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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Fall is Here!!! Be Glad.

It's that day - the first of fall. I'm most certainly happier today than I was on the first of summer. Yes I'm odd that way. My favorite days go Christmas, Thanksgiving, my Birthday, Fall, Halloween, New Years and so on.
In recognition of this marvelous day (despite unusually high temperatures this week) I made a casserole! Based on this and the Pumpkin-Black Bean variation, also from Fat-Free vegan Kitchen, I whipped this little dish up to savor the perfection of an oven in the cool September air.

A Red-Green Fall Casserole:
1 can Chickpeas, drained
4 large stalks of red Swiss Chard
1/2 bundle (use your best guess) Asparagus stalks
3-4 medium beets, peeled and sliced
1/3 package Silken Tofu
1/4 cup Nutritional Yeast
1/2 onion
minced garlic
olive oil
1/4 cup sliced White Button Mushrooms
1/4 cup vegetable stock, for sautéing
Garam Masala
Garlic Powder
Curry Powder
Pepper
Celery Seed
Cumin Powder
And Eureka! I've got it...
Add extra garlic, ample Thyme, and grated carrots(2 medium) to the mixture prior to baking
Top with 1/2 large grated Sweet Potato
Grated cheese, Cherry Tomatoes, and whole-herbs; for garnish and to taste

Sauté onions and garlic with olive oil. Once browned and aromatic, add in first the Mushrooms, followed by the Chard, asparagus, and beets; add the stock to whole mixture after several minutes. Add the rinsed and drained Chickpeas as well as the carrots and let cook after another few minutes, allowing this mixture to simmer as well.
Combine Yeast, some garlic powder, and the silken. Add spices to the vegetable mixture as desired.
As the vegetables become something to your liking, combine the silken to them and mix on low heat. Combined, pour this mixture into a covered casserole dish and top with the sweet potato; bake at 425 for half an hour. Uncover and broil for an additional 5-10 minutes.
Oh, and don't forget your garnishes before you bake the whole mess!
I served it over some brown rice and I, at least, found it interesting.
It certainly needs work, but not bad for the first of fall!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Sandwiches au Matin...

My better half asked for a special sandwich from a local vegan restaurant today. Rushing through my morning I threw this together and it was said to pass muster. The original from Life Alive (Which I cannot recommend enough, by the way - Boston and Lowell Mass. if you're ever in the state) called for Avocado and Broccoli, neither of which I had. I substituted, but that didn't mean I ruined it! Or lets hope...

The Hopeless Romantic:
1 Large Whole-Wheat Tortilla
enough cheddar cheese to melt and hold the sandwich together (a few ounces)
1/2 apple, sliced thinly
2 tbsp Nutritional yeast (Nooch!)
a half dozen or so baby carrots, sliced thinly (or equivalent)
1 tsp soy sauce
water
Optional: Sprouts (I thought I had some but they were old, sadly...), Sunflower Seeds

Steam the Carrot slices with water and the soy sauce in the microwave (in a dish with a few tablespoons of water). Layer the cheddar, yeast, apple slices, and finally the carrots in the center of the wrap. (Add any extras too!)
Spray a nonstick pan with canola oil and heat. Fold the wrap, ends closed so as to prevent the loss of any goodness from within. Grill each side of the wrap for a few minutes and cover, reducing heat for a few minutes more, so as to adequately melt the cheese.
*A Panini Press or similar may work well...How I want one.

Serve hot and melting with some good vegetable crudités, chips, maybe some hummus...

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Cupcakes

I've been stressed lately and it's taking a toll on me and everyone around me. Subsequently I've been moody. Weird, I know.
So I think i'll take a trip down the path to baking. I began with some Red Velvet Cupcakes with Nutella-Butter Cream frosting. I'll perfect the recipe before I post it, but they smelled wonderful and my frosting got good preliminary reviews.
Now I just need to make the beat-juice work in place of food coloring... For now, I've simply perfected Devil's Food Cake (what can I say, I'm excited at a success for once)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Zuppa! #1

It's been cold and rainy in New England this past week. Having a great new cold and being relatively sleep-deprived I've had a hankering for some hot soup. Well, I hadn't gotten than as of Thursday night and so I decided I'd make some for Friday.
This was adapted from a post on Vegan Dad and another from NPR's Kitchen Window series from last year. It came out well (although, I prefer low sodium and love cinnamon, whereas those who ate it with me felt otherwise on both points). Served with some hearty bread, maybe a bit of cheese it's a great fall soup. If you like, add come cooked brown rice, Barley, Farro... the list goes on...
1 cinnamon stick, whole
4 cups of Vegetable Stock
2 cups of water
1 can White beans, or whatever you may prefer
1 Sweet Potato, Sliced and quartered
2 small potatoes (I used a purple-skinned Russet and a fully purple potato - color good!)
1 1/2 cups Kale, chopped
1 Onion
8-10 button mushrooms, sliced into sixths
a few cloves garlic, diced
1 cup carrots, sliced and halved (1-inch pieces)
2 apples (I used fresh Macs) finely cubed
8 or so fresh Sage leaves
a sprig of fresh Rosemary
Olive Oil
Ground Nutmeg
Pepper
Bay Leaves (I never have any so I used old Bay seasoning - sodium free!)
Ginger (powder, sadly - I recommend about 1/2 of a walnut sized piece, grated)
Cardamom
Optional: cooked Farro, Rice, or other grain of your liking (and depending on volume desired....)

For starters, I think i give up on putting down spice measurements for the most part - they can be so personal (I'll stick with them in baking maybe...).
Begin by slicing the onion and caramelizing it with the garlic and olive oil. As it sits, browned, add the vegetable stock to a large pot and heat, adding the potatoes as they're prepared. As the stock begins to boil, empty the onions into another container and begin to sauté the chopped kale in any oil left from the onions (perhaps adding a splash extra).
Add the onions to the stock and add water towards the end of the Kale's cooking - it needn't be softened too much, merely to break down some of its Kaleness if that makes any sense... Chop the other vegetables as the kale cools in its pan, beginning with the apples.
Add first these chopped apples, then each subsequently prepared vegetable to the soup, adding water as needed. Add any spices to taste, and continue to top with water, stirring occasionally.
You may need to add more stock if too much water has been added - it shsould allow for a thick soup but not stew-like consistency.
Add the beans last - about half an hour prior to completion (if using canned as I did be sure to rinse first).
Add any grain about ten minutes later (cooked, remember) and let simmer, covered or un, depending on desired thickness. And don't forget to remove the cinnamon stick at about this point in cooking, before the final simmering takes place.
Enjoi!
Update: It's better leftover - the flavors have to "blend" as they say. THERE'S STILL HOPE!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

It's Been Busy...

Life's been busy these past few weeks, and I haven't had much time to cook...
I made some wonderful (well, I thought so) a week ago for my family who was stranded with us over night. I sautéed some Extra Firm tofu, sliced into small cubes with garlic, olive oil, red wine vinegar, and herbs. Separately I sautéed spinach, diced tomatoes, and some zucchini with garlic and some other spices. Tossing it together, I added some goat cheese and simmered.
Served over pasta, it came out much better than I had expected. My grandfather didn't even notice the tofu! Victory I'd say...
But here's what I've actually been working on: a catalog of vegetarian restaurants in New england (mostly). I like to have it on hand, maybe you would too? It will live in "The Sites" bar on the left of the blog. Enjoi!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Too little Thyme...

I don't really have a recipe or even a picture for this one (Well, here, it's too perfect not to show off at the least)
I just wanted to remind of the wonders provided by fresh herbs. Whilst my family was making an enormous pot of meat sauce this weekend, I was making myself a smaller one of Primavera. Sauté diced, semi-peeled Eggplant, julienned Summer Squash, Onions, and Garlic with a ton of fresh Thyme and you have good things. Tossing my veggies with some leftover diced green pepper, fresh basil, garlic powder, cracked pepper, a bit of sugar and plenty of fresh and canned tomato chunks makes for the best sauce. Just don't burn it! Me and my deep need to run at poor times...

But just remember, don't be afraid of herbs (and thick pasta sauces, they're the best kind).