Place the dough into a well oiled bowl, and cover with a cloth. Let the dough rise until double; this should take about 1 hour. Punch down the dough, and form a tight ball. Allow the dough to relax for a minute before rolling out. Use for your favorite pizza recipe.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). If you are baking the dough on a pizza stone, you may place your toppings on the dough, and bake immediately. If you are baking your pizza in a pan, lightly oil the pan, and let the dough rise for 15 or 20 minutes before topping and baking it. **I pre-baked  these crusts for about 10 minutes before topping them.

Bake pizza in preheated oven, until the cheese and crust are golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Hot, Fresh, Homemade Bread!

Okay, I admit it. This is a teaser.  I am not going to do a full bread post tonight.  I'm not sure when I'll get around to doing that, but Saturday is my baking day and the loaves came out so nicely today that I couldn't resist sharing.  This is my normal 10-grain seeded bread with pumpkin, sunflower, and flaxseeds.  I make 2 loaves each week and we usually eat the first loaf before Monday morning! Gluttons? Yes, we are!

Pantry Challenge Day 12 - Creamy Kale and Mushrooms with Orzo

I didn't plan to post tonight's dinner but it turned out so nicely that I thought I should share it. This is day 12 of the pantry challenge and it is actually becoming a true challenge. I'm starting to scramble a bit and find that I need to be much more creative than in the beginning.

This recipe requires some background because it was created from leftovers. Night before last I was on my own for dinner - Paul's night to teach - and I was tired, so I made quesadillas. They were tasty but nothing I thought worthy of blogging about. The leftovers, however, became the sauce for last night's dish, so here is the quesadilla recipe:

White Bean Quesadilla Filling
2 cans white beans, rinsed and drained (cannellinis or great northerns)
1/2 cup diced tomatoes
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp garlic granules
1/2 tsp onion granules
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Couple shakes of liquid smoke

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until thick and smooth. To make quesadillas, just slap some of this between two tortillas and cook in a cast iron skillet until toasted on both sides. Use a pizza cutter to slice it into fourths. This is definitely worth a try, even if it's only for the leftovers to make the recipe below!

Creamy Kale and Mushrooms with Orzo
1 bunch kale, stems removed and leaves chopped

6-8 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced
1/2 onion or 1 tbs onion flakes
Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
1 cup vegetable broth
1 tbs olive oil
1/2 package (8 oz) whole wheat orzo
Leftover quesadilla filling

Heat oil in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add chopped kale and onion. Sauté until kale is wilted and onions are transparent. Add mushrooms, pepper flakes and 2 tablespoons of vegetable broth. Cover, bring up the heat, and allow to steam for 5-7 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook orzo according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Stir quesadilla filling into the kale and mushroom mixture. Add vegetable broth. Simmer over low heat for a few minutes. Stir in the orzo. Turn off heat, cover, and allow to set for 5 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Pantry Challenge Day 11 - Oat and Bean Burgers

Of all the "burger" recipes I have tried since becoming vegan, this is by far my favorite. It tastes awesome and it holds up without squishing through the bun. This recipe surprises me how good it is. Really good. Like I can't wait to have it for lunch good. Even without the vegan cheese, which I used up last night. And it is really, really simple, which makes me like it that much more. Throw it together while you are making dinner tonight, and your dinner is essentially done for tomorrow night, too!

I served these with leftover mashed potatoes and gravy and some pan-roasted broccoli. Was wishing for some french fries, but alas - no potatoes left in the pantry…….

Oat and Bean Burgers - makes 8 patties

2 cups rolled oats
1 - 1 1/2 cups cooked pinto or black beans, mashed
2 cups water
1 cup soy milk
2 veggie bullion cubes
1 1/2 tsp marmite
2 tsp Kitchen Bouquet
1 tbs dried herbs - you choose - I used italian seasoning, basil, thyme, and rosemary
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup vital gluten

In a large saucepan, bring water and soy milk to boil. Add oats, beans, and remaining ingredients except vital gluten. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 5-7 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir well. Add gluten and mix well. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary.

Transfer mixture to a bowl or loaf pan, cover, and let set in the fridge overnight.

When ready to serve, shape oat and bean mixture into 8 patties. Heat 2 tbs oil in a skillet. Fry patties until brown and crispy on both sides. Serve on buns with your favorite burger toppings. Don't forget the french fries!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Pantry Challenge Day 10 - Beans, Greens, and Barly Soup and some Doggie Treats

This really is day 10 of the pantry challenge we started the first week of January. It's crazy how little we have actually spent on groceries in the past two weeks. I am beginning to suspect, however, that once I decide to actually grocery shop normally, I'm gonna be out of EVERYTHING! Either way, it's been fun!

It's a cool, rainy Sunday. For lunch we had Amy's No-Cheese Pi
zza with shredded mozzarella-style Follow Your Heart cheeze. That doesn't mean I didn't cook today, though! Still in pantry challenge mode, I used a bunch of leftovers to create this soup, and from initial tasting, it's a keeper!

I cooked a big pot of dried beans last week and had a bunch of those left. I also had some leftover tomato soup, a couple of carrots and the end of
a stalk of celery. I used all of these plus a bag of frozen collards.

When I cook dried beans, I usually do it in a crock pot on low for 5-6 hours (or while I am at work). I season them with 2-3 dried chipotle peppers and don't salt them until they are done cooking. I'm sharing this with you now because the flavor of these beans really contributes to this soup. Here's how it went together:

Beans, Greens, and Barley Soup

1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes (fire roasted, of course)
5-6 cups water
3 Rapunzel vegetable bullion cubes

1 cup pearled barley
2 carrots, sliced

1 cup chopped celery
1 onion, chopped (or 2 tbs onion flakes
1 bag frozen greens (I used collards)
3-4 cups cooked b
salt and pepper to taste

Combine tomatoes, water, and bullion cubes in a dutch oven or soup pot. Bring to a boil and add barley. Cover, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 20-25 minutes.

While the barley is cooking, slice the carrots and chop the celery.

After cooking the barley, add the carrots, celery, onion, and greens. Return to a boil, cover, and reduce heat. Simmer for another 15-20 minutes. Stir in the beans, taste, and adjust seasoning as needed. Cook for another 10- 15 minutes. For a beefier flavor, add a couple teaspoons of marmite and a couple teaspoons of Kitchen Bouquet.

This is gonna make some killer lunches this week!

Peanut Butter Dog Treats
Now for something that's just fun! Here is the recipe for the treats I give to our poodles, Winston and Wesley. They love, love, love these things and beg (politely, of course) for them!

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup ground flax seeds
1/2 cup natural peanut butter

1 1/2 - 2 tbs unsulphured molasses
2-3 tbs canola oil

1 cup water

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a food processor, combine everything except water. Process until the mixture is fine and crumbly.

While food processor is running, add the water, a little at a time, until a dough forms and no longer sticks to the sides of the food processor bowl. Add a bit more water or flour as needed.

Roll the dough out to about 1/2" thick. Use a pizza cutter to cut into the size squares you desire. If you're really cool and have a bone-shaped cookie cutter, use that!

Bake on an ungreased
cookie sheet for about 20 minutes, turning after the first 10 minutes. Cool. Let the begging begin!

NOTES: Some dogs are sensitive to wheat. The whole wheat pastry flour can be replaced with brown rice flour or cooked quinoa. If you us
e cooked quinoa, reduce the amount of water you use in the recipe. For a little variety for your puppers, the peanut butter can be replaced with the same amount of steamed sweet potato.

"Treats, please......"

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Pantry Challenge Day 9 - Sauerkraut and Spicy Vegan Sausages

I forgot all about the jar of German sauerkraut in the pantry. I was kind of excited when I remembered, cause that meant just one thing - sausages! So tonight it was sauerkraut, spicy vegan sausages, and mashed potatoes with gravy. I have made these sausages many times. The recipe I use most is a combination of Julie Hasson's and vegandad's.

These sausages have it all. The texture is perfect. You can grill 'em, slice 'em up and fry 'em, put 'em on a pizza, or put 'em in a bun and pile on the toppings. The flavors can be whatever you love - fennel, garlic, crushed red pepper. Using white beans leaves little pieces in the sausage which are reminiscent of the little white pockets of fat in meat sausages. Makes 'em almost too realistic to eat, but they sure don't last long in my house!

If this is your first time trying steamed vegan sausages, don't be afraid of this recipe - it can stand up to a lot of variation and experimentation!

Vegan Sausages - makes 6 large or 8 small sausages

2 ¼ cups vital wheat gluten
½ cup nutritional yeast flakes
¼ cup chickpea flour
½ cup white beans
2 tsp granulated onion
1 to 2 tbsp fennel seed, optional
2 tsp coarsely ground pepper, preferably freshly ground
2 tsp ground paprika
1 tsp dried chili flakes, optional
1 tsp ground smoked paprika (or extra plain paprika or ½ tsp liquid smoke)
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground allspice
2 1/4 cups cool no-chicken broth (I used 2 Rapunzel bullion cubes for this)
6 to 8 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp soy sauce

In a large bowl, mix together all of the dry ingredients.

Whisk together the water, garlic, olive oil and soy sauce and using a fork, gently stir into the dry ingredients. Stir just until ingredients are mixed. If dough mixture is too dry, you can add another tablespoon or so of water.

Using your hands, knead the dough gently until strands of gluten begin to form.

Divide dough in half, then divide each half again into fourths. Divide each fourth in half yet again, so you end up with 8 pieces.

Shape each piece into a log. Place each log on a piece of aluminum foil and roll up, twisting ends (think tootsie roll).

Place sausages in steamer and steam for 30-40 minutes.

Slice and serve immediately or place in the fridge until ready to eat.

Brown Onion Gravy

3 tbs olive oil or Earth Balance
3 tbs flour
2-3 tbs nutritional yeast
1 tsp marmite (optional)
1 tbs onion flakes
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
2 cups water
2 rapunzel bullion cubes
1 tsp Kitchen Bouquet

Heat oil/Earth Balance in a medium pot over medium heat.

Stir in flour.

Cook until a smooth paste forms and begins to brown a bit.

Add nutritional yeast, onion flakes, and marmite. Stir to combine. Add water and bullion cubes and Kitchen Bouquet. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently to prevent sticking.

Taste for seasoning. Add more water if it gets too thick. You can slice some crimini mushrooms and add to this for a savory mushroom gravy.

A Note on Marmite
Marmite is a yeast extract with flavoring quite similar to that of beef broth. It really adds the "beefy" flavor to seitan and brown gravies. In Britain it is spread on toast or crumpets. You can find Marmite at Whole Foods and Meijer.

To serve the sauerkraut and sausages, slice up the sausages and brown them in some olive oil. Be generous with the oil. I used about 3-4 tablespoons. Let them get all crunchy and caramelized on all sides. Add about a tablespoon of caraway seeds - gotta have caraway with cabbage! Dump in the sauerkraut and combine well. Cook until sauerkraut is heated through.

Oh! If only there was some corn meal in the pantry........ I really wanted cornbread with this!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Pantry Challenge Day 8 - Green Lentil Dahl and Dosas

Indian-style cooking - and lentils - quickly became staples in our kitchen after we become vegan. The seasonings are bold and aromatic and the textures are rich and satisfying. I am still trying to learn the differences between Northern Indian cooking and Southern Indian cooking. This article provides some interesting reading about regional differences.

I was torn tonight between using the green lentils in the pantry for dahl or for soup. I finally decided that tonight it should be dahl and dosas. I'll detail a curried lentil soup in a later post.

As part of the Pantry Challenge, this recipe is put together based on what I had on hand. It is quick, easy, and nourishing, and can be changed up based on the type of lentils you have, the kinds of vegetables, or the kinds of spices in your cabinet.

Green Lentil Dahl

2 cups green lentils, sorted and rinsed
4 -5 cups water or broth
3 potatoes, cubed
2 carrots, sliced
1 onion, diced
2 tbs olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbs curry powder, more or less to taste
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp ground mustard
1/4 tsp cayenne (optional)
1 cup frozen green peas
Salt to taste

In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add cumin seeds and fry til they start to pop ("splutter"). Add onion and remaining spices and cook until onion is tranparent, stirring frequently.

Add water/broth, potatoes, carrots, and lentils. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer until lentils and vegetables are tender, 25-30 minutes. If it seems too thick, add a bit more water/broth. Add peas and cook for 3-4 more minutes.

Red Lentil and Rice Flatbread (Dosas)

Tonight's red lentil and rice flatbread is based on this vegandad recipe. Unlike the dosas I made in my first post, these are made from scratch. They take a bit longer in terms of preparation and are more substantial.

1/4 cup red lentils
3/4 cup basmati rice
1 cup warm water
1/2 - 1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tbs dried cilatro or 2 tbs fresh

Place water, lentils, and rice in a small bowl. Cover and allow to soak overnight. (I found that I needed to add another cup of water because it all soaked in.)

Place lentil-rice mixture into a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Return to bowl, cover, and allow to ferment overnight.

Add salt, turmeric, pepper, and cilantro to the batter.

Heat a well-seasoned cast rion skillet over medium heat. Brush the pan with oil. Pour a scant 1/4 cup of batter into the pan and spread it out with the back of a spoon. Cook for 1-2 minutes or until pancake looks dry around the edges. Flip and cook for another minute or so. Cover cooked pancakes with a towel while the others are cooking. These do not keep well, so serve immediately.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Pantry Challenge Day 7 - Creamy Penne Rigate with Spinach, Baked Dumpling Squash

Well, I never made that second post for the weekend. Too many wheelbarrow loads of "stuff" from the horse stalls and too many NFL games (GO ARIZONA!). We had leftovers and take-home from the Whole Foods salad bar for the rest of the weekend.

My grocery budget for this second week of the Pantry Challenge was $50 but I blew that pretty badly. It wasn't that I bought a ton of stuff to cook. It was more that I was out of things like dish detergent and soy milk and salt and personal items - very basic things that you just gotta have. Everything I will make this week is still stuff that was already hanging around.

Tonight I am finally getting around to baking the two sweet dumpling squash that have been sitting on my countertop for well, forever, it seems like. These squash are so pretty that I'll miss having them sitting around to look at! These beauties take a bit of time to bake but the wait is worth it. You can use the same recipe for acorn, delicata, or butternut squash. I so meant to take a photo of the squash before I cut into it, but I so totally forgot.......

To go along with them, I made Creamy Penne Rigate with Spinach.

Creamy Penne Rigate and Spinach

I lb package whole wheat penne rigate
16 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed
2 – 2 ½ cups water
2 no-chicken bullion cubes
1 cup non-dairy milk (make sure it is unsweetened)
3 tbs Earth Balance
3 tbs flour
3 tbs nutritional yeast
1 tsp poultry seasoning
1 tsp crushed rosemary
½ tsp garlic granules
½ tsp onion granules
1/4 tsp nutmeg
Salt and black pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

In the same pot, melt Earth Balance over medium heat. Add flour and stir to mix. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until flour begins to brown lightly. Add yeast, poultry seasoning, rosemary, garlic, nutmeg, and onion granules.

Pour in 2 cups of water and bullion cubes. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly until it begins to thicken. Add milk and continue to stir. Taste for seasoning.

Add spinach. Stir to combine well. Heat until bubbling.

Add pasta and stir to combine. Let sit while finishing off squash.

Baked Sweet Dumpling Squash

2 sweet dumpling squash (can use delicate or acorn squash as well)
juice and zest of 1 orange
2 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
2 tbs maple syrup
2 tbs Earth Balance, melted
1/2 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted

Preheat oven to 350°F. Cut the squash into halves and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Using a fork, pierce the skin of the squash in several places. Place squash halves in a baking pan, skin-side down.

Mix cinnamon, nutmeg, maple syrup, and Earth Balance together in a small bowl. Add pine nuts. Divide the mixture among the squash halves.

Add 1” of water to the bottom of the pan. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until squash is tender.

Alternately, you may allow the squash halves to cool partially, remove the skins, and mash or puree the squash.

This one got mixed reviews. Usually if Paul and I disgree on a dish, it's him loving it and me not so crazy about it. Tonight, Paul didn't like the squash; he thought the orange zest made it bitter. I, however, really liked how the squash turned out. We agreed on the the pasta and spinach, though - loved it!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Creamy Tahini Dressing

Oh tahini, how do I love thee......let me count the ways.......

Tahini is sesame seeds ground into a creamy butter similar to peanut or almond butter. I like it way better than peanut butter. It has a deeper, richer flavor and it packs a powerful protein punch. I use tahini in many recipes but salad dressing is my favorite.

If you like ranch or bleu cheese dressings, you will love this. It is rich and creamy and garlicky with the tartness of lemon. Make it soon!

Creamy Tahini Salad Dressing
1/2 cup tahini
juice of 1/2 large lemon, about 1/4 cup
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup plus 2 tbs oil
3/4 cup water
3 tbs Bragg's or soy sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Store in the refrigerator.

Pantry Challenge Day 6 - Thai-inspired Noodle Soup

This was actually Friday's dinner, but with the bitter cold, the horses have required a bit of extra attention, so I have been rather busy. Shoveling out stalls is a challenge when everything you are trying to shovel is frozen solid and you can't feel your hands! Hopefully I will have another post before the end of the weekend.

This is just the soup you want to come home to after working outsid
e in the snow and ice. It is not entirely authentic and I rarely ever make it exactly the same way from one time to the next. I just know it is one of my all-time favorite comfort foods. I love the combination of coconut milk, lime, and sriracha, or rooster sauce (a Thai hot sauce that some people call Thai ketchup). I would normally use lite coconut milk for this, but all I had in the pantry was full-fat (darn…….NOT!).

6-8 cups water or broth
1/2 block extra-firm tofu (NOT silken), cut into 1" cubes (I didn't have any tofu, so I left it out)
3 cups cabbage, thinly sliced
6 oz shitake mushrooms, sliced
2 carrots, chopped or shredded
2 green onions, with green parts, sliced (I only had regular onion, so use 1/2, chopped)
1 tbs curry powder
½ tsp cumin
1” fresh ginger, minced or 1 tsp ground
Juice and zest of 1 lime
1 can coconut milk
Sriracha, to taste
12 oz pad thai noodles (I used brown rice rotini this time)

In a large soup pot, bring water or broth to boil. Add cabbage, mushrooms, carrots, green onions, curry powder, ginger, and cumin. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes. Add pad thai noodles, tofu, coconut milk, lime juice and zest, and srirracha. Return to boil, reduce heat, and simmer until noodles are done – about 7-10 minutes. NOTE: If you are using something other than pad thai noodles, pay attention to the required cooking time for that pasta - you may need a few more - or less - minutes here.

This tastes even better the next day, but you may have to thin it out with a little water.

Okay - after having this for dinner Friday and as leftovers last night, I feel compelled to come back and make a quick disclaimer. How to say this delicately..... If you are unaccustomed to consuming full-fat coconut milk, or even if you eat it frequently, please be aware that it can have an interesting effect on your digestive system. 'Nuff said??

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Pantry Challenge Day 5 - Chicken Fried Seitan

Hold on to your pom-poms, sports fans, 'cause mama just ran it back for a touchdown. Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating just a little. Or maybe not. I may live in Kentucky, which is sorta the South and sorta the Midwest but I was born and raised in North Carolina where I grew up eating fried chicken and chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes (or rice) and gravy. And in my family, the gravy was pretty much the most important part of the meal. My cousin Billy used to say that the only thing mashed potatoes or rice were good for was holdin' up the gravy!

When I made the chicken-style seitan last week for the buffalo bites we served at the party, I set aside four chicken-breast size pieces to use for this meal. (I'll do a post on seitan sometime and post the seitan recipe I used for this.) Tonight I double-breaded them with a mixture of flour and cornmeal and fried 'em in a cast iron skillet, then made cream gravy. I served them with rice and the gravy and pan-roasted broccoli drizzled with chili oil. Now this may all sound complicated and time-consuming for a weeknight dinner, but I promise you, we were sitting down to eat inside 30 minutes from the time I got started.

To get started, I put some white basmati to cook in the rice cooker. I actually prefer rice to potatoes most of the time.

Next, I prepared the pan-roasted broccoli. This is my favorite way to eat broccoli. I am all about minimizing time and effort, so I used the same cast iron skillet for both the broccoli and the seitan.

This is so easy. Heat a dry skillet for several minutes over medium heat. Add a bag of frozen broccoli florets to the hot skillet (no oil). This cooks quickly, so don't leave it. Stir the broccoli frequently to prevent burning. You want some browned places on the broccoli. Cook for 7-8 minutes, or until the broccoli is cooked to the tenderness you like. Add a couple splashes of Bragg's or soy sauce and let it cook down. Remove the broccoli from the pan to a serving bowl and drizzle a little hot chili oil over it. Cover this with some foil to keep it warm while everything else is cooking.

Chicken Fried Seitan

4 seitan "fillets"

1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne (optional but yummy)

1 cup non-dairy milk
1 tsp cider vinegar

In two separate bowls, prepare the dry ingredients and the liquid ingredients. Sprinkle a little olive oil on the seitan and dredge each piece in the flour mixture, shaking off the excess. Now dip each piece in the milk and dredge again in the flour mixture. Set aside.

Wipe out the same skillet with a paper towel and heat it up again. Add 1/4 - 1/3 cup of safflower or canola oil and let it heat. Carefully add the breaded seitan pieces. One of the beautiful things about this is that unlike frying chicken, the seitan is already cooked, so there is no worry about eating under-cooked meat - no biting into bloody chicken - YUCK! And no salmonella worries. Not to mention no cholesterol or saturated fat. And nothing died so that you could eat dinner!

Fry the seitan for several minutes on each side, turning a couple of times, until it is golden brown all over. Remove from the skillet onto paper towels.

For the gravy, sprinkle about 1/4 cup of flour into the hot oil remaining in the skillet. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the flour mixture starts to bubble. Add 1-2 cups non-dairy milk, stirring constantly with a metal spoon, scraping up all the yummy brown bits on the bottom of the skillet. Add water (or more milk) as needed to thin the gravy. Cook for several minutes and taste for seasoning.

Now bust a move to the table and dive into some serious southern-style home-cooking! All that's missing is a big ol' fat biscuit! Another post for another day!

Oh! And ROLL TIDE!!!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Pantry Challenge Day 4 - Soup and Sammies

Last night I was out mucking stalls, so we were on our own for dinner. Leftovers!

Tonight's is the third meal created from only what could be found in my pantry, fridge, or freezer. It has been almost 10 days since I shopped for groceries and that day was mostly with our New Year's Eve party in mind. We ended up with quite a few leftovers from the party and I made use of some of those tonight.

Paul teaches on Wednesday nights so I'm solo for dinner. Tonight's fare is very simple , but it was healthy, filling, and satisfying.

First is a simple tomato bisque made from Muir Glen Fire Roasted Crushed or Diced tomatoes. If you have never used these canned tomatoes, you really need to try them. They are a bit more expensive than say, your store brand, but man oh man - they are so worth it!

For the soup, all you need is a can of tomatoes (size depends on how much you want to make), a clove of garlic (or some garlic granules), a pinch or two of italian seasoning, a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes, and some soy creamer or soy milk. Use as much or as little milk/creamer as it takes to make the consistency you prefer. Throw everything into a blender, process until smooth, then heat. Adjust the seasonings to your taste.

For the grilled cheeze, I sliced some leftover cheez log, spread it on homemade bread, and grilled it with a little Earth Balance. I'll do a bread post sometime soon - I've been making homemade bread for over 30 years!

And there you have it! Dinner in 10 minutes! Comfort food, even. I mean, who doesn't love tomato soup and grilled cheese?

They're calling for snow tonight - 4-6 inches. Brrrrr!!! Is it SPRING yet??

Monday, January 4, 2010

Pantry Challenge Day 2 - Chickpea Stew and Dumplings

Last week I cooked about two pounds of dried chickpeas to make hummus for our New Year's Eve party. After making two big bat
ches of hummus I still had 4-5 cups of chickpeas left in the fridge. I also had some cabbage and a couple of carrots so tonight's dinner was a no-brainer - a thick stew of chickpeas and veggies with tender rosemary dumplings, perfect for a cold Kentucky night.

For the stew:

3 tbs olive oil
2 carrots, cubed

2 ribs celery, sliced
2-3 cups green cabbage, chopped
2 potatoes, cubed
1/2 an onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tbs flour

8-10 cups vegetable broth
3 cups cooked chickpeas
2 tsp poultry seasoning
1 tsp celery seed
2 tsp caraway seeds (
I always have to have caraway with cabbage.)
1/2 tsp black pepper
salt to taste

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add carrots, celery, cabbage, potatoes, onion, and garlic. Cook for 6-7 minutes. Add flour, poultry seasoning, celery seed,caraway seed, and pepper, and cook
for 2-3 minutes more, stirring frequently.

Add vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and simmer while you make the dumplings, or for at least 15 minutes.

For the dumplings:

2 cups flour
3/4 - 1 cup non-dairy milk

1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp crushed dried rosemary
1 tbs baking powder
1/4 cup margarine (I prefer Earth Balance)

Combine milk and vinegar and set asi
de (This sours the milk so you have vegan "buttermilk"). In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, rosemary, and baking powder. Mix well.

Mix margarine and flour mixture together until crumbly. Add milk and vinegar and stir until just combined. Drop by spoonfuls into the
simmering stew. Cover and simmer for 10-12 minutes, being sure not to overcook.

The result was a protein-packed stew with delicious, savory broth, tender veggies, and light rosemary-infused dumplings.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Challenge Day 1 What's in my pantry?

It's freezing outside this morning! Beautiful sunshine but it's 6 degrees with a wind chill below zero. Brrrrr!! Don't like thinking about going out to muck stalls, so I'll think about something else for a little while....

I took another look at my pantry this morning so I can start thinking about a plan. Here is part of what I have to work with:
  • several kinds of dried beans, mostly a cup or less of each
  • dried soybeans (for making tofu)
  • several cans of Muir Glen Fire Roasted Crushed Tomatoes
  • box of quinoa
  • a box of penne and chreese
  • couple of cans of cooked beans - pinto and garbanzos
  • 2 cans vegetarian baked beans
  • a cup or so of red lentils
  • about a cup of french lentils
  • 1/2 bag of brown basmati rice
  • bag of white basmati
  • small amount of TVP
  • a few soy curls
  • box of dosai mix
  • box of sambhar mix
  • several bags of whole wheat pasta
  • box of pad thai noodles
  • 2 cans coconut milk
  • 1/2 bag of white whole wheat flour and 1/2 bag of all-purpose flour
  • a variety of oils, spices, and condiments
  • vital gluten
  • nutritional yeast
  • 5 lb russet potatoes
I'm thinking Indian today, so maybe the sambhar and dosai. They're easy and the sambhar is spicy and yummy for such a cold day. I buy these mixes at the local international market and try to keep a couple on hand for nights when I need something quick. And I have some leftover samosa filling that will be tasty with the dosai. If you have never made dosai before, leave yourself some extra time. You have to start with a cold pan for each pancake.

The dosai turned out crispy and delicious.

For the sambhar, I followed the directions on the package with a few exceptions. After adding water to the mix, I added the following:
  • 14.5 oz can of crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp ground mustard
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 3 smallish potatoes, cut into small cubes
  • 3 tbs french lentils
The end result was spicy and sour and a bit sweet. And completely delicious!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Shout Out to Hubby

And just to brag a little on my awesome husband - as I write this, Paul is downstairs cleaning out the fridge, getting us further ready for the Pantry Challenge. Thanks, sweetie!

Much Larger Fur Family

Josie (black TWH)

Rusty (bay Mustang)

Fur Children




Welcome to the home of a first-time blogger. One of my goals for the new year was to create my own weblog and here we are!

My vegan journey continues to be greatly influenced by wonderfully creative bloggers and it is with great humility that I will be offering some of my own recipes and kitchen perspectives.

We are beginning the year with the Pantry Challenge. On New Year's Day, I cleaned, condensed, and culled our pantry contents. The goal is to create as many meals as possible using only what already exists in the pantry, freezer, and fridge. There will be, of course, the inevitable necessities, but the intention is to keep those purchases to a minimum, hopefully under $50, for each week that we can hold out!

I'll be keeping you up to date on how the Challenge shapes up. I'd also love to hear from any of you who are doing something similar.