Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Spicy Seitan, Potato, and Cabbage Stew

It seems like every week this winter, I am making soup.  This week is no exception.  Today, I decided to make a soup that contained cabbage, since I have a head of cabbage to use.  I searched for cabbage on and came across Spicy Seitan, Potato, and Cabbage Stew.  Luckily, I had everything at home including homemade seitan.  
I still had about 5 Vegan Filet Mignon in my freezer.  I thought one would be perfect for this stew.
I made my sons some pasta in my rice cooker and as that was cooking, I began chopping the onion, shallot, garlic, and carrots for the stew.  I stayed pretty close to the recipe.  I did add about 1/2 teaspoon of dried jalapeno pepper flakes. They really aren't very hot, so I thought they would add to the flavor of the stew.  Also, I didn't have any "hot" green chilies, so I added a 4 ounce can of fire roasted green chilies.  I also put a squeeze of Sriracha sauce in the stew.  I'd say it was only a teaspoon or two.  That concerned me seeing as I scorched my mouth on that sauce not so long ago.  Sheesh!  Sriracha is H-O-T.
The only other substitution I made was I used No-Chicken Broth.  I thought I had plenty of quarts of veggie broth here, but evidently I've made more soups than I thought, so I was down to only No-Chicken Broth or Mushroom Broth.  
I still have half of a head of cabbage left.  I've already decided what I'll be making.  I found a recipe for Brussels Sprout Heaven.  This is a combination of Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and grape tomatoes roasted at 425º for about a half hour.  I may add some yellow onion wedges to this.  I totally LOVE Brussels sprouts and just bought a pound at Whole Foods on Tuesday.  This will definitely be my dinner tomorrow night.  One of the comments on the recipe page stated the person served it over quinoa.  I have some quinoa, but I have never tried it.  I think it's time to break it out.
I liked this stew.  Mine turned out with a bit of a bite.  If you don't like spicy foods, I'd make sure to use mild green chilies and omit the Sriracha sauce all together.  One thing I'll do the next time I make this is shred the cabbage versus leaving it in 1" ribbons. The seitan added a nice flavor to the stew, but this would be equally as tasty without it or substituting some sliced Italian Tofurky sausage.  I also think that some white beans (navy or great northern) would be great in place of the seitan.  Overall, this is a great stew for January in Chicago.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Baked Potato and Greens Soup with Potato-Wedge Croutons

I had a few potatoes to use.  My potatoes were on the edge of if I didn't use them soon, I wouldn't be using them at all.  I really REALLY wanted to make a corn and potato chowder, but alas, I couldn't find a suitable recipe.  So, I grabbed 6 of my favorite vegan cookbooks and went searching through the soup sections.  I settled on Baked Potato and Greens Soup with Potato-Wedge Croutons in the Veganomicon cookbook.  This is the third recipe I've made from the cookbook.  I HIGHLY recommend Penne Vodka.  Excellent recipe!  This potato soup recipe is excellent, too.  It's not your run of the mill, white, cream based, fat laden soup.  It has character and excellent taste.
First, I nuked the potatoes.  I only had 5 potatoes, not 6, but that just meant that I would have less or skinnier potato-wedge croutons.  I sauteed the onions until they were nice and brown.  After the onions were done, I added spices and sauteed for a few more minutes.  I didn't have any fennel seed, so I ended up using cumin seed instead and I have to say, the results were GREAT.  I don't know how this would have tasted with fennel seed, but I really like it with cumin seed.  After the spices were sauteed for a couple of minutes, I added 1/4 cup of wine.  Well, of course that meant I had to drink the remaining wine, which was only 1 glass full.
I chopped the potatoes and added them, with the broth, to the pan to bring to a boil.  After the broth began boiling, I added spinach instead of kale.  I didn't have any kale on hand and I figure if I have a similar veggie on hand, it's OK to use that.
The soup had to simmer for about 20 minutes, so I made the potato-wedge croutons.  OK, these potato-wedge croutons are DA BOMB!  I could make these wedges as a side dish to another meal.  Oh my goodness, they are CRAZY good!  I cut the potatoes into wedges and then moistened them with water and rolled them in a combination of cornmeal, smoked paprika, California-blend garlic, and some salt.  The recipe called for regular paprika and minced garlic, but I wanted a little more flavor (hence the smoked paprika) and I didn't want to mess with minced garlic in a breading mixture (call me lazy).
I pan fried them in a little olive oil (versus using the spray oil on them), and then set them aside until the soup was done.
And YES, they tasted as good as they look.  Actually, the tasted better than they look. When the soup was finished simmering, I used a potato masher to smush up the potatoes.  The recipes said to mash about half of them.  Who knew when half were mashed?!?!?!  So, I just mashed all of them about halfway.  I figured that would work.  I added about 2/3 to 3/4 cup of original flavor almond milk.  
I stirred the mixture up to see if it was too thick.  It's not a thin soup.  I could probably add a bit more broth to it and most likely I will when I heat it up to eat tomorrow or Thursday.  But, I enjoyed it just as it is with the potato-wedge excellent, yummy, scrumptious crouton.  This is an excellent soup.  I will definitely make this again.  

Monday, January 17, 2011

Penne Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Mushrooms, and Olives

I was going to make Rotelle with Arugula and Sun-Dried Tomatoes out of the Vegan Italiano cookbook, but I got carried away and made up my own dish.  I did follow the recipe (loosely). 
I had a package of baby Portabella mushrooms that I needed to use.  So, after I chopped a small onion (using my Vidalia Onion Chopper), I cleaned and chopped the mushrooms (in my Vidalia Onion Chopper ... LOVE that thing!), and then sauteed them until they had released their moisture and cooked down a bit.
I chopped 2 to 3 cups of spinach, about half a package of sun-dried tomatoes (mine were not in oil or water, just plain), and added those with 1/2 cup of veggie broth and some spices (oregano and crushed red pepper flakes).  I sauteed this until the spinach had wilted.
Once the spinach had wilted, I added some black olives, quartered.  I had already cooked 8 ounces of whole wheat penne pasta.  I added the pasta to the veggie mixture.  When I dished it up, I added some chopped fresh rosemary and some vegan Parmesan cheese.  I had my dish with a glass of Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc.
I liked the dish, but it's missing something.  I think if it had a touch more olive oil to coat the pasta and more fresh spices.  Sadly, my basil was a day beyond my use.  :::sad face:::  This dish would have done well with the fresh basil.  While the crushed red pepper flakes gave it the tiniest hint of zip, it wasn't enough and I used about 1/2 teaspoon, so I'd up that next time. This is a repeat dish, because basically, I can use whatever I have in my fridge and pantry and end up with a tasty, somewhat healthy dish.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

New Year Noodle Soup

I finally made New Year Noodle Soup tonight. I've been wanting to make this since New Year's Day, but needed to grab a few ingredients.  It snowed all day here in Chicago, but I braved the weather about 2 PM today to go to Dominick's and grab some fresh dill, cilantro, yellow split peas, and a salad for lunch. :)
The recipe calls for borlotti beans.  After some research, I found out these are cranberry beans.  A variety of white beans can be substituted for them (I couldn't find borlotti beans on this short snowy notice). I chose Great Northern beans.  I was using canned, so I rinsed them and just used 1½ cups of the Great Northern Beans and 2 cups of garbanzo beans, since I have those in my freezer from the last time I made them. :)  I did find the yellow split peas and used those.  Also, I used a Serrano pepper.  The soup is not spicy at all, so that little pepper added only flavor, no heat.
I chopped up the spinach and dill while the split peas simmered.  It took just a few minutes for the other beans to warm, and then another 7 minutes for the noodles to cook to al dente.
Then, it was time to dish up the soup and enjoy it.  This is a very mild soup.  It reminds me of chicken noodle, but it has a slightly creamier flavor (after adding the Tofutti sour cream).  It's definitely a great soup to each on a cold, snowy, winter day in Chicago.

Monday, January 10, 2011

High Fiber Bread Machine Bread

I only buy double fiber bread.  I eliminated plain white bread from my grocery list a few years ago.  If I buy white bread for my sons, which is very rare, I buy whole grain white bread.  However, the boys have adjusted to having double fiber bread and actually, the last time I bought the whole grain white bread, my older son remarked on the small size of the slices. 

For years, I've used Eagle Mills All-Purpose Flour made with Ultragrain.  It has 4 grams of protein, the same as regular bread flour, but is made with whole grains and has 9 grams of whole grains per 1/4 cup. It's been a great substitute in breads and muffins.  While I appreciate that I am getting more fiber in my and my sons diet using this flour, I continued to look for recipes that would give me as much fiber per slice as commercially made breads.  The fiber content of the breads I've been purchasing is a minimum of 4 grams fiber per slice to a maximum of 6 grams fiber per slice. 
I ran across a recipe that I think will end up giving us 4 grams of fiber per slice, based on 16 slices per loaf making one big loaf.  It's called High Fiber Bread Machine Bread.  I made a couple of substitutions in the recipe to eliminate the dairy and use the ingredients I had on had versus going out and buying anything. 
I let the bread rise a final time out of the bread maker and then used a cold oven method (that I got out of a bread machine Yahoo! group) to bake the bread.  Here is the recipe ingredients as I made it.

High Fiber Bread Machine Bread

Wet Ingredients
1 cup almond milk (or the milk of your choice)
1 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons of Earth Balance margarine
1 tablespoon of lemon juice

Dry Ingredients
1 cup Eagle Mills Ultragrain flour
2½ cups whole wheat bread flour
3/4 cup organic oat bran
1/4 cup golden flax seeds
1/4 cup old fashioned rolled oats
4 tablespoons gluten
1 tablespoon instant potato flakes
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 teaspoons bread machine yeast

I put the wet ingredients in the bread pan first.  I combined all of the dry ingredients through the potato flakes and placed it in the bread machine on the wet ingredients.  I added the salt to the corner and the yeast to the middle of the flour mixture.  Then I chose the "dough" cycle and pressed start.

After the dough cycle completed, I put the dough into a greased 9" x 5" pan and covered it with a towel and let it rise until it was about an inch above the pan.  Place the pan into a cold oven.  Turn the oven on to 350º F and the timer to 25 minutes.  When the timer goes off, put an aluminum foil tent over the bread and bake for an additional 10 minutes.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Farfalle with Caramelized Onions and Walnuts

After making that lovely soup this afternoon, I thought I would make another soup to carry me through the week on nights that I didn't want to cook.  I like to freeze portions for "fast food" nights.  :::smile::: BUT, I got my copy of Vegan Italiano by Donna Klein yesterday and when I did my quick glance through, I saw some interesting dishes.  This is one of them although, in the cookbook it's Fusilli with Caramelized Onions and Walnuts.  I didn't have any fusilli and I wasn't going out to buy just that, so I made do with Farfalle.
First, I sliced up about a pound of onions.  I had to saute them, then cover them and saute them, and then uncover them and saute them some more.
I sauteed them a total of about 35 minutes until they were golden brown.  Then I threw in a couple of cloves of garlic and sauteed them a couple more minutes before I added the pasta.
While I was waiting for the onions to be caramelized, I broke out a bottle of Pinot Noir.  This was, of course, after I had chopped the walnuts and basil.  No way could I drink wine and THEN chop.  
Once the onions were done, I added the pasta, basil, walnuts, and some organic, low-sodium vegetable broth. 
I tossed it all together, put some in my bowl, remembered to take pictures, and then enjoyed it with another a glass of Pinot Noir. 
I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed this dish.  It was light and refreshing and a very nice change from the normal marinara sauce with pasta.  I will definitely make this again.  Although next time, I really need to have a bottle of my absolute favorite wine, Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio. :::smile:::  I'll be making many more dishes from this cookbook.  There are some fabulous looking recipes in it.

Curried Cauliflower and Sweet Potato Soup

I've been meaning to make Curried Cauliflower and Sweet Potato Soup for a couple of weeks now.  But, one thing led to another and I never got around to making it.  However, today is the day.  I thought I had everything I needed except cumin seeds.  So I thought I'd just use ground cumin instead.  Much to my surprise, I did not have a pepper to put in it (I used dried jalapeno), but I did have cumin seeds.  HA!  I forgot I had ordered some from when I was ordering a few Indian spice blends.  I ordered those to make some roasted veggies, but that hasn't happened yet.  I have used some of the spices for other things. :)
The soup is fairly easy to put together.  It cooks in two stages.  After sauteing some onion, adding some spices and giving it another quick minute, I added diced sweet potato (I used a red garnet yam), some vegetable broth (low sodium), and some curry powder.  That simmers until the sweet potato is tender.
While that was cooking, I cut up my cauliflower into bite-sized pieces and rinsed it.  I grabbed a can of diced tomatoes in sauce from my pantry and a cup and a half of frozen garbanzo beans from the freezer (love that pressure cooker for cooking up the beans).  
I added the beans, cauliflower, and tomatoes with more curry, 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper (I upped it from 1/4 teaspoon since I had no pepper earlier), and 1 1/2 tomato cans full of water.  (I thought I'd get all of the sauce out of the can.)  Then I simmered the soup covered for a few more minutes until the cauliflower is tender.  VOILA! The soup was ready to eat.
Overall, this is a good soup.  I am glad that I added the extra cayenne pepper.  The next time I make this, I'm going to play with the spices and use one of the blends that I have on hand in place of some of the curry.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Pecan Dirty Rice with Spicy and Lemony Mushrooms

I had 2 packages of baby portabello mushrooms in my refrigerator that absolutely NEEDED to be cooked and eaten.  I had researched stuffing them over the weekend, but did I do that?  NO!  :::grin:::  So today, when I read the Vegan Epicurean blog with recipes for Pecan Dirty Rice and Spicy and Lemony Mushrooms, I was hooked.  The recipes are in the lower half of the blog entry using the recipe link above.
Both recipes are oil free.  The rice has cinnamon, allspice, Italian herbs, ginger, crush red pepper flakes, and pecans in it.  It is a delightful combination of herbs and spices.  I used a brown rice blend that I get in the bulk section at Whole Foods.  I only fixed 1 cup of rice because I wasn't sure if I would like the spice blend.  Man, do I!  This is a wonderful rice dish.
The cooking technique for the mushrooms was just to add all of the ingredients, put it in a pan, cover, and cook over a medium flame.  There was no stirring while cooking, no oil, no water.  The only moisture was the juice from the lemon, and the moisture the mushrooms would release.  I was skeptical of this method, but followed the directions, and the mushrooms turned out lovely.
I used about a teaspoon of fresh thyme instead of 1/4 teaspoon of dried thyme.  I will say, you MUST like lemon for this mushroom dish.  If you don't like lemon, this is not the dish for you.  The tartness of the zest contrasted with the heat of the crushed red pepper flakes is delightful.  I love the dish and will definitely be making this one again.  Thanks to Vegan Epicurean for sharing these two recipes with us!

Green Smoothies

It's January 3, 2011.  Was I supposed to make some resolutions?!?!?!  Heck no!  I don't keep them, so why make them?  Life is a continual challenge to change and improve things.  I don't need the added pressure of making a list of things that I resolve to change in 2011 and then have to deal with the failure of not doing them.  Besides, when I made resolutions, never did I do a "year in review" to see if I did everything that was on the list.  I have a list of things to be done, no doubt.  But, it's a revolving list that I keep.  As I accomplish some and they drop off and there are new ones to add.
Today was the day that I had my first green smoothie made with kale.  It's not because I have a huge resolution to eat healthier or drink smoothies.  More so, I had one as I belong to a Vitamix group on Yahoo! and felt guilty about never using my Vitamix.  Plus, I had bought some kale specifically for green smoothies and had not used it.  

So, I threw some kale (minus the center stem), a banana, a Fuji apple, a tablespoon of flaxseed, and about a cup of water into the Vitamix and let it rip.  It was a disgusting lime/pea green color, and it smelled horrible.  (I cannot get used to the grassy smell of these things.)  But, the taste was good.  I was sure I would not like it or it wouldn't be sweet enough or would need some seasoning, but it didn't.  It was simple, slightly sweet, and pretty good tasting.  The kale didn't have a strong flavor in the smoothie, which is what I feared would happen.  I'll have this one again.