Sunday, October 31, 2010

All-American Incrediburgers and Roasted Sweet Potato and Yam

Tonight I made All-American Incrediburgers from the American Vegan Kitchen cookbook.  You can find the recipe here.  This is my second time making these burgers.  I like them because they freeze well and make a quick dinner when I don't feel like cooking or my sons are having burgers for dinner.  I cooked my Incrediburger in my Rocket Grill.  You know, the thing with the parchment paper pockets.  You put your food in the pocket and hang it in the grill.  The grill closes around it and it cooks vertically.  After your food is cooked, you throw away the parchment paper pocket and there is absolutely NO CLEAN-UP.  :)  No messy grill plate, no messy fry pan, no baking sheet ... nothing. And no, I do NOT work for Sunbeam. :)  I just love this grill.  I just bought 108 more bags for it.  It cooks my Incrediburgers in 3 minutes, complete with perfect grill marks. 
So, instead of salad or regular potatoes, I made a roasted sweet potato and a roasted red garnet yam.  When I was at the grocery store, I bagged up some sweet potatoes.  As I was walking through the rest of the produce department, I saw the yams, so I bought one for comparison.  The sweet potato is a light orange color, while the garnet yam was a deeper orange than the sweet potato and bigger.  I peeled them, cut them in half lengthwise, and then again in slices about 1/4" or so thick.  I sprinkled some salt and pepper on them and then drizzled 2 tablespoons of olive oil on them and tossed them.  Then, I decided I wanted a little more spice, so I sprinkled some chili powder on them.  I baked them at 400ยบ for about 35 or 40 minutes.  They were tasty.  Both the yam and the sweet potato were very good ... a little sweet (naturally) with a little bit of spice.  Definitely a make again dish, although I'll experiment a bit with the spices.  I'd like a terriyaki mix.
Oh, and I used my Vitamix for the first time today.  I ordered it a week ago and it arrived on Thursday, but I didn't get around to unpacking it until today.  I had a green smoothie.  I used a couple of cups of spinach, a cup of almond milk, a tablespoon of ground flax seed, a red plum, a banana, and a few (maybe 10?) frozen strawberries.  I let it blend for 30 seconds or so and then threw in maybe half dozen ice cubes.  It was good ... filling.  Although the entire "green" smoothie is a stretch for me, but I suppose that's just because it's new to me.  I'll keep trying different combinations until I find a few that I really like.  I really want to try just almond milk and frozen fruit for a sorbet type of thing.  There are tons of recipes in the cookbook that came with it.  I want to start experimenting with making my own dressings, too.

I signed up for Vegan MOFO.  Let's see if I post any more than I have been.  One thing ... I made two dozen burgers this weekend and have left over sweet potatoes so I don't need to cook tomorrow.  :)  But I will be checking everyone's blogs.  They are so fun to read and MAN!  I've learned a lot.  It's good.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Southwestern Tofu Burgers

Today, I finally made the Southwestern Tofu Burgers recipe I had marked in The Vegan Table. You can find the recipe here.  It's the 5th recipe down.  First, I'd like to say they are very tasty and not at all spicy hot, so the person eating the burger can dress it up to the fire level he or she prefers.  That being said, they do not stay together enough to be eaten like a burger.  I ate mine without a bun with some vegetarian refried beans, Tofutti Better than Sour Cream, and taco sauce on it.  Here's a picture, but really, you can't tell what in the heck I'm eating because of the toppings.  :::smile:::  And yes, that IS a Power Rangers plate. :)
The preparation was relatively easy.  I prepared the tofu in a big bowl.  I just used my hands to squeeze the water out of it.  I first tried an old bacon press I had (but never used) to try to press down on the tofu, but I realized when I started to break it up that the press had removed minimal water.
Next, I combined the ground flax seed with water for a couple of minutes.  It sat a while (maybe 5 to 10 minutes) while I prepared the rest of the ingredients and got quite thick.
One of my favorite food preparation gadgets is my Vidalia Onion Chopper.  You can get them online, but I bought mine at Bed, Bath & Beyond.  It made SHORT work of the red pepper that had to be finely diced.  It took me maybe 2 minutes, probably less.  I love that thing.  I use it to chop veggies for salads, too.  Makes the perfect sized pieces of green pepper, carrot, and cucumber.  I use it to chop nuts and dice black olives.  If you don't have one, you truly don't know what you're missing.  I've only had mine about 6 months and can't believe how much I use it.
The burger mix has corn, peppers, and a variety of spices.  I had some dried jalapeno on hand and added 1/2 teaspoon.  I thought, combined with the cayenne pepper, it would make the burgers too hot, but it didn't.  As you can see, there were a lot of ingredients.
I first stirred the ingredients with a wooden spoon before using my hands to make sure the spices were mixed in thoroughly and that the mixture was wet enough to hold together as burgers.
I use an old burger press made by Tupperware to form the burgers.  I like them to be uniform and actually look like burgers versus the misshapen hockey pucks I can make by hand.  They actually were holding together quite nicely when I was making them.
They seemed to be doing well in the pan, too.  I chose to pan fry my burgers in canola oil in a large skillet.  
However, taking them out of the skillet was more of a challenge.  As you can see, they were falling apart a bit.  I'm not sure why they didn't hold together well, but they didn't. 
The recipe actually cautions to be careful to keep the patties intact.  Some of them just didn't make it.  There was no way they were going to stay intact.
The bottom line on this recipe is that it tastes great.  It has a wonderful flavor and filled my craving for a southwestern dish perfectly.  It dresses up with a variety of condiments well.  I think the crumbled burgers would be perfect in a flour tortilla with some taco toppings.  I probably will not make this into burgers again.  I think the next time I make it, I'll try cooking it in the skillet as a "crumbly" taco filling and see how that goes.  It would almost have to be cooked like hash browns so the entire bottom got crispy brown before turning it over.  In that case, I'll also add a handful of black beans.  I'll try it again at some point in the future and post my progress. 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Moroccan Spinach Lentil Soup with Lemon

I received my copy of The Veganopolis Cookbook on Monday.  I've been carrying it around with me ever since.  I take it back and forth to work and look at the recipes during lunchtime.  OK, OK, sometimes not during lunchtime.  The Bouillabaisse with Rouille on the cover makes my mouth water.  Man, it looks good.  But, it has an extremely long list of ingredients and I wanted to begin with something simpler.  So, I settled on the Moroccan Spinach Lentil Soup with Lemon.
My new Wolfgang Puck VersaCooker arrived today, so today was the perfect day to make the soup.  I sauteed the onions in the olive oil, adding the lemon zest and spices.  Man, it smelled so good.  It looked great, too ... spicy and fragrant.
I added the veggie stock, lentils, and tomatoes.  I didn't have fresh, so I used a can of crushed tomatoes.  The VersaCooker has a built-in timer (it doubles as a slow cooker), so it was great to simmer the soup.  It would actually be great to serve in for a party or crowd.  I stirred the soup about every 5 minutes.  My oldest son wanted his brother to try the soup and tell him if it was spicy.  He's not a spice fan, but his brother is.
I added extra lentils (about 1/4 cup) to finish off the bag, but I also added 8 oz. more of tomatoes.  There is no picture of this dish, but mine is not too "soupy."  Mine is more like a thick lentil dish.  Hmmm ... I don't know if I should have added more water.  Mind you, I don't care that it's not real soupy and even without the extra lentils, I don't think it would have been very soupy.  It is tasty.  I had a little taste before I put the spinach and lemon in it.  The lemon juice definitely added to the flavor and rounded out the taste.  It's definitely a "stick-to-your-ribs" type meal.  I'm going to freeze meal-sized portions of it for future "fast food" dinners.  :::smile:::  This is one dish that I will be making again. 

Monday, October 4, 2010

Chickpea Cutlets, Brown & Wild Rice, and Butternut Squash

I skipped lunch today (bad, I know).  But, I was busy at work, so I only had high fiber oatmeal, and a couple of cups of Joe. That was it.  I wanted something good for dinner.  Dinner is a mix of several things.  I bought some Roasted Butternut Squash with Grapes and Sage at Whole Foods and need to eat that.  But, it's a side portion, not a meal.  I threw a mixture of different brown rices in my rice cooker.  But, that still didn't make a meal.  So, I pulled out my vegan cookbooks and began searching.  

Lucky me, I found a recipe in the second cookbook I grabbed ... Veganomicon.  One of the pictures in the middle of the book caught my eye.  It was Chickpea Cutlets.  Of course, the picture has them being served with gravy, but I don't know which one since it doesn't say by the recipe.  BUT, the steps to make the cutlets and the baking time was good for a Monday night, so I began.

OK, I cooked a 1 pound bag of dried chickpeas yesterday and made a wonderful Chipolte Chickpea Dip from the Fat Free Vegan website that looked like hummus.  It is excellent.  I will be taking the rest of that into work tomorrow to share with my BFF for lunch.  That still left me with 3 cups (at least) of cooked chickpeas.  Think I left any out to use this week?  NO, Silly!  Why would I do that?  Nope, I froze them all.  So, I grabbed a can of chickpeas from the pantry shelf and rinsed them well.  I measured out a cup for the Chickpea Cutlets and then I tossed the rest to my dogs, one chickpea at a time for a snack.  (All three of my dogs love them!)

The cutlets were really easy to pull together and form into patties.  The ingredients are all basic ingredients that I had in my kitchen.  (I LOVE those kind of recipes!)  I decided to bake mine over frying them.  Although, I may like them better fried, and I'll try that at another time.  However, when I flipped the cutlets over on the baking sheet, the bottom side had browned nicely and looked crispy.  YUM!

The rice was done well before the cutlets, but the beauty is, I cooked it in my rice cooker, so it will stay piping hot on the "Keep Warm" setting forever without scorching the rice.  Plus, I could feed the girls (my 3 dogs) a healthy portion of brown rice for dinner.  :)

How was the dinner?  It was good.  I ended up putting coarse ground Dijon mustard on the cutlet, and that was a perfect match.  I either need to make the Mustard Gravy in Veganomicon or the Mushroom Gravy.  Also, I do think I'd like these pan fried much better.  Instead of making the 4" by 6", I'd rather they be a little thicker and smaller so they are less dry.  All in all, not bad for my first try.  I'm glad I made them.  Chickpeas are my favorite bean, so I will definitely make these again with some slight alterations.