Monday, May 26, 2008

Graduation Day

On Saturday my baby brother graduated from high-school. As you can see, he's hardly a baby, but I still remember the day he was born just as well as I remember the days my own children were born. There are 13 years difference between my brother and I. I remember spending mornings laying in my mom's recliner, watching television, and letting that cute little baby boy nap on my chest. I also remember, surprisingly enough, all of the arguing we did. You wouldn't think that with so much age difference there would be a lot of arguing.....well, you'd be wrong. Teenage girls aren't too keen on little toddler boys getting into all of their stuff!! Anyway, reminiscing aside, I absolutely can not believe that he's graduated from high school.

It was an absolutely gorgeous day on Saturday, and our family had a nice little cook out to celebrate the big day (and to celebrate my grandpa's 86th birthday!!). Now, apparently my mom isn't quite down with the whole vegan thing yet, and is seemingly unwilling to accommodate us, seeing as she didn't make one single dish that we could eat. OK, to be fair, she did have chips and salsa and some dinner rolls that were vegan, but I'd hardly call that a meal.

Luckily I didn't come empty handed. I brought the baked beans and orzo salad that I blogged about previously. I also brought along some Creamy Vegan Cole Slaw. I made this on mother's day and my grandpa just raved about it, so I decided to make some for him. I must admit, it is some damn good cole slaw. Rob and I also provided some huge portobello mushroom caps to throw on the barbie. And what celebration would be complete without dessert?? I made some chocolate cupcakes with chocolate icing to take care of that!!

Creamy Vegan Cole Slaw

3/4 cup Vegenaise

2 Tbs unrefined sugar

2 Tbs Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar

1 Tbs dry mustard

2 tsp celery seed

1 small onion diced small

1 bag Dole Cole Slaw Mix (shredded cabbage and carrots)

salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl whisk together all ingredients up to onion. Add onion and cole slaw mix to bowl and fold to combine. Salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy.

Now that's what I call a meal!!!!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Beans, Beans, the Musical Fruit.........

I made 2 bean dishes this week. Typically we have more bean dishes than that, but 2 was all for this week. Stella practically lives on beans, so I always have a bunch cooked and frozen. I thaw them out and heat them up for her lunch. She likes them plain (especially black and cannellini beans), so they are a really simple lunch.

This week for lunch I spiced them up a little. I made a variation of a Red Beans and Rice dish from Vegan Planet. Robin's version is Caribbean Rice with Red Beans.......I spiced the beans instead of the rice, so my version is Caribbean Beans with Rice (clever name isn't it??!!)

Caribbean Beans with Rice
2 cups cooked red kidney beans
EVOO for sauteing onion
1 small onion, chopped
1 tsp light brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp nutmeg
In a sauce pot heat olive oil and saute onion until softened. Add beans, and seasonings to heat through. Serve over steamed basmati rice.
Quick and simple lunch. The kids loved it, it had just the perfect amount of sweetness to heighten their interest, and the allspice and nutmeg lent a very nice flavor.

I also made some baked beans for a family function. These were probably the best baked beans I've ever had. Canned baked beans are full of stuff we probably shouldn't be eating, and also usually a little too sweet for my liking. These were sweet, but not too sweet (I could still taste the beans, which I like). Not to mention, I know exactly what went into them!!

Vegan Baked Beans
1 medium onion, diced
1 cup celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups cooked red kidney beans
2 cups cooked black beans
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tsp dry mustard
2 tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp Blackstrap Molasses
Preheat oven to 350. In a large oven proof pan heat 1 Tbs olive oil over medium high heat and saute onion and celery until softened. Add garlic and saute about 30 seconds or so, until fragrant. Add beans, sugar, syrup, ketchup, mustard, Worcestershire, and molasses. Heat through, then transfer to oven for about 45 minutes, until liquid is bubbly. Serve hot.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Asparagus-Potato Soup

Two sure signs of spring.......our first CSA pick-up, and it was loaded with pencil thin asparagus. Unfortunately, due to lots of rain and cold nights early in the season it wasn't loaded with much else (except a nice big bunch of beautiful broccoli). Our baskets are going to be skimpy or absent for the next few weeks. But we've been promised that it'll all be made up for later in the season.

As it turns out, we're leaving town for the weekend, and wouldn't have been able to use up a whole basket of stuff anyway, so I guess it all works out in the end.

So, what to do with over 2 pounds of asparagus?? Well, when your kids won't eat asparagus when they can see what it is, you make asparagus soup, of course. So, that's exactly what I did with this bunch of asparagus. Mairin gives asparagus a big "blech" whenever I mention it, but lo and behold, she ate 2 adult sized bowls of this soup!! She wasn't the only one to eat more than their share of a matter of fact, we finished off the entire pot!!

Asparagus Potato Soup

2 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil

3 medium carrots, peeled and roughly diced

2 stalks of celery roughly diced

1 small onion, roughly diced

4 Yukon gold potatoes, roughly diced

2 pounds asparagus, cut into 3 inch pieces

2 tsp dried tarragon

6 cups good quality vegetable stock

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in large pot over high heat. Add carrots, celery and onion. Saute until softened. Add potatoes and tarragon. Stir around until fragrant then add vegetable stock. Bring to a boil then simmer until potatoes are beginning to soften. Add asparagus and cook until potatoes have softened and asparagus is still bright green. Transfer in batches to food processor and process until smooth. Return to heat, add salt and pepper to taste. Serve garnished with raw asparagus tops and home made salt and pepper croutons. (leave off asparagus tops and add extra croutons if you have kids that turn up their noses at asparagus!!!)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Bean Bolognese

It's been slim pickin's around here lately. I was expecting a basket from my CSA last week, but due to torrential rains and a stretch of very chilly nights early in the season, our CSA shares have been pushed back a week. Expecting to get a big basket of fresh produce last week, I didn't go to the store for my usual shop. When I found out the basket wasn't coming I kind of gave up on getting to the store and decided we'd just stop here and there when we needed to, just to get us through until the next basket was due. So, the meal I am posting is actually from last Friday, and was thrown together with some stuff I had around in the freezer and the pantry.

Traditionally bolognese is a thick, rich, meaty sauce. I found a recipe for this bean version while sitting in the pediatrician's office one day. I have no idea what magazine this recipe came from, so I'm just going to go ahead and post the recipe here for you. This turned out to be a very satisfying meal considering that it was made with all stuff I had on hand. I ate the left-overs for lunch on Sunday, and I have to say, I think it was better after having set for a bit. I think next time I make this I'll try to plan ahead and make it the day before I plan to serve it.

Bean Bolognese
1 14 oz can salad beans (I used Westbrae Naturals brand; a mix of kidney beans, pinto beans, and chickpeas)
2 Tbs olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup carrot, chopped
1/4 cup celery, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1 cup hot water with 1/2 veg bouillon cube dissolved in it
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped parsley
8 oz whole wheat fettuccine

Start water to cook pasta. Mash 1/2 cup beans with a fork, in a small bowl. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, celery, and salt; cover and cook until softened, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and bay leaf and cook a minute or two until fragrant. Add water, turn heat to high and boil until most liquid is evaporated. Add tomatoes with juice, 2 Tbs parsley and the mashed beans. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened. Add remaining beans and cook until heated through. Drain pasta, remove bay leaf from sauce. Divide pasta among 4 bowls and top with the sauce and remaining 2 Tbs parsley.

To go along with the pasta I made Vegan Dad's focaccia. As far as breads go, this one is very easy to make (especially if you have a stand mixer to do the kneading for you). I can't tell you how good this bread is, my family couldn't get enough of it (it's a good thing it makes 2 loaves!!). I'm planning to make this again this's that good!!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

As American As..........

You guessed it, Apple Pie. Today we finally got our chance to cast a vote in this seemingly never ending Democratic Presidential Primary. So, in honor of performing our patriotic duty, we had an All American dinner. We'll get to that in a minute though. Let's start with how we finished our All American dinner........with what else than an All American Apple Pie.

This pie was so good. I love pie (actually, I love pie crust). The bottom crust was so "buttery" and moist, and the top crust was so sweet and crunchy. YUM, just perfect!!

Pie Crust

(veganized from Martha Stewart's Pâte Brisée recipe)

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp white sugar

1/2 lb (or 2 sticks) Earth Balance, cut into small pieces and kept very cold

Place flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of your food processor, and pulse to combine. Add Earth Balance and process until mixture resembles coarse meal. With machine running, add ice cold water in a steady stream, through feed tube just until dough holds together. Divide dough in half and wrap each half in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Vegan Apple Pie

1 recipe for pie crust (from above)

1/2 cup (or 1 stick) Earth Balance

3 Tbs all purpose flour

1/2 cup cold water

1/2 cup unrefined sugar

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp allspice

1/8 tsp nutmeg

7 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and sliced

Preheat oven to 425. Melt Earth Balance in a saucepan. Stir in flour to form a paste. Add water and sugars and bring to a boil. Add spices, stir to combine, and reduce heat to simmer.

Line your 9-10 inch pie plate with the bottom crust. Fill with apples, mounded and pressed down firmly. Pour about 3/4 of hot caramel mixture over apples. Cover with top crust (either a full top with slits cut in, or a lattice work). Pour remaining caramel mixture over top crust.

Bake for 15 minutes in preheated oven. Reduce heat to 350 and continue to bake for 35 minutes, until apples are soft.

I also made some vanilla non dairy ice cream to go alongside the pie. I haven't had much luck with the consistency of my vanilla ice cream in the past, but this time I used Silk Creamer, rather than regular soy milk, and it turned out nice and creamy (the closest yet to real ice cream).

OK, so, we didn't eat our dessert first. Before we enjoyed the apple pie we chowed on the All American meal of burgers and fries. Our burgers were Original Sunshine Burgers, cooked on the grill and topped with all the fixin's. And, I just baked some crinkle cut fries from WFM. I wanted to try some of the new Amy's burgers that The Chocolate Covered Vegan blogged about not too long ago. However, I couldn't find any of this particular Amy's brand, and the only one's they had at my store all contained nuts, so they weren't an option. Sunshine Burgers were the only other veggie burgers I could find that were vegan and didn't contain nuts. They turned out to be very good, even the girls really liked them!!

It still remains to be seen what the results of our vote will be..........go "hopes and dreams"!!!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Sunday Morning Waffles

This morning I decided to change up our usual pancake breakfast, and make waffles instead. Actually, I've been wanting to do tofu scramble, but for some reason I'm scared of scrambling tofu.....maybe I'll try it soon. Besides, I actually prefer a sweet breakfast to a savory one, so I always have good intention to make tofu scramble and the like, but I always wake up craving something sweet instead.

This morning I went all out with the "sweet" theme and made Chocolate Chip Waffles topped with more chocolate chips and powdered sugar with pure maple syrup for dipping. And, you'll notice I added in a some strawberries on the side to "healthify" it a bit!!

Chocolate Chip Waffles
1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
2 Tbs unrefined sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup canola oil
1 1/4 cup plain rice milk
1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips

Preheat waffle iron, and spray with cooking spray to prevent first waffle from sticking. In a large bowl combine dry ingredients and mix well. Add wet ingredients and stir until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips. Pour about 1/2 cup waffle batter onto hot waffle iron and spread to edges. Cook according to directions on your waffle iron. Once waffles are finished sprinkle with powdered sugar and top with more chocolate chips.