Saturday, July 30, 2011

Drunken Asparagus and Leeks

A while ago my friend JL posted a recipe for leeks sauteed in white wine on her Facebook page JL Goes Vegan, and other musings.  It was a part of the New York Times Recipes for Health series and it looked awesome!

I have recently started to cook with leeks quite a bit as I really enjoy their mild flavor.  And, Mr. Meat and Potatoes is a not really a fan of onions so I find cooking with leeks good when feeding him, too.  Now, lets not get crazy or anything-- he did not eat this but I did and it was delicious!

Anyway, upon seeing the leek recipe from the New York Times I immediately thought about asparagus and how good they would go with the leeks.  So here you have it- my drunken asparagus and leeks. Super easy and super delicious!

Drunken Asparagus and Leeks

1 bunch asparagus, woody part of stems removed
1 leek, cleaned and sliced thin (white part only)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried basil (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

In a saute pan heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add the garlic and saute until tender.  Add leeks and 1/4 cup of the white wine. Season with salt and pepper. Continue to saute until leeks are tender.

As leeks are cooking place asparagus in another saute pan. Add the other 1/4 cup of white wine and cover.  Heat over medium heat until asparagus is bright green and fork tender.

Place asparagus in a serving dish and top with leek mixture. Sprinkle with basil if desired.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Stuffed Shells

Up until now I have had an aversion to using tofu as a cheese substitute. I am not sure why but somehow I thought it would end up being  some sort of rubbery mass.  Well, I have been proven wrong!

I have been thinking about making stuffed shells for a while and I realized that it was almost inevitable that I would need to use tofu as a ricotta substitute.  As usual, when in in search of ideas and information I headed straight to Twitter to consult my Tweeps. As usual they did not fail me!

I got great suggestions from @PoshVeganMom, @vegangoodthings and @VganJules.  I also consulted @TheChubbyVegan's blog as I recall he made stuffed shells recently.  In the end, I came up with my own spin on the filling and it was really good! Not rubbery at all!

I also must tell you that I have omnivore extended family visiting and I decided to serve this, untested, for dinner.  Either they are ridiculously polite or they liked it! I am thinking the latter as even Mr. Meat and Potatoes was looking for another serving after they were all gone.

This is something I will make again and I would not hesitate to tell you to serve this to your omnivore family and friends. I am sure they will devour it just like mine did!

Stuffed Shells

12 jumbo pasta shells, cooked according to package directions
1 lb firm tofu, pressed to remove water
1/4 cup raw cashews
1 bulb roasted garlic
Juice of one lemon
3 tbsp olive oil
5 oz shitake mushrooms, chopped fine
1/2 leek (white part only), chopped fine
24 oz marinara sauce (I cheated and used a jar sauce)
2 tbsp fresh basil, minced
1 tbsp fresh chives, minced
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Crumble tofu into a food processor or powerful blender.  Add the the cashews, roasted garlic, 2 tbsp of the olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper  Pulse until incorporated (you do not want this "too" smooth). Transfer to a large bowl and set aside.

In a saute pan heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil.  Add the leeks, mushrooms, basil and chives. Season with salt and pepper. Saute until soft, about three minutes.  Add to the tofu mixture and stir to incorporate.

Cover the bottom of a baking dish (I used a 9x12) with a thin layer of marinara sauce.

Stuff the cooked shells with the "ricotta" mixture using a spoon.  Place each shell face up on the marinara sauce.  Place 2/3 of the remaining sauce on top of the shells (reserve the remaining marinara and serve with the meal for those that desire more sauce).

Ready for the oven!

 Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Creamy Cucumber Salad

You may remember a few posts back I shared a recipe for Spicy Cool Cucumber Salad.  I had mentioned that we were getting lots and lots of cucumbers from our garden and that there would be more cucumber salad recipes coming.  Well, true to my word, here is yet another cucumber salad made with our garden fresh cucumbers.

This recipe is something I made often before going vegan.  The non vegan version calls for sour cream and as such, I have not made this since going vegan in 2008.  It was  so crazy hot today (about 105 degrees!),  we had several cucumbers freshly picked from the garden, and it really seemed like this would be the perfect salad for a day like today.

I hope you give it a try-- it was wonderfully refreshing!

Creamy Cucumber Salad

3 average size cucumbers peeled and sliced into rounds
1//4 cup plus 2 tbsp vegan sour cream (I used Tofutti brand)
2 tbsp white vinegar
3 tbsp fresh dill, chopped fine
1/4 to 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

In a bowl  mix the vegan sour cream, vinegar, dill, cayenne if you are using it and salt and pepper.  Stir to combine.

Place cucumbers in a large bowl and pour the vegan sour cream mxiture over top. Toss to ensure all cucumbers are coated.

Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

French Toast Casserole with Walnut Praline Topping

I must start with a big thank you to Matthew at Vegan Heartland .  He recently adapted a Paula Deen French Toast Casserole and as soon as I saw it I knew I was going to make it! With family coming  from out of town this seemed like a perfect breakfast since it could be prepped the night before making morning breakfast simpler.

I changed it just slightly to use So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk instead of soy but other than that followed Matthew's recipe exactly. What a terrific Sunday morning breakfast! While super easy to make, this was received with rave reviews.  I will do this again and again and probably try some add-ins as well.  In particular, I think the next time I make this I will add in a layer of thinly sliced apples.  But, even without any embellishment, this is delicious!

As a side note, this is the second time I have tried a Vegan Version of a Paula Deen recipe. My Country Herb Biscuits came out great and this did as well.  I think I may be on to something, here!

French Toast Casserole

For the casserole:
1 unsliced loaf soft crusty country bread (I got mine at Wegman's)
3 cups organic unbleached flour
3 cups non-dairy milk (I used So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut)
3 tbsp organic turbinado sugar
2 tsp organic vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1/.2 tsp nutmeg
Walnut praline topping (recipe below)

For the topping:
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1/4 cup Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread
1 cup packed light  brown sugar
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 tbsp organic maple syrup
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg

Cut the loaf of bread into 3/4" thick slices.  I left my bread out on the counter unwrapped all day to allow it to get slightly "stale".

In a large bowl mix the flour, non-dairy milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg until a batter forms. Place half  the sliced bread in a large casserole dish (the one I used was the equivalent of about a 9x13.  Place a layer of bread in the bottom.  Spread half the batter on top. Place another layer of bread on top and spread the rest of the batter on top.  Wrap in foil and place in the refrigerator overnight.

The next morning preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

While the oven is heating prepare the walnut praline topping by mixing all ingredients in a bowl until incorporated and a thick paste forms.  Spread the mixture on top of the casserole.  Bake for 35-40 minutes until browned and bubbly. Allow to stand for ten minutes before serving.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Root Beer Floats

I really love having kids. I love spending time with them, encouraging them to explore their interests and watching their personalities develop.

One of the definite "perks" of having kids is that you get to relive your own childhood. Last night my daughter Camille and I spent the evening laughing and watching old Looney Tunes and Jetson's cartoons. We read books together that I read as a kid and we ride bikes and play outside.  I love being able to share things with them that I did as a youth and I love to participate in their enjoyment of these things.

So, today when my daughter suggested root beer floats I said ABSOLUTELY!  It is over a hundred degrees today and I can think of no better way to cool off.  I likely  have not had a  root beer float since I was my daughters age.  It was nostalgic and her face when I served it to her was just precious!

This couldn't be any easier to make and the payback certainly far exceeds to effort!

Thanks, Camille!  You bring me more joy that you could ever possibly imagine!

Root Beer Float

2 scoops So Delicious Coconut Milk Vanilla Ice Cream
1 can of your favorite root beer

Put ice cream in glass. Pour in root beer. Add a straw and a spoon and you are in business!  That's it!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Tasty Thai Tofu

All I can say is WOW.  Given the fact that I had little else in the house but a brick of tofu that needed to be used this dinner was amazing.  Heck, even if I had to go shop for all the ingredients in order to make this it would have been well worth it.

If you have friends or family who either have not had or are on the fence with, or even, God forbid, convinced they do not like tofu this is the way to serve it.  I cannot imagine any self respecting food lover would turn their nose up at this. Provided, of course, you can get them to take the first bite!

I served mine over a bed of wilted spinach and arugula that I did in a bit more sesame oil, garlic and a little bit more of the miso mixture but you could certainly serve this over noodles or rice.

Tasty Thai Tofu

1 brick extra firm tofu, pressed and cut into 1/2 inch slices
2 cloves garlic rough chopped
1 stalk lemon grass, outer leaves removed, white part only, minced
1/3 cup white miso
3 1/2 tbsp brown rice syrup
1 tsp fresh, peeled and grated ginger
3 tbsp water
2 tbsp organic reduced sodium tamari sauce
2 tbsp non dairy milk (I used So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut)
2 tbsp toasted sesame seed oil
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
1 tbsp sesame seeds

Preheat oven to highest temperature or broil (about 500 degrees).

In a blender or food processor mix all ingredients except the tofu and sesame seeds. Set aside.

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.  Place tofu slices on the foil.  brush each slice with the miso mixture.  Flip the tofu pieces gently and coat the other side.  Place in the oven and broil for about 10 minutes.  (Note, I leave the oven door cracked open slightly while broiling).  Remove from the heat, gently turn the tofu slices and brush on more miso mixture.  Return to the oven and continue to broil another ten minutes or until nicely browned.

Plate, sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Corn Bread Pudding Casserole

I have never had cornbread pudding before.  I have heard of it; I think it may be some sort of Southern dish often served with barbecue.  It certainly sounds good.  I am not sure what got me thinking about a vegan version of this dish but for some reason, I have been noodling on this for a while.  After researching a variety of recipes I realized that this is a very old, classic, Betty Crocker era, cholesterol bomb, seriously non-vegan recipe.  What the heck, I am up for a challenge!

After reading many versions of corn pudding casserole I settled on a Paula Deen recipe as my inspiration.  Yes, Paula Deen, the queen of butter and bacon fat!  I modified it not just to make it vegan but to add a bit of heat as well. Her recipe (as many of those I read) called for a box of Jiffy pre-made cornbread mix.  That is not vegan and I am not a big fan of packaged foods, so I used the homemade cornbread mix recipe from Chez Cayenne.  Since I did not need to use all of the mix the recipe called for I have lots of leftovers to make cornbread or to experiment with other recipes.

I hope you give this a try.  I think it is a great recipe to serve for a festive holiday gathering like Thanksgiving or Christmas- yes I know it is the middle of summer but you can never be too prepared!

Corn Bread Pudding Casserole

Cornbread mix (this makes four cups. You will only need one):
2 cups cornmeal
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup chickpea flour
Scant 1/2 cup organic sugar
4 tsp baking powder
2 tsp salt

Mix all ingredients together until incorporated.

Corn Pudding Casserole recipe:
1 cup cornbread mix
1 15 oz can whole kernel corn, drained
1 15 oz can creamed style corn
8 oz vegan sour cream (I used Tofutti)
1 stick melted vegan butter (I used Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks)
1 tbsp non-dairy milk (I used So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut)
4 serrano chili peppers or other hot pepper, minced
1/2 sweet red pepper, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
Paprika for sprinkling on top

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl mix all ingredients except paprika together.  Place into a greased 9x13 casserole dish. Sprinkle lightly with paprika. Bake for one hour.

Allow to cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Zucchini Lasagna

Yesterday Mr. Meat and Potatoes played golf with some buddies.  One of these buddies apparently has an absolutely *to die for* 25'x40'  garden.  How lucky for me- when he got home from golf  he had three absolutely beautiful zucchinis from his buddies garden. So, it was a no-brainer that the star of tonight's dinner would be zucchini.

I have to head out of town for a couple of days on business this week and as such I wanted to at least get a start on using these gorgeous zucchinis. And, I also wanted to try the roasted garlic coconut cream from sb&gb. Let me tell you, both the zucchini and the roasted garlic cream were to die for!

This recipe can be easily adjusted to whatever fresh vegetables you have on hand. And I will definitely use the roasted garlic coconut cream recipe over and over again in a variety of recipes (thank you sb&gb).

Zucchini Lasagna

1 large zucchini, peeled and cut lengthwise into thin strips
4 no boil lasagna noodles (I used the type made for a 9x9 pan)
6 oz baby brown pearl mushrooms, sliced
5 oz shitake mushrooms, sliced
1 14 oz can coconut milk
2 heads garlic, roasted
8 oz frozen spinach, thawed
3 cups marinara sauce (I cheated and used store bought)
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
Salt to taste

Preheat oven to 350.

Cut tops of garlic bulbs so that garlic cloves are exposed. Place on a sheet of aluminum foil, drizzle with olive oil, wrap and place in the oven until browned and tender, about 45 minutes or so.  Set aside to cool.

Place coconut milk and roasted garlic into a food processor or powerful blender with a pinch of salt and blend until smooth.  Remove water from the spinach by squeezing it and place into the roasted garlic and coconut milk mixture.  Set aside

In a 9x9 pan place some marinara sauce on the bottom. Layer two lasagna noodles on top. Cover with half the roasted garlic coconut and spinach mixture.  Place half of the baby brown pearl mushrooms on top and then add a layer of zucchini. Add more marinara sauce.  Place the next two lasagna noodles on top of the marinara, add the rest of the  more roasted garlic and spinach cream, more zucchini and the rest of the baby brown pearl mushrooms.  Add another layer of zucchini, top with the rest of the marinara and then the shitake mushrooms.  Sprinkle the nutritional yeast on top and place in the oven. Bake for an hour or until the lasagna is bubbly.

Allow to cool 15 minutes before serving.

Note: if you would like the zucchini very tender you can either steam it lightly first or cover the lasagna removing the cover for the last ten minutes of cooking.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Country Herb Biscuits

If you are anything like me (and I assume you might be if you are reading my blog) you probably have a million recipes you have either cut out of magazines, newspapers, the back of soup cans or from the coupons in the Sunday paper.

Well, today I got motivated to clean out my recipe files and pare down to only what I thought was worth keeping.  I must say I did throw out a lot of stuff from my pre-vegan days. Things I tried and were non memorable, things I have never made, that did not look worth veganizing and things I just scratched my head about why I saved it to begin with.  I did keep a few that I was either inspired to make vegan or committed to trying some version of (you know I can't actually follow a recipe, right?).

This was a recipe that looks looks like it either came out of a magazine ad or the coupon section of the Sunday paper as it mentions Bisquick specifically.  Anyway, it was a recipe for Cheese-Garlic Biscuits.  The recipe served as my inspiration for these biscuits but I will say that mine actually are nothing like original recipe other than the fact that I used Bisquick mix as the base  (yes, Bisquick right out of the box is vegan!).

These turned out GREAT!  Mr. Meat and Potatoes ate one and just sort of stared at me in a strange, unbelieving way and said "These are vegan?! Wow! Nice job!"  And, when I was preparing to freeze what was left after dinner (this recipe makes a lot) he asked me not to freeze all of them because he wanted to eat some tomorrow too.  Wow, this must be a winner!

Country Herb Biscuits

4 cups Bisquick Pancake Mix
1 2/3 cups non dairy milk (I used So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut)
2 cloves garlic minced
2 tbsp fresh herbs, minced (I used parsley, basil, rosemary and thyme)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Mix baking mix and non dairy milk until a dough starts to form. Add garlic and herbs. Stir until all ingredients are incorporated and (this will form a somewhat stiff dough).

Place spoonfuls of dough on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for approximately 10 minutes or until golden brown on top.

Serve immediately.

Makes about 24 biscuits.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Mushroom "Quiche" Pie

I really did not know what to call this recipe. It is a pie for sure but it is also very reminiscent of a quiche.  I opted for pie using quiche in quotes because, well, quiche is synonymous with eggs and dairy and this has neither!

I have been toying with the idea of a quiche-like recipe for some time now.  Before I went vegan I used to prepare quiche often when having brunch at my house or an early afternoon luncheon. It was quick and easy, you could make it ahead, it was very versatile in terms of changing it up to make multiple quiches with different add ins and  was always a hit.  I promise you this is pretty much the same deal!

I do admit, though, when I put all of this together I was unsure that it would set up at all.  Most vegan "quiche" recipes seem to have a tofu base and though I like tofu sometimes I am rather picky about how I eat it and well, tofu quiche just doesn't sound good to me. 

So, here you have it. My interpretation of a quiche- and a perfect Sunday brunch pie for vegans, vegetarians and meat lovers alike. After all, good food is good food!

Mushroom "Quiche" Pie

1 whole wheat pie crust (I cheated and used store bought)
2 cups mushrooms chopped (I used cremini and brown pearls- use your favorites)
3 cloves garlic minced
4 large shallots minced
2 tbsp fresh parsley chopped
1 tbsp fresh thyme chopped
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup non dairy milk (I used So Delicious unsweetened coconut)
2 tbsp cornstarch
1/3 cup raw cashews
1 tbsp tahini paste
1 tsp white miso paste
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a skillet heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add the garlic and shallot and saute until soft and shallots are translucent.  Add mushrooms and herbs and saute a few minutes longer until mushrooms are tender.  Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a powerful blender or food processor combine the non dairy milk, cornstarch, cashews, tahini paste, miso paste, and nutritional yeast.  Blend until very smooth.

Place the mushroom mixture in the pie shell. Pour the liquid over top. Don't worry that the liquid seems runny- the cornstarch will thicken it during the cooking process.

Bake for about 40 minutes until the pie sets up and is no longer runny.  The center may be a little "jiggly", it will continue to set as it cools.