Sunday, April 19, 2015

Kale Rice and Vegan No-chicken Broth

Our family recently decided to have a little lunch outing - we had promised dates with the boys for their birthdays and this was the first chance to do it. Frank took Keith to lunch and I took Braedon. Unfortunately, finding a restaurant that has not only gluten free but also vegan fare is a challenge but I was thrilled to find a new restaurant that offered both! We tried "The Rim - Greens and Grilled". I had a beautiful plate of kale white rice, a mound of fresh, crisp tender sauteed veggies, and sweet potato fries. It was delicious! Though the veggies did have some added oil, they weren't greasy and I didn't indulge in too many of the fries as I was much more enamored with the colorful plate of veggies! Though we rarely frequent restaurants, this was a place I would be happy to go back to.                                                                              

Since our visit to "The Rim", I have been craving the kale rice for some strange reason!  Oddly enough, there was no seasoning or added flare, it was just tiny chopped kale mixed in to white rice. The end result was perfect simplicity.

 I have since made this dish at home and it pairs beautifully with a plate of water-sauteed veggies, sprinkled with some sea salt and fresh pepper - utterly delightful!

Quite frequently, I make veggie stock for use in soups, stews and sauces and the other day I made a pot of broth that was flavorful and full-bodied. The keys? Mushroom stems and nutritional yeast! These two ingredients seemed to create the perfect combination. I didn't use a recipe but rather filled my pot with filtered water, carrot peels, mushroom stems, leeks, fresh parsley, nutritional yeast, sea salt, and freshly cracked pepper. A wonderful foundation for any soup or stew!

Happy spring cooking!

Fancy Vegan Easter Stacks, Gluten-free Fruit Pie

It saddens me a bit to see how long it has been since I last posted. I have discovered that not everything can take priority in my life and therefore, some things must patiently wait for my attention (ie. this blog!).

I have some fun new recipes to share from recent weeks...

Easter is one of my favorite holidays of the year. By far, it is my favorite Sunday of the year...reflecting on what Jesus did for us never ceases to bring intense joy to my heart. I love to create incredibly special menu items for this day shared with family around a big dinner table and though not everyone is interested to try my vegan creations, it still thrills me when I make something scrumptious!

This year I made fancy Easter stacks that turned out pretty fabulous. They were a bit of work to put together but well-worth the effort in my opinion.

1. First, I marinated a block of drained, pressed, sliced tofu in a lemon dill marinade (recipe here - I only used the Lemon Dill Dressing marinade - eliminated the oil) and then baked the tofu at 400 for about 15-20 min.

2. I then marinated and cooked portobello mushrooms (marinade recipe here - instead of cooking all together in a skillet at first, I marinated the mushrooms in the ingredients overnight and then cooked them in a skillet with the marinade until tender). When cooked, I sliced the portobellos.

3. Next I made a balsamic reduction by simmering 3/4 cup of balsamic vinegar with 3 T maple syrup until reduced by half.

4. I cut thick slices of tomato.

5. I made an avocado cream sauce by placing a block of extra firm silkin tofu in the blender until smooth. To the tofu I added a ripe, seeded, peeled avocado, 1/2 t dill, a sprinkle of sea salt, a few cracks of fresh pepper, and the juice and zest of 1 lemon and whirred all in the blender until well blended.

6. On a plate I placed several slices of tofu, topped this layer with a couple slices of portobello, followed by a tomato slice, a few drizzles of balsamic reduction and finished it off with a large dollop of avocado cream.

Like I said, a little time-consuming but the end result was delicious!

My sweet and thoughtful family made sure that there were plenty of gluten-free, vegan options for me on the Easter table, including Artichoke Mashed Potatoes made by my sister-in-law (amazing, btw!) and this fresh fruit pie made by my mom. The fruit pie recipe is from the Engine 2 cookbook and can be found here. Don't let the simple list of ingredients fool you! This pie was amazing and there was not a crumb left!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Balsamic Poppy Seed Dressing

It's embarrassing to realize how long it's been since I last wrote a post - my life seems so full these days with homeschooling, oiling, family etc.

I decided a post was definitely due and this dressing recipe is one of my favorites so I thought it would be a good one to post this morning. My hubby and I eat a big salad for dinner almost every night - except when we are having company or visiting at someone else's home - yep, every night like clock work:-) We both crave big, delicious salads every night of the week! So thankful for a husband who is so supportive and on-board with our healthy eating and lifestyle!

My salad every night consists of spinach, leaf lettuce, a pile of red grapes, roasted almonds, some croutons (the non-healthy part of the salad...I should probably eliminate those but they add such a delightful crunch!) and this Balsamic Poppyseed Dressing. The original recipe for this dressing came from a very old cookbook I have called "Favorite Recipes"....I think the cookbook is from the 70s! The Poppy Seed Dressing recipe in this cookbook is very sweet and a little tangy. I can't imagine eating it the original way now - way too sweet! I started adding some balsamic to it a while back to give it a fuller, tangier flavor. I slowly added more and more to add more and more zing and to cut down on the caloric nature of it! Here is the final, delicious recipe make-over. Be warned, once you try it, you may become addicted!!

Balsamic Poppy Seed Dressing
2/3 cup canola oil (you can use olive oil but I think the olive oil gives too strong of a flavor)
1/3 cup honey (not vegan but this is a vegan ingredient I don't abstain from)
1 t salt
1 T yellow mustard
2 T white vinegar
2 t poppy seeds
1 cup balsamic vinegar

Mix all ingredients together in a cruet or jar with a lid and shake to incorporate all of the ingredients. Note: You can heat the mixture slightly in a pan to help the honey mix well with the other ingredients.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Tower Gardening at it's best!

Once again, it has been far too long since I have had the chance to write...summer vacation is in full swing for us. Our last couple of weeks have been filled with family time, dates with friends, and a mini vacation to Omaha.

Each year I am awed by how quickly my tower garden explodes with growth and the abundance of fresh produce it bestows upon us! This year I think it has awed me even further!

 I planted LOTS of lettuce and kale and several zucchini, spinach and broccoli plants...and I planted them early because they are all cooler weather crops. We have had the most incredible abundance of lettuce this has been amazing! I have been harvesting almost every day and I still have loads waiting to harvest. Since we eat huge salads every night, it has saved me so much at the grocery store! I harvested our first kale last night as well and filled a large bowl. I still have lots growing and will probably harvest another bowl in a couple days.

Having never grown spinach before, I have discovered that it doesn't produce as big of a plant as lettuce or kale and thus the harvest is smaller but still quite delightful! I added it to our salads last night and it was perfect.

My top favorite things about my tower garden this week:

  1. So easy!!!
  2. No pests AT ALL this year!!
  3. Beautiful, blemish-free produce growing like crazy!
  4. Stepping onto my deck to "grocery shop" each day!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Mean Vegan Food Review

Last week my husband came home bearing vegan gifts....needless to say, I was thrilled! His boss knew we were a vegan-eating family and gave him a bag-ful1l of vegan tamales and vegan bbq...compliments of Mean Vegan (the owners happen to be part of his family). I love tamales but finding a vegan version is one thing I have never accomplished. I have made my own before but they are so much work that I likely won't make them again! The "Jack Tamales" were amazing! I dressed them up with a little avocado and homemade salsa. Though most tamales are filled with meat, cheese and fat, these delicious vegan parcels are stuffed with full-flavored, perfectly spiced jackfruit and encased in delicate, mouth-watering cakes of masa. At only 2.7 grams of fat, there is no guilt indulging in these tamales!

Today the boys and I tried the BBQ jackfruit. All I had to do was warm it up and I served it on hoagie rolls. Of course we had generous sides of veggies along with the sandwiches for a completely delicious meal.

Though the jackfruit bbq was perfectly delightful, the tamales were my favorite hands down! Either way, I will definitely be buying these again! Fabulous food without a clean list of ingredients! Perfection!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Vegan Soups and Breads

I feel like some weeks I have so much to post about and yet so little time to sit down and do it! This week we had a gloomy, rainy day which prompted my craving for soup. The boys love to make their own soup so all three of us headed to the kitchen for a school lunch break and came up with three delicious and nutritious soups. One of my favorite things about soups is that you can add so many veggies and end up with a bowlful of complete nutritional goodness without the need for a side dish - and after eating it you feel warmed and satisfied that you just filled your body with nutritionally dense food. In this case we did make a side dish - an oil-free cornbread that was surprisingly delicious. We had our leftover soup the following day and made oil-free biscuits that I made up which were very yummy too...with an added punch of healthfullness included (see recipe below!). Enjoy!

 Corn Bread (adapted from Happy Herbivore)

1 c cornmeal
1 c whole wheat pastry flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp fine salt
1 cup non-dairy milk (such as fat-free soymilk)
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup pure maple syrup (I used honey because I am out of maple syrup...and honey isn't vegan but it's an ingredient I choose not to abstain from!)
2 tbsp raw sugar (optional) - I didn't use this
Preheat oven to 400F. Whisk cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl. Add non-dairy milk, applesauce, maple syrup and sugar, if using, on top. Using a spatula, stir until just combined. Pour batter into a nonstick shallow 9" pie dish, or other oven-safe dish. Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. 

Keith's Soup (since we didn't measure, here is the list of what he added)
Whole wheat rotini
Pinto beans
Homemade veggie broth
Salt, Pepper

Braedon's Soup  (since we didn't measure, here is the list of what he added)
Whole wheat rotini
Pinto beans
Red and yellow peppers
Homemade veggie broth
Salt, Pepper, Oregano, Garlic, Basil

The Soup I made was Minestrone out of the Forks Over Knives Cookbook. It was not a powerfully taste-filled soup but it had a simple tomato-rich flavor that was full of veggies and I loved it! It had celery, carrots, fire-roasted tomatoes, carrots, cabbage, green beans, potatoes, fresh herbs, broth and no added fat to.

These biscuits were a last minute thought and they actually turned out really yummy. They are not the flaky, buttery biscuits that we usually think of - rather, they are chewier in consistency and remind me more of drop biscuits.

Chewy No-oil Added Biscuits
2 cups fllour (preferably whole wheat pastry but I was out so I had to use white)
1 T baking powder
1 t salt
1/2 cup pureed cauliflower
1/2 cup almond or soy milk

Mix dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients and stir to combine. 
 You want your dough to stick together but not be too wet. Add a little extra flour or a little extra milk to achieve this consistency. Turn onto a floured cutting board and form into a circle about 1-1/2 inches thick. Cut biscuits out with a biscuit cutter or a glass. Place on a cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Birthday boys!

Celebrating my boys with vegan chocolate cupcakes and cream cheese frosting!

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes (from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World)
  • 1 cup soy milk
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract, chocolate extract, or more vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder, Dutch-processed or regular
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and line a muffin pan with paper or foil liners.
  2. Whisk together the soy milk and vinegar in a large bowl, and set aside for a few minutes to curdle. Add the sugar, oil, vanilla extract, and other extract, if using, to the soy milk mixture and beat until foamy. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add in two batches to wet ingredients and beat until no large lumps remain (a few tiny lumps are OK).
  3. Pour into liners, filling 3/4 of the way. Bake 18 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely.

Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting (from Betty Goes Vegan)

Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting

1 package Vegan Cream Cheese (plain)
1/4 cup Vegan Margarine
2 teaspoons Soy Milk (vanilla)
1 teaspoon Vanilla
4 cups Powdered Sugar

In a mixing bowl, beat Cream Cheese, Margarine, Soy Milk and Vanilla with an electric mixer on low until smooth.
Gradually mix in the Powdered Sugar, 1 cup at a time on a low speed to prevent one of those messy blow backs. Mix till smooth.
If you don’t have a frosting gun, you can use a knife to frost these, because the frosting is soft.R refrigerate to keep the frosting from melting.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Vegan Lo Mein

My sister came up with this delicious recipe for lo mein and I took it and veganized it. Turned out delicious!

Kind of a funny recipe but it will guide you through the cooking process!

Vegan Lo Mein

Dice and onion. Cook it in some oil with 3 cloves of minced garlic and a 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, minced. Cook until soft. Add 2 cups chopped vegan chicken (I used Trader Joes brand). Cook until browned (about 5 minutes). Add in 2-3 carrots, peeled and cut into thin sticks and 2 cups of cut green beans. Cook for about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, cook 1/2 package of spaghetti noodles according to package instructions. In a bowl combine 1/3 cup soy sauce, 1 T rice vinegar, 1 t sesame oil, and 1 T sugar. Mix. Add veggies to noodles and toss with sauce. Serve and enjoy!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Smoky Split Pea Soup

I recently tried the recipe for Smoky Split Pea Soup from Appetite for Reduction and fell in love with it! Such a delicious and flavorful soup!!

Smoky Split Pea Soup
From Appetite for Reduction
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced small
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • A few twists of the pepper grinder
  • 4 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 1/2 cups diced carrots
  • 1 1/4 cups dry split peas
  • 4-6 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Preheat a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Saute the onions in the oil until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, pepper, and salt, and saute for another minute. Add the paprika and thyme, and stir continuously for about 15 seconds to toast the spices a bit.
Add the carrots, split peas, and broth. Cover the pot and bring to a boil, the lower the heat to a simmer and cook for about 40 minutes, until the peas are creamy. Stir occasionally to prevent the soup from burning at the bottom. If necessary, thin the soup with water. Add the lemon juice and taste for salt and seasonings.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine's Day breakfast!

I made a simple but yummy Valentine's Day breakfast this morning for my sweet little fam - heart-shaped biscuits and fruit. Yum!

Crisp Crust Biscuits

2 cups flour
1 T baking powder
1 t salt
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup almond milk

Mix flour, baking powder, and salt. Add canola oil and milk until well mixed. Pat out into a circle about 3/4 in high. Use a biscuit cutter to cut into biscuits or a heart cookie cutter in this case! Place biscuits on cookie sheet and bake in a 400 degree preheated oven for 15 min or until lightly browned.

Crispy Herbed Potato Stack

Crispy Herbed Potato Stack
I was going to try a recipe for herbed scalloped potatoes and at last minute decided to do something fast and easy. I made up the recipe and it was yummola! I layered sliced russet potatoes in a baking dish, drizzled with olive oil, and then sprinkled with coarse sea salt, fresh ground pepper, basil, rosemary, paprika, and garlic powder. Then I baked them at 425 fr about 45 minutes. They were crisp and very flavorful!

My thrown-together salad today - after discovering I had no leftovers for lunch!

Tamale Fixings

Tamale Fixings
Plain pintos (for Keith), pintos, corn and onions; corn, jalepenos and Daiya; mushrooms, sun dried tomatoes, and chard

Making these was a bit time-consuming but kinda fun! They didn't turn out as good as I had hoped - the outer tamale part (not the filling) just wasn't as flavorful as tamales I have had in restaurants. I have another recipe I will try for the dough next time. Tamales are one of my favorite foods so I won't give up on this one!

"Buttermilk" Blueberry Pancakes

"Buttermilk" Blueberry Pancakes
I modified one of my favorite pancake recipes to make it vegan and then I added blueberries. Turned out quite yummy. Soymilk sours and thickens well - very similar to buttermilk. I have been really impressed with it's ability to substitute for real buttermilk.

"Buttermilk" Blueberry Pancakes

Egg replacement for 1 egg
1 1/4 cups soured soy milk (put 2 T vinegar into a 2 cup glass measuring cup. Add enough soy milk to equal 1 1/4 cups)
2 T canola oil
1 cup flour (I wouldn't recommend whole wheat or whole wheat pastry - it really takes away from the fluffiness of these pancakes)
1 T sugar
2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
Blueberries, optional

Mix dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients and stir just until combined. Heat griddle pour about 1/4 cup batter for each pancake. Sprinkle blueberries on pancakes after ladling onto griddle. Cook just until golden on both sides.

Veggie and Seitan Lo Mein

Veggie and Seitan Lo Mein
Overall, this was fabulous! However, I don't think the seitan added much so I would just leave it out next time. The lo mein also needed about double the sauce so I would simply do that next time for added flavor. This was especially spicy and yummy with some Sriracha drizzled on top. I made our favorite veg egg rolls to go with this and it was truly a Chinese treat!!

Veggie Seitan Lo Mein

I really did my own thing for this recipe so I am just going to outline the instructions and include the sauce recipe. I heated oil in a large skillet and added 3 minced cloves of garlic and about 1 cup of half-moon cut onions (I was out of green onions but next time I would use green onions as I like them a lot in Chinese food) and about 1 cup matchstick-cut carrots. After about 5-6 minutes, I added about 1/4 lb of whole green beans. I cooked these veggies until tender. Meanwhile, I cooked a 16oz package of chow mein noodles. Once the veggie mixture was cooked, I poured the sauce on the veggies, heated through and tossed with the noodles. Next time I would double the amount of sauce and have adjusted amounts below to reflect double recipe.

Sauce (Source:Adaptable Feast)
3 T soy sauce
3 T rice wine (I used 3 T rice vinegar and 1 t sugar as I didn't have any rice wine)
3 t sugar
4 T black bean garlic sauce
Mix all ingredients and toss with above mixture.

Chinese Broccoli Wontons in Ginger Soy Broth

Chinese Broccoli Wontons in Ginger Soy Broth
Pretty yummy. I found that steaming the wontons worked much better than the recipe suggestion to boil them. The broth was very mild and a bit too mellow for us. Still pretty yummy though. I added extra veggies to the wontons and scallion to the broth. The seasoning in the wonton filling was quite tasty!

Chinese Broccoli Wontons in Ginger Soy Broth (Source: Vegan Yum Yum)

(As usual, I modified several things so it's not exactly the recipe in Vegan Yum Yum!)

1 cup chopped broccoli
3/4 cup shredded carrot
1/2 cup chopped scallions
1 T oil
1 t fresh ginger, minced
1 clove fresh minced garlic
1/2 t hot chili sauce (such as Sriracha)
1 t hot Chinese mustard
2 T plus 1 t soy sauce
4 cups water ( I think this might have been more flavorful had I used vegetable broth or faux chicken broth???)
6 slices fresh ginger
1 T mirin (I used a splash of cooking wine as I didn't have mirin)
1 1/2 t sugar
2 t rice vinegar
1/2 t salt
1/2 cup chopped scallions
16 wonton skins

For filling: Heat oil in skillet and add broccoli, ginger, garlic, carrot, onion and cook until veggies are crisp tender. Add chili sauce, mustard, 1 t soy sauce and stir to combine. Remove from heat and set aside.

To make wontons, take one skin and place in diamond shape. Fill with 1-2 t filling. Fold in half to make a triangle and moisten edges with water and pinch sides to seal. Set triangle in front of you with point up and take the 2 side points and bring them together in front to cross. Set aside and prepare remaining wontons. When finished, place wontons in a steamer basket and steam over pot of boiling water until translucent.

Meanwhile, in a pot, combine remaining ingredients (except wontons) and simmer 10-15 min.

Place 3-4 wontons in bowl and ladle broth over wontons. Serve.