Thursday, December 20, 2007

"No Chicken" Noodle Soup for the Soul.

So much for finding an interesting suitable substitute for Chicken Noodle Soup. None of the recipes I've tried really satisfied that need for chicken noodle soup in the winter.....and surely none of them were winning Mairin over! So, I gave up on trying to find our oh-so-cool veg substitute for the soul warming goodness of chicken noodle soup, and just went back to basics.

Tonight, we had "No Chicken" Noodle Soup......perfect, it was absolutely perfect (Rob dubbed it Noodle Noodle Soup). EVERYONE loved it, and to make a dish that all of us like is quite a feat (making something Mairin likes is the true test!!). At first Mairin threw herself on the floor in a full fledged tantrum, refusing to eat the soup because I said we were having chicken noodle soup, and there was no chicken.........she wanted a chicken bite. The funny thing is, when we at meat, and I made chicken noodle soup, she picked every bit of chicken out of it!!

I just went back to my stand-by, quick and easy, chicken noodle soup recipe, excluding the chicken and substituting the chicken stock with Imagine No Chicken Broth. I'm telling you, you would never ever know this wasn't the real thing (except of course that there is no chicken meat floating around in there).

"No Chicken" Noodle Soup
2 Tbs Olive Oil
3 Large Carrots, peeled and sliced into rounds
4 Stalks Celery, diced
1 Medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
2 tsp dried thyme
2 32 oz boxes of No Chicken Broth
1/2 of a 12oz bag of fussili noodles or
1/4 of a 12 oz pg of linguine noodles (broken in half)

Heat oil in a soup pot over medium high heat. Add vegetables and saute until carrots are beginning to soften. Add salt and pepper and thyme and saute for a minute longer. Add 2 boxes of broth and bring to a boil. Here I turn down the heat and let it simmer for awhile, then add the noodles about 5 minutes before you are ready to serve.

This soup is "MMM MMM Good". I served it with grilled cheeze sandwiches. You can expect to hear about this one being made many, many more times this winter (chicken noodle soup was always something I looked forward to and loved in the winter months, and I can't wait to eat it again....actually, just blogging about it is making me hungry all over again)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Lentil Soup

Tuesday is upon us once again, and you know what that means, the Crock Pot was a cookin' today. If I want my family to have a homecooked meal on Tuesday's it's got to come from the slowcooker. We've done the Slow Cooked Ziti several Tuesday's now, so it was time for a change. Besides needing to be cooked in the slowcooker, our other Tuesday night requisite is that it has to be something the girls will eat without giving Rob too much hassle since he has to feed them on his own. There's not a lot of time for dinner before dance class starts, so our meal needs to be something that they will eat quickly and that won't require Rob making them a different meal.

Tonight I decided on one of my favorite quick and easy soups. This lentil soup is based on this recipe that I found at The Fat Free Vegan. The soup is pretty good as the recipe directs, however I've made some additions to it that I think make it taste quite a bit better.

1 1/2 C. Puy lentils
1 Large can of crushed tomatoes with basil
2 C. Vegetable broth
1 medium onion chopped
1 celery stalk chopped
1 Bay leaves
1 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp sea salt (I use homemade veggie stock that is salt free, so if you are using canned stalk you may need less salt)
fresh ground black pepper.

Put it all in the crock pot, add 4 cups of water. Cook on low 8 hrs or until lentils have softened.

This soup is delicious served with some crusty bread for dipping, but tonight we had it solo.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Curry Noodles

We love curry, especially Thai Curry. I typically make a Thai green curry that I've been making for several years, sometimes with just veggies, sometimes with tofu, and before we went veg I made it with chicken. It's very delicious and easy to make, and it will undoubtedly be made many times in the future.

I'm always looking for new curry ideas, so imagine my delight when I ran across the recipe for Big Curry Noodle Pot while thumbing through Super Natural Cooking. I think I mentioned this book before. I got it for my birthday, and if anyone is in search of a new cookbook, you really should check this one out. Not only is it full of great recipes and very informative food facts, it's a beautiful's wonderfully designed, and the photography is amazing (it's also one of those books that just feels good in your hands, ya know what I mean?).

Anyway, enough about the book, on to the curry. This was different than the curries we normally eat, it was more like a big bowl of delicious curry noodle soup.....not something you'd want to make if you are embarrassed about slurping noodles into your mouth and getting covered in yellow coconut milk!! I didn't follow the recipe exactly, as I didn't have all of the ingredients, I didn't like some of the techniques (it called for cooking the curry sauce first, then adding the tofu into the simmering curry, which in my opinion just leads to mushy, disgusting tofu), and it called for peanuts which are a forbidden food in anything that Stella may decide to eat (it turns out this one was a little too spicy for her, so I could have added the peanuts, but I didn't know how the heat would be until it was finished). So, I think I changed the recipe just enough to make it safe to post:

Curry Noodles

8 oz dried Asian wide noodles (I used Eden Brown Rice Udon)

2 Tbs canola oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium onion, chopped

1 1/2 tsp Thai Red Curry Paste

12 oz extra firm tofu (pressed and cut into slices 1/2 inch thick by 1 inch long)

1 can coconut milk

1 cup vegetable stock

2 Tbs light brown sugar (packed)

2 tsp ground turmeric

2 Tbs soy sauce

Juice of 1 lime

chopped cilantro for garnish.

Cook noodles as directed on package. Drain and set aside. While the noodles cook begin making the curry. Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add tofu and brown on all sides. When tofu is almost finished browning, add onion and saute until tender. Add garlic and curry paste, smashing paste around pan to distribute it evenly. Cook for about 2 minutes until curry paste become fragrant. Add in the coconut milk, stock, turmeric, brown sugar and soy sauce, bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add in lime juice and noodles, stir to cover noodles with sauce and distribute sauce and tofu evenly. Serve noodles in bowls with a few ladles of curry sauce. Top with cilantro and serve.

The book says this serves 4-6, but in reality it served Rob and I with a nice helping left for one of us to have for lunch tomorrow. Plus, each girl had about half a bowl of plain udon noodles.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Sweet and Savory Lentils

Agave Baked Lentils:

2 cups Puy Lentil (you could use any kind of lentils, but I prefer the french lentils, they seem to hold their shape and not become mushy)

4 cups water

1 Bay Leaf

1 vegetable bouillon cube

1 large carrot, diced

2 celery stalks, diced

1 small onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup agave nectar (or substitute honey if you like)

1 tsp nutmeg

2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375. In sauce pot add 4 cups of water with 2 cups Puy lentils, vegetable bouillon cube, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. After 30 minute remove lentils from heat and set aside. In a 9x12 baking dish combine carrots, celery, onions and garlic with agave, nutmeg, EVOO and salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Then, pour lentils with their cooking liquid into baking dish. Stir to incorporate vegetables. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour. After 1 hour remove foil and bake about 10 more minutes to evaporate some of the liquid.

I baked the sweet potatoes at the same time the lentils were baking, when they were done I cut them in half, scooped out the flesh and mashed it with a few Tbs of soy milk and 1 Tbs of brown sugar.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

A Nice Evening for a Bowl of Chili, and a Bonfire

It was cold today. And worse than that, it was cold and gray. It was truly a stereotypical fall day. It was a perfect day for a bowl (or 2) of chili. We'd been invited to a Halloween/Fall party and bonfire and we were to bring a dish to share. Chili was what I brought to share.

I make a Vegetable 3-Bean Chili. It's my adaptation of a recipe that I got off of a Rachael Ray episode. I know how a lot of my fellow bloggers feel about RR, but I like her. Granted she doesn't make a lot of vegetarian friendly meals, but she does inspire a lot of people to cook at home and that's far better than running by the local fast food joint.

Anyway, I don't know the exact recipe (I've been making it so long I kind of know it by heart now), and I don't have exact measurements because I basically just make it by taste, but here's a pretty close guesstimate:

2 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or EVOO in Rachael Ray speak)
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper (or hot pepper of your choice), chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced.
sea salt
1 Tbs ground cumin
2 Tbs chili powder (plus more to taste)
5 cups vegetable stock
2 cups cooked kidney beans
2 cups cooked black beans
1 15 oz can fire roasted tomatoes, undrained
1 can vegetarian refried beans

Heat oil in a large soup pot. Saute peppers, onion and garlic until vegetables begin to soften. Season with salt, cumin and chili powder and cook for about a minute more. Deglaze pot with vegetable stock. Then add in kidney beans, black beans and tomatoes. Bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer. Let simmer for awhile (I don't really know how long, just until you are about ready to eat I guess). Stir in 1 can of refried beans to thicken chili. Taste and season accordingly with more chili powder and/or salt.

I also made the Chipotle Lime 2-Bean Hummus from Eat, Drink and Be Vegan to bring along and share. I let Rob have a sample after I whirled it up in the food processor, and he couldn't stop eating it. It really did turn out delicious, and we have plenty left over (I made a double batch) to snack on tomorrow. I think next time I will add slightly more chipotle hot sauce, but other than that, it was perfect. We dipped tortilla chips in it, but we're going to be trying it very soon as a burrito filling.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Veggie Pot Pie

After what seems like a never ending stretch of temperatures soaring into the 90's, it's beginning to feel like fall around here. It was cloudy today, with temperatures not even getting to the 70's, and a perfect day for some good old fashioned comfort food. Of course, it was purely a coincidence that pot pie was on our menu for tonight, I plan my meals for the week every Saturday, so we were having pot pie regardless of the weather. Lucky for us, the chill in the air made pot pie a perfect dinner

I've been searching for a good veggie pot pie for a few weeks, and have found many recommendations. I didn't follow any one particular recipe line by line, but this is the recipe that I based my potpie on. I didn't use the recommended pastry for the pie, instead used a pate brisee that I got off of Martha Stewart about 7 years ago. It's the crust I use for pumpkin pie every Thanksgiving, and I know it by heart. It was so buttery and made a delicious crust for a savory pie.

So, here's what I did, step-by-step, to create this delicious fall meal.

I started by chopping all of the veggies for my pie:
1 small onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 medium carrots, diced
3 stalks of celery, diced
3 small potatoes, peeled and diced
About 2 cups of cauliflower florets
About 1 cup fresh green beans, ends trimmed and broken into about 1 inch pieces (frozen would be fine here too)

After chopping the veggies I started on the crust:
Preheat oven to 425. Add 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour, 1 tsp coarse salt, and 1 tsp sugar to the bowl of your food processor. Process for a few seconds to combine. Add in 1/2 lb very cold Earth Balance sticks, cut into small chunks. Process until mixture resembles a coarse meal. With machine running slowly stream in ice cold water just until dough holds together. Remove from processor, roll into a ball, cut in two. Shape each half into a disk, wrap individually in plastic and freeze for about 15 minutes.

While the dough was freezing I started my filling:
Heat 2 Tbs olive oil in a large pan. Saute onion, garlic, carrots and celery until onions become translucent. Add cauliflower, green beans, and potatoes. Pour in 3 cups of vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Here I seasoned with salt and pepper. I also added in about 1 tsp of dried tarragon leaves and stripped a few stems of thyme of their leaves as well. Reduce to simmer and cook until veggies are almost tender, about 15-20 minutes.

While veggies cook begin to prepare pie:
Remove dough from freezer, place one disk in refrigerator and place one disk on a lightly floured clean surface. Roll dough to fit a 9 inch pie plate, with about an inch overlap. Press crust into greased pie plate, use a fork to poke a few holes in the bottom of the crust and place in oven to bake for about 5 minutes, just until crust starts to puff up and become slightly brown.

While crust is baking:
In a small bowl, mix together about 1/4 cup water, 2 Tbs cornstarch, and about 5-6 shakes Braggs. Whisk to dissolve cornstarch and then pour into veggie mixture, stirring ocassionally until sauce thickens.

While sauce thickens:
Remove 1st crust from oven. Remove 2nd crust from refrigerator, roll out to fit over top of pie, again overlapping edges so the pie can be sealed. Spoon mixture into pie until pie is completely full. Cover with 2nd crust, roll edges of top crust under bottom crush, pinch to seal and then flute.

Cut 4 small slits in top of pie and bake for about 30 minutes, until top crust becomes slightly puffy and golden brown. When pie is done, remove from oven and let cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.

(Remember, these are step-by-step instructions, so it's not a complicated as it looks!!)

As a bonus, there was enough filling left to fill a large soup mug, and enough trimmings from the crust to cover it and make a nice single serve pie for lunch tomorrow!! Rob and the girls loved the pie, and we finished off our meal with chocolate silk ice-cream (yes, I know, not exactly a dessert you'd expect on a brisk fall night, but it was oh-so-delicious!!).