Thursday, July 5, 2007

-On Deck-

Well, it's midterms for me right now. Groan. I have been pretty well buried beneath a pile of textbooks, but I haven't forgotten about you! Here are a few of the things I've made recently...

*Red Lentil-Almond Pate*

*Sun-Dried Tomato and Garlic Polenta with Veggie Sausage and Black Beans*

*Strawberry Banana Oatmeal*

*Veggie Medley Pizza*

I will post recipes as soon as I have a free moment. Hope you all have a fun and savory 4th of July!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

-Chickpea Broccoli Salad-

I do declare that summer in Vermont is in full swing! And you know what that's salad time! Too hot to fuss over the stove for overly long and certainly too hot to eat a heavy meal, unless you pencil a little siesta into your schedule. So it's all about quick, light, fresh flavors that won't put you into a carbohydrate coma. This recipe is quite tasty and packed with vegetables and protein to give you energy for hours. Pretty standard for us Mediterranean types, but sinfully pleasurable none-the-less. When my boyfriend, Mike, sees this on the plate he croons with childish glee, "Chickpeeeeeeaaaaasssss!" Hope you enjoy it as much as he does. :)

*Chickpea Broccoli Salad*

  • 1 15 oz. can chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • 1 crown broccoli, divided into bite-sized florets
  • 1 Roma tomato, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 large cloves garlic, pressed or diced
  • 1-2 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp oregano, dried
  • 1 tsp chives, dried
  • 1 tbsp Vegan Parma or nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds (optional garnish)
  • salt (to taste)
  • ground black pepper (to taste)

Boil 1 cup water. Place broccoli in vegetable steamer, over boiling water. Cover and cook until broccoli is cooked to your liking. Seat aside. Heat olive oil in saute pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add chickpeas, tomatoes, garlic, broccoli, balsamic vinegar, oregano, chives, salt and black pepper. Saute about 3 minutes. Top with sesame seeds, Vegan Parma, and your favorite dressing. Goes great with Annie's Naturals Tuscany Italian or Woodstock Dressing!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

-Chocolate Peanut Butter No-Bakes-

Well folks, it's another scorcher here in Burlington, Vermont. 90 degrees at 11am, and on it's way up. I've been trying to minimize my stove usage for fear that I will burst into flames, but I had a hankering for something sweet...
When in doubt, I turn to no-bake cookies! My mother taught me how to cook when I was very young, but Mama Marie wasn't all about the baking. I never really learned the art of meticulously measuring and adding things at specific times. I belong to the "smash and grab" school of cooking, so baking has never been one of my strong points. Most of my cookies could double as boat anchors, so that is why I thank St. Francis Caracciolo (patron saint of Italian cooks) for no-bake cookies. Not baking has never been so much fun or tasted so good, so I post this recipe for all of us who are "confection-arily" challenged!

*Chocolate Peanut Butter No-Bakes*

  • 2/3 cup maple syrup (I used Grade B in this for more mapley goodness)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 6 TBSP cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon, ground
  • 1/4 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate peanut butter*
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 tsp Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Extract
  • 1 TBSP agave nectar
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
Mix vegetable oil, cocoa, cinnamon, and maple syrup in medium pot, over medium heat. Bring to a boil and cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add oats, peanut butter, vanilla and agave nectar, stir well. Drop spoonfuls onto wax paper, and top with shredded coconut. Chill for 60 minutes to set. Makes approximately 2 dozen small cookies. Eat and enjoy, but be careful, these can be a bit messy in hot weather!
It is certainly ok to use 1/2 cup of regular peanut butter in this recipe. But if you like chocolate as much as I do, Peanut Butter Co. makes Dark Chocolate Dreams, a delicious, vegan peanut butter for added chocolate kick.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Eat your greens!

The temperature reached a sizzling 96 degrees today and at 10pm it's still a balmy 83. It's hard to be particularly hungry in such oppressive weather, so it dawned on me that now might be a good time for me to pay homage to one of my favorite meals...the salad. I won't presume to tell you how to serve up your greens, for there are endless combinations. I've always enjoyed:

-Romaine lettuce with strawberries, toasted walnuts, red onion and a balsamic-honey dressing*...
-Baby spinach with roasted garlic, onions, red peppers and corn, topped with lemon-tahini dressing and toasted pine nuts...
-Green leaf lettuce, garbanzo beans, tomatoes, fresh oregano, red onion and a "garlicky" Italian vinaigrette

Whatever your salad preference, just don't forget this important component to any well-balanced meal. Salads are a great way to get your fill of vegetables and the healthy anti-oxidants that they contain. Skip the pale, iceberg variety lettuce as the nutritional value is as poor as the taste. Romaine, green leaf, mesclun mixed greens and baby spinach make great beds for culinary creativity and contain notable amounts of: Vitamin A, Beta Carotene, Lutein, Vitamin K, Folate, Calcium, Potassium, Phosphorus, Fiber and Iron. And if the health benefits don't sell you, the crisp, refreshing tastes of a tangy salad on a hot summer's day surely will.

So in the spirit of a loving mother...Victoria says, remember to eat your greens!

Agave nectar makes a perfect vegan substitute for honey...

-Sweet on Quinoa-

I have always been a fan of couscous, but until just recently, I've been in the dark about quinoa. Man, was I missing out. I now understand why the Incas believed it to be sacred and called it "chisaya mama" or "mother of all grains." It's healthy and versatile, working well with both sweet and savory flavors and I just found out that you can toast quinoa, much as you would sesame seeds. I will have to try that one in the future. I decided to go the sweet route with this batch, as I was pairing it with my Jammin' Jamaican Tofu, so I emptied out my cabinets and came up with a sweet side for any meal. With food so good and weather so hot, I thought I'd died and gone to island heaven.

*Sweet on Quinoa*

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 TBSP vanilla soy milk
  • 1/2 cup baby carrots, sliced
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • thumb-sized piece of ginger root, grated
  • 1/2 cup dried currants
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots
  • 1-2 TBSP cinnamon (as desired)
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (If you can find Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Extract, it's worth the bit extra.)
  • 1 TBSP sesame seeds (as garnish)
  • salt (pinch)
  • 1/2-1 tsp dried parsley (as garnish)
  • 2 TBSP Earth Balance
  • 1-2 TBSP agave nectar (Maple syrup could be substituted here, but I like agave nectar because it tastes great and has an extremely low glycemic index of 19.)

Boil 2 cups water. Add quinoa, stir, cover and reduce heat to medium. Cook for 5 minutes. Add apricots, currants and ginger. Stir well, re-cover and cook for approximately 8 minutes. While quinoa is cooking, heat small fry pan on medium heat and add Earth Balance. When Earth Balance has melted, add carrots and onions and cook until nearly tender. Add vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, cumin, salt and agave nectar. Stir and cook until carrots are tender. Add contents of pan to quinoa. Add vanilla soy milk and stir well. Cook for about 2 more minutes or until quinoa is fully cooked and soy milk is absorbed. Transfer quinoa to serving dish and sprinkle with sesame seeds and parsley. Serve hot with your favorite entree, or chill and enjoy as a cold salad. :)

Friday, June 22, 2007

-Sesame Curry Burgers-

I don't know about you, but some days I just want to eat a tasty meal without a lot of fuss. For times like those, I love the simplicity of a nice veggie burger. Frozen veggie burgers are ok, but they can be quite pricey and rather resemble healthy slabs of cardboard. I searched and searched and found a great inexpensive veggie burger mix, that with a little doctoring, rivals any mad cow burger around. Even my formerly-beef-burger-loving-now-vegetarian boyfriend can attest to that! When you want a good meal in no time, whip up some of these babies with fries or your favorite veggie. Then just sit back and relax with the knowledge that prions aren't eating your brain! ;)

*Sesame Curry Burgers*

  • 3/4 cup Fantastic Foods Nature's Burger Mix (bulk)
  • 3/4 cup water (Use 1 cup if you like to forget about the water boiling on the stove like I do.)
  • 1 TBSP dried chives
  • 1 TBSP curry powder
  • 1-2 tsp chili powder
  • 2-3 TBSP olive oil
  • 3-5 TBSP raw sesame seeds (I'd go with more because some of these will stick to your hands!)
  • salt (as desired)
  • ground black pepper (as desired)
Boil water. In heat resistant bowl add burger mix, chives, curry powder, chili powder, salt, black pepper and 1 TBSP sesame seeds. Add boiling water and stir well. Let stand about 15 minutes until mixture is firm. Place remaining sesame seeds on small saucer. Form burger mixture into two patties with hands, then "dip" into sesame seeds, on both sides. Heat olive oil in skillet over medium heat. Pan fry burgers, turning frequently until browned on both sides, approximately 5-8 minutes. Serve on whole wheat burger buns and garnish with lettuce, tomato, onion and desired condiments. Get ready for some spicy sesame goodness!
*Note*- If you prefer to skip the burger bun, you can make the mix into smaller sand-dollar-sized patties, cut the cooking time and serve on top of your favorite salad. Works every time.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

-Cinco de Mayo Stuffed Potatoes-

It may be the Irish in me talking, but I have always been a friend of the potato. So starchy, so meaty, so satisfying. French fried, twice baked, scalloped... STUFFED! Stuffed is exactly what I did to my potatoes to create these Mexican inspired summer treats. I needed to take something to my weekly vegan potluck and these sounded just right for the picnic table. Did someone say Corona?

*Cinco de Mayo Stuffed Potatoes*

  • 15 medium sized red potatoes (any potatoes will do, I prefer red)
  • half bulb garlic, crushed
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 small jalepeno peppers, diced
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 1 15oz. can pinto (or black ) beans
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, minced
  • 2-3 roma tomatoes, chopped
  • small can sliced black olives
  • 3 TBSP Earth Balance
  • 3 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 TBSP cumin
  • 1-2 TBSP chili powder (adjust as desired)
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 2 TBSP Vegan Parma or nutritional yeast/crushed walnut mixture
  • salt (as desired)
  • ground black pepper (as desired)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place potatoes on baking sheet and bake for approximately 50-60 minutes or until potatoes are cooked through. Allow potatoes to cool. Slice off tops and carefully, scoop out insides. Place potato shells on baking sheet and transfer potato insides to large mixing bowl. Add Earth Balance and mash. Heat olive oil in large saute pan over medium heat. Add jalepeno, onion, red pepper, saute 3-5 minutes until tender. Add garlic, crushed red pepper and tomato, saute 1-2 minutes. Add beans, cilantro, black olives, cumin, chili powder, Vegan Parma and stir. Add 2/3 veggie mix into mixing bowl with potatoes and stir well. Spoon the filling into potato shells until nearly full. Top with extra veggie mixture and bake until warmed through, about 10-15 minutes. Reward yourself on a job well done, serve and inhale! If you have leftover filling, it makes a hearty dip with some multi-grain chips.