Friday, April 25, 2008

Tortilla Soup

Before we became veg, Mairin always wanted to get the tortilla soup from Whole Foods when we went there. She doesn't get it any longer because they put chicken in it. So, tonight I tried making a vegan version of tortilla soup. The results were spectacular. Rob is not much of a fan of soup or beans, and he really liked this soup.

I served the soup topped with a dollop of Tofutti Better than Sour Cream, diced avocado, chopped cilantro, and crispy tortilla strips. I used my pasta cutter to cut the tortillas into strips, then I baked them until they were crispy. I tasted this soup just after it was finished, but I didn't serve it until 3 hours later. It was good as soon as it was finished, but it was even better after it had set for awhile. I suggest making this soup in advance.

Tortilla Soup
2 Tbs olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 large green pepper, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
9 cups vegetable stock
1/2 bag frozen corn
4 cups cooked black beans
1 jar medium heat salsa
2 tsp Mexican seasoning
salt and pepper to taste
6 corn tortillas, cut into strips, and baked until crispy
1 avocado, diced
finely chopped cilantro

Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add onion and green pepper and saute until softened. Add garlic and saute 1 minute more. Add veg stock, corn, beans, salsa and Mexican seasoning. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat and simmer for one hour. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately, or let set several hours to combine flavors. Top with avocado, cilantro, and tortilla strips before serving.

Piña Colada Muffins

I was in an experimental mood this afternoon, so I started looking around the kitchen for what I had that I could throw into a muffin. I had some left over crushed pineapple hanging out in the refrigerator, as well as about 1/2 bag of unsweetened shredded coconut. Voilà, piña colada muffins were born!

Piña Colada Muffins

1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour

1 tsp salt

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, plus more for sprinkling

3/4 cup vanilla rice milk

1/8 cup canola oil

1/2 cup crushed pineapple, drained

12 dried cherries

Preheat oven to 350. Combine dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients stirring just to combine. Fill oiled muffin cups about 1/2 full. Sprinkle batter with shredded coconut, press one dried cherry into the center of each muffin. Bake for 27 minutes.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Middle East meets Mexico

Tonight's dinner was kind of an evolutionary process. I was first going to make Tortilla Soup, but realized I was out of veggie stock. So, that wasn't an option. I put a pot of stock on, and we'll have the soup tomorrow. I had planned on a night of a few different hummus flavors and some different things for dipping. So that was the route I thought I'd go tonight. But the more I thought about it, the less I wanted that. I started looking around to see what I needed to use up and came away with some cilantro, some limes, some green onions and a cucumber. Cilantro, limes, and onion meant something with a sort of Mexican vibe. So, what I finally came up with was the Chipotle Lime Two Bean Hummus, and a sort of Mexican style Tabbouleh (replacing the lemon with lime and the parsley with cilantro). This dinner worked really well, and tasted very good. It was so refreshing, and will definitely become a go-to on those hot summer nights that I don't want to turn the stove on. Not to mention this meal came together in about 15 minutes, and you can't beat that!!

Mexican Style Tabbouleh
1/2 cup bulgur wheat
1 cup water
1/2 vegetable bouillon cube
1 medium cucumber, finely chopped
4 green onions, finely diced
1 large tomato, finely diced
1 1/2 cups finely chopped cilantro
juice from 1 1/2 large limes
salt and pepper to taste
Place bulgur in small sauce pan with water and bouillon cube. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer until liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes. In the meantime, dice veggies and mix together in a large bowl. Add cooked bulgur, add lime juice, salt and pepper. Mix well. Refrigerate until ready to use. This can be eaten right away, warm, but is nicer when the flavors have had time to combine

I also wanted to post a picture of our lunch today.........sort of a "Mexican" salad type day I guess. For lunch I made a bean salad. I just mixed some pinto beans with diced tomato, avocado, green onions, cilantro, and thawed corn kernels. I drizzled it with olive oil and the juice of half a lime, then salt and pepper to taste. Again, this was very good and very refreshing.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Chipotle Chicken (style seitan) Burritos

Before he became veg Rob loved a certain pizza from California Pizza Kitchen. He ordered the Chipotle Chicken Pizza nearly every time we went there. Then Q-doba introduced their chipotle chicken burrito, and again, he had a new favorite dish to order. Since becoming veg he's had to order the pizza without chicken, and has had to pass on the burrito altogether.

While setting down to come up with my menu for the week it dawned on me that I could probably re-create the burrito at home using seitan. So, I decided to give it a go. I'm happy to report that it was a success. These burritos were so tasty. I can't vouch for how closely they resemble the aforementioned pizza or burrito, as I've never had either, but they were delicious all the same.

The burrito you see in the picture is topped with some home made pico de gallo (chopped roma tomatoes, jalapeno, onion, garlic and cilantro with a little bit of salt added in), and some Cilantro-Green Chile Sour "Cream".

These burritos are filled with a chipotle seitan mixture, black beans, romaine lettuce and avocado. I intended to add some corn kernels, but forgot all about them until we were actually eating the burritos, so, maybe next time.

Chipotle Chicken Style Seitan Burritos

1 lb chicken style seitan, shredded into bite sized pieces (I used White Wave brand)
2 Tbs olive oil
2 tsp dark brown sugar
1 cup diced onion
1/4 cup chipotle in adobo, pluse 1 Tbs adobo sauce (this makes a HOT burrito, if you prefer a milder flavor reduce amount of chipotle pepper to your liking)
1 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes, undrained
salt and pepper
4 flour tortillas, warmed (12 inch size)
1 can black beans, rinsed
1 avocado sliced

Heat the oil. Add the onion and sugar and cook until the sugar has melted and the onions have become golden brown and caramelized. Add the chipotle, adobo sauce, and tomatoes and simmer for about 10 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a food processor and process until smooth. Return to pan, add seitan, season with salt and pepper and heat through.

Spoon the seitan mixture down the center of the tortilla. Top with black beans, lettuce, avocado (and corn if using). Bring the sides of the tortilla toward the center then fold the bottom up over the filling and continue to roll until the burrito closes. Top with Cilantro-Green Chili Sour "Cream" and pico de gallo and serve.

Cilantro-Green Chile Sour Cream

1/2 cup Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream
1 4oz can green chiles, drained
1 handful of cilantro, chopped very fine
1 1/2 tsp water

In a blender add sour cream, about 2/3 of the chiles, and the water. Blend until smooth. Pour cream into a small bowl and stir in the rest of the chiles and the cilantro.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Asian Noodle Bowls and Faux Egg Rolls

Tonight we had an Asian inspired dinner consisting of noodle bowls and egg rolls. All of this meal was just kind of made up and I was very pleased with how it turned out. The flavors of the noodle bowl were very mild, and very subtle, but worked extremely well together. The egg rolls were a bit spicy and off-set the mild noodle dish very nicely.

I made something different for the girls thinking that this is something they would reject with just one look. To my surprise they both requested "noodle soup" and Mairin ate some egg rolls too. Neither of them ate what I had prepared for them, except the broccoli.

Asian Noodle Bowls

About 8 oz Soba Noodles

1 quart Vegetable stock

1 Tbs Mild Miso

4 scallions, cut into bite sized pieces on a diagonal

2 carrots, shredded with vegetable peeler

about 1/4 lb snow peas, cut in half on a diagonal

2 heads baby bok choy, chopped

2 Tbs fresh ginger, minced

2 large garlic cloves, minced

cilantro, chopped for garnish

Put vegetable stock and miso in a pot with about 1 cup of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until ready to use. Bring water to boil and cook soba noodles. Once noodles have been cooked, rinsed and drained place equal amounts in the bottom of two large bowls. Add vegetables on top of noodles in order listed. Add ginger and garlic on top of vegetables. Ladle hot vegetable stock over vegetable/noodle combo until covered. Cover bowl with a small plate and allow to steep for 10 minutes. Remove plate, garnish with cilantro and serve hot.

Faux Egg Rolls

1 lb firm tofu, pressed and sliced into thin slices

1 inch piece fresh ginger, minced

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup tamari

1/2 tsp chili paste

1 carrot shredded

1 head baby bok choy shredded

3-4 scallions, white and green parts, sliced very small

10 sheets phyllo dough, thawed per package directions

olive oil

In a small baking dish add ginger, garlic, tamari and chili paste. Stir to combine and place strips of tofu in to marinade, turning to coat both sides. Marinade tofu for at least 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 400. Take one sheet of phyllo (being sure to cover remaining sheets with a damp cloth). Place sheet of phyllo on work surface with long end at the bottom, brush one half of the dough with olive oil and fold vertically (now the bottom end will be shorter than the sides). Place a few slices of tofu and some of each vegetable about 1 inch from bottom of sheet, leaving a half inch or so on either side. Fold in sides of dough, then roll from bottom up, tucking in sides as you roll. Brush edge with olive oil to seal. Place with seam side down on a lightly oiled baking sheet and continue with remaining sheets of dough. Brush each egg roll with olive oil and bake for 15-20 minutes until rolls are golden and crispy. Serve with tamari for dipping.

I had some tofu left from the egg rolls, so I put it in the oven in the dish I had marinaded it in and baked it for Rob's lunch tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Quinoa - The Super Food

I was having an e-mail conversation with my friend last night while she was working, and during the course of that conversation she inadvertently reminded me that I hadn't cooked with quinoa in awhile. That in turn reminded me that I'd never made the Quinoa-Black Bean Salad that I'd intended to make.

So, I got up this morning, pulled the Mason jar of quinoa out of the cupboard, pulled a bag of black beans out of the freezer, and set my mind to make this salad for lunch today. As soon as beans and corn were thawed I got to work. It's such a simple salad to throw together and it's all done in the time you wait for the quinoa to cook (about 20 minutes).

While I was making the salad it dawned on me that some of my non-veg friends who read my blog may not know what quinoa is. Quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) is typically thought of as a grain, but is in fact a seed. Quinoa is a virtual powerhouse when it comes to nutritional value. It is very high in protein, and has a balanced set of amino acids, making it a complete protein, unlike most other sources. Quinoa is a great source of fiber and iron, and is gluten free. Before preparing quinoa it should be well rinsed. Quinoa is coated in a substance called saponin, which is it's natural protection from pests. The saponin tastes bitter and should therefore be rinsed off before using quinoa in your recipes.

You can find the recipe for the Quinoa-Black Bean Salad over at Jenny's blog, at the link I provided above. I did alter the recipe slightly, so I will post her recipe here, with my comments in red.

Quinoa- Black Bean Salad
1 1/2 cups quinoa
1 1/2 cups black beans, drained and rinsed (I used 2 cups) need at least 2 cups, I would recommend more
1 1/2 Tbs red wine vinegar
1 1/2 cups corn, fresh, canned, or frozen
1 red bell pepper I used one roasted red pepper and 2 Roma tomatoes, diced
4 scallions, chopped (I used 6)
1 garlic clove, minced I used 2
1/4 cup fresh coriander leaves, chopped (I used parsley) I used 1/2 cup of coriander
1/3 cup fresh lime juice I used 1/2 cup
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/3 cup olive oil (I used 2 Tbs) I used 1/4 cup

Rinse quinoa in a fine sieve under cold running water. Put quinoa into a pot with 2 1/4 cups water and one vegan bouillon cube. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer 20 minutes, or until water is absorbed. While quinoa is cooking, toss the beans, vinegar, corn, bell pepper, scallions, garlic and coriander (parsley) in a large bowl. In another small bowl, whisk the lime juice, salt and cumin and pour in the oil while whisking. When quinoa is done cooking, toss it with the beans and vegetables. Then, drizzle the lime mixture over quinoa and vegetables and toss well. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Oh man, this stuff is so good. I could probably eat this stuff every day and not get sick of it. Hoping for the best, I also served this to the kiddos for lunch. To my surprise and delight they loved it, even the little omni-man that I babysit for gobbled it up!! Score one for quinoa!

Probably negating the super healthful lunch I consumed, I indulged in this little treat once I got the kids down for their naps. I made some extra coffee this morning, so I reserved the unused portion in the refrigerator. This is what's left of the coffee, with about 1/2 Tbs sugar stirred in and some vigorously shaken Silk creamer poured over top. MMMMM, iced coffee is so good! Really, caffeine and minimal amount of sugar aside, it's not that unhealthy.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Orange Glazed Tofu

Tonight we had Orange Glazed Tofu. I've made the Orange Sesame Tofu from Eat Drink and Be Vegan before, and we thought it needed another layer of flavor. My plan was to add some crushed chili pepper or some chili paste. However, I wanted to have something the kids could eat, and adding heat would definitely rule that out. So, I decided to add some sweetness instead. I also topped it with cilantro this time, which just adds so much freshness. To accompany the tofu we had ED&BV's Coconut Lime Rice (also infused with cilantro), and some sauteed baby spinach with ginger. I think I've mentioned before how much I like tofu, and I think this may be my favorite way to eat it. It was so delicious!

Orange Glazed Tofu
1 block of extra firm tofu
zest of one large orange
1 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
3 Tbs Tamari soy sauce
2 Tbs Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Tbs Toasted Sesame Oil
1 Tbs Brown Sugar
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 scallions sliced
chopped cilantro

Press tofu wrapped in absorbent towel for about an hour to remove excess moisture. Slice tofu into 3 slices horizontally, then cut each slice into triangles (you will have 6 triangles). In a large baking dish combine ingredients, except scallions and cilantro. Lay tofu in marinade turning to coat both sides. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour, preferably more. Turn tofu once during marinading time. Heat oven to 400 and place baking dish uncovered in oven. Cook uncovered for 15 minutes, turn tofu, spoon marinade over top, and cook uncovered 15 more minutes or until marinade starts to glaze tofu. Serve garnished with scallion slices and cilantro.