Friday, January 30, 2009

Jambalaya + Flaky Biscuits!

I honestly can't remember where I found this recipe. I typed it on a piece of paper with no reference as to what web page it came from! I could have made it up for all I know. I love it because it's a one pot dish, really quick and easy to make and so addicting. I can probably eat the whole pot by myself. Every time I make this I always go for seconds, thirds and sometimes fourths! Easy to prepare and delicious...what more can you ask for?


4 TB olive oil
2 links Tofurky Italian sausage, sliced into chunks
1 large onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2 ribs celery, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups white rice
2 cups vegetable broth
1 14oz. can stewed tomatoes, with juice
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or less if you don't want it too spicy.)
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp thyme
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large pot at medium heat and saute sausage chunks until browned. Remove sausage and set them aside. Add onion, green pepper, celery and garlic to the pot and saute until slightly softened. Stir in rice and vegetable broth. Break up tomatoes and add to the pot with the juice. Add spices and browned sausage. Bring to a boil. Lower heat to low and simmer covered for 30 minutes or until rice is tender.

So Bazu over at the postpunkkitchen forums posted pictures of her flaky biscuit that begged to be made tonight. Doesn't really go with my jambalaya but who the heck cares? They were soft and flaky and so rich and delicious! I made rectangle biscuits as well as round. I think I may have rolled out my dough too thin because they didn't rise as high as I hoped.

Recipe James McNair's Buttermilk biscuits:

1/2 c.  solid veg. shortening (I used earth balance stick)

2 c. all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt (I eliminated, since EB is salted)

3/4 c. buttermilk (I used 1 tsp. vinegar and soymilk to make
3/4 c.)

Position rack in middle, preheat oven to 400
spray baking sheet with oil or line with parchment, set aside
in a bowl or food processor, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt. cut in the shortening with your fingertips or a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs. (I used a fork) Add buttermilk and stir just until the mixture sticks together.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly and quickly, about 30 seconds. using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out about 1/2 inch thick. using a floured 2 1/2 inch round biscuit cutter, cut out circles. Place onto the prepped baking sheet.

Bake until lightly browned, 10-12 minutes. Serve piping hot.

I got about 10 biscuits out of this, plus a bunch of loose ends that I'm saving in the freezer to use as dumplings.

Bonus Buster pictures taken from above:

A little chin scratching...

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Tofu Vegetable Rolls + Salad

I made these beautiful sushi last night but forgot to photograph them all! So I took the leftovers (Marc's lunch today), arranged them on a plate and snapped a quick photo before he left for work. The one in the middle is wrapped in spring roll wrapper instead of nori. They are really good. Inside is baked tofu, cucumber, carrot and yellow bell pepper.

I used the leftover filling to make this spinach salad that I ate for breakfast drizzled with peanut dressing.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Getting mentally ready for detox and some tacos.

So the day after Superbowl Sunday, I will start a detox diet based on Gillian Mckeith's meal plans and cookbook. So this means no processed food, no sugar, no white rice, no white pasta, no added salt, no coffee or alcohol... In other words only fresh vegetables, fresh fruit, smoothies, juices, herbal teas, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds and tofu. I will be cooking everything I eat. (Except for Feb 18th our wedding anniversary, we are going to Real Food Daily. But they've got healthy vegan options so I'll be fine.) This week I've been enjoying sugar filled sweets, chocolate, coffee, port wine and white bread and rice. A little too much indulgence I think and on Sunday I'm making chocolate ganache cupcakes which will be my last sweet treat before the start of the diet. After three weeks, I hope to be able to crave sweets less and learn to up my raw fruit and vegetable intake. I also wouldn't mind losing a bit of weight! We'll see how this journey goes. I'll be recording it all on my blog and photographing the different foods I will get to eat. If you look back at some older entries (or under the tag "gillian mckeith") you'll see that I've tried a few recipes from the cookbook already and they aren't half as bad as some of you may think.

The other night I made tvp tacos that I forgot to post here.

The tvp was cooked with taco seasoning, lime juice, cumin, garlic powder and salsa. It was quite good. If you don't know what tvp is, it's dehydrated soy granules which you rehydrate in water. It closely resembles ground beef. You can get it in the bulk section of your health food store. It's cheap. You can cook it any way you want and put it in a myriad of dishes such as casseroles, enchiladas, lasagnas and pot pie.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Food from Mom's Bday Party.

Had a great time at the party. My mom and dad were so cute, smiling together and hugging and singing karaoke (don't ask). Dad even serenaded Mom with a song. I was very happy that Mom had a great time as the wonderful guest of honor. I took some pics of the food that I made and the insides of the birthday cake.


"Pizza Casserole" with zucchini, mushrooms, onions, olives, capers, veggie sausage, cashew ricotta, spinach and marinara. Deliciousness. I've made this before and posted the recipe here.

Slow cooked scalloped potatoes. Recipe from "You Won't Believe It's Vegan!" Beautifully rich and creamy potatoes with a nice crust. I am definitely making this again.

Cake! This cake was sooooooooooooooooo sweet! My mouth went numb while eating it. The frosting was out of control sweet. It was super.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Happy Birthday Mom!

Yesterday was my mom's 65th birthday and tomorrow we are throwing her a big bash to celebrate. She personally requested cookies: white chocolate macadamia nut cookies to be precise. I followed Isa's chocolate chip recipe and used dairy free white chocolate chips and delicious macadamias. I also made chocolate/white chocolate as well for those of us that prefer real chocolate. I also made birthday cake for her. It's banana cake (her favorite) with strawberry jam and vanilla buttercream in the center and then frosted with vanilla buttercream all over. I'll try to get a pic of the insides tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

"Cheezy" Broccoli Rice Casserole

I like casseroles. It's a one dish meal with very little mess and cleanup. This recipe is from 'The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook'. I was going for a "golden hue" by adding turmeric but I think I may have added to much as it's quite yellow!

This morning I made a rockin' green smoothie. It was so sweet and beautifully green with little blue speckles. I really enjoyed this one and so did Buster! (Well sort of, he had about a tablespoon. Picky dog!)

Rockin' Green Smoothie

5 dates, pitted
1/2 cup water
1 cup ice
1 ripe banana
handful of frozen blueberries
2 collard leaves, ribs removed (about 2 cups)

Blend dates and water until smooth. Add ice, banana and blueberries. Add a little more water if necessary. Blend until smooth, then add collards and blend until smooth.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Club "Sang-wich".

I mean Club Sandwich of course. I just remembered my husband telling me that the italians in his old neighborhood of St. Leonard (in Quebec, Canada) pronounced it that way which I think is kinda funny....

Anyway, this was my morning, preparing baked tofu and tempeh bacon to make these sandwiches. Tomorrow my husband will find one in his lunch. Hope he likes them!

Baked Tofu and Tempeh Bacon. Recipes from "You Won't Believe It's Vegan!" The tofu was marinated with a mixture of olive oil, mustard, garlic, soy sauce and balsamic vinegar. I slightly overbaked them so they have a crispy exterior.

My sandwich prepared with lots of Vegenaise, lettuce, tomato and crisp toast. I was going to make it a triple stack but I thought that would be too much. The tempeh bacon was good but I have to say not as good as the recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance. But overall this was a very good and satisfying sandwich.

Edited to add: Puppy pics from the same day.

And Buster contemplates a nap.

*yawn* "Man, I'm tired even after 12 hours of sleep last night..."

"I think I'll just rest my eyes..."


Monday, January 19, 2009

Food as Art, a Sweet Treat and a Sleeping Pup.

Made my dinner ahead of time today so I wouldn't have to bother later. I took the 'Baked Aubergine (Eggplant) and Mushroom Stack' recipe from the You Are What You Eat cookbook and improvised a little. It was supposed to have fennel and red onions but I didn't have them so I used yellow onions and added grape tomatoes in place of the fennel. And I think I did good because the addition of the tomatoes makes for beautiful looking food. I was entranced by the colors as I snapped some photos. Here are my favorite shots. (By the way, I haven't tasted this yet. It does smell very nice though...lots of garlic in this.)

Sitting on some fresh arugula for more color. View number 1 of the stack.

View number 2 which I think works better aesthetically for me...

Two stacks surrounded by a lush arugula forest.

I'm still enjoying my new Breville blender and have been making a fresh smoothie every morning. I've discovered a sweet smoothie that I like to prepare when I'm craving dessert. It contains: 1 cup ice, 1 cup soymilk, 1 frozen banana, 4-5 dates, 1 tsp cocoa powder and 1 tsp vanilla extract. It's delicious.

And a bonus puppy shot. This was Buster this morning, unable to get out of bed to face the day. I even pulled the shades open and he still didn't get up!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Giving in to a pizza craving...

Oh my my my, this pizza was so flipping good! It doesn't look as pretty as the pizzas I've made before but the taste totally makes up for it. It's a basic Trader Joe's pizza dough with homemade sauce (tomato sauce, olive oil, salt, oregano, sugar, garlic and onion powder), red onions, lots and lots of chopped garlic, chopped up Tofurky Italian veggie sausage, grape tomatoes and a bit of parsley. I also sprinkled vegan parmesan on it. I think it was the abundance of garlic that really took it up "a notch". And to just make it all better I made a spinach and arugula (rocket) salad that was lightly dressed with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper and served it on top of the pizza. Absolutely delicious. I ate half of this pizza in one sitting!

Friday, January 16, 2009

"Save-the-Tuna" Wrap + Yummy Date Cake

I made a batch of Ani Phyo's "Save-the-Tuna" paté yesterday to make these wraps for me and my husband for lunch. It's a sunflower seed paté that has chopped celery, onions and grated carrots. It's really delicious and I'm so pleased that my husband likes it. He says it reminds him of those little Starkist Tuna lunch mixes that comes in a can with crackers on the side. This paté goes very well with crackers by the way.

Along with the paté, I added collard greens, yellow bell peppers, onions (that were marinated in balsamic vinegar), carrots and cucumber.

I haven't had cake since christmas and I've been craving it like crazy. I haven't bought flour on purpose because I wanted to keep away from the temptation to bake. But today I was desperate and I had exactly 1 cup of flour left in my pantry, which was the perfect amount to make date cake! And luckily I bought a package of dates a few days ago so I was good to go. This cake is seriously moist and really sweet and just gorgeous.

Look at that! Recipe for the cake is here. Be sure to sub soymilk for the milk!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Cheap Eats: Breakfast Burrito and Channa Masala

Today's eats are good examples of using a few cheap ingredients to create a tasty yet satisfying meal. In these tough economic times, a trip to the grocery store can be really depressing. Prices have gone up for just about everything. Luckily there are a few staples that are very affordable and will be of so much use to your bargain meal repertoire. Today was a good example of using everyday vegetarian staples such as tofu (around $1.29 per carton), potatoes ($2 for a 5lb. bag) and beans (in this case, chickpeas. I get mine at the 99cents only store for .99 cents for a large 28oz. can).

For lunch I made a breakfast burrito with some scrambled tofu and onions, potatoes and a delicious sauce which was simply a mixture of ketchup and mayo! I only used 1/4 of the tofu block, so I have 3/4 of it left to use for another recipe. Oh, and I got a pack of flour tortillas for .99 cents too!

Dinner was a simple potato and chickpea curry, otherwise known as 'Channa Masala'. I make this all the time and it is best served on top of hot, steaming jasmine or basmati rice. I always use this recipe. I only used half a can of the chickpeas, so I was able to save the rest to put on top of my lunch salad tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Potstickers And Another Smoothie.

Another favorite at our house. Tofu and Veg potstickers. Yum yum gimme some!

The filling was tofu, collard greens, cabbage, carrot, garlic and onions. Served with sweet chili sauce and soy sauce/chinese mustard.

For lunch I had this light green smoothie that had banana, strawberry and collard greens! Good way to get some green leafies into the diet. It was so sweet and so good. Couldn't taste the greens at all!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Just an interesting article...

This article was on the front page of Yahoo today and it lists 15 foods that are cheap yet healthy. All these foods are great for those on a budget. I noticed that 12 out of 15 on this list are vegan, hooray!

I'll list them here for quick reference:

1. Brown Rice (lovely!)
2. Whole Grain Pasta (whole wheat or brown rice is good.)
3. Whole Wheat Bread (for toast and sandwiches)
4. Whole Wheat Flour (baking cakes, cookies, pancakes...)
5. Oats (breakfast!)
6. Frozen Veggies (great when you can't always afford fresh.)
7. Potatoes (cheap dinner: baked potato in the microwave with steamed veggies and margarine.)
8. Fresh Bagged Spinach (make a quick salad tossed with lemon juice and olive oil.)
9. Canned Refried Beans (make sure it's vegetarian!)
10. Canned Tuna Replace with Chickpeas!
11. Canned/Jarred Marinara Sauce (make sure there's no dairy in the ingredients.)
12. Whole Wheat Pita
13. Nulaid Reddi Eggs (what?) Replace with Tofu!
14. Frozen Edamame (Soybeans)
15. Canned Crabmeat Replace with beans or tofu!

Falafel Night.

We have falafel night often. It's a reliable and tasty regular in our house. I almost always use the recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance. It's easy, delicious and perfect for weeknights. Sometimes I serve the falafel patties with a side of lemon herb rice and a salad or in a pita like tonight. I did something a little different in preparing the chickpeas mixture. Instead of using breadcrumbs to bind the mixture, I used some cooked couscous that I had in the fridge. It worked very well.

The ingredients for this recipe has been posted online here. (Note: Olive oil is for frying. It does not go in the chickpea mixture.) To cook them, you just need to fry lightly them in the olive oil until browned or bake in a 400 degree oven for 25-30 minutes flipping halfway.

Baked, not fried!

In a whole wheat pita with lettuce, tomato and lots of garlicky and creamy cucumber sauce!

Cucumber sauce:
3 TB vegan mayo (or more if you like)
1/2 cup finely chopped cucumber
1 clove garlic, minced
1-2 tsp fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
Stir to combine all ingredients and chill.

This morning I made a orange, apple, banana and carrot smoothie in my new Breville blender that my dad bought for me! It's only the second or third time I've used it and it's great. I know it's not a Vita-Mix but works very nicely for a less expensive blender.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

BBQ Baked Tofu

Haven't had tofu in a while so I bought some today to make bbq baked tofu. I was going to make a homemade bbq sauce out of Veganomicon but I didn't have most of the ingredients so I used a bottle of Trader Joe's Smoky Kansas City Style BBQ sauce in a pinch. To go with my saucy tofu, I had Brooklyn Deli Pasta Salad (which is a recipe from Veganomicon) and garlicky sauteed zucchini. It was all very delicious indeed.

If you're interested in baking some tofu slices, here's a good recipe. I pretty much followed the baking time instructions but instead of using the marinade, I dipped my tofu slices in bbq sauce and I baked them on a baking sheet instead of a dish. It was very easy and I can see myself making a big batch of this to use for sandwiches.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Black Pepper Cheeze

Another raw recipe from Ani's Raw Food Kitchen. I loved the sunflower paté so much (it's all gone now.) that I had to try another delightful spread from this book. I chose the black pepper "cheeze" recipe because I had everything for it (cashews, garlic, lemon juice, black pepper) and it was easy to whip up in my blender. I also sprinkled some crushed red pepper and dried parsley into the cheeze for some color. This stuff is really really thick and creamy and tasted very cheese like. The cashews give it a very rich flavor. I really don't know how else to eat it besides spreading it on stuff. I didn't have any crackers so I put some on cucumber slices and topped them with olives. I really wish I had crackers because it was difficult to spread this on the cucumber. It was sliding off from all the moisture. So if you decide to ever make this, bring out the crackers!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Veggie Stew & Mashed Potatoes

I've been eating a lot of cold foods lately like salads, coleslaws, wraps, paté on crackers, etc. so tonight I was in the mood for something warm and comforting. A stew was in order. I was looking for something rich and thick that I can serve over creamy mashed potatoes.

I was a little hasty to get this picture but I think if I simmered a little longer, it would have been thicker than this. I had a little sample and the taste was really nice. Red wine and miso paste are such great flavor combination. I will be having a much larger portion at dinner time.

Vegetable Stew with Red Wine and Miso

4 TB olive oil
1 onion, cut in half and then quartered
1 cup baby carrots
1 celery stick, sliced
1 small eggplant, cut into chunks
1 zucchini, diced into half moons
1 cup vegetable broth
1/2 cup red wine
1 tsp red miso paste
1 14oz. can whole peeled tomatoes
1/2 tsp summer savory (If you don't have this, you can use thyme or marjoram.)
2 tsp cornstarch mixed with a little water to dissolve
salt and pepper to taste

Heat 2 TB of the olive oil in a pot and saute the onion, carrot and celery on medium high heat until onions start to caramelize, about 4 minutes. Remove vegetables from pot and set aside. Add 2 TB more oil into the pot and add the eggplant and zucchini and saute until eggplant starts to brown. Add the onion/carrot/celery back into the pot and pour in the vegetable broth. Mix the tsp. of miso paste into the 1/2 cup of wine and stir to dissolve. Add this mixture to the pot. Crush tomatoes in a bowl with your fingers to break them up and add them plus the juice into the pot. Add the summer savory, cornstarch mixture, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes with lid on. Remove lid and simmer for 20 more minutes or until all vegetables are tender and stew has thickened. Season with more salt and pepper if desired. Stew will thicken more as it sits.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Sunflower Seed Paté

I was inspired by "Smoothie's" post over at the PPK forums the other day to make this. Apparently she was up at 3 am eating sandwiches, one of which was sunflower paté on ryebread. It sounded so good so today I pulled out Ani's Raw Food Kitchen and found a recipe for "Save-the-Tuna Paté" which consisted of sunflower seeds, lemon juice, garlic, carrots, celery, onion and dulse flakes. I didn't want a fishy flavor so I left the dulse flakes out. I had some on ryebread with radish and later I will have some on top of salad. Mine came out more orange because I used too many carrots and a little sour because of too much lemon! I think my lemon was way too big. But it still tasted good and I will make it again in the future.

It came out very nice and creamy yet still with texture.

My lunch.

Edited to add: The recipe for this is online at the Happy Cow forums. It's here and is the second post. (You'll notice it says to use carrot pulp. I don't have a juicer (yet) so I just used 2 grated carrots.)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Thai Massaman Curry & Dairy Free Baking Chips

I was inspired by my cousin's Thai curry pictures to make it for myself for dinner. I have so many tins of different flavor curry pastes in my pantry. I think most people who are sort of familiar with Thai food know of spicy Panang or Red or Green curry. I picked something different- Massaman which is a southern Thai curry that is Muslim in origin. This curry is a result of early Muslim traders who brought spices like cardamom, turmeric, cinnamon, cumin and cloves from India and the Middle East to the south coast of Thailand. This curry has a lot of these spices and is beautifully fragrant and very tasty! I used potatoes, tofu, broccoli, carrots and peas in my curry.

All the ingredients I used for this curry.

This came out really nice.

Thai Massaman Curry

2 TB canola oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large potato, peeled and cut into cubes
2 carrots, sliced
1/2 to a full can of massaman curry paste (this can be spicy so use as little or much as you like - store the leftover paste in a little ziploc bag in the freezer)
2 cans coconut milk
1 head of broccoli, florets seperated and stem thinly sliced
1 can sweet peas, drained
1 package extra-firm tofu, drained and cubed
2 TB soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
juice of one large lime

Heat oil in a large pot on medium heat. Add onions, garlic and ginger. Saute for a while until onions are browned and a bit soft. Add potatoes, carrots and curry paste. Stir around to coat, then add coconut milk and stir. Bring to a boil. Add broccoli. Add soy sauce, sugar and lime juice. Lower heat to medium low. Add tofu cubes and peas. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes or so or until potatoes are thoroughly cooked. Serve over hot rice.

My mom's birthday is coming up and we're having a big bash for her. She requested white chocolate macadamia nut cookies for the party. At first, I was not sure where I could get dairy free white chocolate chips and I had heard that kosher markets may have them. After traveling up and down West Pico in the Beverly Hills area for an hour yesterday, ducking in and out of various kosher markets, I came out empty handed! But today a lovely person at the PPK message boards directed me to a kosher market on Santa Monica Blvd. which is miles closer to my house! And this is what I got:

2 bags of the white chocolate, a bag of coffee flavored(yum) and a bag of pretty rainbow colored chips. Can't wait to try these out. As far as regular chocolate chips, I can find dairy free ones at Trader Joe's (the semi-sweet) or at the grocery store (the semi-sweet as well. Brands: Guittard and Ghirardelli)

Sharing the vegan love...

Over the holidays I was able to get in touch with lots of family, one of who is N. my dear cousin on my father's side. She is very much interested in healthy eating and asked me questions about vegan cooking and eating. I gave her some recipes to try and gave her my blog info. As of a few days ago, she has completely surprised me by deciding not to eat meat and has become very excited about vegetarian cooking! I am super proud of her and I can't wait to share with her more recipes and the joys of being meat free. You know, when I tell people about my choice and how good it feels, a lot of them seem interested in trying it. And if just one person tries going meatless at least once a week that is amazing enough for me! But for my cousin to really go for it, I just can't tell you how happy and proud I am!

We've been emailing back and forth and this morning she emailed me some pictures of what she's been cooking up. These look absolutely fantastic!

First up: Thai Green Curry with Bamboo Shoots, Tofu and Yams. Heaven! She based this curry off of my recipe here.

Served over what we call in Thai "Kanom Jean" which translates as literally "Chinese Dessert", hehe. It's not a dessert but a very delicate and thin noodle.

What looks like a delicious bean salad. I have to ask her more about this. It's calling my name!

Me thinks these are Isa's chocolate chip cookies! I shared this recipe with my whole family at christmas. Yum yum...

Can't wait to see more of her cooking!