Friday, December 25, 2009

Season's Eatings!

Merry Christmas to my bloggernaughts. If you are reading this today, step away from your computer and enjoy your family, friends, furry friends and come back later. If that isn't your thing, go cook something :) I'm working a 12 hour shift today, so I have an excuse to be sitting at the computer. LOL.

I wasn't overly optimistic about getting any cooking done today, but we had a little mini-harvest last night and I felt compelled to use it in something today. Here is the take from the garden late last Eve. Arugula and more radishes. It frosted the night before last before we could cover the garden. I'm hoping most stuff will make it. The tomatoes and beans are toast.

I got up a bit early this morning and prepped my goodies so I could throw a nice lunch together for me and my co-worker today. I bring you Christmas Pasta (to be re-named later when I'm feeling a bit more creative).

Makes 2 large portions

1/4 lb dried spaghetti/fettuccini/angel hair
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2 cippollini onions
2 teaspoon white balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons dry white wine and drink the rest of the bottle.
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning (I use Penzey's)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
8 sun dried tomatoes (not in oil) rehydrated, julienned
1 medium red bell pepper, julienned
2 cups loosely packed arugula
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (for garnish)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley (measured after chopping, for garnish)
red pepper flakes to taste (optional)

Cook pasta according to package direction (al dente). Run under cold water to cool. Toss with a bit of olive oil to prevent sticking. Pasta can be prepared a day or two ahead of time and stored in a tightly covered bowl in the fridge.

Heat oil in very large saute pan over medium high heat. Add garlic and saute until just fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add onions and saute until just starting to soften. Add vinegar and wine and reduce slightly. Add dried seasonings and saute for about 1 more minute. Add sun dried tomatoes and red peppers. Saute for about 3-5 minutes until peppers just start to soften. Add arugula and saute for another minute until it just starts to wilt. Add cooled pasta and cook until just heated through. Make sure to toss so that all of the ingredients are well combined. Add more salt and pepper to taste if needed. Dish out onto two plates. Garnish with toasted pine nuts, fresh parsley, and red pepper flakes if desired.

I hope that all of you have a love filled Christmas. Keep the kitchen fires burning!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Blog Cooking Challenges - Weeks 1-4

Allychristine from the PPK posted a challenge to keep all of us foodies inspired to try new dishes. Each week we make recipes from a particular blog. As a food blogger myself, I love the idea of supporting a fellow blogger and promoting their sites. Food blogging takes a lot of time and inspiration. There are some great blogs out there and I've posted some links here. I hope this post encourages you to check some more of them out!

Week One - The PPK Blog - I have to admit, I didn't make anything this week, but there was a reason. I have been testing for Isa for 3+ years. I'm still testing now, so I figured I'd give myself a week off from this challenge. I can tell you that I have made the Mexican Hot Chocolate Snickerdoodles more times than I care to admit. Try 'em they are easy, delicious and impressive.

Week Two - Vegan Dad - Vegan Dad has been posting kid friendly and more fancy pants fare for the more mature palate. He also has a cookbook of his most popular recipes that you can buy online. I had been eye-balling his Tofu Makhani recipe for some time. I'm embarrassed to say I had never made any Indian dishes before...although I had Indian spices in my massive spice collection. I really liked this recipe. But I have to admit, I had to add some hot chile to up the heat factor for us. It's an excellent dish and pretty easy to make!

Week Three - Fat Free Vegan - After the holidays I was craving something lighter and chock full of vegetables. This recipe for Stir Fried Tofu and Vegetables with Miso Sauce filled the bill! It was so fresh, colorful and tasty. I went back for seconds. One nice thing about stir fry dishes is the fact that you really can sub whatever vegetables you have on hand, which I did here.

Week Four - Bittersweet - This is the blog of Hannah Kaminsky, author of My Sweet Vegan. She was just 18 when she published her book of sweet treats! I decided to try a couple of her savory recipes rather then the sweet ones. I was very intrigued by her Healing Squash Soup. I am always trying to find ways to incorporate ginger with all of its healing properties into our diet. This soup is chock full of ginger. So much so, that it gives it a firey quality on the tounge. Not for the folks with a bland palate.

The second recipe I tried was her Forbidden Seed Bread. I did sub sunflower seeds for the pepita, because Fred snacked on the last of the pepitas I had. Not his fault. I usually tell him what I need for recipes and he is great about making sure not to eat the ingredients I need. This bread was a fun departure from your traditional loaves. It uses cooked forbidden black rice. It leant a really nice texture and moisture content to the bread. I will make this one again!!!

The challenge goes for 11 weeks, so I will be posting more from my friends in blogland in the upcoming weeks! If you get a chance, please check out their blogs. They put their heart, soul, and lots of time into them!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

FNF - Chicken Seitan and Bean Sopapillas

Take that GUY! This is my vegan take on a dish I saw on this episode of Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. The recipe is loosely based on a dish served at Salsa Brava in Flagstaff. I've had a chance to go there, but will have to visit next time I'm in Flag. Don't be scared by all of the recipes and steps. You can make the enchilada sauce, the cilantro cream, the seitan, and the beans a day or two before, so assembly is quick the day you put it together. I hope you decide to try this one. It is a real show stopper!

Frying up.

The finished giant sized masterpiece.

How does one go about making such a monstrous dish? The recipe(s) are below.

Chicken Seitan and Bean Stuffed Sopapillas

Makes 4 giant servings.

1 recipe sopapilla dough
1 recipe marinated chicken seitan
1 recipe refried beans
1 cup vegan cheddar (preferably Daiya)
1 recipe pasilla/ancho enchilada sauce
1 recipe chipotle cream
Oil heated to 375 for deep frying

Pre-heat oven to 500.

It is very important to have all of your ingredients set out and ready for assembly before you roll out the dough. Otherwise you run the risk of letting the dough get too wet and warm to puff up properly.

Prepare the refried beans and let them cool to room temperature. If already made and refrigerated, bring to room temperature.

Sear the marinated seitan steaks until they are brown and slightly crispy. Cool enough to be able to dice small.

Bring enchilada sauce to room temperature.

Divide sopapilla dough into 4 equal sized balls. Roll one out to about 6 inch round. Working quickly so the dough does not get wet, layer with cheese, chicken, then beans. Fold over to make 1/2 circle. Drop into hot oil immediately. Make sure to keep sopapilla submerged with heat proof tongs. Fry for about 2-3 minutes per side until golden brown. Transfer to cookie sheet. Repeat 3 more times with remaining dough balls.

Once all of the sopapillas are crispy and brown ladle enchilada sauce over the top and sprinkle with cheese. Bake until cheese is melty and bubbly. Drizzle with Cilantro Cream. Serve with extra enchilada sauce on the side. This one should be served immediately or you will lose the crunchy texture of the sopapilla.

For the sopapilla dough:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup warm water

Mix all of the ingredients together to form a tacky but not wet dough. Let sit for 2 hours.

Marinated Chicken Seitan

1/2 pound of your favorite chicken seitan cutlets, steaks, or roast cut into steaks about 1/4 inch thick
1/4 cup lemon lime soda
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons tequila
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon granulated garlic or garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder

In a shallow dish (I used and 8 x 8 cake pan) mix all of the marinade ingredients. Add seitan making sure there is one layer and the marinade covers most of it. If it doesn't, you'll need to turn it over 1/2 way through the marinading. Marinade for at least two hours.

Holy Frijoles Refried Beans
Makes 2 cups

1 large clove garlic, minced
1 small onion, diced small
2 teaspoons annato infused oil
1 tablespoon chopped green chiles (hatch preferably)
1/2 teaspoon epazone or mexican oregano
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/8 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1 - 15 oz can pinto beans with liquid

Heat oil in small sauce pan. Saute garlic until it is golden brown being careful not to burn it. Add onions and chiles and saute for about 5 minutes until onions are softened. Add dried spices and saute for 2 more minutes until fragrant. Add beans. Saute for 20 minutes until beans have thickened and only a small amount of liquid remains. Cool to room temperature. Can be stored in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.

Pasilla/Ancho Enchilada Sauce
Makes approximately 3 cups

4 large dried pasilla/ancho chilis
2 cups boiling water
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large onion, diced medium (about 3/4 cup)
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoon chili powder
28 oz can fire roasted crushed tomatoes

Rehydrate chilis in boiling water for 15-20 minutes until soft. Once rehydrated remove stem and seeds. Roughly chop.

In medium saucepan heat oil. Add garlic and saute for about 30 seconds. Add onions and saute until slightly soft. About 5 minutes. Add dried spices and saute for about 2 more minutes. Add pasillas and saute for 2 more minutes, adding a small amount of tomatoes if it gets too dry. Add entire can of tomatoes and simmer for 20 minutes. Using an immersion blender, regular blender or food processor blend until sauce is fairly smooth making sure there are no chunks of pasilla remaining. Saute for 10 more minutes. Can be stored for 2-3 days.

Cilantro Cream

1/2 cup non-dairy vegan sour cream
2 teaspoons unsweetened soy cream (Preferably Wildwood Brand, it has the least amount of sugar)
1/8 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/8 teaspoon granulated onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chopped cilantro (measured after chopping)

In a small bowl mix all ingredients. Let sit for at least 1/2 hour to let flavors meld. Can store up to 1 day in the refrigerator.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Food Network Friday - Beef and Horseradish Sauce Sandwich

For this week's Food Network Friday Challenge I converted this Ina Garten Recipe. With the holidays approaching, it was nice to have a fairly easy conversion this week. Once the seitan is made, this is a snap to throw together. I used Tami Noyes' Beefy Seitan Recipe that will be in her upcoming American Vegan Kitchen cookbook as the base. The rest was pretty straight forward.

"Beef" and Horseradish Sauce Sandwiches.

Makes 2 hearty sized sandwiches.

4 oz Beefy Seitan
1/2 tablespoon Earth Balance
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
Salt and Pepper

Sauce ingredients

1/2 cup vegannaise
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
2 teaspoons stoneground mustard
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
1 Tablespoon Toffutti non-hydrogenated sour cream

Sandwich ingredients

4 slices whole grain sandwich bread
1 cup arugula
1 tomato sliced thin
1/2 tablespoon softened Earth Balance

Preheat oven to 500.Mix 1/2 tablespoon EB with 1 teaspoon dijon. Coat seitan roast with mixture. Coat with pepper and salt lightly. Bake seitan for 15-20 minutes until outside gets a nice crust on it. Remove from oven.

While seitan is cooking mix together sauce ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Can keep in refrigerator for several days.

To assemble sammies thinly slice hot seitan. On one slice of bread spread the horsey sauce. Top with thinly sliced hot seitan, 1/2 cup arugula and a few slices of tomato. Butter top slice of bread and put on top (butter side down). Slice in half and serve.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

New Recipe - Raw Sweet Potato and Zucchini Salad

I don't have a great picture of this, but it was a nice side for Julie Hasson's Rockin' Reuben! The reuben is a test recipe for her upcoming Vegan Diner cookbook.

The dressing for this gets it's creaminess from raw cashews. It is gluten and soy free too!

Raw Zucchini and Sweet Potato Salad

2 1/2 cups shredded raw sweet potato (approx 1 large sweet potato)
3 1/2 cups shredded raw zucchini
1/4 cup cashews
2 Tablespoons warm filtered water
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/4 cup cold pressed canola oil
1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper (or to taste)
salt to taste

After shredding zucchini, gently squeeze excess liquid from zucchini with a towel or cheesecloth. In a large bowl mix zucchini and sweet potato. In a food processor or blender blend cashews and water until smooth. Add vinegar, mustard, and thyme and pulse a couple of times to blend. With processor running, slowly add oil until it is emulsified. Toss dressing with veggies. Add salt and pepper to taste.

**this is best eaten fresh. The texture gets a little odd if it sits in the fridge.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving 2009

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Fred and I both had to work on the actual day, but we were so lucky to be able to enjoy dinner with our families the night before. As we knew most of our guests would have traditional dishes the next day, we decided to go with a Latin theme.

Our lovely daughter in law Randi made some killer creamy tomatillo salsa and guacamole.

My sister made Julie Hasson's tester for Vegan Diner Smoky Spinach and Tomato Salad
My friend Piot made a yummy bean salad (for some reason it missed the camera).

The main course was Terry Romero's Spicy Tortilla Casserole with Roasted Pabalanos from her upcoming Viva Vegan and Isa's Potato Kale Enchiladas from Veganomicon. Also not pictured were Terry's Cilantro Lime Rice and Yellow Garlic Rice, two kinds of pinto beans.

To finish things off we had my favorite Apple-Cranberry Ribbon Pie and a variation of Julie Hasson's Chocolate Truffle pie (this one was Mexican Kahlua flavored).

We were so thankful to have friends and family around us, good food, a warm house, clothes on our back, shoes on our feet and a wonderful holiday. Wishing the same for all of you and yours!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

First Harvest

I haven't had a garden since I was living with my parents. This fact has always made me a bit sad. Growing up, we always had a great garden and fruit trees to provide the best fresh summer goodies. As a kid, I took garden fresh produce for granted. These days with all of the crap that is allowed in our food supply the garden takes on new and greater importance to me. I am thrilled to be able to go outside, know there are no pesticides being sprayed on my food, and eat something right off of the plant. Ah, the peace and happiness this brings me!

Fred feverishly worked to put a beautiful garden in for us this fall. Being in AZ we can really get some good stuff during the winter months. He planted all sorts of goodies. We are now starting to see the fruits...or rather veggies of his labors. There are a few small green tomatoes on the plants. Our friend gave us a pepin plant that has a couple of bright red hot babies on it. The lettuces and kale are starting to look promising. We will have a great harvest in the coming weeks and months.

For now, we got our first little beauties - radishes! I haven't had one yet, but Fred says they are very mild and crunchy. I will soon be making a lovely radish salad. I can't wait!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Vegan MOFO - Day 30 - Wrappin' it up for 2009

I'm wrapping up a day early as Fred and I are going to be traveling tomorrow. We are finally getting to go on our much anticipated honeymoon!

This was a fun month. I have to thank all of the folks who sent me their family favorites this month. I did not get to all of the recipes, but fear not, my blog contributers and followers, I will be back to finish my mission. I really enjoyed checking out the recipes that were sent. I want to continue this project as it is so fitting. After all the blog is called Vegan Conversion Challenge. Convert I will!

The Iron Chef challenges were really fun. I like having to create on the fly. Look for more original recipes in the upcoming posts. You can also expect a few more restaurant reviews and Food Network Friday conversions. For those of you not in the know, this is where one of the participants picks a Food Network recipe for the rest of us to veganize. There will be lots of fun and recipes for you to check out.

I'm taking a little time off to be a better wife. Hee hee.

I leave you with this tasty morsel - my veganized version of BBQ

Pecan Smoked BBQ Tofu

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Vegan MOFO - Day 29 - Zucchini Brownies

My friend Dana (no relation to the brownie author)- from the Day 28 post - has been asking for this recipe for months. Her kids went wild for it. I found a non-vegan version of this recipe years ago (back in 2000) on an oddball site. I have to give credit for the original recipe to Dana Resop. I cannot find the original recipe online anymore. I thought I had lost it in the great recipe binder abyss. I'm thrilled that I not only found the original, but I had actually made notes on how I veganized it! This is a rich, moist delicious brownie that will win you brownie points (pun intended) with your friends and family.

Dana's Zucchini Brownies

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup Earth Balance vegan butter
1/2 cup silken tofu
1 tablespoon applesauce
2 tablespoon non-dairy milk (soy, almond, etc)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups zucchini, grated
2 cups flour
1/4 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 350.

Cream sugar and butter together. Add tofu, applesauce, and non-diary milk and mix well. Mix flour cocoa, baking soda, salt and cinnamon together in a seperate bowl. Stir into wet ingredients. Fold in zucchini and mix well. Pour better into well oiled 9 x 13 pan. Sprinkle top with chocolate chips and remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Bake for 30 minutes. Test with toothpick for doneness.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Vegan MOFO - Day 28 - Dorothy's "Beef" and Barley Soup

My friend Dana sent me several recipes to convert. I may not get them done before the end of MOFO, but I plan on continuing my conversions after this month. This has been so much fun.

She sent what I am assuming is a recipe from her friend Dorothy. I did have to take a few liberties with the original recipe to make it work with seitan rather than beef. I made Tami Noyes' Beefy Seitan recipe which will be published in her upcoming book, Vegan American Kitchen. I am privvy to this recipe because I was lucky enough to test for her. Get your hands on this book when it comes out. The recipes are fun and will remind you of down home midwestern cookin'. Seitan does not need to cook forever like beef to be tender. This takes a lot of time off the cooking time. The original recipe called for an egg to make what is called an egg rivel. This is similar to the egg in egg drop soup. I used Mori-nu silken organic tofu and grated it though a large holed cheese grater to create a similar effect.

Dorothy's "Beef" and Barley Soup

8 servings

1 lb beefy seitan diced to about 1/4 inch dice
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large carrots, diced small (1 1/4 cup)
1 1/2 stalks celery, diced small (1/2 cup)
1/2 medium onion, diced small (1/4 cup)
2 tablespoons dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 cups "beefy broth" or water (or combination)*
1/2 cup cooked barley
8 oz can of tomato sauce
Salt to taste (amount will depend on the saltiness of broth used)
1/2 package Mori-nu Soft Silken Tofu

Brown beefy seitan in olive oil. Add carrots, celery, and onion and saute until slightly softened, about 5-10 minutes. If it gets too dry, add 1 tablespoon of broth. Add parsley and pepper and saute for another minute. Pour in broth, barley, and tomato sauce and simmer for 30-40 minutes. Just before serving, grate tofu through large holed grater for garnish. Serve immediately. This can be frozen or refrigerated. To reheat you may have to add water as it will thicken a bit as it sits.

*If you make your own seitan using a simmering method, I recommend using the simmering broth from the seitan here. It gives a wonderful richness to the soup.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Vegan MOFO - Day 27 - Iron Chef - Pumpkin and Carrots

I'm submitting my Iron Chef entry a bit early, because this one is going to need some time. I am hoping it will be ready to go by Thanksgiving.

This weekend at a Halloween party my good friend Julia approached me about an idea she had for a drink. Now I am all about creative alcohol consumption so I was all ears. She said she was dreaming about inventing a Pumpkin Pie-tini. We discussed the merits of different presentations: should it have a creamy element, should it just be an infused concoction, etc. I've decided to start by making an infused, flavored vodka. It may be just fine on its own, or it may need a little dolling up. Time will tell.

Pumpkin Pie Infused Vodka

1/2 small pumpkin, cut into large chunks
1 large carrot, cut into large chunks
3 cinnamon sticks
1 whole nutmeg, slightly crushed (can be in pieces)
1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
6 cups vodka (I used Ketel One)

Put all ingredients in a wide mouth half gallon glass container with a tight fitting lid, making sure all ingredients are completely covered in vodka. Let infuse for 3-4 weeks in the refrigerator.

I have not made this before, so I am anxious to see the results. When it is ready; Julia, Linda, and I will taste test it and come up with a festive holiday drink, just in time for Thanksgiving.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Vegan MOFO - Day 25 - Grandma's Potato Salad

The original recipe for this was handed down from my grandmother to my mother. I'm not sure how many generations before that it was born, but it was my all time favorite. The original recipe called for both mayonnaise and Miracle Whip. I was never a big fan of Miracle Whip, so I did take the liberty of changing the original a bit by adding mustard. This would have been cause for being ousted from the family cooking library had it not resulted in an even better version. I didn't think it was possible to make it taste any better. But lo and behold! This is an outstanding dish to take to a potluck or a picnic.

Germany Meets Poland Potato Salad (Lower left hand corner of the plate)

10-12 Servings

2 lbs baby red potatoes quartered
2 lbs Yukon gold potatoes, diced to same approx size as red potatoes
4 tablespoons vegan French dressing, separated
1 ½ tsp celery salt, separated

2 stalks celery, finely diced
1 med white or yellow onion, finely diced
2 tbsp pimento, finely diced
¼ cup German-style mustard
1 cup Vegannaise, separated
¼ cup tightly packed dill,
Salt and pepper to taste

In two separate pots, boil the potatoes, reds in one and Yukons in the other. I recommend this as they may have different cooking times. Cook until just soft, being careful not to over cook. Drain but do not rinse potatoes. While still hot stir 2 tbsp French dressing and ¾ tsp celery salt into each potato pot. Let potatoes cool completely, this may take an hour or more. Once the potato mixture is completely cool, you can transfer all of the potatoes into a large mixing bowl and mix in the remaining ingredients. Add salt and pepper to taste. Chill for at least 4 hours, overnight is best.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Vegan MOFO - Day 24 - Iron Chef - Apples and Peanut Butter

I had a hard time with this one. It could be because I think peanut butter and apples go together perfectly in their natural state. Why mess with a good thing. Well we can't have that attitude! For some reason, no crazy original idea came to me this week, so I borrowed from others.

I modified the scone recipe from Vegan Brunch and based my glaze on this recipe. I used almond milk for the regular milk and Toffutti cream cheese for the cream cheese. I halved the recipe. I found it to be a little thin for my purposes, so I added another tablespoon of peanut butter to get the consistency I was looking for.

Apple Cinnamon Scones with a Peanut Butter Glaze

These are super yummy and rich.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Vegan MOFO Day 23 - Jackie's Stuffed "Andouille Stuffed Jalepenos

My friend Jackie is a self described chile fiend. She is also a fantastic cook, so I knew I needed to be on my game to veganize one of her favorites.

Most of the recipe looked pretty easy to veganize. I used Toffutti brand non-hydrogenated cream cheese for the regular cream cheese and daiya Italian blend for the Mozzarella in the original recipe.

The challenge for me was how to make an Andouille substitute that was not made from vital wheat gluten. I don't have anything against making seitan style sausages, mind you, as a matter of fact I love them. However, I let my day get away from me and didn't have time to make the sausages and give them proper sitting time. I decided to use marinated tempeh as the substitute. It went a little something like this:

Jackie's Stuffed "Andouille" Jalepenos

14 fresh jalepenos, halved and cleaned of seeds and pith
1/2 cup red bell pepper, finely diced
1/4 cup red onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon canola oil
8 oz Toffutti brand non-hydrogenated vegan cream cheese
1 - 8 oz package tempeh, diced in 1/4 inch cubes
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Daiya vegan mozzarella cheese

For the marinade:
1/4 cup dry red wine
1/4 cup vegetable broth
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon chipotle pepper powder
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon gumbo file
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika (important that it is smoked)
1 chili tepin, crushed
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon thyme

Steam tempeh for 10 minutes. While tempeh is steaming mix all of the ingredients in a container just large enough for the tempeh to cover the bottom in one layer. Pour hot steamed tempeh in marinade. Marinade for at least 30 minutes, preferably overnight. The longer it is marinated the more flavorful it will be.

Preheat oven to 350.

Bake jalepeno halves for 10 minutes. Let cool.

In a large iron skillet or saute pan over medium heat, saute red peppers, red onion, and minced garlic until soft, about 5 minutes. Add tempeh and all of the marinade, if there is any left (marinade may be soaked up by tempeh) and saute until liquid is gone, tempeh is just browned and mixture is a bit sticky, maybe 10 minutes. Remove from heat and put in medium sized bowl. Cool down to room temperature. Stir in cream cheese, liquid smoke and salt (to taste).

Stuff jalepeno halves with about 2 teaspoons mixture each. Sprinkle top with mozzarella. Bake until cheese is melted and just starting to get golden.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Vegan MOFO - Day 22 - Tortilla Soup

The recipe for easy Chicken Tortilla Soup has been traveling around the internet for a long time. The original versions were designed to be an easy, quick, out of the can experience. This is why my girlfrend Piot and my sister serve this one when they have a bunch of hungry teenagers hanging around the house.

This one requires a bit more work than opening cans, but is still easy to whip together. The cans of chicken in the original are replaced by re-hydrated soy curls. The ranch style beans in the black can (which contain animal fat) are replaced by Heinz brand vegetarian beans. There is a suggestion for making your own spice blend if you cant find that brand at the end of the recipe. The original suggests using Rotel Mexican style tomatoes and diced tomatoes with green chili, which you sure can use. I prefer Muir Glen organic small diced tomatoes with chipotle. I have a confession to make. While I do enjoy making my own vegetable stock on occassion, it takes time and space that I don't always have. I often use Better than Bullion vegan bases rather than making my own stock. They are so convenient and the flavors are very good. They make an excellent organic vegetable version. In this conversion I used the chicken version pictured below.

Tortilla Soup

Make 14 servings

2 cups Butler Soy Curls
1 1/2 cups hot vegetable broth (chicken style)
1 tablespoon canola oil
4 cups chicken style vegetable broth (total using liquid from re-hydrating soy curls)
2 cups cream of mushroom soup (condensed version)
2 cans Heinz Vegetarian beans*
2 cans Muir Glen small diced tomatoes with chipotle
1 small can diced green chilis (optional)

Pour hot 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth over soy curls. Let sit for 10 minutes to re-hydrate. Drain liquid and reserve. In large soup pot heat canola oil over medium heat adding the soy curls to brown*. Once browned add remaining ingredients. Bring to simmering and simmer for 15 minutes.

Serve garnished with limes, salsa, tortilla strips, sour cream, and/or vegan cheese (all optional).

If you cannot find the Heinz beans Add the following seasoning mix when browning the soy curls:
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder

Also add:

2 teaspoons white vinegar.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Vegan MOFO - Day 21 - Memories of My Estranged Father

Today is my seventh day of work (well 6 technically, but I was home sick the 7th day). I work 12 hour shifts, so every once in a while I feel the need to take a night off in the kitchen. Tonight will be that night.

Last night some of my lovely friends sent me some great dishes to veganize. I am going to take a little time to soak in the recipes and contemplate how I can convert them into compassionate cuisine while maintaining their essence. There are a couple of very challenging conversions coming your way soon. They won't be challenging for you, dear readers, but they will be challenging for me to convert. I start my days off tomorrow, so I will have more time to play around in the kitchen. This makes me excessively happy.

For some reason, I have been haunted by memories of my estranged father's odd eating/driking habits the last couple of days. I haven't spoken to him in over 20 years, so I'm not sure why he keeps popping into my head. He was a very eccentric man with very odd habits, food related and otherwise. I remember getting grossed out by some of his favorites; beet greens with vinegar, pork chops thickly topped with sage (I mean thickly!), baked potato flattened and slathered with sour cream and completely covered with paprika - this one actually sounds good at this point in life.

He would not drink milk on its own...which at the time seemed so very odd. He would, however drink it mixed with rootbeer. He had a very specific proportion that he would mix up in the milk jug. He'd wait until the milk in the gallon jug was at the magical level. Then he would add rootbeer slowly to the top. This milky foamy concoction was ALWAYS in our fridge. He usually had it in a specific glass and NEVER had ice in it.

I'm going to show my age here, but back then we had a drive in (similar to Sonic) called Dog N' Suds. It was only open in the summer. They had the most delicious rootbeer. It was creamy and full of spicy rootbeer goodness. It probably tasted even better because you could not get it year 'round. We'd get the platic barrel shaped jugs and stash them in the fridge. I was a notoriously picky eater/drinker as a child. It was so good, even I would indulge in a frosty mug here and there.

Dear Ol' Dad's Rootbeer

3/4 cup cold rootbeer
1/4 cup cold almond milk
Chilled mug.

Pour in chilled mug. Let sit for a couple of minutes to let the chilled mug do it's thing. Do not add ice! Enjoy.

I must need daddy therapy today because now that I have written this, many more kitchen/dad/childhood memories are flooding into my memory. My dad was a tinkerer. He could fix and build a wild array of things. One of the things he created for my mom was this incredible chopping blade. I wish I had one today! My mom had this awesome wood bowl. It was probably about 4 inches deep and about 14 inches wide. Our garage was a crazy machineshop where many of his inventions and creations came to life. He took to the task of making a 1/2 circle chopping blade that fit perfectly into the bowl. I remember the excitement I felt the first time my mom let me chop the celery and onions for her potato salad. (which I will post my veganized version of later now that I am thinking of it). That thing rocked! He kept it razor sharp by using the grinder in our garage. OK, If someone took my Globals to a grinder, they would end up with it in their leg! But these were simpler times.

I have to thank him for giving me my first cooking experience (warning-it was not vegan). As I mentioned he was eccentric and very non-traditional. He worked nights and my mom worked days. When I was around 5 years old, he decided he was hungry and asked me to make him something to eat. Now most normal, responsible parents would not let their small child loose unsupervised in the kitchen with a gas stove. I have to admit, at that point in life, I would go to great lengths to make him think I could do things that may have been a bit out of my range so that I could get some of his attention. He was more than a little detached.

I marched to the kitchen and promptly set about the task of making him lunch. Things started out pretty well. I knew where the pans and spatula were. I grabbed the eggs and butter out of the fridge and got to work. I hopped up on one of our burnt orange vinyl chairs (this was 1970 folks) so that I could reach the stove. I figured out how to turn on the stove. Heated up the pan and started cooking him what were to be eggs over easy. Of course as a beginner I promtly cracked the yolks when I flipped them, but no biggie they were still edible. I turned the oven off and hopped off the chair. Here is where things went a little south. As a vertically challenged 4 .9 year old I wasn't sure where to put the hot pan while I scooped the eggs out and put them on the plate. Hmmmm. I decided the chair was the perfect working height for me. As I set the pan on the chair, I realized this might be a bad idea as the smell of burning vinyl hit my nose. When Mom got home she was furious...thankfully at my dad for leaving me unattended in the kitchen, not for ruining that hip chair. My dad seemed to really like the eggs by the way....and so my lifelong love of cooking began.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Vegan MOFO - Day 20 - Remembering Aunt Jo

We lived close to most of our relatives growing up. This was a great thing as a kid. We got to spend a lot of time with our grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. My dad hated holidays and most people. In hindsite this had to stink for my mom. She forged on and made sure our holidays were always spent with the family. Christmas Eve was spent with my dad's side of the family and Christmas Day was spent at Aunt Jo's with my mom's side of the family.

Aunt Jo took over the matriarchal duties as my grandmother aged. She feverishly cooked a huge Thanksgiving feast for a crowd of 20 or so hungry relatives. I can remember the smells of her kitchen and the vast amount of food she cranked out. She had a pool table in her basement. It was covered up for the buffet spread. She would start the same process over for Christmas day. What I didn't appreciate as much then as I do now, is all of the hard work and love that went into her holiday cooking.

Aunt Jo was the one who made sure we all had a loving place to be on the holidays, even when the family was getting a bit crazy and fragmented. We lost Aunt Jo to breast cancer in October of 2006. Sadly those extended family dinners have been lost along with her. Here in AZ I do my best to bring our "family" together around the holidays. It is so important to be with those you love the most whenever you can, especially around the holidays. It is such a magical time. I think of Aunt Jo often when I am cooking the holiday feast.

My mom had this fantastic recipe for Pecan Balls. I loved those powdered sugar covered buttery treats. A few years after I moved to Arizona, she sent the recipe to us. It said Aunt Jo's Pecan Balls. I should have known this recipe came from her! She always had something going on in the kitchen or in the sewing room (a discussion that warrants it's own post). I took the easy way out on this one. I didn't have to do the conversion for her recipe. Terry Romero came up with a version in her new book Vegan Cookies Take Over Your Cookie Jar. She called them Nutty Wedding Cookies, I call them little snow balls of love. Thanks to Terry for bringing one of Aunt Jo's recipes back to life for me.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Vegan MOFO - Day 19 - Gail's Buffalo Chickn Dip

My friend Gail always says she can't cook. She lies like a rug. She has hidden talents that pop out when she thinks you aren't paying attention. Sometimes I think she just tells me that so I'll cook for her (or just to make me feel better)!

Before I shunned the chickies Gail busted out this incredible dip at one of her and John's famous Halloween parties. It tasted like wings in a dip. I have to admit, wings were one of the things that almost made me break down more than once. I love the smell of the hot sauce steaming. I love the way the heat makes my nose run. Ahhhhhh! I no longer crave the fleshy version. This dip will take the edge of when I need a fix.

Tonight it was Monday Night Football. What better time to make something wing-esque? Another dish you want to eat in moderation as it is full of calorie rich ingredients.

Gail's Buffalo Chickn Dip

1/4 cup vegan blue cheese dressing (I made my own, still needs some tweeking, use your fav)
4 oz. toffutti non-hydrogenated cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons Louisianna hot sauce
1 tablespoon Ta Patio hot sauce
2 oz shredded blue sheeze (vegan blue cheese)
1/2 cup chicken style seitan, chopped small (could sub Butler soy curls rehydrated in chix broth)
1 stalk celery, finely diced

Makes approx 1 1/2 cups

Preheat oven to 325.

In medium size bowl cream together the blue cheese dressing, cream cheese, and hot sauces until smooth. Stir in remaining ingredients until well mixed. Pour into 1 1/2 cup pyrex or other ovenproof dish. Bake for 25 minutes, until hot and just bubbly. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving. This would also work well in a mini crock pot. They usually have only one temperature. Heat in mini crock for 1-2 hours until bubbly and hot. This recipe will double nicely for a larger party.

Blue Cheeze Dressing

Makes approximately one cup

1 cup vegannaise
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon tahini
1 teaspoon mellow miso
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 tablespoon blue sheeze (optional)
Black pepper to taste
If you like a thinner dressing, thin with a small amount of unsweetened soy milk

In small bowl mix thoroughly. Best if it can chill for at least an hour.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Vegan MOFO - Day 18 - Gourmet Pasta

This recipe was sent to me by my lovely friend Julie. This Casserole is a ridiculously rich and over the top dish not to be taken lightly. As a matter of fact, this could easily de-rail my biggest loser efforts, thank you very much. But holy mama is it freaking delicious. I am truly amazed at how many of the family favorites are laden with high-fat and normally big time dairy ingredients. C'est la vie. I left my camera at my friend's house (along with the leftovers LOL), so I will post the pics when I get them uploaded. Even the totally omni kids chowed down on this. When you have some calories to spare, make this one.

Gourmet Pasta

2 cups TVP
1 3/4 cups vegetable broth
2 teaspoons kitchen bouquet
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 - 14.5 can diced fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 - 6 oz. can tomato paste
1 - 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
5 oz ribbon noodles
1 cup toffutti sour cream
4 oz. toffutti cream cheese
6 green onions, chopped
1 cup Daiya cheddar cheese
1 cup Daiya Italian blend

Preheat oven to 350.

Stir kitchen bouquet into vegetable broth. Heat mixture and pour over TVP to rehydrate. In a large skillet heat olive oil. Brown TVP. Once browned add minced garlic and saute for 2 minutes more. Add diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, salt and pepper. Lower heat to simmer. Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain pasta. While pasta is still hot, stir in cream cheese, sour cream, and green onions. Mix well. Coat 4 quart casserole with canola oil (I prefer spray canola). Layer 1/2 of noodles, then 1/2 of tomato mixture, then 1 cup of Italian cheese mix, remaining 1/2 of noodles, remaining tomato mixture, then 1 cup of cheddar.

Bake uncovered for 35 minutes. Turn oven off without opening. Let sit in oven for 20-25 minutes. Serve immediately. Can also be refrigerated and re-heated at 350 for 25 minutes.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Vegan MOFO Day 17 - Iron Chef - Spicy Sour Soup

This week's iron chef challenge ingredients were lemon and ginger. I have a cold this week, so these ingredients were just what the doctor ordered. The citrus of the lemon coupled with the anti-oxidant power of ginger should get me well on the road to recovery. I was craving a healing, soothing, spicy soup to knock out the nasty germies that are invading.

I have to be honest, this one was truly "iron". I wanted to make something tonight and had no idea what I had to work with. We have let many lovely veggies go bad this week. I scoured the fridge and the pantry and came up with this kind of fiery, flavorful, yet simple soup.

Spicy Sour Soup

8 Servings

1 package extra firm tofu, pressed for an hour or longer
3 tablespoons peanut oil, divided
1 medium onion, finely diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced ginger
3 hot red Thai chiles, finely minced
1/4 teaspoon five spice powder
1 cup snow peas
3 cups rich vegetable stock
8 oz. package cremini mushrooms
Juice of 1 lemon (approx 2 tablespoons)
1 cup water
2 tablespoons red miso
1 14 oz can light coconut milk

In a 10 inch iron skillet heat 2 tablespoons peanut oil over med-high heat. Dice the pressed tofu into 1/2 inch cubes. Saute tofu cubes in oil until browned and slightly crisp, stirring occassionally.

While tofu is browning, add remaining oil to large soup pot. Over medium heat saute onions, garlic, and ginger until onions start to soften. Add Thai chiles and saute for another 2 minutes. Add snow peas and 5 spice powder and saute for 3 more minutes. Deglaze with mirin. Add vegetable stock and heat to boiling. Reduce to simmering and add thinly sliced mushrooms. When mushrooms are slightly soft, 5-10 minutes, add lemon juice and stir. Make sure the broth does not come back to a boil. Dissolve miso in water. Add this mixture and coconut milk to soup pot. Stir in Sriracha (if you like it really hot add more to taste). Let simmer without boiling for about 5 more minutes so that flavors will come out. By this time the tofu should be nicely browned. Stir browned tofu into soup. Ladle and serve.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Vegan MOFO - Day 16 - "Turkey" Surprise

Thanksgiving for my sister's family was spent for years at her in laws in San Diego. Grandma G spent hours and probably even days prepping for the feast. Of course, there was always some leftover turkey. After a few days you knew you were going to get tired of turkey sandwiches.

As was the yearly tradition, the day after Thanksgiving, no one wanted her to spend a lot of time in the kitchen...especially her. I'm not sure when this fun packet of yum was conceived, but both of my sister's girls always raved about Grandma's turkey surprise when they were little. I had the opportunity to finally try one when I was invited for the feast. They are a sinful little treat.

The original version was made with a filling of cream cheese, broccoli, and of course, turkey. The filling was then encased in crescent rolls that come in the cardboard can. In this remake the turkey is replaced by chicken style seitan, the cream cheese by toffutti brand non-hydrogenated cream cheese, and the crescents with vegan puff pastry.*

"Turkey" Surprise

4 servings

2 - 8 x 8 sheets of vegan puff pastry thawed and quartered
1 - 8 oz tub of toffutti non-hydrogenated cream cheese
1/2 teaspoons onion powder
1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 head broccoli crowns, chopped small (Approx 2 cups)
6 oz chicken seitan, chopped to approx 1/4 inch pieces (or leftover thanksgiving vegan roast)

Preheat oven to 350.

With mixer, blend onion powder and garlic powder into cream cheese in medium sized mixing bowl. Saute broccoli and seitan in about 1 tablespoon of liquid (cooking liquid from seitan or vegetable broth is perfect) until broccoli just turns bright green. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature (this is very important, see note below). Stir into cream cheese until completely blended. Divide filling evenly over 4 of the squares of puff pastry. Top with other four squares. Pinch to close. Place two of the pouches each on a cookie sheet. Bake for 28 minutes. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.
To avoid sticking issues with the puff pastry, do not let it get too warm.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Vegan MOFO - Day 15 - Chicken Cacciatore

I had a couple of suggestions for this conversion. My friends Julia and Jerry both requested this one. Neither of them had a specific recipe, but gave me some basic ingredients. I also remember my mom making this. I didn't like it much as a kid, but as my palate matured, I came to appreciate it more.

There are as many version of this as their are Italian men hitting on unsuspecting women in lounges all over the world. I took what my friends mentioned, what I remember my mom's version being, and ideas from the internet for inspiration. The result was stick to your ribs yummy.

Seitan Chicken Cacciatore

6 Servings with pasta

12 oz chicken style seitan chunks
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 large onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup olive oil divided
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
8 oz white mushrooms thickly sliced
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh black pepper or to taste
1 - 6 oz can tomato paste
1 - 28 oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes

In saute pan brown onions in 1 tablespoon olive oil. Once browned, remove from pan. In same pan add two tablespoons of olive oil to pan over medium low heat. Dredge seitan chunks in flour and add to pan. Saute until browned, turning once. Turn off heat. In large pot heat remaining olive oil. Add minced garlic and saute about 30 seconds until fragrant. Add green peppers, mushrooms, herbs, salt, and pepper. Saute until peppers are slightly soft and mushrooms have released their juices. You may need to add a bit more liquid if vegetables start to stick (use veg broth or a bit of the wine). Once the liquid starts to reduce, deglaze with wine. Saute for 2 minutes and stir in tomato paste until combined. Add diced tomatoes and onions. Saute for 20 or 30 minutes. Add seitan and saute for 10 more minutes.

Serve over warm cooked pasta of your choice. If you like, you can sprinkle with vegan parmesan and crushed red peppers.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Vegan MOFO Day 14 - Chicken Fried Tofu

I've been out of town and trying to get caught up with stuff at home. I will get back to conversions very soon.

This delicious dish was originally inpired by Johnp. Fried chicken is a favorite of many of my friends and family members. This was one of my closet...or for that matter, not so closet food addictions before giving up the birdies. I loved the crispy coating, the seasoning in the breading, the finger licking goodness. The thought of it is making me drool as I'm typing.

When we were little, my parents owned a pet shop. The shop was open late on Fridays, so no dinner was made. The ritual was to order pizza from a small family owned pizza joint. I hated pizza as a kid. This same little place had incredible fried chicken. I am still trying to duplicate the spices of that stuff. When we had it at home my mom used to use a giant skillet and hand bread the chicken. I remember not so patiently waiting for the crispy goodness to hit my plate. No fried chicken dinner was worth it's weight without some creamy mashed potatoes with peppery gravy. Man this is the stuff that food dreams are made of!

Here is my tribute to crispy, greasy, deliciousness!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Vegan MOFO - Day 11 - San Antonio

I'm still out of town visiting my two besties from grade school in San Antonio. I don't have the cord for my camera, so no pics today. San Antonio doesn't have a whole load of vegan options, but I can work my way around a lot of menus.

Our first stop was Acenar. It's very close to our hotel and is right on the Riverwalk. We decided to start slow with drinks and appetizers. The prickly pear margaritas were very pretty and quite tasty. We were so excited to be together, they could have served us riverwater and cardboard and it would have been awesome. They offer tableside guacamole. This is a save vegan bet. We had her put extra serranos in it. OK, so it wasn't the best I've ever had, but the ambiance and the company were outstanding.

I'm feeling a little carb overload. I can probably do without chips and salsa for a couple of months after this. That seems to be one of the few vegan things on the menus here. Hee hee. We had lots of red wine last night, so I'm not feeling very inspired today. So I apologize for the boring entry. I'm hoping I will have a nice plate of grilled veggies tonight! My poor belly.

When I get back home on Tuesday, the family recipe conversions will continue! Stay tuned and have a great Sunday.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Vegan MOFO - Day 10 - An ode to Mrs Eichenberger

Mrs. Eichenberger was our lunch lady in grade school. We actually went to school in a time when lunches were actually real food made by old ladies who cared about what they cooked for the kids. We paid 4 cents for a pint of milk.

One of my favorite lunches was the "pizza burger". It was neither a pizza or a burger. In hindsight and with many years of food experience behind me, I found it was a rather crafty way to use the leftover spaghetti sauce from the lunches earlier in the week. The matrons of the school cafeteria took spaghetti sauce (probably made with some soy burger rations) and a really cheap nasty cheddar cheese that got totally crusty when broiled. OK, now when I think of this today I'm thinking, "really? That is some nasty shiitake." But in the day it was like gold.

I had some leftover spaghetti sauce from the remake of Tracey's sauce. I found some Orrowheat sandwich rounds, which seemed to me to be the perfect canvas for this remake. I slathered that sauce on the rounds, added some Daiya cheddar and plopped it under the broiler. Ah, the sweet memories of grade school took over my snobby foodie palate and made me 10 years old again. It was the best forking lunch I've had in a long time. Viva la Mrs. Eichenberger and LITH Elementary School!!!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Vegan MOFO - Day 9 - Durty Rice Cakes

I'm doing tomorrow's post a little early. I am going to be on the road and I'm not sure if I'll be able to get online. I also didn't want to forget how I made these. The flavor is really good. I still want to tweak the cooking method a bit to get the perfect texture, but they are pretty good as written. Give them a try and let me know how they came out.

I made these to go with the stuffed okra. They still need a little tweaking to make them perfect, but they were damned tasty.

Durty Rice Cakes

Makes 10 cakes

1 cup uncooked short grain brown rice
2 cups filtered water
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 green pepper, diced fine
1/2 medium onion, diced fine
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons catsup
2 teaspoons Tony C's Creole seasoning
6 oz seitan bacon
1 can black beans rinsed and drained
1 Tablespoon ground flax seed
1 Tablespoon unsweetened soy milk
1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons unseasoned breadcrumbs

Place brown rice in small saucepan with water. Bring water to a boil and cook rice 45-50 minutes until all liquid is absorbed. Let rice cool completely.

In medium sized iron skillet or saute pan, saute pepper, onion, an garlic until softened. Add catsup, creole seasoning and saute for about 3 more minutes. Add seitan bacon and black beans. cook until most of the liquid is gone. Take half of the mixture and puree in food processor. Add back to saute pan. Saute for 3 more minutes. Turn off heat.

Mix flax meal and soy milk together in small bowl. Let sit for a few minutes until flax seeds start to thicken. In a large bowl mix black bean mixture, cooled rice, bread crumbs, and flax mixture (flax egg). Stir until completely combined.

Form into 3-4 inch patties about 1/4 inch thick. Put on baking sheet lined with parchment. Let patties chill for at least an hour or they may fall apart when you cook them. Before cooking, coat both sides with bread crumbs.

Here is where they need a little tweaking. I baked them in the oven for about 15 minutes per side. They were still not quite the texture I wanted them. After baking, I sauteed them in a small amount of oil, just enough to cover the bottom of the pan. I haven't tried just sauteeing them yet. They are delicate, so make sure to use caution when flipping. Cook for about 4 minutes per side. Gently remove from pan and drain on paper towels or paper bag.

Vegan MOFO - Day 8 - Iron Chef/Okra and Horseradish

Today I am straying from my there. I love iron chef! Did I tell you how much I love iron chef? It gives one a chance to see how creative they can be. It also opens you up to the possibility of ruining some perfectly good ingredients. This is my favorite arena. I love trying to figure out to how I can wing throwing together a great dinner with ingredients someone else picks out.

This challenge was a bit daunting for me because I can't really stand okra normally, especially the frozen stuff. The first challenge was finding fresh okra this time of the year. Score one for my friend Daphne! One of her neighbors had okra in her garden. I couldn't decide whether to use fresh or prepared horseradish, so I bought both. Now with the chosen ingredients in hand, I needed to get creating.

I had a theory that the pith in the okra is what gives it to that nasty slimy texture I despise. So I decided to clean out the seeds and pith and stuff those bad boys. Okra seems to show up in cajun/creole cuisine. This made me think I should put a cajun twist on things. Here is what I came up with.

Cornmeal Crusted Stuffed Okra served with Durty Rice Cake and Creole Sauce

Cashew Horseradish Cheese

1 cup raw cashews (measured before soaking)
1/2 package Mori-nu silken firm tofu
1 Tablespoon fresh grated horseradish
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
Pinch of white pepper.

1 cup unsweetened soy milk
1/4 cup corn meal
3/4 cup corn flour

Soak cashews in filtered water overnight. Drain. Place all ingredients in food processor and blend until smooth, scraping down sides of processor once or twice. Refrigerate for at least two hours or overnight. This cheese is excellent as a spread on crackers too!!

Get 12 medium sized fresh okra. If it is too large it will be very woody and stringy. If it is too small, it will be hard to stuff. Make a slit down the length of the okra. Carefully remove the pith and the seeds. Gently stuff the okra with the cashew cheese. Refrigerate stuffed okra while you prepare the creole sauce.

After the creole sauce is simmering. Heat canola and peanut oil to 350. Make a breading station with two shallow bowls. One with 1 cup of unsweetened soy milk. In the other bowl mix corn meal and corn flour. Place stuffed okra in milk, then dredge in flour mixture. Repeat one more time. Place breaded okra in hot oil carefully. Fry for about 3 minutes on each side until golden brown. Drain on paper towel. Can keep warm in 250 degree oven while preparing side dishes.

Serve over Durty Rice Cake. Drizzle with creole sauce. (Recipes for these will be posted later as another MOFO entry. I have to pack for my trip!!!)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Vegan MOFO - Day 7 - Piot's Cheezy Potatoes

Day seven and I'm wishing my friends and family had low fat favorites. It just is not the American way. My Biggest Loser challenge is very challenging with recipes like this one.

This recipe is busted out regularly during our combined family get togethers. My friend Piot sent me her recipe for Cheezy Potatoes. Her daughter Rachel loves these and requested them for her birthday dinner last weekend. This is a very quick and easy dish to put together. It packs a very high-cal punch, so proceed with caution. Whenever these are busted out, there are never many leftovers.

The original version includes lots and lots of dairy and butter. The butter is replaced by Earth balance, the cheddar is replaced with Daiya cheddar style, and the dairy based cream of mushroom soup is replaced with this vegan recipe.

Piot's Cheezy Potatoes

1 pound frozen hash browns, partially thawed
1 1/2 cups cream of mushroom soup
4 tablespoons Earth Balance, melted
1/2 onion, chopped
4 oz. shredded vegan cheddar (I highly recommend using Daiya for the right texture)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Plain potato chips to crumble on top

Preheat oven to 350.

Melt butter in small saucepan. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients except for potato chips. Pour mixture into oiled 8 x 8 pan. Crumble potato chips over the top. Bake for 35 minutes.* Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

****Version Dos****

My friend at work is very allergic to onions. But I didn't want her to miss out on potato goodness. I decided to modify the cheezy taters so she could enjoy them. As a bonus I think this version is just as good or better!

1 pound frozen hash browns (preferably O'brien style, chunks rather than shreds)
1 1/4 cup Tofutti Sour Cream
1/4 cup strong vegetable broth
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
4 oz vegan cheddar (again I recommend Daiya)
4 tablespoons Earth Balance, melted
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
Salt and pepper to taste.
Plain potoato chips to crumble on top.

Preheat oven to 350.

Melt butter in small saucepan. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients well except for potato chips. Pour mixture into oiled 8 x 8 pan. Crumble potato chips over the top. Bake for 35 minutes.* Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

* cooking time will vary slightly depending on how frozen the potatoes are. Begin the professional that I am, I use the finger test to see if it's done. You can also use a thermometer inserted into the middle most portion of the taters. They should be at about 150.

**As another side note, this recipe doubles nicely. Just use a 9 x 13 pan and up the baking time 5-10 minutes.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Vegan MOFO - Day 6 - Fred's Tuna-ish Helper-ish

First I want to start off by talking about communication breakdown. Many times I am running at a frenetic pace for no apparent reason. I think I have to fit a million things in to each day. To add to this I have this tendency to hear things one way when they are actually said another way. I can't remember what Myers-Briggs pesonality type this is: but I tend to jump right in and do something, then correct things later if I screw something up.

Such was the case with this conversion. Fred described this favorite from his childhood to me. Somehow I got it in my silly clutered head that he was describing tuna casserole. I promptly went on the internet and found a vegan recipe for said casserole. I got to work and did some tweaks and got that bad boy in the oven. As kitchen karma would have it, it was an utter disaster. While it looked picture perfect, it was anything but. The texture was like thick paste and had no flavor. Fred hates to waste anything, but even he wouldn't eat this. Major FAIL!

Two lessons here. Lesson one: listen carefully when people speak to you. It is uncool when you half listen. It can save you a lot of time and grief in the long run. Lesson two: trust your inner chef. When you read a recipe and it looks like it won't work, trust your gut. Modify that bad boy so you don't end up with something so nasty even the wild javelinas won't eat it.

I've ranted long enough about my failings as a communicator and kitchen disasters. On to what Fred really wanted! This is an easy, quick, filling recipe. It won't win any culinary awards, but hopefully it will make your family happy and full.

Fred's Tuna-ish Helper-ish

6 Servings
1 1/2 cups dried pasta (elbows or other small-ish pasta)
Water for cooking Pasta
1 cup Butler soy curls
1 cup vegetable broth, hot
1 Tablespoon Kelp powder
2 Tablespoons Earth Balance or other vegan butter
1/4 cup unsweetened soy milk
1 Tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 1/2 cups cream of mushroom soup (vegan of course)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Pour hot broth over soy curls to re-hydrate. Let soak for 5-10 minutes. Drain. Dice soy curls and sprinkle with kelp powder. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain pasta and transfer to large mixing bowl. Add earth balance to HOT pasta. Mix soymilk and nutritional yeast in small saucepan. Heat until slightly thickened. Pour onto hot pasta. Heat cream of mushroom soup in same saucepan and add heated soup to the pasta mixture. Add soy curls and mix. If pasta has cooled of it can be re-heated quickly in large pan. Salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!
Update: Fred has spoken. He says this is supposed to be soupy. Easy enough. To eat this Fred style you will have to add more cream of mushroom soup just before serving to your liking. If you add the soup ahead of time, the noodles will soak it all up and it will be very sad. Hee hee.
Now this is the recipe in it's original form. For me, I like to get more of a nutritional bang for my buck. As an option you could add some steamed spinach or kale to up the nutritional value.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Vegan MOFO Day 5 - Tracey's Spaghetti Extraordinaire

Fred's sister Tracey sent me her and her daughter Nicki's alltime favorite spaghetti recipe. The original is chock full of beef and sausage, so she was not sure if it could be veganized. Well, thanks to my friends at the PPK, I no longer fear the meaty recipes and find them quite fun to veganize. I'm not going to kid you, the texture and flavor are slightly different, so you won't fool anyone into thinking this is the greasy, unhealthy, factory farmed meat used in so many dishes. But it is a hearty, delicious homage to the original.

I did have to make a few modifications to the original recipe. Of course I had to replace the ground beef. I did this by re-hydrating TVP with vegetable broth and kitchen bouquet to give it that deep "beefy" hue and flavor. Next the Italian sausage. This was a no brainer using Julie Hasson's Spicey Italian Sausage recipe. I always find that when I use meat analogs I must increase the liquids used in the original recipe. In this recipe I had to add a 15 oz can of crushed fire roasted tomatoes to the original recipe. The order of adding ingredients changed just slightly as well. All in all, this was pretty easy to veganize. As you can see from the picture below, it came out very nicely. It has that rich tomato flavor and a hearty meaty texture. I fed this to Fred last night. He inhaled it in no time. Great recipe Tracey! Thanks for sending it to me.

Tracey's Vegan Spaghetti Extraordinaire

1 Cup TVP (sub for 1 lb ground beef)
1 Cups Vegetable broth
2 links vegan Italian sausage
1 teaspoon kitchen bouquet
2 tablespoon olive oil, divided
½ medium onion, chopped
½ chopped green bell pepper or 1 Anaheim pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz white or cremini mushrooms sliced
½ teaspoon salt or to taste
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon dried marjoram
¼ teaspoon crumbled rosemary
32 oz can diced tomatoes (I prefer fire roasted)
16 oz can tomato sauce
15 oz can fire roasted crushed tomatoes

Spaghetti or Angel Hair pasta cooked, drained, and rinsed

Grated vegan parmesan for garnish (optional)
Fresh cracked pepper to taste

Combine vegetable broth and kitchen bouquet. Re-hydrate TVP by pouring hot vegetable broth over it. Let sit for 10 minutes to re-hydrate. Dice Italian sausage into small chunks, approximately ¼ inch. This can also be done by pulsing in the food processor.

In a 4 quart saucepan brown TVP and sausage in 1 tablespoon olive oil. Once browned, remove from pan and set aside. In the same pan sauté onion, pepper, mushrooms and garlic in remaining tablespoon of olive oil until soft and mushrooms release their liquid, about 10 minutes minutes. Add dried herbs and sauté for another 2 minutes. Add diced tomatoes, crushed tomoatoes and tomato sauce. Simmer for 20 minutes. Add browned TVP and sausage and simmer for about 10 more minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste if desired.

Serve over warm pasta and sprinkle with vegan parmesan if desired.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Vegan MOFO - Day 4 - The Garden

More and more people are jumping on the buy local band wagon. I'm all for that because I like to support the local small farms. I still have no idea how they are actually growing their goods, because I don't actually visit their farms. There are a couple of people at our farmers market that bring absolutely perfect produce week after week. This makes me more than a little suspicious. I love buying from the farms that have dirty, odd shaped, and real looking veggies and fruit. They are the ones I visit week after week.

I wanted to get even more back yard local. Fred and I were both raised in places where people always had gardens. We spent much of our childhood summers picking and weeding. There is nothing better than eating something fresh off of your own vines. Both our mom's canned and froze the goodies so that we could have home grown vegetables all winter long. Everyone on my dad's side of the family have magical green thumbs. My brother's garden is a wonder with all of his heirloom seeds and beautiful soil. Since moving to Arizona almost 20 years ago, I have never once planted a vegetable garden. I had a condo once where I had a small herb garden, but that doesn't count as the real deal in my book.

The soil here is very alkaline. This makes the task a little bit more challenging. Fred was up to the challenge this week. He dug out a 4 foot x 12 foot plot. He has spent the last couple of days preparing the soil with organic mulch, organic peat moss, and vermiculite for water retention and to keep the soil from compacting in to the hard clay that is so common here. The soil was ready to go last night. He is planning on transplanting the herbs from the pots today. He also bought some great organic plants to put in. My brother is sending us some of his coveted heirloom seeds this week. He has a couple of varieties that are supposed to do well in the desert heat. We are going to start them in the house and plunk them in early in the spring. We can usually put the tomatoes in by the end of February or early March here.

My poor little basil plant has been struggling for over a year in it's pot. Hopefully it will love it's new home and get big and beautiful.

If this planting goes well, we are going to add more to it in the spring or next fall. I'm so excited about having a garden again, I could just about pee! Fred is taking pictures while I'm at work. I'll post them when I get home so you can all see the before pictures.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Vegan MOFO - Day 3 - MMmm MMmm Cream of Mushroom Soup

I'm pretty certain most of the people who grew up in the US in the last few decades have a family recipe that included the famous red and white can of Cream of Mushroom Soup. Over the years this pantry staple has shown up on millions of Thanksgiving tables as part of the ever-popular green bean casserole. A dear friend of mine uses it in her cheezy potato dish - which I plan on veganizing later this month. My mom used to make a giant pan of pork chops and simmer them in cream of mushroom soup. It made them fall-off-the-bone (I know gross) tender. Fred made some type of tuna concoction with it. This was the experiment that failed miserably for me the other day. I'm hoping that with this creation, I can perfect that dish and re-claim my kitchen dignity.

I don't want to break my arm patting myself on the back, but this was teh bomb. It was darn close to the original. The parsley makes it look slightly different, but the flavor is just about spot on. I'm still doing my Biggest Loser Challenge, so sadly I only had a little taste. I don't know how long I can hold out. I may just need to hit the gym for an extra hour or two this week.

Without further ado, I bring you:

MMmm MMmm Cream of Mushroom Soup

6 - 1 cup Servings

2 Tablespoon Earth Balance or canola oil (Earth Balance will give a richer flavor)
1 medium onion, diced fine
1 stalk celery, diced fine
2 cloves garlic minced
8 oz sliced white or cremini mushrooms
1 Tablespoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
½ teaspoon thyme
¼ teaspoon white pepper
Pinch nutmeg
¼ cup all purpose flour
(if you like your soup thicker use 1/3 cup)
(if you are substituting in a recipe that calls for condensed undiluted, use 2/3 cup)
3 cups vegetable broth, hot
1 cup soy creamer

Fresh parsley for garnish (optional)

In a 2 quart sauce pan heat Earth Balance or canola oil and add onion, celery, and garlic. Sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add sliced mushrooms and cook until liquid is released, about 5-10 minutes. Make sure there is still a bit of liquid from the mushrooms. Add dried spices mixing thoroughly. Sauté for about another minute, until herbs are fragrant. Stir in flour and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly, adding a small amount of the broth if needed. Slowly pour in hot vegetable broth, whisking frequently. Bring to a simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes until thickened. At this point you can use an immersion blender to puree if you like a smoother soup before adding soy creamer. Add soy creamer and simmer for 5 more minutes being careful not to boil.
**If you use this recipe for blogging or posting, I just ask that you make sure to link to this post.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Vegan MOFO - Day 2 - Daiya Cheese to the Rescue

Well, today I was going to post a conversion of one of Fred's childhood favorites, but it was an utter failure. Like totally nasty I could use it as a paste failure. What a drag! So I'm going to have to rework it and post it another day.

I'm working 12 hour shifts this week, so I'm not cooking anything complex to speak of. Simple and quick will be the order of the week if I'm in charge of the cooking. However, I'm hoping Fred will be my pinch cooker this weekend. Maybe if I'm really nice, he'll hook me up!

Anyhoooooooo. I'm going to go back to my childhood repertoire for today. After my miserable failure in the kitchen last night, I had to do some quick thinking. Fred had been working on our new garden most of the day and he was starving. After he choked down some of the paste casserole, I offered up something a bit more tasty. When I was in high school, I worked two jobs and went to school, so I was pretty busy. I figured out a few things I could always make on the fly. I practically lived on eggs over easy and toast, boiled frozen corn, french fries, and grilled cheese. Don't worry, there were vegetables in the mix too. My dad was quite a gardener.

Grilled cheese was one of my ultimate comfort foods. I loved the gooey, creamy, rich cheese oozing out of the bread. Oh yes, and the bread, whole grain, perfectly browned and crispy. Wow, I'm drooling and it's only 630am. Fred used to love Velveeta and I was a big fan of Kraft Deluxe Singles. EW! I one molecule away from being plastic or something like that. Still, I loved the stuff. I wasn't very hopeful about finding an ample sub, but then came Daiya cheese. It was love at first melt. I bought some the other day for another recipe I am hoping to convert next week. I was psyched I had this lovely container of yellow-orange joy in the fridge. I whipped out the iron skillet, slathered some yummy multigrain bread with Earth Balance and made the perfect grilled cheese. It was late, so we shared. It was so freaking good that next time there will be NO sharing!!! Ah thank you Daiya for bringing one of my all time favorites back to life.

I promise, when I have days off, I will get more creative.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Vegan MOFO - Day 1 Farina Remake

Yay! It's time for vegan MOFO (month of food). I am going to do my best to remake family favorites of my friends and family...time and submissions permitting. I've had a couple of recipes sent to me that I am excited about converting!

But today, I'm going to be selfish and go down my own memory lane. When we were kids, both of my parents worked. My mom was prone to some very serious migranes. Many times we were left to fend for ourselves food-wise. When I was very young, my older brother often would have to find ways to fill our bellies. He was a domestic terrorist to me when we were kids. I usually tried to stay away from him because he was so mean. Every so often, he would be very kind. A couple of my fondest food memories are of those times he was kind and cooked for me.

I have a very distinct memory of a big snow storm. There were drifts in our front yard. It was so early it was still dark out. We came in from the cold and my brother made us Farina. This was one of my favorite breakfasts as a kid. I totally forgot about this stuff! I bought it some time back for a test recipe. I found it in the pantry last night and just had to make it!!!

In the day, we had it with whole milk and real butter and sugar. The vegan conversion was pretty simple. I used the recipe on the box and used almond milk for the water (or milk). I put a dollop of Earth Balance on top and sprinkled it with a little sugar. It was the warm creamy comforting stuff I remembered. Oh the simple goodness brought me back to those cold wintery days of my youth. Wouldn't it be fun to go sledding? I better go call my brother.

I'll post the pic later tonight. Happy MOFO-ing!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Vegan Bridal Shower Brunch and Hawaiian Quinoa Salad

I had the pleasure of coming out of catering retirement and catering a lovely bridal shower this weekend. The hostess (and a very dear friend) agreed to keep the fact that it was all vegan a secret from most of the guests until after everyone had a chance to try the goods. It was a great success. There were many happy tummies and requests for recipes. It was fun to serve food to such a nice bunch of people, who were very open minded about the vegan menu. The lovely bride seemed to enjoy the food too, which is the most important thing!! So for those of you who asked for the Hawaiian Quinoa Salad recipe, I am posting it here for you.

Hawaiian Quinoa Salad

Makes 8-10 Servings

1/2 medium white or yellow onion, diced small
2 cloves minced garlic
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 cup red inca quinoa (if you can't find red use regular)
1 1/4 cup quinoa
3 cups vegetable broth
1 cup light coconut milk

1 1/2 cup large red bell pepper, diced approx 1/4 inch
1 1/2 cup fresh pineapple, diced approx 1/4 inc (can sub canned but fresh is much better)
1 cup toasted macadamia nuts, coarsely choppped
6 green onions, sliced thinly

Dressing ingredients

1 1/2 Tablespoons white mellow miso
1 1/2 Tablespoons low sodium tamari or soy sauce
3 Tablespoons pineapple juice
1 1/2 teaspoons mirin
1 1/2 teaspoons seasoned rice or sushi vinegar
1 1/2 Tablespoons toasted sesame oil

In medium size saucepan saute onion and garlic in sesame oil until onions are softened (about 5 minutes). Add quinoa and saute until just toated. Add vegetable broth and coconut milk. Bring to a gentle boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook until all liquid is absorbed and quinoa is cooked through (about 25 minutes). Make sure all liquid is absorbed or the salad will have quite a bit of liquid at the bottom. Let quinoa cool completely. While it is cooling dice the red pepper and pineapple. Chop the macadamia nuts. Slice the green onions. They look very pretty if you slice them at an angle. Fold these into the cooled quinoa until evenly distributed.

Stir together all of the dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Pour dressing slowly into the salad Let chill in the refrigerator at least 3 hours, preferably overnight.

Just a little FYI: The Coffee Chip Muffins, Toasted Coconut Mango Muffins, East Coast Blueberry Coffee Cake and both the Broccoli and Cauliflower Quiches were from the Vegan Brunch cookbook. The Mushroom and Leek tart was a recipe from the Voluptuous Vegan cookbook.