Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Eve Soup and 7 Layer Dip

I'm going over to a friend's house tonight to celebrate my New Year's Eve with the girls.  We're going to have appetizers and cocktails and pizza.  I decided that I would take 7 Layer Dip.  The recipe on Namely Marly looks sinful!  I'm going to make a couple of changes to the recipe, but not many.

I'll be mixing vegetarian refried beans with salsa as the base and adding freshly cooked black beans (from dry) as another layer.  I don't have regular tomatoes, so I'll be chopping grape tomatoes to add as the top garnish.  Also, instead of soy crumbles as a layer, I'll be making the meat in the Fool Your Friends Tacos recipe from Vegan Comfort Foods as one of the layers.  (It's the third recipe down.)  I've made it before and it is very good and could, literally, fool your friends.
Now, I'm making Southwestern Black Bean and Corn Chowder from Vegan on the Cheap.  This is a repeat recipe for me, but a darn tasty one.  I love this soup and it's very easy to pull together.  I didn't have any canned or frozen black beans, so I had to make some from dry in my pressure cooker.  But, the extra time it takes to make the black beans from dry is well worth it.  I have some leftover brown rice, so I think I'll put a 1/2 cup in my bowl before ladling in the soup.
It seems to be a bean cooking kind of day.  I just spread the black beans out on a large cookie sheet and put them in the freezer to freeze enough for me to put them in a baggie so I can pull some out at will.  Then, I cleaned out my pressure cooker and loaded it with 3 cups of dry chickpeas.  I have been out of cooked chickpeas for a month and it's been killing me.  Since I have cooked them from dry, I prefer them this way and haven't been buying canned beans.  They are extremely easy to make and once frozen, are extremely easy to use.  Plus, my dogs absolutely LOVE cooked chickpeas and I toss them to them as treats.  They even like them frozen.

I'll be prepared for the coming work week after taking some time to cook this weekend.  I hope you all have a fantastic and safe New Year's Eve and that 2011 is filled with blessings.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Tokay Mustard Sauce with Vegan Filet Mignon

I follow a wonderful blog called The Iowa Housewife.  It's not a vegan blog.  It's a "life" blog.  Sue and her sister Myrna post delicious recipes.  Sue cooks and Myrna bakes. (OK, that's simplifying it, but they are very talented!)  And although blog isn't vegan, I have gotten wonderful recipes from this blog.  It's probably my favorite blog.  It's one of those blogs that I can get lost in for an hour and be delighted with the cooking tips, recipes, and stories that are posted.

Tonight was one of those nights that I got lost on Sue's blog and ran across a recipe for Cognac Mustard Sauce that I wanted to modify for my Vegan Filet Mignon.  And, I did!  It doesn't look as elegant as Sue's sauce, which is a deep, rich brown, but it was extremely tasty.  Since I made 6 Vegan Filet Mignon on Christmas Day and I only ate 1, I thought I should find tasty recipes to use the rest in.  (I froze 4 portions.)
The sauce is pretty easy to pull together.  Melt the Earth Balance in a measuring cup in the microwave and then combine all of the other ingredients.  I used a Tokay port wine, since I didn't have any cognac.  Tokay has a raisin and tapioca taste to me, so I thought it would work.  I sliced the Vegan Filet Mignon, placed it in a skillet, and poured the Tokay Mustard Sauce over the seitan and cooked it on medium for about 5 minutes.
While I made the sauce and warmed it with the seitan, I had thrown 3 scoops of an organic brown rice blend (bulk section of Whole Foods) in my rice cooker.  I added a No-Beef Bouillon cube to the water along with 1 teaspoon of Earth Balance, so the rice wouldn't foam up.
When the rice flipped to "warm," I was ready to dish up my plate and eat.  I had sliced Vegan Filet Mignon with Tokay Mustard Sauce and brown rice.  I posted my modified recipe of Sue's Cognac Mustard Sauce below.

Tokay Mustard Sauce

4 teaspoons Earth Balance
2 tablespoons SO Delicious Coconut Milk Creamer
2 tablespoons Tokay (port dessert wine)
2 teaspoons coarse ground Dijon mustard
4 teaspoons vegan Worcestershire sauce
Vegan Filet Mignon, thinly sliced

Melt the Earth Balance in the microwave and then add the remaining ingredients.  Whisk together (will look a little grainy).  Slice the seitan and put it in a skillet.  Pour sauce over the seitan and heat through, about 5 minutes or so.  

Thanks to Iowa Sue for a wonderful recipe!!!  :)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Vegan Filet Mignon and other dishes

It's Christmas Day.  It's quiet at my house.  My Mom is here taking a snooze on the couch while Miracle on 34th Street is on the TV.  My sons are with their father at his sister's house for an early Christmas dinner.  They were supposed to eat at 2 PM, and then my youngest son planned on coming home for more food when my dinner is done around 6 PM.  However, he still hadn't eaten at 3:30 PM, so I think his plan is off schedule. 
I knew the Vegan Filet Mignon would take 2½ to 3 hours to make, so I started making them around 3 PM.  Because Tracy said (in her blog entry) that the seitan might stick at first, I put them on a rack.  However, the seitan was expanding to the point that I thought it would get stuck under the handles on the rack, so after about 20 minutes, I removed it.  The rack left little ridges in the "steaks" that kind of resemble grill marks.
While the seitan is simmering, I put some potatoes in a pan to boil for the Crash Hot Potatoes.  They are a two-stage side dish that takes extra time to cook.  I will say that they are well worth the extra effort.  Although they don't require anything at all, once prepared, I am making some Slow-Cooked Mushroom Gravy as I think they will be scrumptious with it and I bought a lot of mushrooms!
It took a VERY long time to get everything prepared.  The gravy took much longer than I expected.  But, as was the case the first time I cooked it, it was well worth it.  Funny thing, my younger son asked me if I had beef patties in the pan.  I told him no.  Then my older son looked at the Vegan Filet Mignon and told me it looked like beef. It actually does look like beef.  I think the marks from the rack make it look even more so like meat versus seitan.  
It was a very tasty dinner.  I still have 5 Vegan Filet Mignon pieces that I'll be freezing for other meals.  I already stuck the gravy in the freezer.  The Crash Hot Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts turned out perfectly.  It was just a nice Christmas meal followed by a glass of Tokay, which is a sweet dessert wine with flavors of tapioca and raisins.  Merry Christmas everyone!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Roasted Curried Cauliflower and Potatoes with Lemon and Cumin

I'm off for the Christmas holiday.  My boss closed our office at Noon today and the office is closed on both Thursday and Friday.  I was looking at recipes this morning and found a scrumptious looking recipe for Curried Cauliflower Sweet Potato Soup and thought it would be the perfect recipe to make this afternoon.  Then at the bottom of that blog entry, I saw a link for Roasted Curried Cauliflower with Lemon and Cumin and that was it.  I am a "roasted veggie ho" lately, so that had to be the recipe for this afternoon's cooking.  Oh, I will make the soup because it looks absolutely delicious, but I have been having a craving for roasted veggies and that's all there is to that.
I got a bit carried away when making this.  First, I pulled out my cauliflower.  Then, I grabbed 3 baking potatoes, and then I grabbed a red garnet yam.  I didn't double the olive oil mixture, but I did increase it to 4 tablespoons of olive oil and 4 teaspoons of lemon juice, and then I just increased the spices by a tad, too.  I threw it into a 400ºF oven for 30 minutes.  I ended up cooking it 20 minutes longer (50 minutes total) as the yams weren't quite done at 30 minutes.  I checked it at 30 minutes, 40 minutes, and then took it out at 50 minutes.
And no, I did not take a picture as soon as I took them out of the oven BECAUSE these veggies were smelling so DAMN good that I had to have a bowl of them without delay.  I thought briefly (VERY briefly) about using some to make a roasted veggie creamy soup.  But then I thought ... nah!  They taste too good and I've been craving them too long to make them into soup.  I'll make the next batch into soup. :)

Christmas Menu

I've been thinking about my Christmas menu, well, ever since Thanksgiving.  :::chuckle:::  I had such success with that Seitan Turkey and Stuffing that it made me want to make another main dish from scratch.  The same website, A Veg*n for Dinner has won me over for my Christmas meal.  I'll be making Vegan Filet Mignon for Christmas dinner, for me, of course. 

It took me a while to find some No-Beef Bouillon.  I finally found it at a Whole Foods store that was only about 25 minutes from my job.  I stocked up on it.  I have plenty of mushroom broth.  I stocked up on that, too.  I'll be using mushroom broth to simmer the filet mignon so it has plenty of flavor when I use it as a base for the Slow Cooked Mushroom Gravy (and no, I still have not made that Chicken Fried Tofu Steak, but I will).  It should be a very tasty meal. 

So, here's the full menu for me.

Crunchy Sweet Brussels Sprouts Salad (not really a salad, it's a hot veggie dish)
Corn (just boiled with a little Earth Balance for my boys)
Homemade rolls (using my bread machine)

I will have to make another main dish for my mother and sons as they are not vegetarian or vegan.  It'll be another mixed holiday meal, but most of the dishes are vegan and extremely tasty.  I have found so many wonderful recipes since I began this style of eating.  And, I'm loving it! :)

Monday, December 13, 2010

French Toast Vegan Waffles

Sunday is always family breakfast time.  About 95% of the time, I cook breakfast.  Occasionally, I order breakfast from a waffle house for the boys, but normally I cook.  This Sunday, I picked out what I would make versus one of the boys choosing.  I decided on waffles.  I started with my favorite basic waffle recipe, Naked Vegan Waffles.  But, I wanted a different flavor for them, so I decided to add a couple of ingredients from a non-vegan recipe.  Also, I always use unsweetened almond milk.  Somehow I picked up unsweetened vanilla flavor almond milk last time I bought it, but it didn't affect the flavor of the waffles at all.     
I bought a scale not too long ago and I'm trying to get used to using versus measuring everything out, so I thought I'd just dump the flour in the bowl.  I looked at the flour and saw 1/4 cup weighed 30 grams.  OK, so far, so good.  I was going to use mostly all-purpose flour, but I knew I didn't have enough so I planned on using whole wheat, too.  I needed 2½ cups of flour.  So, 30 grams x 4 = 120 grams per cup of flour.  That meant 2½ cups of flour weighs 300 grams, right?  Of course.  So, when I was doing the mental math, instead of 30 x 4, I calculated 40 x 4 and came up with 160 grams per cup or 400 grams total.  By the time I realized that was wrong, I had 400 grams of white and wheat flours in my bowl.  If I tried to scoop some out, it would be a mixture of the two.  OOPS!  Well, I just adjusted all of the other ingredients by multiplying them by 1.33 to get the proper amount.  And YES, I did use a calculator for that.  Sheesh!
Once I had the basic ingredients in the bowl, I added 1 tablespoon of cinnamon and 1 tablespoon of vanilla.  The batter was a light tan color.  I used my double-sided Belgium waffle maker to cook these up and let me tell you, they came out perfectly.  I sprayed the waffle iron before putting in the batter each time and I had absolutely no sticking.
Since I had inadvertently increased the recipe, I had a couple of waffles left over to freeze for later enjoyment.  These are waffles that my sons really like.  I highly recommend them.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Southwestern Black Bean and Corn Chowder

It's rainy in Chicago today.  The temperature is hovering in the mid to upper 30's and it's been raining for a few hours now.  Late tonight, the rain is supposed to turn to freezing rain and then to snow with a 2" to 4" dusting.  :::smile:::   Today is one of three days with temperatures in the 30's sandwiched in between temperatures in the teens and 20's to Monday when our high is supposed to be 9ºF.  That makes it officially soup, stew, and chili season.  
Today, I finally made a recipe out of Vegan on the Cheap.  I bought the book a few weeks ago, but put it aside in the furor of making Thanksgiving foods.  I sat down to review the recipes and make a list of what I wanted to make.  Southwestern Black Bean and Corn Chowder, on page 68, topped my list.  Since I had all of the ingredients in the house, I decided to make it.
The chowder has onion, garlic, corn, black beans, chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, green chilies, fire roasted tomatoes, and vegetable broth in it.  It was easy to assemble and simmers for about 35 to 40 minutes.  I didn't have fire roasted tomatoes, so I used a can of diced tomatoes with green chilies and then added a can of fire-roasted green chilies.  Mine has a little heat, but not too much.  I really enjoyed it.
After dishing up a bowl, I added a handful of crushed tortilla chips, a tablespoon of Tofutti Sour Cream, and a splash of taco sauce.  It was quite delicious.  The recipe suggests adding chopped avocado.  I was being lazy and didn't want to peel and chop and avocado, but I will do that for the leftovers as I think it would be absolutely delicious with that addition.
I strongly recommend this chowder.  In fact, I recommend the cookbook as it has quite a few recipes in it that I will be making.  The great thing is that the recipes use everyday pantry items.  I could have made many of them today without having to go to the grocery store.  Try the chowder!  I think you'll like it. :)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Garnet Yams and Stir Fry with Noodles

I actually have been cooking since Thanksgiving.  :::smile:::  Not much, mind you, but I've been cooking.  I've been making easy food, like brown and wild rice with steamed veggies.  I made Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Garnet Yams tonight.  I had them with a All-American Incrediburger that I had made before and frozen. OK, I'll admit it. I ate many of the roasted veggies before I remembered to snap a picture.    
Never did I think that the veggie I hated as a kid would become my favorite veggie du jour!  These were incredibly easy to make.  I tossed the veggies in a little olive oil, put them in the pan, and then sprinkled them with salt and pepper.  I roasted them at 400º for about 40 minutes or so.  VOILA!  A perfect veggie dish.  
The other dish that I made last Thursday was a simple stir-fry with noodles.  Actually, I used whole wheat linguine for the noodles.  I had purchased an oriental stir-fry veggie blend from Trader Joes that I had to use up.  I sauteed the veggies with 2 minced garlic cloves in 2 tablespoons of canola oil.  Then, I added 3 tablespoons of hoisin sauce and 2 tablespoons of low sodium soy sauce.
Once the veggies were done (still tender crisp), I added the linguine and tossed it well.  It was OK, but I need more spice and flavor so I'll continue to work on that and develop that dish.  On a side note, I read on someone's blog about a great hot sauce.  The blog said the sauce was not too hot and was great on all Thai or oriental dishes. The hot sauce is Sriracha Sauce.  I'm sure many of you are familiar with it.   
So, when I was eating the rest of my stir-fry noodles, I thought I'd add some of this sauce to the dish to spice them up a bit.  Do you think I had the presence of mind to try a little to see how hot I thought it was?  HECK NO!  I just applied it very liberally (thinking it's not that hot) and stirred it into the noodles.  OK, that first bite hit my taste buds and BAM!  My tongue was on F-I-R-E!!!!!  My lips were burning.  I love hot foods, but this sauce is stinging hot and while I will use it going forward, it will be with a MUCH lighter touch.  :::chuckle:::  So, if you read a blog and the person says the sauce is not that hot, make sure you test it on your taste buds before just applying it willy nilly like I did.  :)