Saturday, July 31, 2010

Seitan Tacos

To resemble ground beef a bit more and also to reduce the spongy texture of my homemade seitan, I pulsed chunks of seitan in my food processor until it resembled ground beef. Then I put about a teaspoon of oil in my skillet and cooked the seitan along with generous amounts of cumin, chili powder, garlic, sea salt, dried onions and pepper. I then filled homemade taco shells with this mixture. It was pretty darn good! Keith even liked it and he has been really finicky about meat substitutes. So this was a score! I served it with roasted carrots and onions. Yum!

Recipes easier to copy and menu items coming up!

I have adjusted the way I import recipes so they will now be easier to cut and paste into blank documents if you want to use a recipe. I will try to convert past recipe into this format but it will probably take a while!
Recipes to look for in coming days...
Seitan Tacos
Asian Noodle Soup and Scallion Flatbread
Cornmeal Masala Roasted Brussel Sprouts (I don't really like brussel sprouts but this recipe looks fab!)
Nacho Taco Salad
And much more :-)

Piccolini With Veggie Marinara and Beanballs

Ok so I know that sounds whacko but it was actually quite yummy. The beanballs didn't really resemble meatballs but they tasted good and were a good addition to the pasta. I would have made this with spaghetti but I had leftover noodles from yesterday's alfredo. I would make this again.

Marinara (Source: Vegan on the Cheap)
2 T olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
3 minced garlic cloves
1 6-oz can tomato paste
3/4 t each dried oregano and basil
1 t sugar
1 t salt
1/4 t pepper
2 bay leaves
1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes

In a saucepan, heat olive oil. Add onions and carrots and cook until tender. Add remaining ingredients and cook for 10-15 minutes to let flavors meld. You can simmer the sauce on low for longer to allow the flavors to really come out, if desired.

Beanballs (Source:Veganomicon)
1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas, rinsed and drained (recipe called for kidney beans but I didn't have any)
1 T soy sauce
1 T tomato paste
1 T olive oil, plus additional for pan-frying
1 clove minced garlic
1/4 t lemon zest
1/4 cup plain bread crumbs
scant 1/8 cup vital wheat gluten
1/4 t dried oregano
1/8 t dried thyme

Mash beans until mostly mashed - leave a bit of substance. Add remaining ingredients and knead until combined and mixture holds together. Form into small balls and panfry until golden - about 8-10 min. Serve atop pasta and marinara sauce.

Today's harvest!

Even though these tomatoes don't look perfect,they are pesticide-free and vine ripened on my very own deck. Can't get much better than that :-)

Mom's Waffles Gone Vegan

Waffles have always been a favorite in our family. However, our buttermilk version is certainly not vegan! I veganized the recipe today - I must admit they aren't quite as fabulous and the original but they are still pretty good! Add a little Earth Balance on top and some spreadable fruit and you have a rather yummy breakfast

Mom's Waffles Gone Vegan
2 cups flour
2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1 t baking soda
egg substitute for 3 eggs
2 1/4 cups soured soy milk (Place 2 T vinegar in 2 cup measure and fill the remainder with milk. Place 1 t vinegar in 1/4 cup measure and fill remainder with milk)
4 T canola oil

Mix dry ingredients together. Mix wet ingredients separately. Combine wet and dry ingredients adn stir just until moistened. Cook on heated waffle iron until golden.

Laura Potato Head - Keith's fun in the kitchen!

Chickpea Cutlets, Green Beans in Browned Lemon Butter, and Cauliflower "Steaks"

I think this meal just made the top 5 list! I made a mustard sauce to drizzle on the cutlets and we also had the potato stack with this meal. Fabuloso! As usual, all of these recipes have been tweaked to fit our exact tastes!

Cauliflower "Steaks"
Thickly slice 1 head of cauliflower. Brush both sides of "steaks" with olive oil and sprinkle with freshly cracked black pepper and coarse sea salt. Place on cooking sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Bake at 415 for 15-20 minutes or until tender.

Chickpea Cutlets (Source: Veganomicon)
1 cup cooked chickpeas
2 T olive oil
1/4 cup vital wheat gluten (recipe called for 1/2 cup but I have found that we do not like too much of this ingredient. It makes for too much of a "bready" flavor and texture. A small amount gives nice texture and not much taste)
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup faux chicken broth
2 T soy sauce
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 t lemon zest
1/2 t dried thyme
1/2 t paprika
1/4 t dried rubbed sage
olive oil for panfrying

In a mixing bowl, mash chickpeas and oil. Add remaning ingredients and knead for 2-3 min. Preheat skillet and pour a small layer of oil into pan so bottom is covered. Form cutlets (I made round cutlets) - I made about 8-10 - and flatten to about 1/2 in thickness. Place in hot oil and panfry 4-6 min on each side.

Mustard Sauce (Source: Veganomicon)
(My adjusted version - I just can't make a recipe exactly as written! I always have to tweek it! I get that from my mom and sister :-) ). End result:Fabulous!!
2 T cornstarch
3/4 cup faux chicken broth (recipe called for veg broth but I was out)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 t dried thyme
1/2 cup sherry cooking wine (didn't have any so left it out!)
1 T olive oil
1 T soy sauce
1/4 Dijon mustard plus 1 t mustard seeds (recipe calls for whole-grain Dijon but I didn't have any so this is how I improvised)
2 T lemon juice (called for 1 T but since I didn't use any wine, thought I would add a tad extra lemon juice)
2 T capers (with brine)

Combine cornstarch and broth and set aside. In small saucepan, combine remaining ingredients. Slowly whisk in cornstarch mixture. Cook until bubbly and thickened. Serve over chickpea cutlets.

Green Beans in Browned Lemon Butter (Source: Real Simple May 07 - sort of! This is the vegan version of course!)
1 lb green beans, trimmed and washed
4 T Earth Balance
2 t lemon juice
¼ cup chopped almods
¼ t coarse sea salt

Bring a large pot of water to boil and sprinkle some salt over the water. Add beans and cook until crisp tender (about 12 min). In a skillet, add butter and cook on medium heat until butter begins to brown. Add the almonds, lemon juice and salt. Swirl to mix. Add the green beans and cook 2-3 min more or until beans are tender.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Seitan and lots of other goodies...

So I decided to make seitan today - actually I decided to make a whole lot of things today! I cooked up a storm this morning! I must admit (once again) that a couple things I made this morning were not completely vegan as I had some half and half that went bad (Frank still drinks it in his coffee...) and I just couldn't bear to waste it. Sooo - I decided to find a recipe that used buttermilk (so I could use up the soured half and half) for life group snacks tonight. I actually made 2 desserts - chocolate muffins and pumpkin bread. But alas, they both have some dairy in them. I decided that I would include them anyway because they are very easily adaptable for a veganized version. Back to the seitan...we have found this "wheat meat" to be a bit different, both in texture and taste. It is very chewy (kinda like squid)and a bit fishy. I know - sounds yummy!It actually is pretty good in some things as long as it is generously seasoned. It is also full of protein. Bad part is that a smal container (about 8 oz) is $3.99 at Whole Foods - as opposed to $3.39/lb for vital wheat gluten used to make seitan from scratch. So I decided to try one of the many recipes I have for making it at home. The process was very easy - a tad bit time-consuming. I really wasn't sure about it's outcome though - it seems spongy and just a bit odd. But again, it's seitan so that's probably to be expected! My recipe used 1 cup vital wheat gluten and it made about 2-3 times as much as store-bought so it is much cheaper to make. I seasoned some of it with chili powder, garlic salt, and cumin much like I would season meat for tacos. I ended up feeding it to Braedon and he was a big fan. I tasted a small bite and it was actually pretty much ok. I didn't like the consistency as well as store-bought but the flavor was better I think. We will see how it turns out in some upcoming recipes. Also made bread today - I am not adhering to the "no-honey" rule of veganism as I just don't think it's a health issue and I am not all that worried about bees. So this recipe does have honey in it. You could probably substitute agave or brown rice syrup.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Lovin the veggie lifestyle!

It has been several weeks since we started our veganizing and it is going surprisingly well. In a continued attempt to clean out some of my non-vegan ingredients, I do still use small amounts of dairy or eggs (such as using a bit of mayo or salad dressing) and there is the occasional splurge on something such as a bean burger at Chilis (yes - they have eggs and dairy in them - crazy!), bu overall, we have smoothly transitioned. I am enjoying coming up with menus and new things to try. There are a couple things on this weeks menu that have been switched up, thus explaining why pictures are still missing for a couple things on the menu! I made risotto today with short grain brown rice - though the flavor was really yummy, I will not likely do that again! The rice took over 3 hours to cook. I gave up at 2 1/2 hrs and we had crunchy (yet filling and satisfying!) risotto. I late cookd it a bit more and it finally tenderized. Rarely do I have that kind of time to cook something - ok, never have that kind of time!!! Also made Gardein steak fajitas that were delish! Frank keeps asking me to make them - he loved them!! Oh yeah - tried Tofutti brand tofu sour cream - that stuff is awesome! Really close to sour cream and great texture. Will definitely be buying that again for use in small quantities (as it really has no nutritive value!) Looking forward to another week of yumminess!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

A decision, not a judgement!

My decision to eating an exclusively vegetarian diet and more specifically a mainly vegan diet, comes from my research of the health benefits of eating this way as well as my disgust of the way animals are treated in the practices of raising and slaughtering. Though Frank agrees with the health aspects and is willing to eat mainly vegan (with the occasional splurge of eating a hamburger with his buddies or a steak when dining out), he isn't as passionate as I am about this switch! Regardless of the fact that we are transitioning to a plant-based diet, I want to make it clear to those around us that we are not judging your way of eating if it doesn't match up with ours! It's a decision I have made but it's ok if you're on a different page.

Friday, July 16, 2010

More to come...

These are just a few things I have tried - many more pictures and recipes to come!

The switch...

Though I started this veganizing trial as simply that - a trial - I have decided that vegetarianism is for me. More specifically, I have decided that I will eat a mainly vegan diet but allow for the occasional exception of dairy or egg products. The main reason for not transitioning to a fully vegan diet is simply making it easier for friends and family to still cook for us when we visit (vegetarian cooking is far easier for the meat-eating world than is vegan cooking!) and for the occasional indulgence of having cheese on a pizza (one of my favorite foods!). I have been reading several books on veganism and have learned a wealth of information. Food Revolution by John Robbins has opened my eyes far wider than perhaps I would have even wanted! But I am glad to have learned so much. Food Revolution is a very easy read in regard to getting through the info - not so easy in the information portrayed as much of it is very sad. The China Study is another "must read" for anyone interested about their health (it is a little harder reading as it is strict research but it is soooo full of incredibly sound research and information). Though I originally decided to try this veganizing for the health benefits it offers, I have learned so much about factory farming and the norm in regard to animal raising that I am appalled enough to no longer support this industry. Though I am not a whacked out animal rights person, I certainly lean more towards the compassion end of the spectrum when it comes to animals.
My sweet and wonderful husband agreed to a week of veganizing and we are now finishing week 4! He has been pleasantly surprised at how good the food is and how little he misses meat. I am amazed, as is he! Though he still plans to eat meat on occasion if he goes out to eat with work buddies or when we are invited to people's houses for a meal, he is supportive of this diet switch. I will cook strictly vegetarian and almost exclusively vegan from this point out. We have all been lenient in the past few weeks in regard to eating at family's homes and have eaten meat if it is prepared. Frank will continue to do so, I am done with meat! And completely content to do so :-) Bring on the fun of a whole new culinary adventure!

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.