Tag Archives: Vegan

Almond-Date Energy Bites

2013 06 25_8252

I feel kind of lame posting this recipe, because I am sure there are at least one million exactly like this already available across the internet, and I haven’t adapted the recipe I used too drastically.  But my doula recommended I make some as quick and protein-dense fuel during labor, and they are surprisingly delicious!  I had picked up a store-bought version just in case I didn’t have a chance to make them in time, and as usual the homemade version is SO much better.  I may need to make another batch because they have really filled my need for chocolate-y sweetness without having to turn on my oven in this 90 degree heat.  They taste great right out of the freezer!

Almond-Date Energy Bites
Adapted from the recipe for “Raw Balls” in The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone

1/2 cup pecans (can use walnuts, but pecans were what I had on hand)
1/2 cup dates, pits removed
Scant 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
Scant 1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup fresh almond butter
1/2 teasppoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup almonds
~2 cups shredded coconut

In a food processor, coarsely grind the pecans.  Add the dates; pulse until everything is well-combined.  Add the remaining ingredients, except the 1/2 cup whole almonds and coconut, until you have a smooth paste.

You can stir the almonds into this paste whole or coarsely chopped to your liking.

With your hands, form this mixture into balls and roll in the shredded coconut.  The paste will be very sticky; it helps to wet your hands just a little.

Freeze for about 2 hours before eating.

-R

 

Southern extravaganza: the best macaroni and cheese, greens, fried tofu and okra

 

Fall is here.  Winter is coming.  It’s the time of year I start moving toward heartier, heavier foods, but it’s also the time of year I gaze longingly at the lingering summer produce at the farmers markets.  It is the time of year for fried green tomatoes.

Alas, fried green tomatoes were not a part of this meal (it was several weeks ago…probably still summer!).  But they’d be the perfect accompaniment.  I dare even the most rigid omnivore to not enjoy!

The tofu recipe below is adapted from Veganomicon.  The others are from…?  Old and adapted beyond recognition.

Chile-Cornmeal Crusted Tofu

Canola oil for frying
1 pound extra firm tofu, pressed to remove as much liquid as possible
1 cup buttermilk (obv. use a vegan milk if you want to keep it vegan, but add some vinegar (i think, haven’t checked) to make it more buttermilk-y).
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup cornmeal
2 tablespoons chile powder
1 teaspoon freshly ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon lime zest
1.5 teaspoons salt

Slice the tofu into eight slices and then slice each of those diagonally so you have 16 tofu triangles.

Sift cornstarch* into milk and stir until combined.

In another bowl, sift together the remaining dry ingredients — cornmeal, spices, lime zest and salt.

In a cast iron skillet, heat oil, about a 1/4 inch or enough to mostly cover tofu slices.

Designate one hand your “wet” hand and the other “dry.”  Do not violate these designations.

With your wet hand, dip the tofu into the milk-cornstarch mixture.  With your other hand, drop into the cornmeal and coat on all sides.  Remove and place in the skillet, frying on each side for 3 minutes or so, until browned.  Don’t crowd the tofu if it can’t all fit in the skillet.

When finished, place on paper towels.

*As a warning, do not let two ingredients prefixed by the word “corn” confuse you, as it did for my friend and me, who, unfortunately yet hilariously, mixed them up, multiple times, in a row.

Classic braised greens

Traditionally cooked for hours in a pot with a ham hock and/or other non-vegetarian ingredients, they can be just as delicious without the meat.

You can use any combination of greens you would like.  I had some mustard greens, kale, and collards all together in one pot this time.  Remove the stems, shred into small-ish pieces, and simmer in a pot of just enough water to cover (add more periodically as necessary) for about an hour.  For flavor, I add some crushed red pepper, dried mushrooms, salt and pepper, butter, sliced onions, maybe a smoky dried chipotle pepper.

Fried Okra

Okay, to be honest, I had never tried okra before, and I was planning on trying to roast them as was recommended on a few blogs and websites.  But Mr. R wanted to fry them.  Which wasn’t a bad idea.  I don’t know what recipe he used, but it was just a basic one, like this.

Macaroni and cheese

This is a simple recipe that cuts out unnecessary steps with results that are just as creamy and delicious.

Half pound macaroni (or other small pasta)
4 tablespoons butter
12 ounces cheese (cheddar, smoked gouda, parmesan, gruyere, be creative!)
12 ounces evaporated milk
Salt & pepper
Optional:  garlic, onion, other seasonings.

Cook the pasta according to package instructions and strain, return to pot.  While still hot, coat with butter, then add the milk and cheese.  Stir until melted and gooey.

A delicious shoulder season combination of hearty yet fresh fare!

-R

 

 

 

 

 

Moroccan-spiced chickpea and squash stew

The temperature has dropped, fall produce is showing up at markets, and I am starting to crave warm and spicy autumnal foods.  But there are still so many tomatoes to be eaten!  This recipe perfectly blends the summer and the fall, making it a delicious shoulder-season meal.  Grilling the squash lends a beautiful, smoky flavor to please carnivores and herbivores alike — but you could roast it as well.

I actually had some delicata squash pop up out of the compost in my garden in my old house.  I bought one more from the farmer’s market.  You could use any kind of orange winter squash.

This recipe is very flavorful but I think even those who prefer more mild dishes could handle it.  As strong and fragrant as the cinnamon will smell, it actually lends just a very subtle touch in the end and works perfectly with the cumin.

Moroccan-spiced stew with chickpeas and grilled squash
Adapted loosely from here, and probably some other recipes for inspiration; there are a lot of google results for “Moroccan squash stew.”

1 lb squash — butternut, acorn, delicata, or even pumpkin
4-6 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded, chopped
2 cups chickpeas (or one can)
4-5 small red potatoes, peeled and diced
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, slivered
1 bunch greens (I used Tuscan kale, but spinach would be find)
A few hot peppers (I had some cayenne but you could use jalapeno, serrano, etc)
2 teaspoons freshly ground cumin
1 cinnamon stick
bunch of coarsely chopped celery, carrot, onion for stock
salt and pepper to taste
For garnish:  bunch cilantro, plain yogurt, hot sauce
Quinoa (healthy) or couscous (authentic) for serving

Make the stock:  toss a few handfuls of coarsely chopped celery, carrots and onion (I actually freeze celery/carrots in bags for this  purpose), plus the cinnamon stick, some dried mushrooms, a few peppercorns, thyme, etc — whatever sounds good in a stock — and cover with water.  Simmer until reduced in half, about an hour or so.  You will need two cups of stock.  Strain and set aside.  (NOTE:  you can obviously buy pre-made stock, but if you’ve got time, may as well do it yourself).

Peel and seed the tomatoes.  I’ve always just blanched them, but recently came across this easier method.  Chop them coarsely.

To prepare the squash, peel them, cut in half, scoop out seeds, and grill.  They do not need to be fully cooked at this point, just charred.  When they are done and cool to the touch, dice them.

Saute the onion in a large pot over low-medium heat for about 10 minutes with the cumin (and cinnamon stick, if you are using premade stock).  Add the tomatoes, garlic, chickpeas, potatoes, peppers, and grilled squash.  Raise heat to medium-high and cook for another 5-10 minutes or so, until the squash and potatoes are somewhat cooked and the tomatoes are getting saucy.  Add the stock.  Add the greens.  Simmer everything together until it is flavorful and stew-y, about 30-60 minutes (the longer the better!).  Check periodically if you need to add more stock.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

When it is done, garnish with cilantro leaves, hot sauce, plain Greek yogurt, etc.  Serve over quinoa or couscous.

Mmmmmm.

 

 

Summer perfection ratatouille

It’s August!  And apparently one full month since I last updated.  July was kind of a hectic month.  And a hot month.  But the few degrees cooler it has been so far in August seem to be making all the difference.  I actually voluntarily went outside today to garden!

And in spite of the heat, it is a grand time of year as all the summer veggies are in their prime.  When I made this the first time this summer, Mr. R, who in addition to the heat has been in the throes of studying for the bar exam, said to me, “now I remember why the summer is not awful!

There really is nothing better than a perfectly summery ratatouille for dinner.  I am not lying when I say I eat some version of this almost every single night all summer long.  Sometimes more than once a day.  Even though my garden has not worked out so well this summer — I have gotten just a handful of peppers, tomatoes and one eggplant (two if you count the baby one my dog ate off the plant) — there is luckily a farmer’s market a block away every Saturday and the Glut Food Coop down the street that sells local produce so I can stock up on all the ingredients for the week!

There is some debate over what constitutes a “traditional” ratatouille.  Some like to cook the vegetables separately, some just throw it all together in one pot.  The version I will write below is a more laborious one, but please do not let this deter you from whipping up a delicious summer stew of veggies any night of the week.  If I’m short on time or just being lazy, I’ll just throw everything I have together and saute in one pot.  Sometimes I’ll add chickpeas  for protein, mushrooms or greens or other things I have on hand that may not normally go in a ratatouille.  But it’s the same general concept so, whatever.  Another interesting alternative would be to grill the squash/peppers/eggplant.  I think I might try that tonight!

You’ll also note I’m rather sparse on details and measurements.  I know I usually am.  But ratatouille in particular is one that is better when just thrown together haphazardly.

Ratatouille

Ingredients
4-5 fresh local tomatoes (if you’re gonna buy these from the grocery store in August, I mean, just don’t even bother!)
1 eggplant or two small eggplants, peeled and diced
1 onion, diced
3-4 zucchini and/or yellow squash, sliced
2-3 cloves garlic, peeled but not chopped
1-2 bell peppers, julienned
1 teaspoon herbes de Provence (OK to substitute Italian seasoning or something similar)
Salt and pepper to taste

Method
Preheat oven to 450°.
Gently saute an onion in a large pot in olive oil with the herbes de Provence and a few grinds of black pepper.  In the meantime, peel and de-seed the tomatoes:  score the bottoms and dunk in boiling water for 30 seconds each.  Immediately move to ice water.  The peels should come off easily with a little prodding.  Scoop/squeeze as many seeds out as you can.

Deglaze the pot with about a quarter cup of wine (or a splash if vinegar in a pinch)  Coarsely chop the tomatoes and add to the pot.  Allow to simmer and cook down until nice and saucy.

Roast the remaining vegetables in the oven for about 15 minutes, or until the garlic is nice and fragrant.  You can smash it up or chop it at this point.  Once the tomatoes are cooked down nicely, throw in the remaining vegetables.  Cook in the pot until it is nice and stew-like.  Or, to your preferred consistency.

Serve over pasta.  Or rice.  Or couscous.  As always — there are no rules.  It’s summer — go wild!

 

-R

It’s too hot!

Okay, I shouldn’t be complaining, because I am by some miracle one of the few people in the DMV who hasn’t lost power…not sure how that happened, as it tends to go out at the first sign of drizzle.  But while I am enjoying the luxury of the internet on my computer and a functioning freezer, in terms of escaping the heat, I can still commiserate with those without electricity.  Damnit, it’s hot!

I have but one AC unit cranking in the bedroom, which seems to make the rest of the house just barely tolerable, as long as I don’t move around too much.  It’s hard to be motivated to do much of anything in these conditions.  Laundry gets done out of necessity, but vacuuming might have to wait till August or September.  Eating is a challenge.  It may be December before I am cool enough to turn on my oven again.

So I’m scouring the archives for some frosty inspiration…

Green monster smoothie anyone?  This has become my go-to breakfast — who wants hot oatmeal in this weather?

For some frozen treats try fresh peach ice cream, Aztec chocolate ice cream.  Top with a kumquat sauce!  Or try some homemade popsicles.

Don’t feel like turning on the oven or stove?  For a light and refreshing salad, try one with watermelon, feta and basil or perhaps this colorful salad with Asian sesame dressing.   Or whip up some fresh Thai spring rolls.

Refresh your body with a spa day at home using homemade ingredients…like this mermaid skin scrub or avocado hair treatment.  Scour pinterest for hundreds more ideas!

How do you stay cool in the heat?  I have a feeling it’s going to be a long month…

Visualize

-R

Popsicles!

90 degree days have arrived and it has been MISERABLE in my house.  We have a window AC unit but need to repair the broken, lead-paint covered windows in the bedroom and dining room before we can use it.  The window has been ordered and deposit paid to the contractor.  Until it is installed, however, we are getting creative on ways to keep cool!

Some friends of ours who somehow survived living in Arizona without air conditioning had a genius suggestion:  homemade popsicles!  What can be better than frozen fruit juice on a hot day?  I’ve seen a lot of recipes popping up on the internet too that look delicious.  Here are three I’ve tried.

 

Strawberry-Kiwi
Courtesy of Fine Cooking’s amazing make-your-own-ice pop recipe generator
Makes 8-10 popsicles

1/2 cup granulated sugar
Pinch salt
About 10 kiwis (or 1.5 pounds)
1 cup strawberries, sliced or quartered or whatever

Make a simple syrup:  mix the sugar, salt and a half cup of water in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  When sugar is totally dissolved, remove from heat and allow to cool.

While simple syrup is cooling, peel kiwis and puree flesh with a food processor.  Slice strawberries.

Combine kiwi puree, strawberries and simple syrup.  Pour into popsicle molds and freeze.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie
Makes 3-5 popsicles (can be doubled)

1 large stalk rhubarb, sliced
1.5 cups sliced strawberries
Peel of 1 lemon
1/2 cup sugar
Teaspoon pectin

Peel the lemon with a vegetable peeler, carefully avoiding the pith.  Combine the sugar with 1/2 cup water and bring to a boil to dissolve.  Add the lemon peels and continue to boil for 2-3 minutes.  Remove and discard.

Add the rhubarb and cook for a few more minutes, until it starts to break down.  Add the strawberries and cook down some more, stirring and mashing with a fork as necessary.  Add a teaspoon of pectin.  This helps it congeal and will make the popsicles less hard and icy.

Pour into popsicle molds and freeze.

Creamy Honey-Lavender
Adapted from here
Makes 8-10 pops (can be halved, which I did)

I came across this recipe while searching for inspiration for strawberry-rhubarb popsicles.  I had just picked some lavender from the garden and was intrigued.  I am not convinced that lavender makes a good culinary herb — seems better suited to soap to me — but seeing as I had lavender right on hand I had to give it a try!

3 cups whole milk (I actually used hemp milk)
Buds of 6 fresh lavender flowers, or tablespoon of dried lavender flowers
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup honey
teaspoon vanilla

Bring all the ingredients together in a saucepan and bring to a boil until sugar is completely dissolved.  Allow to cool, removing the lavender flowers after no more than 30 minutes.  Pour into popsicle molds.

My favorite is definitely the strawberry rhubarb, followed by the strawberry kiwi.  Would definitely make those again!  The honey lavender was interesting, but I’m not sure I’m dying to make it again.

Stay cool!

-R

A tropical barbeque

Welcome summer!  It’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to update.  What can I say…it’s wedding season!  But finally, a free weekend, and I’ve got a lot of catching up to do!

The summer season began with a HOT Memorial day weekend, and while it has cooled off temporarily it’s looking to reach into the 90s again soon.  It’s been…an adjustment.  But I’m trying to embrace summers in Washington with no AC, and what better way than to bring a taste of the Caribbean to you?  After all, it’s too hot to turn the oven on, and we had to inaugurate this shiny new addition to our backyard:

Thus we came up with a menu inspired by the tropics:  Chicken/tempeh with a jerk marinade, golden steamed cabbage, coconut rice, and fried plantains!

To make the Jerk marinade:

These traditional Jamaican flavors are SPICY and not for the faint of heart!  I rather naively slathered it onto my tempeh, but please, go easy on it if you can’t handle extreme heat.

This can obviously be used for any kind of meat, but tempeh, a cultured soy product, is a great vegetarian alternative for the grill.  It is easy to work with and soaks up flavors fast!

I believe Mr. R adapted his recipe from this one.  Scotch bonnet (habanero) peppers are key, as is allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, sugar…  stay with me here, I know these sound like the ingredients for Christmas cookies, but the flavors meld together perfectly.  Thyme is also important, and sometimes you’ll see various aromatics like onions, garlic, scallions, and ginger thrown in too.  I am by no means an expert so please feel free to weigh in if you are.  Compare and contrast different recipes and see what looks good to you!

Do not try to replace the scotch bonnet peppers, however.  It just won’t be quite the same.  Check out a Latin grocer if you can’t find them at your regular grocery store.

Blend up all the ingredients and rub onto the protein and let sit, in a container or bag, for 30 minutes or so in the fridge.  I will say it again — go easy!  It will be SPICY!

Simply grill the tempeh over direct heat for about 5 minutes on each side. And now your vegetarian friends can join in the joy that is grilling during the summer!

Coconut rice

This recipe is DEFINITELY one I am working into my regular meal rotation — it was fantastic!  Not to mention it smelled amazing during the preparation as well.  It also made a freaking ton of rice and we had leftovers all week.  With black eyed peas worked in — it’s a complete protein!

Ingredients
Adapted from here
2.5 cups long grain basmati rice
1 can coconut milk
1 cup dried black eyed peas
4-6 cloves garlic, crushed
4-6 scallions, white and green parts, chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
3 teaspoons salt
a few sprigs of fresh thyme, or a dash of dried thyme if unavailable
1 scotch bonnet/habanero pepper, minced

Cook the beans as you normally would — soak for several hours or overnight and then simmer for an hour.

Add the coconut milk to the beans cooking in their pot, then bring to a boil with the salt and seasonings, plus the scallions, garlic and pepper.

Stir in the rice and reduce heat to a simmer.  Cook for 20-30 minutes, until rice is done, liquid is absorbed, and your kitchen smells like heaven.

Golden steamed cabbage
Adapted from this website.

I love all brassicas — they are my favorite vegetables — and cabbage is no exception.  This adds a pretty note of color to your plate!

Ingredients
1 head cabbage
Assortment of 2-4 sweet and hot peppers, including scotch bonnet
1 medium onion
a few sprigs of fresh thyme (or dash of dried)
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
Salt and pepper to taste

Thinly slice the cabbage, removing the center core.
Heat a large pan with a generous amount of olive oil or butter and saute the peppers and  onions with salt, black pepper and turmeric briefly, until translucent.  Add about 1/4 cup of water, adjusting as necessary, and then add the sliced cabbage to the pan.  Cover and allow to steam until cabbage is translucent, tender and reduced in size.  Remove cover and allow excess water to steam off if necessary.  Adjust seasoning to taste.  Savor.

Fried Plantains

 

A tropical dinner is just incomplete without fried plantains.  They are simple but taste great with accompaniments such as guacamole.  We followed Alton Brown’s method.  They came out great!

This meal was something new and different for us and such a fantastic way to welcome summer with friends.  I can’t wait to make it again!

-R