Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sweet Cardamom Bread

Cody & I went grocery shopping a few weeks ago. If you know anything about me, you'll know this is one of my favorite things. I make my list, organized by store (because we go to three different stores), grab my adorable reusable bags, and venture out to buy ingredients for tasty treats. I love shopping and I love cooking, so this works out really well for me. One of the items on my list was cardamom, a spice I needed to make Chai Tea Cupcakes. Cody was NOT impressed with the price; for a regular spice-sized bottle it's about $12. I needed it, though, so we got it.

The next day at work I was telling my amazing boss about his reaction to the price. She was telling me how she doesn't really like cardamom, nor does she really like chai tea. She did, however, tell me about this bread that the original owners of the restaurant used to make: Sweet Cardamom Bread. She loved it. (What's that you say? A challenge? Oh, how you know me.) Obviously I had to make this bread.

I searched around on the wonderful world-wide web and found a few recipes that I sort of combined and the end result was, well, beyond perfection.

Sweet Cardamom Bread
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes

1 1/2 tbsp instant yeast
4 cups unbleached flour
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp full-fat, unsweetened soy milk
3/4 cup melted butter (Earth Balance)
3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp raw sugar
1 tsp salt

1. Mix flour, yeast, and cardamom in your mixing bowl.

2. Heat soy milk and stir in sugar until dissolved. Add the milk and sugar to the flour mixture. Add 1/2 cup melted butter, too. Mix on low until a nice sticky dough forms.

4. Change out the mixer blade and use a dough hook. Knead for a few minutes and then stop. Let the dough rest for about 20 minutes with a light cover over it. When the twenty minutes is up, begin kneading again and knead in the salt.

5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide it into three equal parts. Let them rise for about 30-45 minutes. Roll the dough balls into ropes and braid them on a greased baking pan. Tuck the ends of the braid under. (You're literally going to braid this like you braid your hair.)

7. Preheat oven 350° F. Brush the braided loaf with remaining soy milk and sprinkle it with remaining sugar. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Enjoy with a cup of coffee, toasted with butter, a glass of chai tea, or whatever your heart desires.

Now, I'm not one to toot my own horn (I do honk at other drivers, though. I'm a New Englander at heart.), but this bread is probably the best bread ever. Ok, maybe not ever, but it's the best I've ever made. It was gobbled up at work and my boss was even told she now has competition. I don't know about that since she runs one of the most successful restaurants in Albuquerque, but I'll take it as a complement and roll with it. Then braid. Then repeat.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Vegan Cookies Invade YOUR Cookie Jar!

I can't say enough about the people I work for. They're sweet, thoughtful, hard-working, and they've been doing this for a while! They feed us at the end of every shift, so I feel it necessary to feed them right back. (Sometimes I think it's just because I'm like the old lady in The Wedding Singer and I like watching people enjoy the first bite. And the second and third.) Friday night, I even brought cookies in for our super old yet super amazing customer, Buzz (aka Bird Man). I made vegan Samoas (yes, like the Girl Scout cookies!) and they were AH-MAZING.

Now, I would post the recipe for these cookies. I would love to share it with all of you. However, since it doesn't just step on Girl Scout toes (and they're children! I wouldn't dare!), I'm going to do something I've never done before.


That's right, I'm going to giveaway a copy of Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar.

One lucky reader will be announced next Friday, March 5! Here are the rules:

1. Leave a comment on this blog telling me what your favorite cookie is!
2. If I'm not on your blogroll, add me and leave a separate comment telling me that we're friends!
3. Tweet back to this link, telling me you did so in a separate comment.
4. If you have a blog, blog about this awesome giveaway and leave another separate comment telling me you've done so.
5. Have another way to link back to this blog? Facebook, MySpace, MyFace, BookSpace? Let me know you've done so! You guessed a separate comment!!!

So you see, that's FIVE DIFFERENT COMMENTS. I know it sounds like a lot, but I'm going to use to pick the winner so leaving five comments gives you a better chance of winning! Trust me: you want to win this book!

What are ya waiting for?

Friday, February 26, 2010

5 questions, 5 answers!

My beautiful, talented, marathon-running, inspiring friend, Erin (you should hear me when I'm sucking up! ;)), tagged me in her latest blog entry! Since she inspires me to blog more often, run more, and eat better (I sill can't thank you enough for my signed book, love!), PLUS I love answering questions, I'm going to roll with it! :)

Question 1: Where were you five years ago?

1. In the Marine Corps.
2. Dating my wonderful husband, learning what it meant to really be in love.
3. Working at Greenfield's Restaurant, my all-time favorite!
4. Babysitting my amazing niece & nephew. Miss you, Jacob. <3
5. Almost married. :)

Question 2: What is (was) on your to-do list today?

1. NOT RUNNING! I'm a little injured after yesterday's bosque run, so I'm taking it easy. Plus my feet have put up with almost 45 miles this week.
2. Grocery of my favorite things!
3. Attend a basketball game for my friend's beautiful daughter.
4. Clean house and make dinner.
5. Have wonderful friends over for some Chickpea Cutlets and other tasty treats.

Question 3: What five snacks do you enjoy?

1. Anything chocolate.
2. Chips, pita, or veggies with hummus.
3. Chips & salsa, but only at La Salita!
4. Cuties. Oh, how I love Cuties!
5. Veggie Stix!

Question 4: What five places have you lived?

1. I grew up in New Hampshire...
2. Roamed around Canada for a bit with my bestie...
3. Spent time in the Marine Corps down south (SC, NC, VA)
4. Then off to Okinawa, JP to be with the husband...
5. And now I live in New Mexico!

Question 5: What five things would you do if you were a billionaire?

1. Immediately buy a in NH, for sure.
2. Invest!!!
3. Help my mom and my family with whatever they need.
4. Shop till I can't even walk anymore!
5. Help anyone I know and love who might need it. (That I copied from Erin, who copied it from Miss Melissa. I'd do the exactly the same!)

I love questions. I also love giveaways, so keep your eyes peeled for my next post. ;)

Now for the fun part: getting to tag 5 of my friends! Here goes:

Leslie @ Better Together
The newly Mrs. Kanmuri @ Turning Iwatean
Dawn & Out of Africa
Jaclyn @ Jaclyn's Vegan Yumminess
ABQ Beer Geek @ Albuquerque Beer Scene

Have fun! Happy Saturday!!!



These are long overdue, and if it weren't for my darling friend, Lori, I might have completely forgotten about them (forgotten to blog them, not make them. They're a staple in our house now.) When I try to explain these chips to people, I get the crazy eye. To put in perspective how delicious these are, though, check this: Cody has bought seeds to plant kale in our garden so we can have Kale Chips whenever we want. Bring it! (<---Do people still say that? Really?)

Buffalo Wings & Kale Chips

Hummus Wrap & Kale Chips

Black Bean Burgers & Kale Chips

As you can see, we love these chips. So without further ado...

Kale Chips
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 10-15 minutes

1 bunch of kale
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1. Preheat oven to 350° F. I don't even use a baking sheet for this; I just use aluminum foil. Break the kale into large chip-size pieces.

2. Combine the oil and vinegar. Sprinkle over the kale, then season with salt, to taste. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until crispy.

You will be absolutely amazed and delighted with the crispy, delicious flavor of these chips. Plus, check THIS out:

Now, as you will when you bake these, you aren't eating all of the oil that remains left on the foil (which is still such a trace amount, you don't have to feel guilty), so there are even less calories than what's above. So go ahead! Eat up!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Chocolate Avocado Cupcakes

I simply cannot believe I haven't blogged about these cupcakes yet. They are the very first vegan item I made...we were still out in Japan and I decided to give them a try. Once I made them and realized how amazing they were, I realized living a vegan lifestyle and still eating delicious food can go together!

These cupcakes are not too sweet, super moist, dense, and topped with a crazy icing. You're probably going to make a face at the list of ingredients, but I promise you, these might just be some of the best cupcakes you've ever had. *I know I say that about all the cupcakes I make, but it's true. Trust me.

Chocolate Avocado Cupcakes
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes

1½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I use Special Dark cocoa powder. Yum.)
1 tsp baking powder
¾ tsp baking soda
¾ tsp salt
1 avocado, pitted and peeled
1 cup pure maple syrup
¾ cup plain soymilk
¹⁄3 cup canola oil
2 tsp vanilla extract

¼-14 ounce block soft silken tofu, drained and patted dry
3 tbsp pure maple syrup
½ tsp vanilla extract
¹⁄8 tsp salt
4 ounces semisweet vegan chocolate, melted

1. To make Cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners. Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in bowl. Purée avocado in food processor until smooth. Add maple syrup, soymilk, oil, and vanilla, and blend until creamy. Whisk avocado mixture into flour mixture.

2. Spoon batter into prepared cupcake cups. Bake 25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into center comes out with some crumbs attached. Cool.

3. To make Glaze: Blend tofu, maple syrup, vanilla, and salt in food processor until smooth. Add chocolate to tofu mixture and blend until smooth. Transfer to bowl. Dip tops of cupcakes into glaze, pulling straight up from glaze to form peaks.

So I usually don't put up the nutritional value for desserts because they're desserts! It's an indulgence! I'm just going to show you a little somethin-somethin: Here is the same recipe, only using eggs, milk, and frosting made with powdered sugar:

Note the difference here:

Calories +111
Fat +1.9
Saturated Fat +2.4
Cholesterol +42
Sodium +28
Carbohydrates +23.7
Dietary Fiber -1.2
Sugars +27.4

So you can see that almost everything goes up when you add your eggs and milk and sugar...except for your dietary fiber, which isn't a good thing, and although there is more vitamin A in your traditional cupcakes, there is more Calcium, vitamin C, and Iron in the vegan cupcakes. Just thought I would point those things out and give you a little something to ponder.

If you have any ripe avocados around and you're not sure what to do with them, I double-dog dare you to give these cupcakes a try. You will be amazed. Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Best. Seitan. Ever.

I just recently took my first dabble in seitan. If you don't know what seitan is, here is a fabulous definition from wikipedia.

"Wheat gluten, also called seitan (pronounced /ˈseɪtæn/), wheat meat, Mock Duck, gluten meat, or simply gluten, is a food made from the gluten of wheat. It is made by washing wheat flour dough with water until all the starch dissolves, leaving insoluble gluten as an elastic mass which is then cooked before being eaten."

My first stab at it can be found HERE. Don't get me wrong, that is still a really good recipe for seitan. It's moist, flavorful, and fairly simple. However, this recipe has more flavor, is easier, and has a much meatier texture. I came across it accidentally browsing Yeah, That "Vegan" Shit. She's super funny, so I highly recommend sneaking a peak at her page! Anyway, without further ado, here is the best seitan recipe in history:

Best Seitan Ever
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 90 minutes

1 1/2 cup vital wheat gluten (Find this at Whole Foods or your local grocery store in the bulk section!)
1/4 cup nutritional yeast (Again, find this in the bulk section!
1 tsp salt
2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cumin
1-2 tsp pepper (I used the full 2 because I like it zippy!)
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp allspice (I skipped this!)
3/4 cup cold water
4 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp ketchup (Yes, ketchup.)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp vegetarian Worcestershire sauce (I used Braggs, but you could easily use soy sauce, too.)
1-3 cloves garlic, crushed well (I just put in 1/4 tsp garlic powder. I didn't want garlic chunks in my wheat meat!)

1. Preheat oven to 325° F. In a large mixing bowl, mix dry ingredients. In a smaller bowl, mix wet ingredients, whisking until well combined.

2. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients. Mix well, then knead for several minutes. (I'm so lucky I can just throw all of this in my KitchenAid, turn it on, and start washing dishes!)

3. Form into a log (6-8" long), wrap tightly in foil, twisting ends (It should look like a massive piece of candy!). Bake for 90 minutes. When done baking, unwrap and leave out to cool all the way. Then wrap it foil or plastic and refrigerate. Slice to use as desired.

So, I have to admit. I enjoyed a martini whilst making this tasty mock meat (What??? Tuesday is a no-run day. I deserve a martini.). When it came out of the oven, I didn't have the patience to let it cool. I started picking at it immediately. Then I share with Cody. Then half of it was gone. :) Luckily, this is so easy and I always have the ingredients on hand, I'm not worried about it.

If you have contemplated going vegetarian or vegan but hate the price of mock meats, this is for you. If you like to cook and have a few daring bones in your body, this is for you. If you have a gluten allergy, I'm sorry, this is not for you. Please enjoy responsibly. And now I leave you with something a little classy:

Monday, February 22, 2010

Peanut Crusted Tofu

A few weeks ago, Cody & I drove up to Colorado with our "married friends" to see Manchester Orchestra (If you haven't checked them out yet, you really need to get a move on! We JUST found out they're coming to Albuquerque May 9. Yesssss.....). I posted a recipe for some delicious Seitan Buffalo Wings that I recreated from our trip, now I'm going to post another Colorado favorite.

Before the concert, we went to this brewery in downtown Colorado Springs and I can't remember the name of it for the life of me. Cody & I split a salad (yes, we split a salad) and drank a couple of tasty beers. The salad had this amazing ginger sesame dressing, soba noodles, shredded carrot, bean sprouts, a massive fried wonton, and peanut crusted tofu. The tofu was amazing! Since I almost always have tofu in my fridge, I decided to try my hand at this dish.

*The plate looks kinda boring and lacks color. I should've thrown some kale on there or something. How unattractive!

Peanut Crusted Tofu
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes

1 (14 ounce) package extra firm tofu, drained
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup unsweetened soy milk
1 tsp lemon juice
1/4 cup unbleached flour
1/3 cup dry-roasted peanuts
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 teaspoons peanut oil
Cooking spray

1. Cut tofu crosswise into 8 equal pieces. Cut each piece into two triangles. Arrange tofu in a single layer on several layers of heavy-duty paper towels. Cover tofu with additional paper towels. Place a cutting board on top of tofu. Place a few heavy cans of whateveryouhaveinyourcabinet on cutting board. Let stand 20 minutes. Pat tofu dry with paper towels.

2. Combine soy milk and lemon juice in a shallow dish. Let curdle. Place flour in a separate shallow dish (add a little salt and pepper if you're feeling zesty!). Place peanuts in a food processor; process until finely ground. Combine ground peanuts, garlic powder, ginger, red pepper, and salt in a shallow dish.

3. Dredge each side of the tofu triangle in flour. Dip in the soy milk mixture, then dredge in peanut mixture. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat. Add half of tofu; cook 2 minutes on each side or until browned. (Watch closely to prevent burning.) Repeat procedure with remaining 1 teaspoon oil and tofu.

I paired the tofu with some homemade gyoza. I took the "meat" recipe from HERE and carefully filled some homemade vegan wonton wrappers. I have some gyoza dipping sauce (HOT) in my fridge, so we dipped both the gyoza and the tofu in there. It was a pretty good meal! I'll definitely make it again.

Hope you have a fabulous Monday!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Chocolate Banana Cream Pie

I honestly don't even know how many recipes I have on here that I attribute to my amazing mother. Here's a list of a my favorites:

Shepherd's Pie
Hamburg Gravy
Mushroom Marsala

There are plenty more...some that bring back fond memories of my Gram, my Nana & Grampa, and even my beautiful sister. For me, good food was part of growing up. I feel like food is a luxury; when it's good, it's real good and it should hit all of your senses. This recipe is one really close to my heart. It's one that I hope MY children will want to make and will get excited for every year around the holidays. Or whenever I'm in the mood to make it. :)

Thanksgiving and Christmas were huge holidays...literally...for my family. I'm one of five, not including my father's kids, and I have more cousins than I can even count. Every Turkey Day, we knew we were going to get Chocolate Cream Pie and Banana Cream Pie. We'd even sometimes get them on Christmas. I can still see my mom constantly stirring the chocolate pudding over the stove. That's why when I thought of making a pie, I had to combine the two and see how it came out.

It came out phenomenally.

This crust is identical to my mom's. It's flaky, buttery, salty, and perfectly gold. It's so easy to make, I'm not sure I'll every buy store-bought crust again.

Pie Crust
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15-20 minutes

2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup Earth Balance
1/4 cup plus 4 tbsp ice water

1. (I don't have a pastry cutter and my food processor isn't large enough to fit all the ingredients, so I start this off in a large bowl.) Preheat oven to 350° F. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt, and Earth Balance. I use a fork to start cutting the ingredients together until it starts to resemble small peas. It should be coarse looking.

2. Add 1/4 of ice water. Continue cutting until the dough is crumbly but holds together when squeezed. If you need more water, add 1 tbsp at a time until you get the right consistency. Turn out onto floured surface and knead once or twice, until the dough comes together. Do not over-mix! You won't get the flaky dough you're looking for if you do. Shape into two equal-sized disks, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least an hour.

3. (You don't need both disks, so you can either make two pies or save one disk of dough for later on. It'll last in the fridge up to three days or you can stick in the freezer.) On a floured surface, roll out your dough to a 14-inch circle. Carefully fold in half and unfold in your pie plate. Cut around the edges so you have an inch overhang. Fold the inch of dough under itself so it's flush with pie rim. Crimp the edge either with a fork or with your knuckle. Pierce bottom and sides with a fork to prevent puffing up while baking.

4. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool before filling.

OK, now for the best part. The pudding
Before I made the pudding, I sliced about a banana and a half into 1/4-inch coins and lined the bottom of the pie shell.

Chocolate Cream
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes

3/4 cup white sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups full-fat, unsweetened soy milk
6 tbsp cocoa (I use the dark cocoa...)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
4 1/2 tsp Ener-G
3 tbsp water
2 tbsp Earth Balance
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Combine sugar, flour, soy milk, cocoa, and oil in 2 quart saucepan. Stirring constantly, cook over medium heat until mixture begins to bubble. Continue stirring for 2 minutes.

2. In a small bowl, combine the Ener-G and water. Mix until completely combined. Stir the Ener-G mixture in the sauce pan and cook for an additional 90 seconds. Remove from heat, and stir in Earth Balance and vanilla.

3. Pour filling into pie shell, and chill until set. Thoroughly enjoy, as I know you will.

Cody kept commenting on how good the crust was. I couldn't get over the hint of delicious banana and how amazingly smooth and dark the chocolate cream was. I brought a piece in for my boss...she always has the best reactions to my baked goods! It definitely went over well. I have a pie shell already cooked in the kitchen waiting for more of this delicious filling. I know there are a lot of steps involved, but it's really rather simple!

So what about you? Are there any foods that trigger childhood memories or always make you think of someone you love?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Spinach Tempeh Pie

I just have to vent for a minute: There are two parallel roads that lead from a main street near my house to down town, hitting the college along the way. The speed limit is 30, which sounds slow, except the lights are timed so if you go 30, you never hit a light! It's a great concept, especially for someone like me who drives a standard. I don't understand the people who feel the need to go 40, then immediately hit the brakes to stop for the light.

This morning, after I dropped Cody off at school, this woman behind me was on my tail so bad I couldn't even see her headlights. That's close. Too close. So I tapped on my breaks. It's a 2-lane road. She could've gone around. Instead, she stayed right on my rear end. I dropped to 25. She doesn't need to be following me that close; I was hoping she'd get the hint and just pass me. Or get off my butt. Well, I got what I wanted...she moved over, then cut in front of me when there wasn't enough room and I almost hit her. All the while, her middle finger is out the window.

What is wrong with people?

Ugh. That's my rant. Now on to food.

Like tofu, I almost always have tempeh in my fridge. It sounds weird, I know. If you're not sure of what this magical soy product is, check it out HERE. I really like the Westsoy brand. It's easy to use and takes on the flavor of anything you mix it with.

A few months back, our landlady gave us loads and loads of different flours. I know: best landlady ever. One of them was spelt flour, which I wasn't sure how to use, until I stumbled across a recipe for spelt flour crust. Here is a tasty little creation that you really really really need to try.

Spinach Tempeh Pie
Prep time: 10 minutes, plus marinading
Cook time: 30 minutes

2 tsp orange zest, about 2 oranges
1/2 cup fresh orange juice, about 2 oranges (If you don't get enough, just add a little bit of water to make up the rest)
2 tbsp orange marmalade
2 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp Bragg's Liquid Aminos* (Thanks, Katie!)
3 cloves garlic, grated
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tsp ground ginger
8 ounces tempeh, crumbled
4 cups baby spinach, chopped

*You can use soy sauce if you don't have or can't find Bragg's!

3 tbsp tahini
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 1/4 cups spelt flour
1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp soy milk (sweet or unsweetened; whatever you have on hand will work!)

1. In a medium bowl, whisk zest, juice, marmalade, sesame oil, soy sauce, garlic, red pepper flakes, and ginger.
Stir in crumbled tempeh. Marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes, stirring once halfway through.

2. Preheat oven to 375° F. Lightly spray nonstick spray on a baking sheet. Heat oil in a large saucepan. Cook marinated tempeh, along with marinade, on medium heat until it browns up, for about 8 minutes. Add spinach and cook until heated through and wilted, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

3. In your stand mixer or food processor (Like my beautiful KitchenAid), combine tahini, salt, and flour. Add soy milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until dough forms. (I had to scrape down the sides a few times)

4. Shape into a disk. Roll out dough to approximately 11 x 10 inches, a little over 1/8-inch thick. Transfer onto prepared baking sheet. Place filling on top of the prepared crust, leaving about 1 inch from the edges. Level the filling, fold the edges of the pie crust up and over so that the filling is visible. It's not going to be your traditional pie crust, but that's the point!

5. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the top of the crust is golden brown. Let stand for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

This was really good! I didn't love the crust, but the filling was marvelous! It was sweet...but spicy...but meaty...but full of spinach. That hint of orange went really well with the tempeh and the heat from the red pepper behind it tantalized the taste buds. I highly recommend this little pie!

PS: I hope you all find yourselves driving with consideration. I'm still shaken up. That's the scariest thing: it's not about how good of a driver you are. There are too many bad drivers on the road. Oh well. Happy Friday!!!

PPS: Something that cheers me of my girlfriends sent me a picture text last night with my Shepherd's Pie in the picture...she made it for dinner and it was a hit! That's an awesome feeling! Thanks, lady!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Southwest Bean & Corn Salad

Another post for lunch! I swore I would try my hardest not to post salads on my vegan blog because that's what we're thought to only eat. However, this is not your traditional salad. There's not lettuce! There's no spinach! There's no "greens" to form your base. This salad is composed of beans, which leaves you fuller and more satisfied. WARNING: If you're going on a date or plan on being around people, eat this with caution. The amount of fiber in it is going to gas you up!

As I was mixing it together last night, Cody asked, "Why don't I get fancy lunches?". I let him pack himself a meat sandwich every day. He doesn't rate my delicious beans. :) He did, however, help me with the flavor on this one, so I'll let him pack some if he so chooses.

Southwest Bean & Corn Salad
Prep time: 10 minutes

1 15-oz can black beans
1 15-oz can garbanzo beans
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1/3 cup green olives, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups corn (I had frozen on hand, so I just added a bit of water in a bowl and heated in the microwave)
Juice of 2 limes
1-2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp hot pepper
3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp Mrs. Dash Southwest Chipotle Seasoning (Per Cody's suggestion, if you have it!)
Salt & pepper, to taste

1. Heat your corn in the microwave if it's frozen. Drain and rinse both beans. Combine all three in a large bowl.

2. Chop the peppers, onions and dice the olives. Mix with the corn and beans. Juice the 2 limes directly over the bowl. Drizzle with olive oil.

3. Add in all of your spices. Mix well. Taste; decide whether or not it needs anything else! Remember: it's going to get even more flavorful the longer it sits. I can't wait to taste it after a night of swimming in delicious marinade!

Cody just pointed out that there is 10 grams of fat. It's good fat, people! This is low sodium! Super high in both protein AND fiber! I swear, I get more protein now than I did when I consumed animal flesh. This salad is just delicious. Great for packing in a tub and bringing to lunch. Or pairing with a light dinner. Or putting in a pita and calling it a sandwich. Triple Score!!!

It's a Wrap!

A friend of mine asked me this week if I would get some posts up that are easy, healthy lunch options so he can get rid of fast food. I'm up for a challenge, especially one that is beneficial to people I care about! It always makes me happy to see people make positive changes in their lives, whether they're giving up sugar or boycotting processed foods. The next few posts are going to be lunch-friendly, heating not necessary, carry in a brown paper bag lunches!

Veggie Wrap
Prep time: 5 minutes

1 large wrap, I prefer Mission Garden Spinach Wraps
2-4 tbsp hummus, any kind will do!
1/4-1/2 cup baby spinach
1 carrot, shredded
1/4 cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
A few olives, chopped (I'm obsessed with kalamata!)
Whatever else tickles your fancy! (Cody had jalapenos. You could add tomatoes, bean sprouts, lettuce, peppers, whatever is in your fridge!)

1. Lay your wrap on a large plate or clean work surface. Smother the center with a thick layer of hummus. Top with all of your vegetables and roll the side once. Folding in the two perpendicular sides, carefully and tightly roll the longer side the rest of the way. I really hope that made sense. If it didn't, swing by your local Mexican restaurant and ask if you can watch them roll a burrito. :)

*NOTE: If you're packing this to work and you're not going to eat it for a few hours, I would wait to put the hummus in. It's going to make your wrap soggy. Consider using it to dip, or just spread on each bite.

Tune in the rest of the week when I post a delicious bean salad that Cody & I worked on together. I suppose I'll also put up my recipe for kale chips. I've been showing them off so much. It just doesn't seem fair not to.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Snap, Crackle, Pop!

A few months ago, I bought a box of Rice Krispies so I could make THESE Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars. *If you're craving chocolatey, peanut butter goodness, I highly recommend these!

Anyway, I'm not a huge fan of Rice Krispies as a cereal. I'm not a sweet cereal fan, either, I just feel like RK doesn't fill me up the way some other cereals the box has been hanging out in my cereal cabinet. The husband got me Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar for Christmas, and there's a recipe for Rice Krispie Treats in there! I hope you're all aware that marshmallows are not vegan. In fact, they're quite gross. Skin and bone extract??? YUCK!!! Here is your animal friendly, super tasty, vegan version thanks to the wonderful ladies at The Post Punk Kitchen.

Big Fat Crispy Rice Squares
Prep time: 10 minutes
No cook time! Just chill time.

1/3 cup maple syrup
2/3 cup brown rice syrup
1/4 cup nonhydrogenated margarine, cut into chunks (I use Earth Balance)
2 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond, maple, or coconut extract (I had almond on hand.)
A pinch of salt
9 cups crispy brown rice cereal (one 10-ounce box of cereal)

1. Line an 8 x 8 x 3-inch square metal brownie pan with enough aluminum foil so that it folds over the sides of the pan by about an inch. Spray the bottom and sides of the covered pan with nonstick cooking spray.

2. In a large saucepan, combine the maple syrup and brown rice syrup; make sure to use a large pan with sides at least 4 inches tall, as the mixture will foam quite a bit when it boils. Stir over medium heat and cook until the mixture comes to a full, rapid, foaming boil. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, add the margarine, and stir until it's melted and mostly incorporated into syrup. Stir in the vanilla and almond extracts and salt.

3. Pour the cereal into a very large mixing bowl. Pour the cooked syrup mixture over the cereal, then use a large rubber spatula to stir and coat the cereal with the syrup mixture. Stir and fold for about 2 minutes, taking care to completely coat all of the cereal with syrup; the mixture should be very sticky. Use the spatula to scoop the coated cereal into the foil-lined pan, pushing the mixture around so that it's evenly distributed throughout the pan. It should heap somewhat over the top of the pan.

4. Tear a piece of waxed paper or parchment paper slightly larger than the size of the pan. Place the paper on top of the cereal mixture, then with your hands, firmly press down and mash the cereal so that it's now level with the edges of the pan. Evenly press all of the cereal down; this step is very important as it will help the crispy rice stick together, so make sure to keep pressing down firmly and evenly on the rice, even crushing it a little if necessary. When the cereal seems as level and firm as it's going to get, place the pan in the freezer and freeze for at least 2 hours or until very solid.

5. To slice, remove the pan from the freezer and slice immediately. The easiest way to do so is grab the edges of the foil, lift the entire contents out of pan, and flip it, wax paper side down, onto a cutting board. Peel off the foil from the top. Use a very sharp and heavy knife to slice the mixture into nine large squares or twelve smaller ones. For sturdier treats, loosely cover the squares and store in a cool place for 8 hours before serving. Frozen crispy rice squares can also be served right after slicing but may become slightly crumbly as they warm to room temperature.

These were absolutely ah-mazing. They were buttery, and that hint of almond really worked the lack of marshmallow to the max. You definitely have to keep them cold, otherwise they start to fall apart, but even when they crumble, they're delicious. Thanks, PPK, for bringing these wonderful childhood treats back into my life!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Eggplant Parmesan

For a large part of my cooking career, I have had an undeniable attraction to Rachel Ray. She's perky, heallllthy (and I don't mean her food), and just kinda wings her food together. For the most part, her food can be made healthy and everything is fairly simple to make. What's not to love?

Cody loves Rachel's cooking, too....hence the reason I have six of her cook books. :) Of course, I received five of them before becoming a vegetarian, so now I'm made to go through them and make her recipes vegan. When we were still in Japan and I was just a vegetarian (not "just" as in "only"...vegetarians rock, too!), I took my first stab at her Eggplant Parmesan from her Vegetarian Cook Book. All we had out there were the Japanese eggplants, duh, so the pieces were small but cute. Oh, and delicious! Cody & I couldn't get over how much we loved eggplant! Now it's a staple in our house. I've tried eggplant roasted, sauteed, and grilled, but I love my eggplant coated with bread crumbs and served with pasta (or in a panini ala Eggplant Panini).

At first, I made Rachel's eggplant with eggs. Obviously a no go these days. My first few attempts at making vegan eggplant parm weren't all that great. I have since mastered the art of eggplant, though. At least, Cody & I think so. :)

Eggplant Parmesan
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 10-15 minutes

1 large eggplant
1-2 cups fresh bread crumbs (I take a few slices of bread and dry them out in the oven at 350° F, then grind in my food processor)
Salt & pepper, to taste
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp rosemary
1/2 tsp Vegan Topping
1 cup unsweetened soy milk
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 cup flour
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp Earth Balance

1. Slice your eggplant about 1/2-inch thick. Sprinkle each side with salt, place in a colander, and let the bitter juices drain out for about 10 minutes. Pat dry and set aside.

2. In a shallow bowl, combine bread crumbs, salt & pepper, oregano, rosemary, and Vegan Topping. Set aside.

3. In another shallow bowl, combine soy milk and lemon juice. Mix and let curdle.

4. In a shallow dish, mix flour and a little extra salt & pepper.

5. Heat olive oil and butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. At the same time, heat your oven to 350° F. Working in batches, take one piece of eggplant and dredge in flour. After dredging, coat with the "buttermilk" mixture. Then coat with bread crumbs and place carefully in the pan. Cook until golden brown, flip, and cook the other side.

6. When one pan of eggplant is good and golden, place on a cookie sheet and put in the preheated oven for 5 minutes or until you see some juice under each slice. Remove; serve on a sandwich or with pasta and sauce.

This is what we had for Valentine's Day dinner. Followed by some tasty Chocolate Banana Cream Pie...recipe to follow. Trust me: you'll want to tune in for that one!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Margarita Cupcakes

Ay ay ay!
If there's anything I love more than a filthy martini, it's a well-made margarita. They're sweet. They're sour. They're refreshing. And I live in New Mexico, so my cup runneth over. That's why when I came across this delectable combination of margaritas and cupcakes, I knew I would fall in love.

Since I am so fond of margaritas (only on occasion....don't get the wrong idea!), I almost always have my friend, Jose Quervo, in the beer fridge freezer. So I stopped by the market, picked up some limes, and made these happy hour cupcakes.

Margarita Cupcakes
Prep time: 15 minutes
Bake time: 20-22 minutes


1/4 cup lime juice, freshly squeezed
1 1/2 teaspoons lime zest, freshly grated
1 cup soymilk (I always try to use full-fat for baking.)
1/4 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons tequila
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt


1/4 cup Earth Balance
1 tablespoon soymilk
3 tablespoons lime juice, freshly squeezed
1 tablespoon tequila
tiny drop green food tiny as you can manage!
2-2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 pinch kosher salt or coarse salt
1/2 cup large crystal decorator sugar (for the rim of the cupcake!)

1. Preheat oven to 350° F and line muffin pan with cupcake liners.

2. Beat together lime juice, zest, soy milk, oil, tequila, vanilla and sugar.

3. Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Combine into the wet ingredients and mix until smooth.

4. Fill liners about 3/4 fill. I use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to get the job done. Bake 20-22 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

5. Transfer cupcakes to a cooling ratck and cook completely before frosting.

6. Blend margarine until soft and fluffy; stir in soy milk, lime juice, tequila and food coloring. Use only the tiniest bit of food coloring.

7. Sift in 2 cups confectioners sugar and blend until smooth and creamy. Add additional confectioner sugar if the icing appears too liquidy. Refrigerate until ready to use.

8. Spread icing on the cupckaes spreading all the way to the edges.

9. Roll the outer edge of the cupcakes in the sugar crystals. Serve after your favorite Mexican / New Mexican dish!

I sincerely hope you get the chance to make these cupcakes. The fresh lime juice makes all the difference in the world. You don't really notice the tequila, just like in a real margarita. It's just there for fun. :)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Buffalo Wings

Two weeks ago, Cody & I drove up to Colorado Springs with our good friends, Erik & Stephanie. Erik is from Colorado and he & Stephanie lived there for 8 years. We drove up to see Manchester Orchestra (if you haven't listened to them, get on it!). We got to meet some of their good friends, their family, and ate loads of good food! My favorite place, by far, was Trinity Brewery. They had great beer AND great food. Their menu was dedicated to vegetarians and vegans. Stephanie got the tempeh sliders and I got the Buffalo Wings with mustard beer dipping sauce and a side of sweet potato fries. Mmmmmmmm.

You know me: recreator extraordinaire! I literally couldn't stop thinking about going home and making buffalo wings. It was all I could talk about. I didn't want my little wings to be gone! We made it safely back to Albuquerque on Monday and I made them for dinner that night. :)

You can find the recipe for the seitan's the first recipe. Once it has cooled and is ready to use, head on to this post and get your buffalo on!

Buffalo Wings
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes

Make sure you start your SEITAN ahead of time!

1/4 cup flour
1 tsp garlic powder
salt & pepper to taste
4 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup Frank's Hot Sauce, or hot sauce of choice
4 tbsp butter, melted

1. Break the seitan into wing-size pieces. In a large pan, heat oil over medium heat.

2. In a shallow bowl, combine the flour, garlic, salt, and pepper. Dredge the seitan pieces in flour, making sure to cover all of it. Carefully drop each piece in the oil. Let the seitan cook for 5 minutes, or until browned. Flip on all sides and brown.

3. While the seitan is cooking, heat the hot sauce and better in the microwave or small saucepan over low heat. Mix until well incorporated.

4. Remove the seitan from the pan. Pour the hot sauce mixture over your seitan, making sure to coat each piece. I then put mine on a skewer and served!

(Yes, kale good...)

The next night, I had extra seitan, so I made more buffalo wings and made a calzone. I filled it with spinach and kalamata olives....mmmmm......

The seitan has a nutritional value to drool over. I'm pretty impressed with it.

Add the buffalo sauce to it, it's still not so bad.

So go ahead. Indulge!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

CoCo Ichibanya

Have you ever found a food that you knew you would never again be able to live without? The kind of food that you (or your wife) would crave whilst pregnant? A food so delicious, you ate it at least once a week, even after three years of eating it? Those of us "lucky" enough to be stationed on Okinawa, Japan have found that food. It comes in the form of curry.

You could bet your bottom dollar that if you passed by a CoCo's, there would be more Americans than Japanese there. Chicken cutlet with cheese? Level mild through 10? Side of Na an? Absolutely. Cody was a chicken cutlet boy, like most Americans. We only got the half order because it was the perfect amount of sticky rice. Plus it came with a drink. We also worked the level 10 curry like it was our job. I switched from the popular chicken to shrimp....then to vegetable. The had these spicy potato croquettes that were a great little appetizer. Mango and milk cream at the for the kiddos. This place was pure belly-burnin' heaven. I obviously needed to make it my life-long goal to recreate this dish.

Let's start with the cutlets.

I made homemade seitan last week to recreate a different dish (to be posted later. This is far more important.) Seitan is actually easy. It's cheaper than buying pre-made fake meat, plus it's more versatile. I had a mound left, so I thinly sliced it into culet-esque shapes, dredged them in flour, buttermilk, then panko bread crumbs. The gluten seitan itself takes a bit of time to prepare, so make sure you plan accordingly. Here's the seitan recipe:

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour

1 1/2 cups vital wheat gluten flour (You can easily find this in the bulk section of Whole Foods!)
1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes (Again...Whole Foods)
1 cup very cold water
1/2 cup soy sauce (I used about 1/3
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, pressed or grated on a microplane grater
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

Simmering Broth
10 cups water or vegetable broth
1/2 cup soy sauce (I would use either the broth or the soy sauce. Not both.)

1. In a large bowl, mix together Vital Wheat Gluten Flour and nutritional yeast flakes.

2. In a seperate bowl, mix together reamining ingredients: water, soy sauce. tomato paste, garlic, lemon zest.

3. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and combine with a firm spatula, knead dough for about 3 minutes until a spongy, elastic dough is formed. Let dough rest for a couple of minutes and prepare your broth, but don't start boiling it.

4. Now roll your dough into a log shape about 8 inches long and cut into 3 equal sized pieces. Place the pieces in the broth. It is important that the water/broth be very cold when you add the dough, it helps with the texture and ensures that it doesn't fall apart. Partially cover the pot (leave a little space for steam to escape) and bring to a boil.

5. When the water has come to a boil set the heat to low and gently simmer for an hour, turning the pieces every now and again.

6. Now you've got gluten. Let it cool in the simmering broth for at least a half an hour. It is best if it cools completely.

7. What you do next depends on the recipe you are using. If it calls for gluten use it as is. If you want to store some of it for later use put it in a sealable container covered in the simmering broth.

8. If your recipe calls for seitan cut your pieces up as desired.

There's more to the seitan recipe, but I'm going to get you started on the rice next. Good sticky rice is so important. I think I've finally mastered it. I made too much last night, but it's ok, because dessert was rice pudding. Here's the sticky rice recipe:

Sticky Rice
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes

3 cups medium grain white rice
3 cups water
3 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp sugar

1. In a colander with a large bowl underneath, place rice under running water. Press and move rice until water gets cloudy. Remove the colander, dump the water bowl, and repeat until the water is no longer cloudy. This is extremely important! I wouldn't skip this step. The result isn't pretty.

2. In a rice steamer or large pot over medium heat, add the rinsed rice and the 3 cups of water. Steam until steamer is done. If using a pot, check often to make sure rice isn't burning or sticking. Rice is done when the water is gone.

3. In a small bowl, microwave the rice vinegar and sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Add to the rice, fluff, and there you have it! Sticky rice!

Now we have to prepare our cutlets.

Seitan Cutlets
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10-15 minutes

1 seitan log (as made above)
1/2 cup unbleached flour
1/2 cup unsweetened soy milk
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
salt & pepper, to taste
2-4 tbsp vegetable oil

1. Slice your seitan log to make 4 1/2-inch thick cutlets. In separate shallow bowls, set aside one with flour (and salt & pepper, if using), one with soy milk and lemon juice (stir and let curdle), and one with panko bread crumbs.

These bread crumbs are important for the whole experience. I found mine at a regular grocery store in the Asian isle. You shouldn't have a problem coming across them!

2. Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat. Take one cutlet and completely coat in flour. Get in the nooks & crannies! After floured, coat in soy milk mixture. Then get it covered with panko bread crumbs, pressing to make sure it's coated well. Carefully place in the pan. Repeat till all the cutlets are in the pan.

3. After a few minutes, check the cutlets to make sure they're a golden to dark golden brown color. Flip to brown on both sides.

While the cutlets are cooking...

This is another little nugget I found in the Asian isle of Smith's. If for some reason your grocery store doesn't carry it, check at Whole Foods or even better, a world market, if you have one.

Prep time: Hardly any!
Cook time: 5-10 minutes

1 box S&B Curry
1 2/3 cups water
Habanero powder, to taste
CoCo Curry powder, if you're lucky enough to still have some

1. In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, add 1 2/3 cups of water. Place your broken up curry pieces into the pot and stir well. Add spice to taste. If you're like us, you'll run out of habanero powder.

2. Assemble plate: the sticky rice goes in a half moon shape on one side of the plate. The other side of the plate is for the cutlet. The curry is put on top of the rice...then I mix it all together, close my eyes, and enjoy. Here's what my plate looked like:

Naturally, as I was making dinner, I had to send a mass text out letting all of our now-stateside friends what I was making. Just as naturally, I got a few "jealous!", "send me some", and "make sure you blog about it!". So here it is, my dear friends. CoCo's Curry.