Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Southwestern Black Bean and Corn Chowder

Tonight I'm making a repeat soup for the third time.  Needless to say, it's one of my favorite soups and it's so incredibly easy to make.  I'm making Southwestern Black Bean and Corn Chowder out of Vegan on the Cheap by Robin Robertson.  In my quest to use the pantry items I have on hand, I had to make a few substitutions.

The recipe calls for a 4 oz. can of mild green chilies.  Upon checking my pantry, I found I had exactly zero cans of green chilies.  I checked my canned tomato supply and found exactly zero cans of tomatoes and chilies.  However, I did have two jalapeno peppers.  No, I did not use both of them.  I did use one, cutting away the membranes and dumping the seeds.

I used black beans I had cooked a month ago and froze (no preservatives or salt).  I did not have any veggie broth in the house.  I could have used bouillon and water, but I had just opened a carton of mushroom broth last night for the Portobello Philly Cheese Steaks and I wanted to use that up.  So, I used mushroom broth.  The mushroom broth did not affect the flavor of the soup that I can tell.  I also added several healthy twists of freshly ground chipolte pepper.

Since I have 4 avocados, I cut one up to add to my bowl of soup tonight.  I have to eat them sometime.  The addition of the avocado was a good one.  It added creaminess without adding a processed food to the soup in the form of soy sour cream.  I like it.  I think the avocado would be a good addition if it was pureed, too.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Portobello Philly Cheese Steaks

Tonight, I was determined to use the two remaining portobello mushrooms that I had.  It was either use them or toss them tomorrow.  So, I decided to make Portobello Philly Cheese Steak sandwiches.  I have never made them using mushrooms.  OK, OK, I've never made them at all.  I combined a couple of recipes that I found taking a bit from one and another ingredient from the other.  I used a recipe from called Portobello Cheese-Steaks and one from called Portobello "Philly Cheese Steak" Sandwich.
I sliced the onions thin and sauteed them in some olive oil until they were starting to caramelize.  Then I added thinly sliced mushroom cap and some spices and cooked it until the mushroom was soft.  I added some Braggs, vegan Worcestershire sauce, and a bit of Balsamic Vinegar.  After that simmered for about a minute, I sprinkled the mixture with flour and added some mushroom broth and let it cook until the sauce thickened.  Overall, it was very good.  I think I'll leave the vinegar out next time, though, as I thought the flavor was too predominant.  I ate mine on a high fiber tortilla (11 grams of fiber) instead of a roll, but that's because I forgot to pick some up at the store.  I topped it with some shredded vegan cheese and some sliced pepperoncini to add a little kick.
Portobello Philly Cheese Steak Sandwiches

2 portobello caps, thinly sliced
1 medium to large onion, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 to 3 teaspoons oregano (dried)
1/2 teaspoon or so black pepper (didn't measure, so this is a guess)
flour to coat veggies (1 to 2 tablespoons)
2 teaspoons Braggs or lower sodium Soy Sauce
2 teaspoons vegan Worcestershire sauce
1½ teaspoons Balsamic vinegar (I'll leave out next time)
1/2 to 2/3 cup mushroom broth
shredded vegan cheese (your favorite)
pepperoncini peppers

Saute onion in olive oil until it's soft and starting to brown; add garlic and sliced mushroom.  Sprinkle with the oregano and black pepper.  Saute until mushroom is soft, stirring frequently.

Sprinkle mushroom/onion mixture with flour, stir to coat.  Add broth, Braggs, Worcestershire sauce, and vinegar (if using).  Simmer until broth has thickened.  Serve on French rolls, whole wheat bread, or pitas.  Top with shredded vegan cheese of your choice and peppers.  Enjoy!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Tandoori Vegetables

These didn't turn out quite like I was hoping, but they did turn out good.  This was my first experience using my Romertopf Clay Baker.  I wasn't quite sure how it would work.  Now that I've used it, I realize that I should not have put any liquid (canned fire-roasted tomatoes) in with the veggies and that a drizzle of olive oil and fresh tomatoes would have given me a dish closer to what I was trying to achieve.  Also, I used frozen veggies (a mix of cauliflower, carrots, red bell peppers, and beans), and I think fresh would have been better.  BUT, I am trying to use the food I have in my freezer, refrigerator, and pantry, so this was in line with that.
I used many different spices.  I used tandoori masala, garam masala, red cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes, chili powder, fresh dill, and some French sea salt.  For frozen veggies and canned tomatoes, it wasn't bad, but definitely I'll be using all fresh veggies and olive oil when cooking in the Romertopf again.

Ethiopian Stew

I have been trying to use up items I have in the freezer, refrigerator, or pantry for meals.  I haven't made a soup or stew in a couple of weeks, so I went searching for recipes. I wanted something that would make good use of the spices I have acquired.  I chose Ethiopian Stew from Vegan Dad's blog.
The recipe list included both yellow split peas and red lentils.  I had yellow split peas from another recipe I made, and luckily, I picked up some red lentils in the bulk section of Whole Foods yesterday.  I boiled the split peas for about 40 minutes while I prepared the veggies.
I diced carrots and potatoes and then sliced onions and minced some fresh ginger.  I decided to add one homemade Vegan Filet Mignon (from the freezer) and 1 cup of chickpeas (also homemade from the freezer).  I love having the seitan in the freezer ready to use and add to my dishes.  It saves me a lot of time and a lot of sodium and preservatives that store-bought seitan contains.
I warmed the spices in the olive oil. I only used 2½ tablespoons of olive oil instead of 4 and I could have cut that down to 1 tablespoon.  I added the onion and ginger, and while that was sauteing, I minced some garlic and added it to the pot.
After the onions had softened, I added the diced carrots, potatoes, and Vegan Filet Mignon and let that cook for a couple of minutes.
The recipe calls for a spice mix named Berbere from Vegan Dad's blog.  I didn't feel like trying to cut that down to add it to the dish.  So, instead of using that, I just grabbed a few spices.  I added ½ teaspoon of smoked paprika, ¼ teaspoon of red cayenne pepper, ½ teaspoon of red pepper flakes, and ½ teaspoon of dried jalapeno pepper.  (I must have wanted a little heat!)
I threw in some frozen beans.  I had a yellow bean/green bean/carrot mix, so I tried not to grab the carrots, but I did get a few in there.  I almost left out the beans as I'm not crazy about green beans in stews and there's already split peas, lentils, and chick peas in it.  But, I though, might as well since they are in the ingredient list.  I did not add the tomato paste.  The stew was thick enough with the lentils and split peas.
Overall, this is not a spicy stew, even with all of the "heat" that I added.  It really didn't make a big heat difference, probably because this makes a full pot of stew.  I liked the beans in it more than I thought I would.  And, if I had left out the seitan, I wouldn't have missed it because this dish has so many different and complex flavors.  This is like "health" in a bowl, in my humble opinion.  I enjoyed it.  It's a nice, hearty, fall or winter dish.  Since we woke up to icy rain this morning in Chicago, it's a perfect fit!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Roasted Acorn Squash Risotto

OK, I'll admit, it seems a little late in the season to be fixing acorn squash, but it came in my veggie box at the beginning of the month and I need to use it. I'm not a fan of acorn squash, but I decided it was time to try it again, so I ordered it.  I also have a butternut squash I roasted today to make a bisque, but that will be for a later post.  So, I went in search of a great recipe for the acorn squash and I found Roasted Acorn Squash Risotto on  Even a non-acorn squash fan can appreciate this risotto recipe.  It is excellent!
First, I roasted the acorn squash along with my butternut squash.  I peeled it after it had roasted and cut it up, or rather made it into portions as it was rather soft.  
I am not sure what vegetarian sausage links would be, especially to have 8 of them, so I used two Tofurky Italian Sausage made with sun dried tomato and basil.  I diced them into 1/2" slices and then cut each slice into 4 pieces.  Next, I sauteed the sausage until it was brown.
I didn't have any sherry, so I used a Fine Tawny Victoria that I had, which is a sweet Port wine.  (VERY tasty, too, I might add!!!)  I figured it was close to sherry.  I don't drink sherry, so I don't really know.
I microwaved the broth (I used water and no salt added veggie bouillon cubes) so it was very hot.  I ended up using 4½ cups of hot broth water to make the risotto so it would be creamy, with just a hint of firmness to the rice.  After standing at the stove stirring for an eternity, my risotto was done.  I added a bit of red cayenne pepper and some more curry powder and a generous sprinkling of fresh ground black pepper.  This risotto ROCKS!!!  There are a few reviews on VegWeb that state the risotto needs more salt.  I didn't add salt when I was cooking this and I didn't add salt to my dish.  It was plenty salty for me, but I stopped cooking with a lot of salt years ago.
This is the first time I've made risotto and I consider it to be a success!  I will definitely be making this dish again.  While it's a pain to have to stand at the stove and stir the rice constantly when adding the water a cup at a time, it's definitely worth it.  This is an excellent dish!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Buff Tempeh Wings

I'm going to a Super Bowl party tomorrow afternoon at a friend's house. I wanted to take a tasty appetizer that isn't a dip or chips or cut veggies or cut fruit.  I saw a recipe for Buff Tempeh Wings on I have never prepared or eaten tempeh, so I thought I'd make the recipe today to see if it was good enough to take.  It definitely is.  No, these don't taste like regular buffalo wings, but they are tasty.
I cut the tempeh into 1" chunks and marinated it in hot sauce.  I didn't make my own sauce, like the recipe calls for.  I used Frank's Red Hot Wing Sauce.  I skipped adding the extra oil and spices.  The Frank's is hot enough by itself.  I marinated the tempeh for several hours as I cut it up and covered it with sauce around 10AM, but didn't cook it until 5PM.  
I heated some canola oil in a small skillet.  The pieces of tempeh cooked pretty quickly and browned nicely.  I will probably cook them this way again, but I think it'd be much easier to flash deep fry them for a couple of minutes.
After all of the tempeh was fried and golden, I threw them in a bowl so I could cover them with the reserved buffalo wing sauce.
My youngest son knew I was cooking buffalo wing bites, but had no clue they were tempeh and not regular chicken.  He wanted them for supper, so I put 4 bites each in two high fiber flour tortillas with some condiments for him.  He ATE them up!  He still has no clue it was tempeh.  I'm debating whether or not I should tell him.  :::grin:::

I'll be taking these to the Super Bowl party tomorrow.  I'll marinate them in the morning and make them early in the afternoon.  It will be a nice addition to the snack table.
 This  is the dish I took over for the Super Bowl party today.  The buffalo bites turned out nice. 

The Only Oatmeal

This morning, I wanted a healthy and tasty breakfast.  While I was scrolling through some recipes on, The Only Oatmeal was highlighted on the left margin.  The recipe was simple enough and was slightly different than my regular oatmeal.  I decided to make it.
I used original flavor Craisins for my fruit.  It was a good choice.  I also used almond extract, versus vanilla, but I think either would have been great.  I added the almond extract to the oatmeal and fruit before I cooked it.  
I topped the oatmeal with unsweetened almond milk (vanilla flavor) and with some blueberry jam that I had made and canned last August.  It was a nice compliment to the Craisins and oatmeal.  I completely spaced off adding any nuts, so I didn't have that on my oatmeal, but honestly, I didn't miss the nuts.  I didn't realize I had forgotten them until I started to compose this blog.  

This is a great oatmeal recipe.  Next time I make it, I think I'll use vanilla extract, dried tropical fruit (pineapple, mango, etc.), and some homemade pear jam that I made and canned.  Maybe when I make that, I'll remember to throw in a few walnuts.  :) 

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Any Other Kind of Veggies

It's snowing in Chicago.  It's snowing A LOT!  The forecasters have said repeatedly, we will get around 20" of snow overnight.  The snow started, in earnest, around 2:30 PM or 2:45 PM.  Our office closed an hour and a half early.  Since I'm the closing manager for the claim department today, I closed the office at 3:30 PM.  By 3:00 PM, the 4 lane road I can see out of my office window was bumper-to-bumper, stop-and-go traffic that was backed up at least a mile, if not more.  Good thing I went to the grocery store yesterday as I was NOT stopping at it tonight on my way home.  I did make good use of the blizzard.  I used the snow to fast-chill my wine so I could enjoy a glass with my veggies...and, I did! :)
To give you a comparison, I went in for half day today as I had to take my girl, Kobe Bean, to the vet for a check on her cast from her surgery last Friday for a partial tear in her anterior crucial ligament (back left knee).  Kobe is doing well.  :::big smile:::  She has to wear her cast until next Monday when both the stitches and the cast will be removed.  But, that's not my point.  I left my house to go into the office at 12:55 PM and arrived at the office at 1:30 PM, so it took me 35 minutes to get to work.  It took me an hour and a half to come home after I closed the office, two hours later.  Thank goodness my boss announced that our office will be closed tomorrow so I don't have to even consider going in or taking a vacation day.
Tonight, I knew I HAD to cook my Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and grape tomatoes.  I was supposed to cook them before, but alas, I didn't.  I had found a recipe for Brussels Sprouts Heaven on It gave me the idea to roast the three veggies together, an idea that would never have occurred to me.  But, the recipe didn't have any zip to it.  So, I ended up creating my own spice blend and tossing the veggies in it.  I roasted them for about 30 minutes at 400º F.  They turned out YUMMY!  Although I'll admit, I L-O-V-E Brussels sprouts, especially roasted, so anything with roasted Brussels sprouts in it is going to be a winner with me.
Here is what I threw together for the spice coating.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Any Other Kind of Veggies

3 tablespoons EVOO
1 tablespoon lemon juice (fresh is best, but in a pinch, I use reconstituted)
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon Spike seasoning
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (I'm sure fresh would have been better)
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon red cayenne pepper

Mix together and drizzle over veggies.  Stir veggies to thoroughly coat and distribute spices.  Roast at 400ºF for 20 minutes.  Take out and stir veggies.  Return to oven and roast another 30 minutes.

I will definitely be using this again to make more roasted veggies.  I may add some dried jalapeno pepper flakes next time.  This is definitely a repeat dish.