Monday, October 31, 2011

Spooky Halloween, Pumpkin Seeds, Mummies and the End of MoFo

I can't believe MoFo 2011 is over! I set a goal to blog every day and I met my goal! It feels good!

Well, here we are- Halloween- my favorite holiday of the year!  you know, that wonderful fall holiday, although in the North East we have already had our first major snow storm! Bizarre!










This year we carved pumpkins, roasted pumpkin seeds and had a spooky Halloween lunch featuring mummies.
















The kids are heading out trick or treating tonight and I get to stay home and hand out candy for the first time since they were born as they are finally old enough to go out by themselves!

I experimented with pumpkin seeds this year. Instead of the traditional lightly oiled and salted seeds I went for a little different take- one savory and one sweet.

So, cheers to my fellow MoFo bloggers and a Happy Halloween to all!

Savory Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds, cleaned and dried
Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread melted (about 1 tbsp per 1 medium size carving pumpkin's seeds)
Vegan Worcestershire sauce (about 1 tbsp per 1 medium size carving pumpkin's seeds)
















Pour the melted Earth Balance over the pumpkin seeds. Add the Worcestershire sauce and stir. Place in an even layer on a baking sheet and bake at 275 degrees until nicely browned. This took about 20 minutes for two pumpkins worth of seeds. Make sure you check and stir them often (about every five minutes).

Sweet Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds, cleaned and dried
Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread (about 1 tbsp per 1 medium size carving pumpkin's seeds)
Sugar  (about 1 tbsp per 1 medium size carving pumpkin's seeds)
Cinnamon (about 1 1/2 tsp per 1 medium size carving pumpkin's seeds)
Nutmeg (about 1/2 tsp per 1 medium size carving pumpkin's seeds)
















Pour the melted Earth Balance over the pumpkin seeds. Add the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Place them in an even layer on a baking sheet and bake at 275 degrees until nicely browned. This took about 20 minutes for two pumpkins worth of seeds. Make sure you check and stir them often (about every five minutes).

Mummy Dogs

1 can Pillsbury crescent roll dough
10 vegan hotdogs (I used Tofurkey brand)
Mustard and/or ketchup (optional)
















Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Unroll the crescent dough and divide into four equal rectangles.  Close the perforations on each rectangle. With a sharp knife cut each rectangle into ten equal thin strips.  Wrap each dog like a mummy leaving space for a "face".  

Bake at 375 for about 17 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from the oven and put mustard or ketchup "eyes".  

Serve.



Sunday, October 30, 2011

Za'atar Bread

Za'atar is a classic Middle Eastern spice mix containing sumac, thyme, roasted sesame seeds, marjoram, oregano and salt. It is often sold at Middle Eastern grocery stores.  I love the stuff and am a huge fan of za'atar bread; a classic Lebanese dish traditionally eaten for breakfast with radishes.
















My Father gave me a HUGE jar of za'atar a while ago and the supply is slowly dwindling. I have been craving za'atar bread for a while now but only had a little bit of the za'atar left. It is a sad day when the last of the za'atar is used, you know?
















But, I went for it and made za'atar bread for breakfast yesterday and oh thank God I did- it is just delicious!  I guess I am going to have to go back to the source for some more!

Za'atar Bread

Flat bread of your choosing (I used a multi grain pocket-less pita)
Za'atar spice (2 tbsp per flat pita sized flat bread)
Olive oil (2 tbsp per pita sized flat bread)
Radishes for serving

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Mix the za'atar and olive oil in a bowl to form a thick paste.  Spread it evenly on the flat bread. Bake at 400 for about 5 minutes or until golden brown on the edges.

Serve with raw radishes.


Saturday, October 29, 2011

Stuffed Shells with Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Last night it was more or less "declared" by Mr. Meat and Potatoes that we were to have something with roasted red peppers in it for dinner since we had so many jars of them.
















I am not quite sure how we ended up with so many, I guess I just consider them a kitchen staple never to be without and therefore pick up a jar more or less any time I grocery shop. Perhaps I should stop doing that since I typically only use the jarred stuff in a pinch and prefer to roast my own most of the time.

A quick scan of the pantry revealed a box of pasta shells so I decided stuffed shells.

These have a nice creamy filling and the roasted red pepper sauce used in place of a  traditional tomato based sauce was lovely.  The recipe makes a lot so we have a bunch left over. Looks like I have got some workweek lunches covered!

Stuffed Shells with Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

1 16 oz package of pasta shells, cooked al dente
1 13 oz jar roasted red peppers, chopped and divided in half
1 8 oz package vegan cream cheese, softened (I used Tofutti brand)
1/4 cup vegan mozzarella shreds (I used Daiya)
6 shitake mushroom caps, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup black olives, chopped
1 1/2 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped with extra for garnish
1/4 cup non dairy creamer (I used So Delicious Original Coconut Milk Creamer)
1 tbsp lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl mix together the cream cheese, half the roasted red peppers, mozzarella shreds,n mushrooms, black olives, garlic, thyme and salt and pepper. Mix to incorporate all ingredients. Set aside.
















In a blender or food processor add the remaining roasted red peppers, the non dairy creamer, lemon juice and some salt and pepper.  Blend until very smooth.
















Stuff each cooked shell with some of the cream cheese mixture and place in a lightly greased baking dish.
















Drizzle the red pepper sauce over the top reserving some for serving with the shells.

















Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes until heated through.
















Just before the shells are finished heat the remaining red pepper sauce over medium heat in a sauce pan until warm. Serve the shells with the extra pepper sauce.






Friday, October 28, 2011

"Shortcut" Apple Pie

It is that time of year! Honeycrisp apples! Oh, how I love them.  They are lovely - both sweet and tart with a nice firm flesh. They are hands down my favorite apple to eat raw.

The family suggested I make an apple pie. I am not much of a baker. But, I thought I would give it a try. I searched  for a simple apple pie recipe and found this one that called for Granny Smith's. I figured that Honeycrisp would work just as well.  I was right.
















This is not the prettiest pie I have ever seen. It is probably not something I would make for a dinner party but it did taste good and it was very easy to do.Great for a quick dessert for the family.  And, now that I have had moderate success with this pie  I figure I may try a more traditional apple pie recipe.

In the mean time here is the recipe for this one.

"Shortcut" Apple Pie

4 medium sized Honeycrisp apples, peeled, cored and sliced thin
1/3 cup Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread, softened ply a little extra
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 pre-made whole wheat pie crust

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Lightly grease the bottom of the crust with some Earth Balance. Layer the apples into the whole wheat pie crust.  Dot with half of the Earth Balance.

In a bowl mix the rest of the Earth Balance, the brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Use a pastry cutter or fork to combine until crumbly.  Top the apples with the mixture.

Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes until the apples are very soft.





Thursday, October 27, 2011

Lasagna

We recently had my Mother in Law staying with us for a visit. She had told me before she got here that she wanted to cook dinner one night while she was here and that she had found a vegan lasagna recipe that she wanted to try- would that be OK with me? Um.... yes!!!!
















We actually got to spend some nice time in the kitchen cooking together- her taking the lead with me as her sous chef. Sometimes it is nice not to be in charge in the kitchen! I just chopped onions and herbs and chatted with her as she cooked.  Nice!
















The lasagna was good- she changed the original recipe slightly to use more tomato paste and silken instead of firm tofu. The result was good.

We had a ton leftover as she and I were the only ones to eat it so I have the rest in my freezer for another day; great for a quick dinner when I don't feel like cooking!.

Lasagna

For the sauce:
2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
3 tbsp minced garlic
4 14.5 oz cans stewed tomatoes
1 6oz van tomato paste
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
1/2 cup basil, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

For the filling: 
2 lbs silken tofu, drained to remove excess moisture
2 tbsp minced garlic
1/4 cup basil, chopped
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
3 10 oz packages frozen spinach, thawed and moisture removed
Salt and pepper to taste

16 oz package of lasagna noodles

Start by making the sauce.  In a large saucepan over medium heat heat the olive oil. Place the 1 1/2 cup onions in the saucepan and saute them until they are soft- about five minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the 3 tbsp garlic and cook for another five minutes. 

Place the tomatoes, tomato paste.and  the 1/2 cup each of basil and parsley in the saucepan.  Stir and simmer until thickened- at least one hour. Re season with salt and pepper as needed.

While the sauce is simmering cook the lasagna noodles until al dente by following package directions and cutting a couple minutes off of the suggested cooking time (about nine minutes should do it).

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees..

Place the drained tofu into a large bowl. Add the 2 tbsp garlic, 1/4 cup each of parsley and basil. Season with salt and pepper. Mix all the ingredients together with your hands until about the consistency of ricotta cheese.

Assemble the lasagna by spreading one cup of sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 pan.  Arrange a single layer of noodles and sprinkle 1/3 of the tofu mixture over the noodles.  Follow with a layer of spinach. Continue the layering process until all ingredients have been used ending with a layer of the tomato sauce.

Bake at 400 covered with foil for about 30 minutes.  Remove the foil when there is five minutes left of cooking time to allow the top to brown somewhat.




Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Buckeye Balls

A friend at work was telling me about a confection his Grandmother made that he loved as a kid.  He called them Buckeye Balls. I had never heard of them before but a quick Google search turned up many recipes. Peanut butter and chocolate and no baking required? I'm in!!
















My daughter and her friend helped me make these. Very easy and decadently delicious! And with the leftover melted chocolate I was able to make a few hazelnut chocolate candies, too. Bonus!



Buckeye Balls
1 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread, softened
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups confectioners sugar
2 tbsp Earth Balance Shortening
6 oz vegan chocolate chips (I used Ghiradelli brand semi sweet)

In a bowl mix the peanut butter, Earth Balance and Vanilla. Sift the confectioners sugar into the bowl.  With your hands mix all ingredients until a stiff dough is formed. Line a baking sheet with wax paper and roll the peanut butter mixture into balls, using about 1 1/2 tsp worth of peanut butter dough for each ball. Place on the wax paper lined sheets and put into the refrigerator.

In a double boiler melt the semi-sweet chocolate and shortening until very smooth.

Remove the peanut butter balls from the refrigerator. With a toothpick pick up one ball at a time and dip it into the melted chocolate mixture. Return to the wax paper chocolate side down.  Place the sheets back in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to firm up.

Keep extras in the refrigerator (that is, if you have any left!).


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Onion Cecina with Fennel Seeds

Cecina is a dish served in Tuscany. The name literally means "made of chickpeas".  Cecina is an unleavened pancake of sorts made from chickpea flour.  It does not require any "toppings" at all though this simple dish is very versatile and could be used with a variety of different "toppings".
















I got the inspiration to use onion and fennel seed from COOKBROOKE.  This requires little to no effort but you do need to prepare in advance because the batter needs to sit for at least four hours before you prepare the dish.

I think that next time I do this I will incorporate rosemary into the chickpea batter as that just sounds good to me.

I love the flavor of the fennel seeds in this- it is subtle and delicious.

Onion Cecina with Fennel Seeds

2 1/2 cups chickpea flour
3 cups water
2 tsp salt
1/2 a large onion, sliced thin
4 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp fennel seed
Fresh ground pepper to taste
Extre virgin olive olive oil for drizzling (optional)

Put the chickpea flour in a large bowl.  Slowly incorporate the water.  The mixture should have the consistency of a pancake batter.Add the salt. Cover and let sit at room temperature for at least four hours.   You can let it sit overnight if that is more convenient for you.

After the batter sits preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  In an 11 inch cast iron skillet add the olive oil.  Pour in the batter and whisk until the oil is incorporated.  Add the onions, fennel seed and fresh ground pepper.

Place the skillet into the oven and bake for 50 minutes, until nicely browned.

Slice into wedges and drizzle olive oil on top if desired.  Serve.


Monday, October 24, 2011

So Delicious Coconut Nog French Toast (and a Giveaway)

I was fortunate enough to receive an sneak peak of the new So Delicious Seasonal Holiday Coconut Milk Beverages. A big thank you to the kind folks at So Delicious! These non dairy beverages come in two flavors- Coconut Nog and Mint Chocolate. MAJOR YUM.

Photo courtesy of  The Laziest Vegans in the World.























Yesterday morning I opened the Coconut Nog to make the French toast recipe that is on the side of the carton. The kids and I poured a little bit in a glass to taste it first. All I can tell you is that we are absolutely gaga over this stuff! And who can blame us? The drink is creamy, dreamy and delicious! And, at the time of writing this they have finished what was left in the carton.
















But, on to the French toast.  I followed the recipe on the package exactly with one small exception. Where it calls for a half teaspoon of cinnamon I added a tablespoon. Not on purpose, but because I just cannot follow a recipe, as written. Ever. I don't know what it is but I am just terrible at following directions.  I guess that is why I seldom cook with a recipe.

This was a big hit with the whole family.  What a deliciously flavorful and festive French toast recipe. While I served mine with maple syrup and cinnamon sugar it would be just as good without it.

I would love to share some of this great product with you. Just leave a comment on this post (please be sure to leave me an email address to contact you) or tweet:

@VeganVersion Please enter me to win a @So_Delicious Seasonal Holiday Beverage

UPDATE!-CONGRATULATIONS TO PRETTYGIRL! You were selected by the random number generator as the winner of a So Delicious Seasonal Holiday Beverage.   Check your email!

One lucky entrant will win a coupon for a free So Delicious dairy free item.  I will draw a winner on 10/30/2011. Good luck!

In an upcoming post I will showcase the Mint Chocolate beverage and do another giveaway so stay tuned!

So Delicious Coconut Nog French Toast

2 cups So Delicious Coconut Not
2 very ripe bananas
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
8 slices Day old crusty bread
1 tbsp Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread
Maple syrup (optional)
Cinnamon Sugar (optional)

In a blender combine the Coconut Nog, banana and cinnamon until smooth.  Put into a large bowl and soak the bread slices in the mixture.

In a skillet over medium low heat melt the Earth Balance. Add bread slices and slowly cook until nicely browned on both sides.  Serve with maple syrup and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar if desired.


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Potato Stuffed Lentil Mushroom Loaf

A friend recently asked me if I had a Mushroom Lentil Loaf recipe I could share as she had lost hers.  I did not. But a quick search on the Internet turned up some interesting ideas and variations of a lentil loaf.
















What I finally ended up with is a synthesis of a bunch of the recipes that I found. I got the mashed potato stuffing inspiration from Wing-It Vegan who got her inspiration from heathen vegan. Man, how I love the blogosphere- who needs cookbooks any more?!?
















I served this with gravy that I adapted from my green bean casserole recipe (I happened to have some leftover in the freezer). I did thin it with a bit extra (about a 1/4 cup) of vegetable stock.

Probably the best part of this recipe, other than the fact that it is delicious, healthy and nutritious is that Mr. Meat and Potatoes liked it and commented no less than three times that it was good!  I never thought I would see the day he would eat a lentil much less like it.  I swear, him liking this dish has been the pinnacle of Vegan MoFo 2011 for me!

I do hope you will try this. It takes a little time but is well worth the work.

Potato Stuffed Lentil Mushroom Loaf

1 cup red lentils rinsed and drained
3 red bliss potatoes peeled and cubed
1/4 cup non dairy milk (I used So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut)
1 tablespoon Earth Balance Vegan Butter Spread
1/2 red onion, chopped fine
6 oz baby brown pearl mushrooms, sliced
6 large shitake mushroom caps rough chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced and divided in half
2 tbsp flax meal
1 tbsp tamari sauce
6 tbsp freshly chopped parsley, divided in half
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a heavy sauce pan place the lentils and four cups of water. Heat over high heat until boiling. Cover, turn the heat to low and simmer until the lentils are soft, about 45 minutes. Drain and set aside.

While the lentils are cooking add potatoes to a second sauce pan and cover with water. Boil until fork tender- about 30 minutes.

While potatoes are boiling, heat one tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat and add 2 tbsp garlic and red onion.  Season with salt and pepper.  Allow to cook until soft.

Place the cooked potatoes in a bowl with the Earth Balance, non dairy milk, 3 tbsp of parsley and the cooked onion and garlic mixture.  Rough mash them with a potato masher.

Heat a skillet over medium heat and add the other tablespoon of olive oil.  Add in the mushrooms, the rest of the garlic and saute until the mushrooms are tender.  Add the lentils, flax meal, tamari sauce, the rest of the parsley and salt and pepper to taste.

In a greased loaf pan or multiple mini loaf pans press the lentil and mushroom mixture into the bottom and up the sides. Fill with the mashed potato mixture and then cover with more of the lentil mixture.

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.

Allow to cool for at least ten minutes before removing from the loaf pan. Serve with gravy if desired.




Saturday, October 22, 2011

Corn and Potato Chowder

Oh how I love coming home from work to find that dinner has been prepared. And it is even better when it is on a Friday night after a long work week.  Yesterday was one of those lucky days.
















This is a recipe that Mr. Meat and Potatoes has made for me in the past.  The original calls for bacon but to the best of my knowledge he has never made it with bacon.  It is simple and delicious and is a great meal for a cool fall or cold winter evening.  And, it is made in the crock pot so you can pretty much just throw everything in and forget about it..

We have lots leftover so I am looking forward to lunch tomorrow, too.

Corn and Potato Chowder

1/2 cup onion, chopped
2 cups red bliss potatoes, chopped into bite size pieces, skin on
1 tbsp olive oil
20 oz frozen whole kernel corn, broken apart
1 16oz can creamed style corn
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup water
1/2 cup non dairy milk (I used So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut)
Parsley for garnish

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and potato and saute until the onions start to soften  Season with salt and pepper.

Put the onions, potatoes and all other ingredients except the non dairy milk into a crock pot and cook on low for 6-7 hours.  When there is about a half hour left add the non dairy milk. Re season with salt and pepper as necessary.

Garnish with parsley before serving.

*Note: if you want to recreate some of the flavor of the bacon the original calls for you could use a few drops of liquid smoke.  Be sparing with it though, a little goes a long way.


Friday, October 21, 2011

Quick Curried Chickpeas

Cooking dinner after a long day of work can be a less than desirable experience. Some days I come home and am literally too tired to cook.  This recipe may become a go to on those nights. This is super fast, full of flavor and nutritious to boot.
















And, you many already know how I feel about the mighty chickpea-  I can honestly say that if I were stranded on a desert island and could bring only one staple with me it would be chickpeas.

Quick Curried Chickpeas

1 can chickpeas rinsed and drained
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1/2 red pepper, chopped
1/2 orange pepper, chopped
1/4 green pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp parsley, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp turmeric
Dash cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste

In a saute pan heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the peppers, onion, garlic, salt and pepper and saute unitl they start to soften.  Add the chickpeas, parsley, curry powder, allspice, turmeric and cayenne pepper. Stir and cover. Allow to cook for about five minutes or until chickpeas are warmed through and slightly browned.

Serve over a bed of lettuce.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Zucchini Kimchi

A friend at work has been telling me about kimchi for a while now. I had never had it before I met her.  I finally got to try some when she and I were traveling in Northern California.  We went to a restaurant and they served beet kimchi.  It was beets, cucumbers and the traditional kimchi spices.  And recently, she had some co workers to dinner at her house where she served her own version of the beet kimchi (actually, I think it is her husband that makes it).
















Since trying the beet kimchi I have been saying I was going to make my own kimchi. I went so far as to buy a spiral slicer in order to do the kimchi the way that restaurant did.
















On Sunday night, I decided it was time to make kimchi. Not because I had beets on hand to make it (I did not) but because I had what seemed like a million zucchini that I needed to use.  So, instead of beet kimchi I attempted zucchini kimchi.  I have never really heard of pickled zucchini before but what the heck- why not give it a try?  And, I got to use my cool spiral slicer to boot.

This came out nicely. The amount of red pepper I used made for a really hot and spicy kimchi- you can adjust according to your own taste. Next time, I will probably halve the amount of red pepper flakes.

Zucchini Kimchi

3 large zucchini peeled and sliced in a spiral slicer (or cut into thin strips)
Plenty of salt
4 tbsp red pepper flakes
Crushed ginger (about a 1 inch slice)
2 cloves garlic minced
1/2 cup sesame oil
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp organic sugar

Place spiral cut zucchini in a large bowl.  Sprinkle liberally with salt.  

In a smaller bowl put the red pepper flake and sesame oil. Mix to form a paste. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix. Pour over the zucchini and toss with your hands to coat.  Place the zucchini and all liquid in an air tight container and place in the refrigerator.  Allow to sit a few days and then enjoy.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Mashed Potato Casserole

It is funny sometimes the way things come together. This casserole is a result of some odd coincidences. Recently,while on Twitter I received a tweet from a company that manufactures dried potato flakes. You know, the kind that come in a box that make mashed potatoes. It was a recipe using the potato flakes, heavy cream and butter. Strange.
















I have never really liked mashed potatoes out of a box (though I do use the potato flakes in cooking for other purposes).Oddly  enough, Mr. Meat and Potatoes loves them. In fact, when we first met he would often have those god awful boxed mashed potatoes for breakfast, or as a meal prior to a night out at the bars.
















Almost in parallel to receiving this recipe tweet my cousin posted to my Facebook wall.  She said:

"I think that you should stop calling Jon 'Mr. Meat and Potatoes' and start calling him 'Mr. Meat and Artificial Potato Flake Product'."

This made me laugh and as it all seemed too oddly coincidental I decided I needed to veganize the recipe that the Idaho Potato Flake folks sent me. And, I just could not bring myself to use the boxed potatoes- I used the real deal.

Mr Meat and Artificial Potato Flake Product loved it. And ironically, he ate it for breakfast.

Mashed Potato Casserole

10 medium red bliss potatoes peeled and cut into chunks
1/2 cup Non Dairy Coffee Creamer (I used So Delicious Coconut Original)
1/2 cup vegan sour cream (I used Tofutti brand)
3 tbsp fresh chives, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
4 tbsp Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread, 2 of them melted

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Place the potato chunks in a pot of boiling water and cook until they are fork tender- about 30 minutes.Drain potatoes in a colander. Set aside.

In a large bowl mix the non dairy creamer, sour cream garlic, chives, the 2 tbsp of non melted Earth Balance, salt and pepper. Add the potatoes. Mix all ingredients together with a hand masher or mixer but do not whip them completely smooth.

Fold in the chives.

Put potato mixture into a lightly greased casserole dish and brush the top with the two tablespoons of melted Earth Balance. Place in the oven at 450 degrees for about 30 minutes or until the top is a nice golden brown. Allow to cool about ten minutes before serving.


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Chickpea Sausage with Peppers and Onions

Twitter has been a great resource for me. When I first went vegan I found there a tremendous community of like minded people who will freely share information and ideas and many that are as obsessed with cooking as I am..  I have turned to Twitter often to find answers to questions, get ideas on recipes and sometimes just to "chat".



One of the people I "chat" with fairly regularly is Terence. Even though he comes across as a bit of a surly guy and a definite smart alec (and we agree on almost nothing) he does make me laugh and I like to read his blog, Liberal Portions.

Recently Terence tweeted about a dish he made- sausages out of chickpeas. What?!? It took me all of two seconds to decide I was making them. And make them, I did!  And they were awesome!

I followed his recipe exactly with two exceptions- I did not have any steak sauce so I used vegan Worcestershire sauce and I used more vegetable stock than his called for. It seemed to work just fine!

Chickpea Sausage with Peppers and Onions

For the sausage:
1 cup vital wheat gluten
1/2 cup breadcrumb
1 tsp red pepper flakes.
1 1/2 tbsp fennel seed
2 tsp basil
2 tsp oregano
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup roasted red peppers
2 tbsp minced garlic.
2 tbsp tahini paste
1 tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
1/2-1 cup vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste

In a food processor add the dry ingredients- vital wheat gluten, bread crumbs, red pepper flakes, basil, fennel and salt and pepper.  Pulse lightly to combine.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry- chickpeas, roasted red peppers, garlic, tahini paste, Worcestershire, and 1/2 cup of the vegetable stock. Pulse to combine. If to dry, add more vegetable stock slowly. The mixture should should not be too wet, but able to be molded.

Roll into basic sausage shapes, in the size of your choosing, and wrap them tightly in foil sealing the ends in the way tootsie rolls are wrapped. Steam the sausages for two hours over low heat. Be sure to check the water often to ensure the pan does not become dry,

Remove from the heat. Allow to cool for a few minutes before unwrapping.

For the peppers and onions:
1 orange pepper, sliced thin
1 yellow pepper, sliced thin
1/2 large onion sliced thin
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a medium saute pan. Add the peppers, onions and salt and pepper. Saute until soft.

Before serving the sausages, I sliced them and sauteed them in a little bit of olive oil in order to allow them to caramelize a little bit.


Monday, October 17, 2011

Founding Farmers- Washington, DC

My sister and I had a great weekend recently learning to use our DSLR cameras on a photography walking tour of Washington, DC. Not only did we have a beautiful day and some quality time together but we also got some great photos! After our tour we decided to head out to lunch and decided to go to Founding Farmers.


Founding farmers is a certified green restaurant that has an old farmhouse feel with old wood, comfortable seating and some seriously great food.  Though the restaurant is not vegan, it is focused on fresh farm to table local food and it does have a whole vegan menu and as well as a full bar.























From the vegan menu:

"In Partnership with VegDC.com and Compassion Over Killing, Founding Farmers classic dishes carefully recreated to give you our extraordinary flavors without the use of meat, fish, fowl, dairy or eggs; while staying true to supporting family farmers and purveyors who are committed to sustainability.

What's not to love?

We started off our meal with a cocktail. Why not? No kids, no timetable, what the heck!






















For lunch, I decided on the BBQ "Chicken" and Slaw sandwich. It was absolutely awesome. It came on an English muffin and was smothered in a fruity barbecue sauce. The sauce I am going to attempt to recreate in my own kitchen- it was seriously to die for.
















The place itself has a very cool vibe. We ate at the bar and I watched the bartender crank out all sorts of interesting drinks.

When I am back in DC I will go again for sure!

If you are in DC you can find Founding Farmers at 1924 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) building.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Pasta with Bechamel, Shitake Bacon and Asparagus

Wow, vegan bechamel? Yes, it is possible and it is So Delicious!

Bechamel is a classic French white sauce that is traditionally made with butter and cream.or milk. It is considered the"mother" of French sauces as it is used as the base for many other sauces (Mornay., for example).
















I decided to try a vegan bechamel when my friend Lidija Le Francois told me about Shitake "bacon".  What is the relationship between shitake bacon and bechamel you might ask? Well, way back when there was a dish I used to love at a local restaurant. The restaurant is long gone, but the dish I remember well. It was a penne pasta with bechamel, shitake mushrooms and asparagus.  Probably my most favorite dish in a restaurant- ever.

I figured I would try to recreate that dish, using the shitake bacon that Lidija  told me about.Though not exactly the same as the dish I remember this was very, very good.

Pasta with Bechamel, Shitake Bacon and Asparagus

2 cups pasta cooked according to package directions
1 tbsp Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp all purpose flour
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup non dairy creamer (I used So Delicious Plain)
1 handful shitake bacon (recipe below)
1 tbsp olive oil
4 asparagus stalks cut into pieces
Salt and pepper to taste
Parsley for garnish

Prepare the shitake bacon:
About ten fresh shitake mushroom caps
Drizzle of olive oil
Drizzle of Organic Tamari Sauce
A few drops of liquid smoke

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss all ingredients into a bowl.  Do not drench them but make sure they are well coated. Allow them to marinate for about ten minutes.
















Place mushroom caps on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake in the oven at 400 for about 30 minutes, flipping once during the cooking process.

Prepare the pasta dish:
In a saute pan heat Earth Balance and garlic over medium heat until garlic is tender.  Add one tbsp of flour, stir constantly until a roux is formed.  Add the  non dairy creamer.  Whisk constantly until the sauce starts to bubble.  Turn the heat to low and allow to simmer. The sauce will thicken up as you simmer it. If it does not thicken to your liking you may add the extra tablespoon of flour. If you do, be sure to whisk well to incorporate the flour and avoid lumps.  Season with salt and pepper. I used a fair amount of pepper.
















While the sauce is simmering, heat the olive oil in a small saute pan over medium heat.  Add the asparagus pieces and cook until they start to caramelize.  Season with salt and pepper.
















Once the sauce has thickened to your liking pour it over the cooked pasta, add some sauce, sliced shitake bacon and asparagus. Garnish with  parsley.
















Eat and enjoy!