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Posts Tagged ‘dinner’

With the exception of the Red Sox game I got to go to, last week was so not fun. At All. Without getting into the gory details, I saw an end to the on-again, off-again two year relationship I was in, which sorta kinda feels really shitty. You don’t realize how much you care for a person until you try to remove them from your life.

On top of that, I got a nice chunk of change stolen from my checking account. Apparently someone got a hold of my debit info and withdrew most of my money. Joy.

Needless to say, by Friday, I was looking at some serious wallowing time. I’m talking sad Taylor Swift and Emo music on repeat, all-weekend pajama wearing, hours of trash TV and ice cream binges, because when your sad, ice cream is the best thing ever. I was heading for a weekend of full-blown, end-of-relationship gloominess… with a side of police reports and changing all my bank info.

Then, my friend Whitney called and asked me to come to Portland. Um, yeah! That sounds way better then ice cream coma! I’m in!

I ended up having a blast! The only downside was it rained non-stop. By the time I came home, I just wanted to curl up with something warm and comforting.  So I made these. And they were A-MA-ZING. They were hot, creamy and filling and they hit the spot just as much as quintessential comfort foods like mac and cheese or soup would.

Butternut Squash and Black Bean Burrito
from OhSheGlows

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 1/2 cup uncooked short grain brown rice (yields: 1.5 cups cooked)
  • 1-2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped sweet onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped (I used green cause Dad gave me one from his garden)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
  • 2 tsp ground cumin, or to taste
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • One 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed, or about 1.5-2 cups cooked if you’re using dried
  • 3/4 cup Daiya cheese (I used mozzarella daiya cheese)
  • tortillas of choice*
  • Toppings of choice: (avocado, salsa, vegan sour cream, spinach/lettuce, cilantro, etc)

* the recipe says this makes 4 servings if you use the large or extra large shells. I used medium sized, whole wheat flour shells and I got about 5 servings.

1. Preheat oven to 425F and line a large glass dish with tinfoil. Drizzle olive oil on squash and give a shake of salt and pepper. Coat with hands. Roast chopped butternut squash for 45 mins. or until tender.

2. Next, prepare the brown rice. Add 1/2 c. dried rice and 1 c. of water to a pot. Bring to a boil and then reduce to low and simmer for about 30 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

(At this point, with the rice and butternut squash done (and possibly black beans), you can continue the next day if you want and everything comes together fast. This is perfect if you are making this for guests.)

3. In a large skillet over medium-low heat, add oil, onion, and minced garlic. Sautee for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Now add in salt and seasonings and stir well.

4.  Add chopped bell pepper, black beans, and cooked rice and sauté for another 10 minutes on low.

5. Add 1.5 cups of the roasted butternut squash to the skillet and stir to combine. I like to add 1 cup of butternut squash mashed well with a fork and 1/2 c. cubed. I think it makes the burrito extra creamy. Add Daiya cheese and stir until well melted and combined

6. Add bean filling to tortilla along with desired toppings. Wrap and serve. Or, if you are a bowl person when it comes to comfort food (like me!), this is just as good sans a wrap.

I am so addicted to these burritos. They are arguably the best burritos I’ve had. Plus, they satisfy the urge for fall food AND the urge for comfort food. The recipe says that you can add additional toppings but with each serving of this I had, I put on less toppings. I started with spinach, avocado and roasted chipotle salsa and by the end of the week, I was just eating this filling in a tortilla. It’s just so good you don’t need bells and whistles!

It’s fall and I’m recovering from a pseudo-break-up. Expect some serious comfort food on this blog in the next week or so. And chocolate. What situation isn’t made better by chocolate??

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Back when I was growing up, we very rarely went out to dinner. It was a treat that was reserved for special occasions. My mom cooked dinner almost every night and we always sat down together at the table for dinner.  I didn’t really realize there was another way until high school when my then boyfriend’s family had dinner out almost every night.  Every time I went over, they had take-out from a different place. I had more Chinese food over at their house in the year I was in that relationship then I ever had with my family…or probably since then. I thought it was awesome!

Now that I live on my own and have support myself (what a pain that is!), I still rarely eat out. I try and cook most of my meals at home, which helps me eat healthier and budget better.

With that said, though, I seriously LOVE eating out!  Especially when I get to try a new restaurant. A few weeks ago, two of my friends, on two separate occasions, told me that I need to try this restaurant called Life Alive. It’s super hippie-granola and has tons of vegan choices. I was game! The first time I went, I was so overwhelmed. There are never a lot of vegan options to choose from so having a whole menus worth, well, I didn’t know where to start. So I got a salad and a smoothie. BOR-ING!

I redeemed myself the second time around by ordering their Emperor bowl. It was so good! I’m not even sure if I came up for air during the process of shoveling it in my face.  Actually, I’m pretty sure I came up at least once to tell the person  I was with, “I could totally make this for Wicked Vegan!” And so I have. It’s not exact but I think it hits the spot!

My goal for this recipe was to let the veggies shine. I cooked them for a bit, but mostly until just hot, never until super soft, and kept the dressing  light enough where I felt the veggies were still the focal point

Sweet Corn and Kale Rice Bowl with Miso Dressing
inspired by Life Alive’s Emperor Bowl
makes 4 servings

         Miso Dressing:
         from 101cookbooks.com

  • 2 tablespoons miso
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard (whatever kind you have around, I used Dijon)
  • 2 tablespoons honey or agave
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar (recipe calls for brown but I had regular and it worked fine)
  • 1/3 cup mild flavored extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon pure toasted sesame oil (optional)

Make the dressing by whisking the miso, mustard, and honey/agave together. Now whisk in the rice vinegar and keep whisking until it’s smooth. Gradually whisk in the olive oil, and then the sesame oil. Two pinches of salt. Taste and make any adjustments if needed. Make dressing ahead of time and set aside. I prefer to let this sit overnight because it thickens up and gives the dish a really creamy texture. Feel free to use it right away, though. It will still taste great.

Rice Bowl:

  • 1 cup of brown basmati rice, uncooked
  • olive oil or cooking spray to coat the pan (I used coconut oil cooking spray to reduce oil, sesame oil would be delicious though!)
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 bunch of Kale (I used curly)
  • 2 Carrots, shredded
  • 2 Ears of Corn, cooked in  your preferred method (I boiled mine)
  • 1 TBSP of soy sauce
  • 1 block of pressed tofu
  • 2 cups of sun dried tomatoes (NOT packed in oil)
  • sesame seeds

Place the sun-dried tomatoes in a bowl and pour boiling water over them. Let sit for 15-30 minutes or until soft. Once soft, slice into thin strips or dice, depending on preference. Set aside.

Prepare your basmati rice according to the package and set aside. I cook mine differently every time but usually I put 1 cup rice and 2 cups of water in a pot, bring to a boil uncovered, then reduce heat to simmer, cover with a lid, and let it simmer for 30-45 minutes. I find it depends on the brand, though.

Coat a large frying pan in oil and place over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the garlic and cook until it’s fragrant. Add the kale and toss until hot and a little bit wilted but not soggy. I would say about 5-8 minutes depending on your preference. Set kale aside.

Coat the pan again with a little more cooking spray, if needed. Add shredded carrots and corn with a splash of soy sauce. Again, cook until hot. Set aside.

Crumble the tofu in the same pan you used for the corn and carrots and cook until golden brown, stirring only occasionally. Set aside.

To assemble your rice bowl, you should have 1 cup of kale, 1/2 c. of rice, 1/2 cup of the corn/carrot mixture, 1/2 cup sundried tomatoes,  1/4 of the tofu, salad dressing to taste and a sprinkle of sesame seeds.

To reheat or store leftovers, I really wanted to keep the measurements of this dish intact because it follows the Rabbit Food for my Bunny Teeth food pyramid. So I stored everything in separate containers. Then, to reheat, I would portion everything out, dump it in a pan on the stove, and reheat everything together. If the portions don’t bother you, store everything in one large container and just reheat however much you want on the stove top.

This is one of those meals that takes some steps but it’s SO yummy when it comes together. I love it because it sounds and feels fancy but, especially during this season when corn is 50 cents per ear (if not less), it ends up being a relatively inexpensive dish that tastes so fresh! I was able to buy all my veggies at the farmers market and already had rice in bulk. My biggest purchase was the miso paste, which you can find in the cold section of your grocery store near the tofu or in an asian grocery store.

Shoveling this unceremoniously into your mouth is pretty much the only way to eat it, just so you know!

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As someone who had been a vegetarian for 15 years before switching to veganism, I seriously do not get this whole bacon trend.

Bacon on cupcakes.

Bacon covered in chocolate.

Bacon in everything!

I don’t get it. Cupcakes had a good solid bacon-less run. I don’t feel like they were lacking.

With that said, I was having a recipe funk this weekend and was going through all my old recipe print outs (I collect recipes and cook books like some people collect cats…it’s scary…) when I came across this recipe. It had fake bacon AND fake mayo yet, it called to me. Maybe it was the avocado. Or maybe it was the thought of buying a fresh tomato at the farmers market and actually using it! Or maybe those three magical letters- BBQ- won be over.

Whatever the reason, I found myself reluctantly joining the bacon bandwagon this weekend and making a BLTA.

oh ok…the pseudo-bacon bandwagon. Whatever!

Anyway, it was good. Real good!

I suspect that was the BBQ Aioli that my sandwich was practically swimming in, though, not so much the faux bacon.

Chipotle BBQ BLTA
from Healthy Bitch Daily
one serving

  • 2 pieces of bread (HBD recommends sour dough. I used When Pigs Can Fly Tuscan Wheat)
  • 2-3 slices of tempeh bacon
  • 1 romaine leaf or a tiny handful of baby spinach (ok, so technically I made a BSTA sandwich…whatever!)
  • 2-3 slices of fresh tomato
  • 1/4 avocado, sliced or mashed
  • spoonful of Chipotle BBQ Aioli (see below)

Combine everything into a delicious sandwich, smoosh down so it’s bitable and consume. Keep lots of napkins handy cause it can get messy!

Chipotle BBQ Aioli

  • 1 cup of Vegenaise
  • 2-4 oz extra virgin olive oil (I used 2)
  • 2-3 drops of lemon juice (to help separation)
  • 1-2 TBSP chipotle pepper adobo sauce (juice from the peppers, not the peppers themselves)
  • 1 TBSP garlic, minced or pureed
  • 1-2 TBSP vegan BBQ sauce (I used Bone Suckin’ sauce…I may have also used 3-4 TBSPs…)

Place Vegenaise in a bowl and whisk in olive oil until blended; add a few drops of lemon juice if it starts to separate. Add all other ingredients, blend, and allow the mixture to stand for approximately 3o minutes.

I served this with a side of Kale chips and a ton of napkins. Because it was really good in that messy sort of way where you are left licking Chipotle BBQ Aioli off your fingers. Yum!

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I know that there has been a lot of groaning about the weather on this blog lately due to the fact that I seriously dislike the summer. It’s all hot and sticky and I’ll all sweaty and cranky. It’s not my favorite season.

But, I will grudgingly admit, summer has its perks. Ok, maybe just one- fresh produce! I am loving going to the farmers markets on the weekend and getting fresh fruits and vegetables. Even the grocery stores have more selection. I went into Whole Foods this weekend and the produce area was packed. It was like a Produce Utopia! I had to fight to stick to my very specific grocery list  and not buy one of everything, which was really really hard!

With that said, I’ve been eating a ton of salads. It’s so easy just to cut up a bunch of fresh fruits and veggies and dump them in a bowl. This means I’ve been seriously slacking in the hot meals area lately. The closest I come to my stove is to make a big pot of grains to get me through the week and then I avoid it like the plague.

But last week, my new favorite blog, Rabbit Food For My Bunny Teeth, posted this recipe and I couldn’t get it out of my head. I don’t know why- It’s just a stir-fry. But I think its close enough to my “cut-produce-up-and-dump-in-bowl” theory that I was convinced I needed to make it.

And I’m SO glad I did. It is insanely delicious.

Cashew Ginger Rice Bowl
from Rabbit Food For My Bunny Teeth

 Serves 1

1/2 cup cooked brown rice ( I used brown Basmati Rice)
1/2 cup unshelled edamame
1/2 cup bell pepper, diced (approximately 1/2 of the pepper)
1/2 cup onion, diced (approximately 1/2 of the onion)
1/2 cup carrots, shredded (approximately 1 large carrot)
1/2 cup spinach
1/4 cup low sodium vegetable broth (I use Pacific)
2 Tbsp chopped cashews
1 tsp low sodium soy sauce or tamari
1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger

Cook brown rice according to package instructions.

In a medium pan, combine the vegetable broth, soy sauce, and ginger together over medium heat. Add the bell pepper, onion, carrots, and the spinach. Cook the vegetables until they absorb most of the cooking liquid and become tender. Add in the unshelled edamame and stir until cooked. Add the cooked brown rice and gently mix into the vegetables. Top with chopped cashews. Serve hot.

I can’t tell you why I love this recipe so much. Maybe it’s simply because I was craving something hot. More likely though, this recipe just has the right mix of veggies. All the health articles I read say you should eat lots of different colored produce so your getting all sorts of nutrients and this recipe definitely has color!

And if you haven’t checked out RFFMBT, yet, definitely do so. Catherine has a great story to share, yummy recipes and a revamped food pyramid that I love. She also has a section that shows what you should be eating for each meal and what 1 portion equals. For instance, one portion of quinoa is not a bowl full- it’s actually only 1/2 cup. Definitely good to know!

And make sure to keep checking in this week. I was very productive this weekend and managed to actually make more then one thing! Yeah for regular posts on WV again =)

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ahh yes. Another week as arrived. I spent the weekend moonlighting as Minnie Mouse at my niece’s Disney Carnival Birthday party (It was a bazillion degrees out!), working, and brunching it up with some friends at Fiori’s bakery (bagel sandwich with tempeh, avocado and spicy veganaise…so good!). I was hoping to catch up on some much needed sleep but that was the one thing I didn’t manage to fit in! There never seems to be enough hours in the day during the summer.

Anyway, due to the fact that it is, as a mentioned, a bazillion degrees out (and usually humid), my oven has officially been retired for the next few months (with the exception of roasted chickpeas…cause I’m obsessed!). I’ve been eating lots of salads, fruits and lighter meals which is why Wicked Vegan has been light on posts lately. Strawberries and blueberries drizzled with agave and shredded coconut (aka, my breakfast last week) is delicious but not super exciting! How many more weeks ’til fall? I miss the cool weather and comfort food!

Until then, here is one of the many salads I’ve been eating with yummy summer veggies.  Perfect for when you buy a crap load of corn on the cobb because they are 50 cents a piece…

Corn, Avocado and Tomato Salad with Honey Lime Dressing
salad was adapted from For The Love of Cooking;
serves 1-2  

  • 1 cooked corn on the cob (can be cooked however you like- grilled, boiled, etc)
  • a handful of cherry tomatoes, approximately 6, quartered
  • 1/2 an avocado
  • 1/8 c chickpeas (preferably roasted with a little salt and pepper)*
  • 5 strawberries, sliced
  • quinao (optional, about 1/2 cup per person)
Cut the cooked corn kernels off the cob. Toss with the tomatoes, avocado, chickpeas and strawberries. Drizzle Honey Lime Dressing (recipe below) over the corn mixture and let it sit for 10-15 minutes so the flavors mingle  and the avocado breaks down a bit (makes the dish creamier. yum!). Eat as is or mix with quinoa for a heartier dish.
*To roast chickpeas for this recipe, toss one 14 oz can with 2 TBSP of olive oil and salt and pepper (to taste). Roast for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees. You can also use this cinnamon chickpea recipe with the cinnamon dressing for this salad and it also tastes delicious!

Honey Lime Dressing:

  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Dash of cayenne pepper
Add all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.

I know this recipe seems to have a lot of ‘approximates’ and vague ingredient amount. It’s because I make it a little different each time. I may have found a really good deal on tomatoes that day but am running short on chickpeas, or I’m having this as a small lunch or I’m throwing quinoa in for dinner. I love it because I almost always have these ingredients in the house during the summer so I can make this  quickly for almost any meal/snack. It’s light for summer, requires minimal stove work (I always make the chickpeas in the evenings when it’s cooler and make one big batch at a time) and it tastes fresh- all the things I require from a summer meal!

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And the New England weather strikes again!

Dun dun duuunnn

Ok, for all of you who aren’t blessed with Boston weather, this summer has been weird! hot, cold, humid, rainy, dry- it’s ridiculous. It makes planning a menu for the coming week difficult!

Last week was pretty humid so I decided that I would definitely be able to fit some grilling in during the week. Well, Tuesday, when I went to light up the grill, it was drizzling, cool and super windy. Lighting my mini charcoal grill with matches was um, a bit challenging! My roommate, Allie, came to my rescue though and schooled me on grill lighting. After he helped, I had the grill blazing within 5 minutes! Of course, with the wind, I was 92% sure I was going to burn my apartment down. I caught myself staring at the dancing flames with huge eyes, shoulders tense, knuckles white while gripping some fancy tong thingies, just waiting for something to catch fire.  BUT we all survived and I had a wicked yummy dinner to show for it.

Not that these pictures do my yummy veggy tacos justice. The fact is, I failed you in the picture area again my friends. My achilles heel in food photography seems to be mexican food. Remember my chimichangas? yeah…I still blame the refried beans…

Grilled Veggie Tacos

Black Beans:
from Crockpot 356

  • 1 pound black beans, soaked overnight, then drained*
  • 6 cups veggy broth
  • 6 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, or 2 cups fresh chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
Use a 6-quart slow cooker. Soak your beans overnight and drain.
 
Put the drained beans into your slow cooker, then add the chopped garlic, broth, tomatoes, cumin, and chili powder. Stir well to combine. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.
 
*The original person who posted this recipe suggested using the Quick-soak method, which is bring your dried beans to a boil for 10 minutes, cover and let sit for 1 hour. This did NOT work for me. My beans ended up being crunchy after 8+ hours and I had to put them on high for an additional 3 hours. Save yourself the trouble and soak them over night!
 
Guacamole: 
  • 1 avocado
  • 1/2 tsp lime juice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
Mix all the ingredients together. If you have left overs, store them with the avocado pit. It slows the browning process a bit.
 
Grilled Veggies:
  • 1 summer squash
  • 1 zucchini
  • 2 portobello mushroom caps, stems removed and cleaned
  • 3 TBSP olive oil
  • Mrs Dash Fiesta Lime Seasoning (find it in the spices section of any grocery store)
  • salt
  • skewers (optional)
Dice up the summer squash and the zucchini. Toss them with 2 TBSPs of olive oil and 1-2 tsps of Mrs Dash Fiesta Lime Seasoning (depending on how Fiesta-y you want your vegetables). You can either skewer the vegetables after you are through tossing them or you can wrap them in foil, whichever you prefer. Both ways will give the veggies the smoky taste of grilling but the foil wrapper will take a bit longer.
 
Brush the mushroom caps with the remaining TBSP of olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
 
Place the vegetables on your grill (I have a charcoal grill so I have no settings. I would imagine its about medium heat though). Cook until tender about 15- 20 minutes on the skewer, 20-25 in the foil pouch.
 
Place the mushroom caps on last. They will only take about 5-10 minutes.
 
Additionally you may need:
  •  small taco shells (I used corn this time but I prefer flour. They hold together a little better)
  • salsa (fresh salsa would taste great with this or I used Stir It Up Cuisine’s Pepper Jelly with Lime. I bought it at the Farmer’s market on Sunday and it is seriously delicious! I believe Stonewall Kitchen has something similar)
  • vegan cheese
  • fresh tomatoes
  • lettuce

Slather your freshly cooked beans, grilled veggies, guacamole and other toppings onto your taco shell and enjoy dinner!!

Seriously? Why does that mushroom at the top of the picture look so weird??

This recipe seems long and complicated but the great thing is, it really comes together pretty fast. The beans cook over night and while your at work and the veggies cook up pretty quickly on the grill. While they are cooking you can make the guacamole. And it doesn’t require you to heat your oven up!

Plus, you can substitute  in almost any veggies you find at your local farmers market- peppers, onion, different mushrooms, tomatoes, etc. Yeah for summer food!

I hope everyone has a great weekend!

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(Before I begin, please know that 1. my photo editor, which is free and does minimal things anyway, is not working and 2. the light in my kitchen is out so I’ve been using this tiny stand lamp to light the entire kitchen and my photos. So, we’re kind of lucky we have any photos at all but I’m sorry they are sort of flat)

Anyway, When I planned my menu for this week, I was soaking up the sun in 75 degree weather. I was wearing sunglasses. I was sipping strawberry frickin’ margaritas on my porch!

Currently, I am in two layers of clothes,under two layers of thick blankets…sipping strawberry margaritas…but it’s way colder!

they get all golden and delicious. yum!

So keep in mind that even though this is quite possibly my favorite dinner, when I planned on making it and sharing it with you, I imagined it going well with my cold margaritas and sunshine…and without the layers of blankets.

Crispy Tofu Margarita Wraps with Strawberry Avocado Salsa
 
adapted from How Sweet Eats

4 lb of tofu, pressed*

8 4-inch tortillas (corn, whole wheat, flour)

1 cups panko bread crumbs

1 1/2 TBSP whole wheat flour

zest of 3 limes

1 teaspoon ground coriander

for marinade:

1/3 cup olive oil

1/3 cup tequila

1/4 cup lime juice

zest of 2 limes

1 teaspoon ground coriander

for salsa:

1 avocado, chopped

1 medium tomato, chopped

1/4 red onion, chopped

4 large strawberries, chopped

juice of half a lime

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

toppings: shredded lettuce, vegan cheese, cilantro, lime wedges

12-48 hours before making the tacos, combine the marinade ingredients in a baking dish. Slice the tofu into strips and season with salt and peper. Add the tofu to the marinade and let sit in the fridge until ready to use.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Combine panko, flour, lime zest and coriander in a bowl. Lay a wire rack on a baking sheet and spray with non-stick spray. Remove tofu from marinade and coat strips in panko mixture, pressing so crumbs adhere. then place on wire rack. Bake for 30 minutes.

While tofu is cooking, combine avocado, tomato, strawberries and onion. Mix with salt, pepper and lime juice.

Heat tortillas if desired, then serve with crisp tofu, salsa, and toppings. Spritz with lime wedges.

*You can also use some sort of meat substitute like Morningstar Farm or Quorn chicken patties. They absorb the marinade quicker than the tofu but many of them aren’t vegan. Make sure you check the package first. Also, I pressed my tofu too long so it didn’t absorb the marinade in the time I gave it (12 hours). I would recommend using the paper towel/plate method or pressing it in a tofu press just over night. I forgot mine and left it in the fridge for two days. Whoops!

Seriously, this salsa recipe is easily in my top 10 favorite foods. Anything you pair it with will pretty much taste amazing. You can serve it with tortilla chips if you don’t want to make the wraps and it will still be delicious. My wraps usually end up being 1 or 2 strips of tofu and then half the serving of salsa, or something like that. I should really have called this recipe a strawberry avocado salsa wrap…with some crunch tofu thrown in.

Best. Dinner. Ever

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go find my gloves. I’m going to need them to finish off this ice cold margarita in my heatless apartment. Clearly, I have my priorities straight.

PS. How sticking cute is this little purple bowl I bought on vacation?? I wanted to buy them all but wasn't even sure I could justify purchasing one.

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Mushroom Gravy Rice Bowl

Greetings from vacation!

Before I start, I just want to thank everyone who checked out Wicked Vegan for my St. Patty’s Day posts. I had a record high number of hits Thurs, Fri and Saturday, tripling what I normally get in an average day. I hope everyone enjoyed themselves and got to make some yummy St. Patty’s day food!!

I’ve left the city behind for a week and have gone up north with some friends to the mountains. I had expected loads of snow and cold weather and lots of comfort food but, temperature-wise,  it’s a record high up here and yesterday I went and sat in the sun for 2 hours. Of course, in true me fashion, everyone was in shorts and sandals and I was in boots, tights and a skirt. But, in my defense, I had packed for the mountains! Lots of hoodies and jeans and warm boots. Plus, my skirt had a floral print and my boots were suede ankle boots. It was practically spring gear!

Anyway, this weather is making me really glad I didn’t spend a boatload on a plane ticket to FL. It’s the perfect weather for shopping (which I’ve done a lot of!), not so good weather for holing up and scrapbooking/crafting (which was my plan).

It’s also throwing of my very rough idea of what I was going to be making food-wise. Plus, I’m in a strangers kitchen, which isn’t stocked like mine, so recipes this week may be scarce. I’ve already gone to the local smokehouse once and I’m contemplating going again tonight (they have a super delicious vegan burger with homemade hummus and BBQ sauce. I’ve already bought a jar to take home with me…).

I did manage to whip together this dish the first night I was here, when it was still cold, before I went grocery shopping and before I discovered where the smokehouse was so at least you’ll get one recipe this week!

Mushroom Gravy Rice Bowl
adapted from Oh She Glows

Yield: 2 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup uncooked brown basmati rice
  • 1/2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped sweet onion (1 medium onion)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups sliced crimini mushrooms (300 grams)
  • 1.5 tbsp minced fresh rosemary*
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1.5 tbsp low-sodium tamari (soy sauce)
  • 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 & 1/4 cup vegetable broth
  • Freshly ground black pepper & kosher salt, to taste

Cook your basmati rice according to the directions on the package (should take about 15-20 minutes).

While your rice is cooking, heat olive oil in a medium size skillet. Add the onions and garlic and saute for about 5 minutes.

Add the mushrooms in and cook for 12 minutes. Now add the rosemary, nutritional yeast and tamari/soy sauce. Stir everything in and let that cook for one or two minutes.

While that is cooking, mix together your veggie broth and cornstarch and whisk with a fork or small whisk until there are no clumps. Add to the mushroom mixture, stir and let cook for another 5 minutes or so until the mixture has thickened to a gravy consistency.

Spoon your finished rice into a bowl and top with gravy mixture.

*My only complaint about this recipe was that the needles of rosemary really took away from the gravy consistency. I would suggest running a knife through the needles before adding them to the recipes or grinding them up. You could leave them out all together but they add a great flavor to the gravy.

This recipe originally called for Kale and millet instead of rice but my super market didn’t have millet and I forgot my kale in my late night, night-before-I-leave packing. I imagine kale would be a great addition to this and will definitely add it next time I make it.

Even without it though, the mushroom gravy was delicious and hunkering down on the couch with a bowl full while watching movies was the perfect start to my vacation.

Now…off to finish scrapbooking Day 1 of my Italy trip I took 2 years ago. I’ve managed to buy an excessive amount of condiments while here and even buy a purple polka dotted paring knife at an outlet kitchen store but I haven’t even made a dent in my scrapbook, which is why I’m here! Let’s see if I can remedy that today.

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Guys! I made my own corned beef. I’m so excited! This is my first venture into the world of making my own meat substitutes and I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised.
Before I go on, I just have to put a little disclaimer out there. A few days ago, a friend and I were arguing the merits of fake meat. He is a die hard carnivore and just did not understand the purpose of non-meat “meats”. His argument was, “you gave up meat. Why are you eating something that now taste like meat?” and “it’s not chicken, so it shouldn’t me called chicken”. Touche, my dear, touche.
I like to think of fake meats as the Epcot of foods. When you go to Epcot Germany, you aren’t going for an  authentic German experience, are you? No. You are going for the idea of Germany. You get to partake in the German experience without having to go to a foreign country, with a foreign language and foreign people. With fake meat, you get the idea of meat without the cruelty of animal slaughter/torture, chemicals and bad health effects. Cool, right?
Now with that in mind, I try not to eat fake meat often. They are great for the transitional process from meat eater to non-meat eater but I like to reserve them for special occasions. They are a processed food and overall, I try not to eat too many of those. It’s just harder to monitor what you are eating (unless you make it from scratch, of course). There tends to be more chemicals and such so I keep them to a minimum. After all,  Epcot wouldn’t be fun if you visited fake Germany everyday, would it? No. So, you save Epcot for vacations. And so I save fake meats for special occasions too, occasions where nothing else seems to work. Like, St. Patrick’s Day!
Mush together until strands of gluten form

Mush together until strands of gluten form

Vegan “Corn Beef”
from The Domestic Vegan

Dry Ingredients:

  • 2 c. vital wheat gluten
  • ½ c. nutritional yeast
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetarian beef broth powder (I could not find this at Whole Foods so I added an additional 1/2 tsp of salt, as Domestic Vegan suggested)
  • 2 Tbsp. onion powder
  • 1 Tbsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 Tbsp. fennel seeds (ground)*
  • 1 Tbsp. caraway seeds (ground)*
  • 4 juniper berries (ground)**
  • 2½ tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. dried mustard
  • ½ tsp. cloves
  • ½ tsp. allspice

Wet Ingredients:

  • 1 c. + 2 Tbsp. vegetable broth
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. liquid smoke (hickory flavor)
  • 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp. tamari or Braggs

Directions:

In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients.  In a separate bowl, whisk together wet ingredients.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, and stir to combine.  Knead with your hands for a couple minutes, until everything is well combined & strands of gluten start to form.

Fill a large pot with about 12 cups of water, and add 2 bay leaves & 1 Tbsp. of whole juniper berries.  Bring to a boil, then lower heat to keep the water simmering.  (The original recipe said you can throw some beer or red wine into the water. My dad had some left over red wine so I added 10 cups of waters and 2 cups of red wine)

On a clean surface, shape the seitan into an oval (about 8” by 5” with a 1” thickness).  Don’t stress over the size.  If it’s roughly the size & shape of a roast, you’re good.   Wrap the seitan in a double-layer of cheesecloth, and roll the ends like a Tootsie Roll (not too tight, though; the roast will expand a bit while cooking).  Secure with string (or just tie the ends in a tight knot if you have enough fabric, which is what I did).

Place the corned seitan roast in the simmering water.  Cover and simmer on medium-low heat for 1 hour, turning the roast a couple times during the cooking process to ensure even cooking.

When done, remove the seitan from the pot (I use tongs to do this), and allow to rest/cool on a plate or cutting board for about 10 minutes.  When cool enough to handle, unwrap the cheesecloth.

 

My pseudo-ground up spices

My pseudo-ground up spices

* I could not find ground fennel seed, caraway seed or rosemary so I ground them myself using a combination of a mini food processor and running a super sharp knife through them. Neither of these methods were particularly efficient. I would recommend a mortar and pestle if you have one or even a salt and pepper grinder. Because the spices are now freshly ground and therefore release a stronger flavor, I would recommend cutting them down a bit to 1/2 TBS  or preparing them the night before to give them a chance to mellow out. I didn’t do this and my roast was very strongly spiced.

** I could not find juniper berries anywhere and no one had even heard of them when I asked about them. If they are popular in regular corn beef, it’s possible that they will pop up this week in grocery stores but I subbed in rosemary where ever the recipe called for juniper berry. I used 1 tsp of rosemary for every 2 berries, as recommended by Ehow.

This corned beef was SO easy to whip together. Though the ingredients list is long, it goes together pretty quickly. The most tedious process was grinding my own spices and if you have them already ground, whether the came like that or you did them the night before, this will speed up the preparation process.

Tune in tomorrow, where I’ll plate this up for you with some yummy, traditional-inspired St. Patty’s day vegetables.  Yum!

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Nuts and Oats Burger

Some friends and I have a nice tradition of getting together Friday evenings and making dinner for each other. We take turns so we only have to cook, approximately, every fifth time we get together. This works great for me because sometimes, I just don’t want to cook!

But this week it was my turn. I knew I wanted to make them these beer fries because I was obsessed with them and because I actually wanted to try them when half of them weren’t cooked to a lovely shade of black! My problem was, what to serve them with? I’m the only one in the group that has any sort of weird dietary restrictions. Because of that, we tend to eat a vegetarian diet on Fridays. I knew I couldn’t try and get a veggie burger past them, though. One of the guys at the dinner, BJ, reluctantly gives up meat for this one meal per week but often notes how everything we eat would taste better with bacon.  One time, his sister and I slipped some Morningstar chicken in his meal and he still threatens to slip me bacon as pay back. I couldn’t risk feeding him a veggie burger!

So I did what any good friend would do…I made them real hamburgers while I chowed down on this super delicious vegan burger. Thank gosh I didn’t try to feed these to them… they affectionately dubbed them “The Bird Seed” burgers. I just call them delicious!!

Nuts and Oats Veggie Burger aka “Bird Seed” Burgers
from Oh She Glows

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup onion, diced
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • Flax eggs: 2.5 tbsp ground flax + 1/2 cup warm water, mixed in bowl
  • 1 cup oats, processed into flour* (other flours might work)
  • 1.5 cups bread crumbs (I processed 3 pieces of When Pigs Fly Honey Wheat bread until fine crumb)*
  • 1 cup grated carrots
  • 1 cup cooked black beans, rinsed and roughly pureed or mashed  (I just roughly mashed them with afork)
  • Heaping 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley (or fresh herb of choice)
  • 1/3 cup almonds, chopped (toasted if preferred, I bought unsalted dry roasted)
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds, (toasted if preferred)
  • 1 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 tbsp Tamari (soy sauce)
  • 1.5 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste (I used about 1/2 tsp kosher salt)

Directions:

1. In a large skillet, sauté onions and garlic in 1/2 tbsp oil. Mix your flax egg together in a small bowl and set aside for at least 10 mins while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

2. Place all ingredients (except spices and salt) into a large mixing bowl and stir very well. Now, add seasonings and salt to taste.

3. With slightly wet hands, shape dough into patties. Pack dough tightly as this will help it stick together. I made 8 medium patties.

4. Cooking methods: You can fry the burgers in a bit of oil on a skillet over medium heat for about 5 minutes on each side. If baking in the oven, bake for 25-30 mins (15-17 minutes on each side) at 350F, until golden and crisp. For the BBQ, pre-bake the burgers for about 15 minutes in oven before placing on a pre-heated grill until golden and crisp on each side. I fried it in a skillet. Yum!

I had high hopes for these burgers. Angela at Oh She Glows.com called them the Perfect Veggie Burger. Well…how could I not try it? Though I don’t know if I would call them perfect, they were pretty darn tasty! I actually really liked the crunch that the sunflower seeds and almonds gave them. Will, the only brave soul to try these on Friday, seemed to agree with me on that point.

Also, because I was making this while trying to make beer fries and real burgers (um…I don’t even know how many times I got burned with grease…), I ended up only cooking  2 or 3 on Friday and then freezing the rest, uncooked. To reheat them, I just thawed out the patty, reshaped it a bit and then fried it up. Still tasted delicious!

They were especially delicious when topped with caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms, sliced avocado and BBQ sauce. *drool* I can’t wait for dinner tonight….

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