Friday, December 28, 2012

Cajun Tofu Skillet

This recipe was inspired by one found on fatfreevegan.com that she called Tofu Jambalaya.   I have changed the cooking method and some of the ingredients and made it my own.  I don't find it really resembled jambalaya though so I changed the name too.


 CAJUN TOFU SKILLET

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup Jasmine Rice and enough water to cook rice according to package directions
1 tsp vegan No-Chicken Bouillon mixed with water to cook rice
1 lb extra firm Tofu
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 large Onion, chopped
1 large Green Bell Pepper
1 Jalapeno, deseeded and minced
1 cup Celery, chopped
1 cup Okra, chopped
4-5 cloves Garlic, minced
1 - 28oz can Diced Tomatoes
3 tsp Chili Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Liquid Smoke
1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1 tsp Hot Pepper Sauce

DIRECTIONS:

1.  Start rice cooking according to package directions adding the bouillon to the water.

2.  Pat/squeeze moisture out of tofu and cube into 1/2 - 1 inch cubes and set aside.

3.  Drizzle olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add in onion, celery, green pepper, jalapeno and saute until soft. Add garlic and saute another minute.


4.  Add tomatoes, okra, chili powder, salt, liquid smoke, cayenne pepper, hot sauce and tofu.


5.  Cover and cook on low for 20 minutes.  When rice is cooked, add rice to skillet and stir so that it is incorporated into the tomato mixture.  Serve.


I have made this dish several times, but it has actually been a while since I've cooked rice because we have been eating quinoa instead for it's nutritional value.  I am thinking that this dish might be better with quinoa as I found the rice to be a little mushy.  It could be because I used jasmine rice instead of a more substantial variety.  Next time I am trying it with quinoa though.

- Au Revoir

"We fry everything - if we could stick a bike tire in the right kind of batter, we'd eat it." - Gas Station Attendant, Port Fouchon
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Friday, December 21, 2012

Date Ball Cookies

For the last few days I have had a craving for Date Balls.  A recipe I remember my mom making when I was little.  Something she always made during the holidays.  I still have her recipe, although I don't know where she originally found it, it is at least 40 years old.  It is one more of those I copied down on a card before leaving the nest.

Yesterday afternoon I was off work a little early and decided to make a vegan version.  It was easy to do since this recipe doesn't call for eggs and I always have sticks of vegan margarine in the fridge.

I hope you enjoy this simple, but tasty cookie.


DATE BALL COOKIES

INGREDIENTS:
1/2 Cup vegan Margarine
1/3 Cup Powdered Sugar (and extra for coating)
1 Tbsp water
1 Tsp Vanilla
1-1/4 Cup All Purpose Flour
dash Salt
2/3 Cup pitted Dates, chopped
1/2 Cup Walnuts, chopped


DIRECTIONS:  I use my big KitchenAid mixer as it is a stiff dough.

1.  Heat oven to 300˚F.

2.  Cream margarine and powdered sugar.

(Creamed margarine and powdered sugar)
3.  Mix in water and vanilla

4.  Add flour and salt and mix well.  

5.  Mix in pitted dates and nuts and combine well.  Dough will be stiff and shouldn't stick to your hands if you make it into a ball.

(Dough ready for forming)
6.  Roll into 1 inch balls and place on greased cookie sheet.  They do not spread so you can put them fairly close together.

(Ready for the oven)
7.  Bake at 300˚F for 20 minutes.  While warm, roll in powdered sugar.  This makes approximately 30 cookies.

(Ready for eating)

Bon Appetit! I also think these might be good with dried cranberries in place of the dates.  I just might have to try that next time.

- Au Revoir

"Baking cookies is comforting, and cookies are the sweetest little bit of comfort food.  They are very bite-sized and personal." - Sandra Lee (Semi-Homemade)



Friday, December 14, 2012

Black Bean Avocado Salad

I found this recipe online almost three years ago on the Vegetarian Times website. Whenever I find a recipe online I print it out and it goes into a basket to try at a later date.  This one got buried so I didn't try it until last summer.  It was so simple and we enjoyed the taste so much that I've tried to make it at least once a month since then, even more often in the warm summer months.  It makes a nice light salad served with tortilla chips for scooping, but would also be tasty (and lower calorie) served over a bed of mixed greens or crunchy kale.

As always I've modified the recipe just a little.  In this case just increasing the quantities of veggies of beans.  The original recipe can be found by clicking this ---->LINK.  If you are not a fan of black beans I am sure you could be adventurous and substitute white cannellini beans, kidney beans or even chick peas.  And as long as your mustard of choice is gluten free, this recipe is gluten free.



BLACK BEAN AVOCADO SALAD

INGREDIENTS:
2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
1 Tbsp whole-grain Mustard
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Can whole Black Beans, rinsed and drained
1 Cup frozen whole Corn, thawed
1 large Avocado, peeled, pitted and diced
1 Sweet Red Pepper, diced
1/2 Cup chopped Celery
1/2 Cup coarsely chopped Cilantro
4 Green Onions, trimmed and thinly sliced

DIRECTIONS:
1.  In a small bowl whisk lemon juice, mustard and olive oil.  Set aside.

2.  In medium sized serving bowl mix beans, corn, avocado, red pepper, celery, cilantro and green onions.  Drizzle with dressing and toss.  

3.  Season with salt and pepper.  I usually serve this with hot pepper sauce to drizzle on top prior to eating.



**  Please note that the red pepper is missing in the photos above.  I admit I forgot to buy one and it was not worth the effort to go to the grocery store for one pepper. The salad was still good, but I did miss the pepper.

- Au Revoir

Shipping is a terrible thing to do to vegetables.  They probably get jet-lagged, just like people." Elizabeth Berry
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Thursday, December 6, 2012

Simple Apple Crisp

I had a few sad looking apples in the refrigerator and was too lazy to make an apple pie.  I just didn't feel like fiddling with the dough so I thought an apple crisp might be nice.  Easy to mix up and a lot less fat overall.

My favorite recipe for apple crisp is one that I found in a Quaker Oats mini cookbook over 20 year ago. You know those small soft cover theme cookbooks you find in the checkout lines at the grocery store? It was one of those.  I used to love collecting them, but found I never used too many recipes out of them.  My solution was to cut out the recipes I liked, tape them to a sheet of paper then slide those pages into a clear plastic sheet protector which I then placed in a binder. Easy to find the recipe I want without all those little books around.



SIMPLE APPLE CRISP

INGREDIENTS:

1 Cup Oats (quick cooking or old fashioned)
1/2 Cup Walnuts, coarsely chopped
1/4 Cup Brown Sugar, firmly packed
1/4 Cup Vegan Margarine, melted
1/2 Tsp ground Cinnamon
6 Cups cored and chopped Apples, I used Galas and left the peels on
1/4 Cup Water
1/4 Cup Brown Sugar, firmly packed
2 Tbsp All Purpose Flour
1/2 to 1 Tsp ground Cinnamon


DIRECTIONS:

1.  Preheat oven to 350˚F.

2.  Combine oats, walnuts, 1/4 cup brown sugar, melted margarine and 1/2 tsp cinnamon and mix well.  Set aside.

3.  In a large bowl combine the cored and chopped apples and 1/4 cup water.  Add remaining brown sugar, flour and cinnamon to taste tossing to coat.

4.  Spoon apple mixture into an 8x8 square glass baking dish.  Top evenly with reserved oat mixture.

5.  Bake 30-35 minutes or until the apples are tender.

6.  Serve warm with vegan ice cream.



(Ready for the oven)

(Ready for my belly)
- Au Revoir

" Our bodies run on the fresh green fuel of the land." - Terri Guillemets
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Saturday, December 1, 2012

Quinoa and Wild Rice Stuffed Squash

In November 2009 I found a recipe online at the Vegetarian Times website. I thought it sounded yummy and printed it out to try at a later date.  That recipe was for Quinoa and Wild Rice Stuffed Squash.

I've never had great luck with wild rice so the first thing I did was substitute Chinese Black Rice and modified the rice/quinoa to water ratio to a number that works better for me.  The first time I made it I did as the recipe instructed and stuffed the squash.  I believe that I even posted a picture on my motorcycle blog at the time.

I made it again this week and instead of using black rice and quinoa I used a wild rice and quinoa blend from Costco thinking I'd cut out the step of cooking each separately.  The flavor was just as good but the texture was a little sticky, I think because the quinoa doesn't take as long to cook as rice resulting in an odd texture.  

I also decided to cube and roast the squash and serve the stuffing on the side.  Troubadour and I agreed it seemed easier to eat this way, although the presentation isn't as fancy if you have company, and cutting and peeling the squash is a little time consuming.

Here is a link to the original recipe. Click -----> LINK  What follows is the recipe with my modifications and squash on the side.  An addendum is added at the bottom with instructions on how to cook the squash halves if you wan to fill them like the picture below.

(Made with Chinese Black Rice cooked separate from Quinoa)

QUINOA AND WILD RICE STUFFED SQUASH


INGREDIENTS:

3 Large Acorn Squash, halved and seeds removed
1-3/4 Cups Water
1 Cup uncooked Quinoa
1-1/2 Cup Water
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
4 Green Onions, chopped
1/2 Cup Celery, chopped
1 Tsp dried Sage
1/2 Cup dried Cranberries
1/3 Cup dried Apricots, chopped
1/3 Cup Pecans or Walnuts, chopped
1/2 to 3/4 Cup  fresh Orange Juice (I used 3/4 Cup)
Fresh ground Black Pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

1.  Preheat oven to 425˚F and line a baking sheet with foil.  Spray foil with non stick cooking spray.  Use a veggie peeler to peel the halved squash and cube into 1 inch chunks.  Place on foil and spray with olive oil and sprinkle with black pepper and set aside.

2.  RICE - In medium saucepan bring 1-3/4 Cup water to boil.  Add Black or Red Rice, reduce heat, cover and simmer approximately 35 minutes.  Remove from heat and let stand covered 10 minutes.  Fluff with fork.  

3.  QUINOA - In another small saucepan combine 1-1/2 Cups water and Quinoa and bring to a boil.  I also like to add a teaspoon of Better than Bouillon's 'No Chicken' to the water while cooking for added flavor. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes.  Fluff with fork.  

4.  Once those are going on the stove place your squash chunks in the oven.  Bake 12 minutes.  Remove from oven, stir to turn over squash and bake for an additional 12 minutes.

5.  In a large deep skillet heat oil over medium heat.  Add green onions, celery and sage and cook stirring often until the veggies begin to soften.  Add cranberries, apricots and nuts and cook, stirring often until heated.


(Green onions, celery, sage, cranberries, apricots, and walnuts cooking in the skillet)
6.  Add fluffed rice and quinoa to the skillet and mix.  Add orange juice and mix until heated through. Season with salt and pepper.

7.  To serve, remove the squash from the oven and place in serving bowl.  Place filling in separate serving bowl and enjoy.

(Quinoa and Wild Rice Stuffing with Roasted Acorn Squash)
(This was the wild rice quinoa mixture from Costco that was quite sticky like traditional stuffing)

These ingredients are so simple but the flavors are complex when combined.  It is definitely a favorite recipe of ours especially during chilly Autumn weather when squash are in abundance.

** ADDENDUM - If you would like to cook the squash halves for stuffing - preheat your oven to 350˚F and  place the squash halves cut side down in a baking dish or roasting pan and bake for 25-30 minutes until tender.  Spoon cooked filling into cooked squash and serve.

- Au Revoir

"  He who distinguishes the true savor of his food can never be a glutton; he who does not cannot be otherwise." - Henry David Thoreau
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Saturday, November 24, 2012

Easy Pumpkin Muffins

One day while perusing different websites I read a thread on a forum that come up on a search engine. It was for all different short cut recipes that used a cake mix.  One of the responses was for pumpkin muffins.  I jotted it down to save for a rain day.  

I don't remember exactly where it came from, but I've made them several times and they are tasty.  No added fat and no eggs.  They are vegan and I don't think you can find an easier muffin to make.  They turn out a little heavier than a cupcake, but lighter than a traditional muffin.

Duncan Hines and a few Betty Crocker cake mixes are 'accidentally vegan', as are some of the others. Just make sure to check the allergy disclosure to make sure there aren't any milk or eggs listed.  Also there are several ready made frostings that are vegan as well.  Duncan Hines and in this case Pillsbury too.


EASY PUMPKIN MUFFINS







INGREDIENTS

1 Box Spice Cake Mix
1 - 15oz Can Pumpkin Puree
1/4 Cup water



DIRECTIONS:

1.  Preheat oven according to directions on box of cake mix.

2.  In large bowl, combine cake mix, whole can of pumpkin puree and 1/4 cup water.  Mix well.


(Thick yummy batter - I am tempted to eat it like pudding)
3.  Spoon batter into lined muffin tins.  If you trust your muffin tins not to stick you can do without the liners.  

(Scoop batter into muffin or cupcake tins)

(I used large tins to make 7 muffins.  Filled almost to the top)

4.  If you are making cupcake size muffins bake according to package directions.  Usually 15 minutes. For these extra large muffins I baked them for 23-25 minutes until firm and a toothpick inserted came out clean.

(Fresh from the oven)
5. Let cook on wire rack and frost if desired.

(Easiest pumpkin muffins you will ever make)

** I do find that if you cover the muffins overnight the frosting stays soft and sticky to the touch.  If you leave them uncovered the frosting will be dry to the touch and not as messy to eat.

** Also, if you try to eat a muffin while it is still warm it has a tendency to stick to the paper wrapper.  I think this is due to the lack of fat/oil in the recipe.

- Au Revoir

"Vegetables are a must on a diet.  I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread and pumpkin pie." - Jim Davis
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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Italian "Meatball" Hoagie Braids

Ever see a recipe on the back of a box and just have to try it?  That is how I found this recipe.

While at Costco last Monday I was purchasing a box of Pillsbury Crescent Rolls and Troubadour noticed a recipe on the back that looked intriguing and we figured we could veganize it.  I have made a few changes to the recipe besides using vegan ingredients; I omitted the egg wash and dusting of cheese on top which cuts a few calories. Here is a link to their original recipe I managed to find online. ---->  LINK.


ITALIAN 'MEATBALL' HOAGIE BRAIDS





INGREDIENTS:

2 Cans  (8 oz each) Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
16 frozen, fully cooked vegan meatballs
1 Cup Marinara Sauce
1 Cup Shredded Daiya (I used Cheddar Shreds)



DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375˚F (190˚C) and spray 2 baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray.

1.  Heat meatballs in microwave to thaw.  Cut each meatball in half.

2.  Unroll dough; separate into 8 rectangles.  Place rectangles on the baking sheets. Firmly press perforations to seal. 

3.  Place 4 meatball halves lengthwise down the center of each rectangle.  Top each with 2 Tbsp of marinara sauce and 2 Tbsp of cheese shreds.

('Meatball' halves on the dough)

(Then topped with marinara and cheese shreds)

4.  With scissors or a sharp knife, make cuts 1 inch apart on each long side of the filling.  Alternately cross strips over filling.  It may not look pretty but will puff up a bit in the oven.

(Not quite appetizing yet, but ready for the oven)

5.  Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.  Serve with leftover heated marinara for dipping if desired.

Notes upon reflection.......

*  I found that the tomato sauce I used was a little on the thin side and I think the hoagie would have been easier to wrap if the sauce was thicker.  

*  I also think some spicy hot sauce in the hoagie would have been a good addition or some fresh ground pepper sprinkled on top before baking.

*  We each ate two for dinner and had the remaining for lunch the next day.  They would also be good with a side salad.

*  I have calculated the calorie content for this recipe using the exact ingredients and measurements above. Each hoagie contains 314 calories.  Of that 314, the crescents accounted for 200 calories.


- Au Revoir

"There is one thing more exasperating than a wife that can cook and won't, and that is a wife who can't cook and will." - Robert Frost
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Monday, November 12, 2012

Mama's Banana Bread

Making this recipe always brings back memories of my mom baking banana bread or banana muffins when we were kids.  She always used the same recipe and I think it is the only banana bread recipe I've ever made.  It has been in the family for at least 40 years and I have no idea where it originated.

One of the things I like about this recipe is that unlike most quick breads, you beat this one with a mixer rather than just mixing until the ingredients are incorporated.

I have taken the recipe and made it vegan.  It took a little trial and error, but seems to work well with the following ingredients.



MAMA'S BANANA BREAD


(Most of the ingredients)

INGREDIENTS:

1/3 Cup Vegan Shortening
1/2 Cup Sugar
1-3/4 Cup Flour (I used half whole wheat half white)
2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Baking Soda
4 Bananas, peeled and mashed
Optional Add Ins:
1/2 Cup Walnuts, chopped
3/4 Cup Vegan Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips





DIRECTIONS:
(Ready for the baking pan)

Preheat oven to 350˚F.

1.  In electric mixer bowl cream shortening and sugar.  Add mashed bananas and mix well.

2.  Mix dry ingredients (not add ins) in separate bowl.  Add dry ingredients to wet and beat well.  Mixture will be fairly thick.

3.  Add walnuts and/or chocolate chips.  I used both for this batch.

4.  Pour/scoop into greased 9 inch loaf pan.  Spread into corners. Bake at 350˚F for 55 minutes or until done.  You may want to check it at 50 minutes with a toothpick to see if it is baked in the center.

Remove from oven, let rest a few minutes then remove from pan and enjoy.  Let cool before slicing or it will be slightly crumbly - like in my first photo.  I was a little impatient.



**  I have been known to add a sprinkle of cinnamon into the dry ingredients as well as one teaspoon of vanilla into the wet for extra flavor depending on my mood.  Both work well in this recipe.

***To make muffins bake for 20-25 minutes depending on size of muffin tins.  If you are using mini muffin tins 12-15 minutes might be better.

Enjoy.  This recipe will make the whole house smell yummy.

- Au Revoir

"  Time flies like an arrow.  Fruit flies like a banana." - Groucho Marx
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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Creamy Broccoli Soup

Soup season continues here in the Pacific Northwest. Even though Sunday's temperature was warm enough to break records it is chilly enough out there for soup.

Last night I made one of my favorite soup recipes:  Broccoli Soup.  I found this recipe several years ago on allrecipes.com and have converted it to vegan.  I've also changed it up a bit as I am not a fan of pureed soups.  I like my soup to resemble the food it is made from.



CREAMY BROCCOLI SOUP




INGREDIENTS:

1 Onion, chopped
1 Cup Celery, chopped
3 Cups warm Water
3 tsp 'No Chicken' Bouillon
8 Cups Broccoli Florets
3 Tbsp Vegan Margarine
1/4 C Flour (I used whole wheat)
2 Cups Unsweetened Soy Milk, warmed
** ground black pepper and shredded vegan cheddar to taste




DIRECTIONS:

1.  In large soup pot combine the warm water and No Chicken Bouillon; stir until dissolved.  On medium-high heat bring mixture to boil.  As it is heating add the celery, onion and broccoli florets.  There will not be enough water to cover the broccoli.  The broccoli will steam and cook down.

(Broccoli steaming as water/bouillon boils)

2.  Cook approximately 10-15 minutes until the veggies are tender.  Mash into smaller pieces using a potato masher until broccoli is desired size.

(Veggies cooked and mashed)
3.  When the broccoli gets to the al dente stage melt vegan margarine in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Whisk in flour until smooth.  Whisk in warmed soy milk until all combined.  Stir until thick and bubbly.

(Melted margarine and flour combined)

(Soy milk added and cooked until thickened)

4.  Add flour mixture to broccoli mixture and stir to combine.  

(Milk mixture combined with broccoli mixture)

Sprinkle with black pepper. At this stage you can remove it from the heat and add 1 cup of vegan cheddar cheese such as Daiya - stir until melted.  I prefer to just sprinkle some on top in each bowl.

(Yummy goodness)
This batch makes 4-6 large bowls of soup.  For the ingredients I've used, the entire batch totals 1010 calories (without Daiya).  Divided into 4-6 servings that is a fairly low calorie and filling dinner or lunch. The leftovers are great heated in the microwave as well.  If you are not worried about carbs a crusty dinner roll or baguette would be good for dipping.

I haven't tried this with other vegetables such as cauliflower or even mushrooms, but I think it would work for other creamy soups too.

- Au Revoir

" I live on good soup, not on fine words."  Moliere
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Thursday, November 1, 2012

Apple Dumplings

I made these yummy treats for dessert last week and ended up posting the recipe on my regular motorcycle blog due to a food challenge thrown down by fellow moto-blogger Pam from Helmet or Heels.  When making the dumplings, I originally took the photos to post the recipe on this blog.

I have been making this simple dessert for about 8 years after finding it hidden among the pages of a Rachel Ray magazine.  Of course, now I have converted the recipe to vegan.



 APPLE DUMPLINGS



INGREDIENTS:


1- 8 oz tube Crescent Rolls (only 'Original' are vegan)
1 large Apple, cored and cut into 8 wedges
1/4 Cup Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks
1/3 Cup Brown Sugar
1 tsp ground Cinnamon
1/3 Cup Ginger Ale soda (NOT DIET)





DIRECTIONS:

1.  Preheat oven to 350˚F.  Spray an 8x8 inch square glass pan with nonstick cooking spray.

2.  Open tube of crescent rolls (FYI - Pillsbury original are in fact vegan) and separate the 8 dough triangles.  Place one wedge of apple on each triangle of dough, roll into crescent shape and place in dish point down.

(I left the peel on the Gala apple)


(Roll into a crescent)



3.  Repeat until all 8 rolls are done and in the pan.  Your pan should look something like this.

(waiting for the sauce)
4.  In small saucepan melt the butter, brown sugar and cinnamon until well combined and the sugar is fairly dissolved.  Remove from heat, add Ginger Ale and stir well.  It will foam a little bit.  Pour mixture over the dumplings.

(ready to cover with foil)
5.  Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes.  Uncover and bake for an additional 15 minutes until golden brown.

(Mmmm cinnamon - wish I had smell-o-vision)
6.  Let rest for a few minutes and serve warm drizzling the sauce left in the dish over the dumplings. We use two crescents per serving for a total of 4 servings.  So good you'll want to toss etiquette aside and lick the bowl.

(Troubadour prefers his with Trader Joe's Vanilla Soy Ice Cream)

I have experimented with making a double bath and have found that it is better to adjust the ratios rather than simply doubling the recipe.  To make a double batch (good for family gatherings) use a 9x13 glass pan and the following ingredient ratios:  2 tubes Crescent Rolls, 2 apples, 1/2 Cup vegan Butter, 3/4 Cup Brown Sugar, 3/4 Cup Ginger Ale, 1.5 tsp Cinnamon

- Au Revoir

"Good apple pies are a considerable part of our domestic happiness" - Jane Austin
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