Sunday, December 29, 2013

Emerald Mustard

I am a condiment gal. I dip. I dollop. I drizzle. I slather them on. In fact, I sometimes organize my entire meal around the condiment, especially if it is as special as this one. We've been eating this on burgers, in salad dressings and with grilled cheese sandwiches.  I served it at my Christmas Open House with a baked ham and everyone loved it. (Well, those who were brave enough to eat something this color!)

Jalapenos. Cilantro. Ginger. Garlic. Dijon. Agave. Try this. You will love it. Look at that color. 

From Vegetarian Times magazine.  Find the recipe here. (I cut way back on the garlic and added more agave syrup.) 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Raspberry and Pear Pie

My local health food store is smack-dab- in the middle between where I live and where I work, which is super convenient.  I find myself there a few times a week – anything I can do to avoid driving to our Walmart or Meijer for just those few forgotten things on the grocery list. Besides, I prefer spending my money in local establishments.

At the checkout counter I always grab a copy of “Delicious Living,” the free magazine on display; you know the type – heavy on the advertisements and light on the substance. Lots of suggestions for vitamin supplements and homeopathic recommendations. For example, here is what they published as 10 ways to “Survive the Holiday Stress.”

1.       Eat hard-boiled eggs
2.       Employ Chinese medicine
3.       Moisturize with aromatherapy
4.       Root for fresh ginger
5.       Prioritize meditation
6.       Shield with vitamin D
7.       Energize with herbals
8.       Shun sugar
9.       Take magnesium at night
10.   Schedule restoration

 My method of dealing with holiday stress? Eat another portion of whatever is being served. Seriously.

The BEST thing about this magazine is the recipes and this pie is an example of an excellent one. It comes from page 30 of the December 2013 edition. (I reduced the sugar. Changes are reflected below.)

Here’s what you need:
Two pie crusts
2-3 pounds ripe pears –peeled and cut in ¾ inch pieces
2 T honey
2 T white grape juice (you might also use orange or apple juice)
Pinch of salt
2 C frozen raspberries
½ t vanilla
¼ C flour
5 T natural cane sugar – divided
1 egg, beaten
1 T milk

Here’s what you do:
Prepare the bottom crust by fitting it in a 9-inch pie plate. Fold the extra edges under and crimp them decoratively. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20-25 minutes or until golden. Note: check the crust from time to time to see if any of the soft edges have slumped over. If they do, just take a wooden spoon and reshape the crust, kinda sticking the semi-raw dough back on to the pie plate.

Meanwhile: combine the pears, honey, juice and salt in a sauce pan and cook over medium heat for no longer than 5 minutes. You do not want mushy fruit! Just soften it a bit. Transfer pears to a bowl to cool a bit. Add the raspberries, vanilla, flour, and 4 T sugar. Blend gently. Pour fruit into warm pie crust. Roll out top crust and carefully place over fruit. Decoratively crimp the edges being careful because the pie plate is now hot. Create an egg wash by whisking the egg and milk together. Brush this over the top crust and then sprinkle the remaining 1 T sugar over.

Continue baking for another 60 minutes – covering the edges with foil after 30 minutes have passed. Crust should be brown and filling should be bubbly.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Monday, December 23, 2013

Moros y Cristianos

There must be as many recipes for beans and rice on this planet as there are abuelitas. I can picture her now, heading home down a narrow, unpaved road in a small pueblo, a dog running nearby; carrying groceries in a reused plastic bag. Scolding children along her way, perhaps. Greeting neighbors.  

She has just come from church where she has lit candles and prayed. This women is the backbone of her community. She holds her family together – through strength, prayer, presence and yes, through food.

I have met this woman and I love her. She defines ‘salt of the earth’ and epitomizes what it means to serve one another. She is modest; she is frugal; she is wise.  

Beans and rice. The most humble of foods.

Beans and rice. Served at every Cuban table and throughout the Latin world.

Beans and rice.  A dish whose name bears centuries of history and tradition.

Here’s what you need: (This make enough to feed a huge crowd! Cut the recipe in half to fill a huge bowl like the one pictured above.)
1 ½ C dried black beans
¼ C olive oil
2 ½ C chopped green pepper (or red pepper)
2 ½ C chopped onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 t cumin
1 t oregano
2 bay leaves
3 T white vinegar
2 T tomato paste
2 t salt
 1 t black pepper
4 ½ C vegetable or chicken stock (the best quality)
3 C long grain white rice

Here’s what you do:
Cover the dry beans with 4 cups of water in a 2 quart pan. Do not add salt at this point. Bring to a full boil and boil for 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Cover and allow to sit for one hour.

After an hour, drain and rinse the beans. Cover with fresh water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook until tender – about 40 minutes. Drain and set aside.

In a large pot or Dutch oven sauté the peppers and onions in the olive oil until tender. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the spices, tomato paste, vinegar and beans. Stir gently and cook for a few minutes. Do not add salt at this point.

Rinse the rice thoroughly until the water runs clear. Add the rice to the pot. Pour the stock over the beans and rice. Stir, bring to a simmer, cover and cook gently for about 20 minutes – or until the rice is fully cooked.

Season with salt and pepper. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil, fresh limes, cilantro, avocado, tortillas and love. 

(printable recipe)

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Mushroom Poppers

Notice the Michigan State plate. 

Recently my brother-in-law and son came over for the weekend to watch the Michigan vs Michigan State football game. If you know anything about the state of Michigan, then you know we love college football. Half of us walk around wearing green and white and the other half of us walk around wearing maize and blue. One of the “You Know You Are from Michigan” signs is if you have a drawer full of sports jerseys, hats, socks, jammies, sweaters, jackets, and undies because we also don our Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Lions garb. I have been known to wear my Detroit Tigers jersey to school on dress-down day. Apparently this is not done in other states?  Don’t judge us – it’s fun!

We are a house divided: hubby is a proud graduate of MSU and kid number three is a student there (Go Green!) -- while kid number one is a proud graduate of U of M and kid number two is working his way through U of M (Go Blue!)  I, on the other hand, am a proud Central Michigan University graduate (Fire Up Chips!) But in honesty, none of this makes much difference to us, because we are pretty mild sports fans – except for my husband who can get pretty caught up in a football game. And basketball too – but that’s another topic.

Leftovers for dinner the next day. 

So anyway, the big game was a few weeks ago and I decided to make some fancy finger foods. My famous stuffed potato skins, Gardein Chicken Nuggets (LOVE those things!), and these Mushroom Poppers. The recipe comes from Colleen Patrick Goudreau’s “The Vegan Table.” The recipe seemed pretty basic, but in reality the end result was way, way too salty for my palate. This was my first attempt at stuffed mushrooms, but I want to try again using much less bacon and adding some bread crumbs and more herbs. Rounding out the heavy cream cheese taste and cutting back on the salty bacon flavor. 

Give it a try and let me know….. or better yet, send me your favorite stuffed mushroom recipe. I could use it.

Here’s what you need:
15 – 20 white or brown mushrooms, stems removed and wiped clean
5 oz veggie bacon – about 12 strips- heated and minced
8 oz non dairy cream cheese – room temperature
3 garlic cloves – minced or grated
Fresh pepper

Here’s what you do:
Mix the bacon, cheese, garlic and chives together. Fill each mushroom cap with about a teaspoonful. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes. Serve warm.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Mega Roasted Veg Fest

Some of you might recall that I am the kitchen lady during Vacation Bible Study every summer. I make dinner for 120 people for four nights all in the sweltering heat of a humid Michigan July.  Coming up with menus can be tricky because the food choices must be pleasing to both children and adults. Plus I try to keep it somewhat healthy, so I always include lots of fruits and veggies.

 When the week is over, the kitchen crew kinda splits up the leftovers – each of us taking what we will use at home. Last year there were two huge heads of iceberg lettuce that I was trying to pass off to a kitchen helper. Her comment? “We would never eat that much lettuce. It would go bad before we even ate half of it.”  So I took both heads of lettuce home and I ate them.

I don’t know about you, but we never fail to meet the daily recommended amount of vegetables.

Roast a tray of veg and serve it over pasta. Throw in some edamame or other type of bean for protein.  Add a splash of olive oil or white wine. Pine nuts or walnuts are good too. Parmesan cheese makes everything better. 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Garlicky Mexican Salad with Fresh Tomato Dressing

It’s probably too chilly to be thinking about cold salads, but this one is worth making no matter what the weather. Right now, for example, the white stuff is gently falling from the grey sky right outside my window and I am drinking hot coffee, but I still love to think about getting cold, crunchy, light salads into my weekly menu. The way I look at it – you can always throw in a grilled quesadilla or some toasty garlic bread to balance out the flavors and temperatures. Plus, don’t some of you live in warmer climes? Lucky.
This is a riff on Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s Big Fat Taco Salad. I added roasted potatoes and fresh avocado. Sometimes I add a little Ranch Dressing (or try Isa’s Sanctuary Dressing, which is a riff on traditional Ranch….)and it’s delish!

Here’s what you need:
Iceberg lettuce – cold and crispy
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
Fresh avocado
Roasted potatoes – Yukon
1 pound fresh tomatoes – maybe 3 average size tomatoes
¼ C fresh cilantro
A clove garlic, grated
1 T red wine vinegar
2 t cayenne hot sauce
Black pepper and salt to taste

Here’s what you do:
Cut the potatoes in quarters and drizzle them with olive oil. Roast them in a 400 degree oven until crispy – about 30 minutes. I like to turn my over so they toast evenly on all sides.
Meanwhile, chop lettuce and get beans and avocados ready.

To make the dressing, chop the tomatoes very small and try to keep all the juices. Add the cilantro, garlic, vinegar and hot sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Mix well and allow to sit for a while to blend the flavors. The original recipe says to mush it with your hands, but I just leave it chunky.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Potato and Leek Soup

“I just like eggheads, damnit!”  Julia Child (My Life in France, pg 197)

Potage Parmentier adapted from “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” by Julia Child

Here’s what you need:
2 T neutral oil, such as canola or grapeseed
5 medium russet potatoes
3 leeks
4 C vegetable stock
2 C water
Salt and pepper to taste
2 T sour cream

Here’s what you do:
Cut the leeks in half and discard the dark green half. Slice the white/light green part in half lengthwise and then thinly slice them, creating little half-moons. The leeks need to be washed and rinsed in clean water until they are very clean.

Peel and chop the potatoes in 1 inch cubes.

Saute the leeks in a bit of light oil until they are tender but not brown. Add the potatoes and continue to cook until the potatoes are beginning to soften, but not brown. Add the stock and water and cook for about 30 minutes. One of my favorite secrets to making excellent soup is to let it rest for a while before rushing to the finish – so I advise to let the soup sit, heat off, for another 30 minutes.

Use an immersion blender or a regular blender and process until very smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Add the sour cream and re-heat gently. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Ranting (part 2) and a Burger

The students at my school are presenting their annual play tonight called Doc….Doc, Goose. It depicts what happens when Mother Goose goes to medical school and then returns to Nurseryland to diagnose and treat all the fairyland folks – chiropractic advice for the crooked man, dietary advice for Mr. and Mrs. Spratt, and so on.

Our daily trivia questions during morning announcements this past week featured the origins of various nursery rhymes; did you know, for example, that Humpty Dumpty was written about King Richard III?

Yesterday’s question featured that old woman who lived in a shoe with all those kids. My students thought that this woman ‘had a bunch of kids, KISSED them all GLADLY and sent them off to bed.’ They were horrified and shocked to hear the original nursery (NURSERY rhyme: for CHILDREN!) which says that this creepy woman ‘WHIPPED them all SOUNDLY and sent them to bed without any bread.’ Will my ranting ever end?! (click HERE if you want the full force of ranting.) 

Anyway, on to more pleasant thoughts: Bean and Mushroom Burgers

Here’s what you need:
2 t olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch of green onions, chopped
1 C fresh mushrooms, diced
½ t cumin
1 15 ounce can of pinto beans, drained and rinsed
2 t fresh parsley
Salt and pepper

Here’s what you do:
Sautee the onions and green onions for a few minutes. Add the mushrooms, garlic and cumin and cook until the mushrooms are very soft and tender. Set this mixture aside.

Mash the beans with a fork until they are all broken, but don’t mash them to a puree. You do want some lumps of beans left. I used a shallow plastic Tupperware-type bowl and a fork for great results.

Combine the mushrooms, beans parsley and salt and pepper to taste.  Shape the mixture into 4 small patties. I have found that if you let them sit in the fridge for a few hours before frying, the result is better. When ready, fry them carefully in a bit of oil, turning once. If you use a cast iron pan, you may place them in a hot oven for about 10 minutes after browning them. This help them retain their shape.

I don’t know about you, but I love  to eat my bean burgers with a fork or wrapped in a tortilla. Buns are just too much starch for a bean burger.

Give this one a try! It was really great! 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

May I Rant?

I have the two cutest, most adorable nieces on earth and that’s a fact. Well, I actually have a lot of nieces and nephews who are all tops in my book, but when a child is between the ages of 4 and 10 they are just perfect in my eyes! Give me a 1st grader any day.

When I saw my little nieces last summer, I brought along a used book of fairy tales from the free table at our local library, thinking we could while away the hours reading some classics. Oh, how naïve I am.

They were horrible. I mean, horrible. Violent. Racist. Frightening. Children being punished. Children getting  lost in the deep woods. Nightmares. Orphans. Scary wolves and snakes. Drought. Famine. What was I thinking?

I knew it was time to throw the book away, when I struggled to get through “The Story of Ping.”  In case you don’t remember, Ping is a little duck who is late coming home one day. To avoid the punishment of a severe spanking, he swims away, and gets picked up (stolen!) by a little boy. Through a macabre twist of events, the boy’s mother wants to EAT poor little Ping. Somehow he gets away from the boy and returns to his family, late again, but this time willing to take the punishment for being the last one home.  Really?

It was totally coincidental, when about a week after realizing how violent our children’s classics were, I heard a show on the BBC about the horrible Grimm Brothers. They are the guys who wrote Cinderella, Snow White, and Hansel and Gretel.  More weirdness. Did you know that in the original version of Cinderella, the step sisters cut off their toes and heels to force their feet into the glass slippers? Or how about this: the queen in Snow White calls for the liver and lung of Snow White.  Snow White actually dies in the original story – killed by her step mother, who stomps on her while wearing fire-hot iron shoes. Freaky.

Then last week we ‘celebrated’ Halloween, when the ghouls and goblins come out of the woodwork. The cover of our local newspaper featured a toddler dressed up as one of these ‘un-dead’ beings. Bloody and gruesome.  I ask, “What has happened to common sense?”  Life is too precious to mess around with this kind of perversity.

I am so thankful that my little nieces were celebrating Halloween dressed as a bumblebee and a kitten. Hopefully they can be sheltered from the strange side of life for as long as possible – of course I know the weirdness is out there, but there is no need to invite it into our lives. We live once, so we might as well make our time here a force for the good. 

Your thoughts? 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Reflecting back on a menu

Last week I was bragging how great I was simply because I managed to jot down a menu.  I want to brag again a bit today, and mention that I stuck to said menu almost to the letter. You see, for me, menus work! They mean dinner gets done….and I don’t just mean *done* …. I mean *DONE.*  Hot food on the table.

Only problem is if the menu is not of high quality: not enough variety; too many trips to the grocery; recipes that are too involved; too bland; too boring….. you name it.

My problem last week was that two of my main dished were, well….. how to put this….. not very tasty.

I call this the big yellow blob meal. 
The red lentil dahl was very thick and weird somehow. I served it with brown rice, yellow and green beans from my garden (stashed away in the freezer) and roasted onions, which all ended up in a yellowish reddish blobby pile on our plates. Not overly proud of this meal. And a lesson learned, even for a weeknight meal: it is important to have a balance of textures and colors on the plate.

Looks good, I know....but it's NOT.
The broccoli rice casserole was also very strange: too much nutritional yeast in the  ‘no-cheese’ sauce. We  could barely eat it and that’s rare for us. I admit that I threw away all the leftovers the next day. Too stinky. Too strong. Too vegan. Thank goodness for the awesome and most delicious Gardein Chicken Nuggets! (LOVE those things!)  A huge side of sautéed mushrooms is always a good thing as well.

I never got around to making the cauliflower steaks: those have bumped up to this week’s menu. And I highly, highly recommend the LotsaVeg Soup which was the star of last week’s menu.

Another MAJOR distraction for me this past week: I entered the 21st Century. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Lotsa Veg Chowder

That's dill sprinkled on top of the soup. Extra bump of flavor. 

Here is a super easy and very quick soup for a week night meal; be sure to include something hearty like my basil-butter bread to round out the menu. I also made a simple onion and fresh tomato relish to serve on the toasty bread. Excellent. We ate every crumb and slurped every drip.

Lotsa Vegetable Chowder (from “Forks Over Knives” by Del Sroufe, pg 94)

Here’s what you need:
8 small Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into ½ inch cubes
½ small onion, peeled and chopped
3 ears fresh corn, kernels removed, cobs reserved
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
2 stalks of celery, chopped
½ C chopped red bell pepper
1 C chopped broccoli and cauliflower stalks – remove the fibrous outer parts
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
2 T fresh thyme or ½ T dried thyme or to taste
2 t ground cumin or to taste
3 T fresh dill or ½ T dried dill or to taste
Salt and pepper to taste

Here’s what you do:
Prepare all the veggies. Place the potatoes, onion, corn kernels, corn cobs, carrots, celery, red pepper, broccoli/cauliflower, garlic, thyme, cumin and 6 cups of water in a large soup pot. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for about 30 minutes or until all the veg is very soft.

Remove the corn cobs and use the back of a knife to scrape out the starchy corn bits still left in the cob. Discard the cobs and add the creamy corn starch back to the pot. Remove 1 cup of soup from the pot and mix in a blender until totally smooth. Return to the pot. If you like a smoother, creamier soup, you could blend 2 cups of soup.

Season with salt, lots of cracked pepper and lots of dill. I allowed the soup to simmer for another little while to thicken it more. I also seasoned it with some vegetable stock concentrate. 

For my Basil-Butter Bread I simply creamed some pesto from my freezer with some Earth Balance butter and smeared it over a crusty loaf of bread. Bake. Broil. Toast. Cut in slices. 

For my Onion-Tomato Relish I simply warmed sweet onions and sweet tomatoes over a very low heat until all juicy and melty. 

(printable recipe)

Saturday, October 26, 2013

My Three Things and a New Dog

I have this queer habit of lying in bed at night, reciting three things aloud, and yes, my hubby hears this every single night:  my lesson plans, what I am going to wear, and what’s for dinner. Leave one of these elements out of the nightly routine and I am a mess come morning.

Lesson plans: “Should I begin the unit on Robert Frost or Science Fiction tomorrow?” (You can see how important it is to know what to teach to a room full of 8th graders.)

Wardrobe: “Should I wear my sleeveless blouse or my black turtleneck sweater.” (You are thinking I am joking, but that’s how often the weather changes up here in Michigan, seriously. I am addicted to the Weather Channel.)

Menu: “Should we eat a real meal on plates or just grab any old can from the pantry and call it good?” (You probably now understand that I am a control freak.)

So lately, I haven’t really been going through my famous three-point-nightly-plan and it’s gotten pretty ugly around here. Bringing up the poetry lessons instead of the Asimov lesson; arriving to my freezing cold school building with a short sleeve shirt; and coming home to an empty fridge. So sad.

But NOT this week! I have tons of great lessons planned; all the summer clothes are tucked away and sweaters are out and at the ready; I MADE A MENU! (big announcement!) Everything comes from Del Sroufe’s excellent cookbook “Forks Over Knives.”

                Grilled Cauliflower Steaks with Ponzu Sauce, brown rice, raw veg salad

                Quesadillas and refried beans, Nacho cheese, roasted tomatoes from the freezer

                Broccoli Rice Casserole, Gardein Chicken Nuggets (LOVE those things), salad

                Lotsa Veg Soup, garlic toast, bruschetta

     Red Lentil Dahl, white rice, green beans from the freezer

One reason I have been so off kilter these past few weeks is this pretty girl, named Lucy. We rescued her from the pound a few weeks ago and my life has been filled with long walks, training, and trips to the Chow Hound for dog food. This girl can EAT!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Jalapeno Sour Cream Sauce

Those are veggie burritos under there. Toasty on the top and chewy on the bottom. 

If it’s covered with a sauce, I love it. That goes for pasta, pizza, grains, beans, salads, sandwiches, desserts and even breakfast (think honey sauce, yogurt sauce, fruit sauce). Love them all. Tell me if there is anything better than a huge sandwich smothered in spicy mayo and coleslaw and totally dripping in sauciness. No. There isn’t.

I know this looks totally decadent and creamy and full of fat and calories, but it’s mostly veggie broth – so relax and have a second helping. This recipe really put vegan ingredients to the test and I think they passed with flying colors. You could, I suppose, use dairy sour cream and dairy cheese, but why? Be good to your heart and the earth and the animals and go vegan.

I sprinkled dried cilantro and sliced tomatoes on top before baking. Those black things on top are escaped black beans and sliced zucchini. 

Here’s what you need:
2 T Earth Balance butter
2 T flour
1 C vegetable broth or stock
¼ C non dairy sour cream (Tofutti brand)
1/3 C grated Daiya Jack or Cheddar cheese
Black pepper
¼ C minced pickled jalapeno peppers

Here’s what you do:
Melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and cook for about a minute, whisking constantly. Don’t let it brown. Add the veggie broth and keep whisking until it is smooth and thick, about 2 minutes. Add the sour cream, cheese, black pepper and jalapenos. Stir until it is all well incorporated. Adjust for seasonings and thickness…..meaning add more peppers or broth to your taste. Pour over whatever type of burrito or enchilada you got  goin’. Bake and enjoy!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Cilantro Lime Cashew Sauce

V is for Vegan and S is for Sauciness

Whoa. If you like cilantro and lime you will LOVE this sauce. I guess once you conquer the basic cashew cream sauce, you can flavor it in any way you please…..and this pleased me very much.

(I used a bunch of frozen veggies from my freezer. Onions. Corn. Roasted red pepper. Flageolet beans.) 

Here’s what you need:
1 C raw cashews
½ bunch cilantro – leaves and stems
1 lime – zest and juice
½ t salt
¼ t cayenne pepper
1 C water
2 T cider vinegar
1 T olive oil

(I spread on a bit of refried beans. Topped each with the sauteed veg. Rolled and placed in oven proof dish. I put a bit of salsa underneath so the burritos don't burn.)

Here’s what you do:
Place all in a high powered blender and watch what happens.

Note: I tried pouring the sauce over the burritos both before and after baking them. I preferred it cold much better….and check out the unnatural color it turned when it was baked!  You could pour this over stuff, like I did here. Or you could spread this on tortillas before making bean burritos or quesadillas. It would be great as a fresh dip and even thinned out as a salad dressing.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Strawberry Cupcakes

V is for Variety and M is for Muffin….or is that Cupcake?

Welcome to the Vegan Month of Food (VeganMoFo)  I intend to post 20 times during the month of September – all about vegan food. Check out the gals who organize the project here, and search out other fantastic vegan bloggers. I decided on the theme of “V is for Variety” because, honestly, once I quit the chicken breast – my food choices exploded! Join me!

What’s the difference between a muffin and a cupcake? One is for breakfast and the other is for dessert? Not in my book; I like them both at all hours of the day.

These were excellent and came directly from “The Joy of Vegan Baking,” by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. They were surprisingly tender and the strawberry taste is very prominent. Isn’t that raspberry just about the cutest thing you ever saw?

Here’s what you need:
1 ¾ C white flour
1 t baking soda
1 C granulated sugar
½ C canola oil
1 T distilled white vinegar
1 t vanilla extract
8 ounces frozen or fresh crushed strawberries

Here’s what you do:
Mix the flour, baking soda and sugar. In a different bowl, combine the oil, vinegar and vanilla. Add the strawberries. Carefully pour the wet ingredients into the dry and gently mix – do not overmix.
Scoop into prepared cupcake tins, about half way full – I use cupcake liners and spray them. Bake for about 30 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Cool completely before frosting.

Buttercream Frosting:
½ C Earth Balance nondairy butter – room temperature
2 C powdered sugar
1 ½ t vanilla
2 T nondairy milk
Food coloring

Strawberries or raspberries to decorate

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Homemade Pasta with Incredible Mushroom Sauce

V is for Variety and H is for Homemade

Welcome to the Vegan Month of Food (VeganMoFo)  I intend to post 20 times during the month of September – all about vegan food. Check out the gals who organize the project here, and search out other fantastic vegan bloggers. I decided on the theme of “V is for Variety” because, honestly, once I quit the chicken breast – my food choices exploded! Join me!

One of my favorite memories is making pasta with my kiddos when they were little. How they loved turning the crank and catching the fresh noodles. Everyone had to have a turn. Flour all over the counter. Trying not to fret over flour on the floor. Accepting the thick, ugly strands of pasta along with the super long thin ones. Playing around with different colors of dough: green from spinach, red from beet juice, orange from baby food carrots. Watching them devour what they had created.

Nowadays I can get a batch of pasta done in about 1 hour, and that’s including the 30 minutes you need to rest the dough.  Practice makes perfect, as they say.

This pasta was very soft, which surprised me because it called for semolina instead of regular flour.  I always thought semolina was harder flour, but I do think we cooked it a bit too long, and as you probably can tell from my photo at the top of this post, we mixed it too vigorously, so it broke apart. But none of that bothered us. I am definitely making this again – especially the sauce!

Here’s what you need for the pasta:
2 C semolina flour
2 T olive oil
1 T water
½ -3/4 C silken tofu (replaces the egg, which you don’t really even need. The tofu helped create a really silky dough)
1 t salt

Here’s what you do for the pasta:
Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until it all comes together. Wrap in plastic and allow to rest for about 30 minutes. Cut dough in quarters and run it through a pasta machine. Don’t overcook it….maybe 2-3 minutes at most!

Here’s what you need for the Incredible Mushroom Sauce:
Minced onions – to taste, but don’t be hesitant to load them on
Dried oregano
Minced garlic
Portabella mushrooms – remove the stem and gills and slice
Shitake mushrooms – remove the stem and slice
White button mushrooms – sliced
¾ C dry red wine
Fresh tomatoes – lots!
Fresh basil

Here’s what you do for the sauce:

Sautee the onions for a few minutes. Add the oregano, garlic, mushrooms and some salt. (A great trick to enhance the oregano is to rub it between your hands which releases all the beautiful oils of the dried leaves. Sprinkle the herb directly on the onions and you will love what a difference this makes to the flavor.)  Continue to cook the onions and mushrooms for a bit. Add the red wine and fresh tomatoes. Cook until it all gloriously comes together. Maybe 30 minutes or so. Add fresh basil at the end. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

What Vegans Eat

V is for Variety and W is for What Vegans Eat

Welcome to the Vegan Month of Food (VeganMoFo)  I intend to post 20 times during the month of September – all about vegan food. Check out the gals who organize the project here, and search out other fantastic vegan bloggers. I decided on the theme of “V is for Variety” because, honestly, once I quit the chicken breast – my food choices exploded! Join me!

Recently I mentioned to a friend that I have been eating a vegan diet for almost an entire year and his response was probably pretty typical. "Vegan?? What do you eat?"

I went home and roasted two trays of red peppers and cooked a huge batch of garbanzo beans. It felt as natural as can be. It's what vegans eat.