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Hearty Beet, Cabbage & Potato Soup

15 Oct

Holy smokes, folks! It’s been a whole two months since my last post and a whole lot has happened since then! I’ve relocated to central NY, changed jobs, am raising an abandoned 1 month old kitten, and am temporarily living in a house with four other awesome vegans (hallelujah!). In just a few short weeks, I’ll have my own place and my own kitchen again. Woohoo! The recipes should surely abound then! But even that may be short lived as the west coast is calling my name, still, and the opportunity to answer has finally arrived. Warm weather means a whole different kind of eating, but at the moment the weather in the woods of NY is a little too frigid for my liking. Fall is in full bloom here and just a few days ago, we had some light snow. My heart sank. I detest that fluffy, cold white stuff and even more so now that I work outdoors. The only thing that redeems this weather is the promise of warm, hearty comfort food to come home to and this is a recipe that hits the spot!

There’s not a whole lot of complexity to this recipe. Beneath all the color, it’s a pretty basic potato soup–which is why I think it’s so great. If you want something easy to prepare, tasty, presentational, and filling then I think you’ll like this soup quite a bit. My very favorite thing about it–besides the simple, salty, starchy flavor and the big chunks of potatoes, cabbage, and beets in it–is of course, the vibrant color that comes from adding the beets and red cabbage to it. The beets also counteract the “soupy” flavor by adding just a hint of sweetness to the pot. If you want, you could peel the potatoes, but since it won’t affect the color of the soup, as it normally does in white potato soup, it’s really just an extra step you can avoid doing. See? I’m so thoughtful sometimes. I don’t want you to have to work too hard to enjoy delicious vegan food. And you shouldn’t have to so, what are you waiting for? Soup’s on!
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Lemon Rosemary Risotto, Roasted Glazed Beets, and Beefless Tips in a Garlic and Thyme White Wine Sauce

3 Apr

This past week I had the luxury and ever-so beautiful blessing that comes with having your very own kitchen to work in. I know, it sounds a little weird, right? But when you think about food and creating recipes as much as I do, having your own kitchen–meaning one in which there will be no interruptions (save for the occasional dog begging for scraps) and one that’s always clean and thus, always ready to use–is the equivalent of an artist having their own studio in which to paint, or play music, or write. Now that I live with three other folks, the tranquility required for the process isn’t always there and so, in these moments when it is, I take on “projects,” otherwise known as “outrageously awesome whole meals that take more than 30 minutes to put together.”  So, today, I come to you with not one, not two, but three recipes! Each recipe can be made separately if you have limited time to devote to the whole meal or want to pair them with different entrees/sides, or you can combine them to create this exact marriage of tart, sweet, and savory!

I visited my mother recently and she, like I, doesn’t like to send anyone out her door without food. Especially her children. She gave me beets and she gave me Gardein Beefless Tips. The Arborio rice was on sale at the grocery store. So, this meal was serendipitous, really.  I’ll be brief about it because the pictures speak for themselves. The risotto is wonderfully creamy, lemony, and savory. I wanted to make something that tasted “clean” and savory all at once. A pairing of lemon and rosemary seemed fitting. I suggest using only as much lemon zest (grated lemon peel) as you can handle. I originally used 1 tablespoon and realized it needed to be taken back so, I’ve made a correction here for a suggested amount. The roasted beets are to die for, that is, if you like beets. They took the longest to cook so, I got started on those first and saved the glaze for last.

The beefless tips were utterly delicious. They came about from the memory of this meal, using white wine and mushrooms and the rest was improvised on cobwebbed memories of how to cook meat. I was so amazed at how well they took to the wine sauce, how savory they were, and how well they stood up to my memory of steak tips. In fact, they did this so well that, if you’re a vegan who simply never liked the taste of meat or who is easily put off by things that taste a lot like meat, I would forgo making these. But, if you want something incredibly delicious and something with which to impress non-vegans who swear on their lives that they “could ‘never’ be vegan because they like meat too much,” here’s your rebuttal. You’re welcome.

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Easy Peasy Smokey Mac N Cheesy

5 Mar

Hello, friends! It’s been a long, long time since my last post and for this, I apologize! Life has been overwhelmingly busy with work, with friends, with my newly adopted crippled hamster (yes, a hammy!), and with studying for the veterinary technician national exam. There have also been some recent changes to the way I feel comfortable creating recipes so, finding myself in the recipe writing, experimenting, and cooking “mode” is rare. Hopefully for all, posting this recipe will help me get back to form. So, as you can imagine, with the precious little time I have to cook for myself, when I do cook, it’s almost always easy, filling comfort food. Usually that means a massive, loaded salad, but every once in a while, it’s a pasta dish. I love pasta almost as much as I love casseroles and anything that requires an oven to cook.

Recently, I posted a photo of the less involved version of my Sweet Potato Baked Mac N Cheese on my personal Facebook page that got quite a bit of attention and requests for the recipe so, here it is, folks! This is a “staple” recipe in my book and one that I turn to whenever I need something quick and filling and good enough for lunch the next day. As far as I’m concerned, it gives its maddeningly unjust, sad, and fat laden dairy counterpart a swift kick in the arse–mostly because it’s free of animal exploitation (awesome!), and obviously because it’s delicious. Feel free to add vegan sausage, hot dogs, or broccoli–if you’re so inclined–to make it more hearty. I also recommend adding crisp tempeh bacon or barbecue spices if you like, to make it more “smokey.”

Until we meet again…enjoy!
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Walnut, Mustard, and Cilantro Pasta à la American Chop Suey

22 Jan

Several weeks ago, a friend of mine made a delicious brunch that included this very simple topping of crushed walnuts and cilantro over a bed of steamed kale. I’d never had anything like it and weeks later, it’s been hard to forget it. So, I started to think of other ways to incorporate it into a meal and, one late night after work when I was too hungry to go grocery shopping and had to make do with what was already in the house, this is what I came up with. This recipe has definitely replaced my standard, too-lazy-to-cook-“pasta and sauce”-go-to and is now living comfortably next to my smoky mac and cheese recipe on the list of easy, quick, comfort meals.

I love the unique flavor of this dish, how filling it is without being overly heavy like most pasta dishes, and how easily and quickly it’s put together. The flavor isn’t overly powerful, but it’s present, if that makes sense. It’s pleasantly delicious, somewhat creamy without using cream, and sure to hit the spot if you want to make a pasta dish that isn’t your standard red sauce and grain meat and cheese variety, but is still comforting.

All the ingredients are healthy, vegan pantry basics and easily found in your standard grocery store. They are also easy to substitute for a gluten free version. Even better yet, this recipe is a two for one deal: the walnut, mustard, and cilantro mixture itself would make a nice dip for crackers, if you’re so inclined. Personally, for that purpose I’d go with a cracker that’s just a simple base–like a rice cracker–to highlight the flavor of the dip.

Enjoy!

Raw ingredients and final product!

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Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash

18 Oct


I’m still here, still alive, still in MoFo mode. But, it’s been a tremendously busy few weeks. Moving and working full time and MoFo-ing? What was I thinking?! I think I’m still in this. I think I can, I think I can! Anyhow, I finally finished packing and after a 13 hour move out of state, I’m finally settled in and in my new kitchen. So of course after all the cleaning and organizing and attempts to find the perfect lighting for photographing food, I put myself to work on one of my favorite recipes.

My roommate’s boyfriend who works on a farm, graciously bestowed us with a bounty of winter squash. Among them, my favorite — the acorn squash. If you haven’t noticed already, I really like stuffing food into more food (stuffed peppers, stuffed pasta, stuffed apples, stuffed summer squash).  Maybe someday I’ll invent a vegan version of TurDuckEn. So of course, seeing the squash, I felt the need to stuff it. It just had to happen.

This is a recipe I first tried out last year at thanksgiving time and really enjoyed. It went over really well with my family too. It’s very easy to make, has a lot of fall flavor to it, and is very comforting. You can adjust the spices as you wish. If you want it to be more spicy, add more chili powder; more cinnamon-y, add more cinnamon. There’s really no way to make this “the wrong way.” Also, I like to play around with other ingredients. Sometimes I use raisins or dried apricots, this time, I used dates and cranberries. Usually, I like to make this with red quinoa because it looks really beautiful against the orange squash, but I had only white quinoa on hand and that worked well too. If you’re all about presentation come vegan harvest (thanksgiving), then I’d definitely go with the red!

‘Til tomorrow! Continue reading

Chickpea Chick’n Patties

9 Oct

As featured on veganfoodshare’s Instagram.

I have no idea how I’m making it happen, but somehow, I’m actually still participating in VeganMoFo.

This has been an overwhelmingly busy week full of high emotions (the good and the bad kind — but mostly the good kind), epiphanies, and one near death experience. The fact that I’m awake right now writing this, let alone cooking and not just eating prepackaged junk is, literally, a miracle. I should be dead. Or asleep. Or just dead asleep. I feel like I’ve been participating in a version of Iron Chef where the challenge is to create something meaningful of high stressful situations and the secret ingredient/challenge is to do it all without sleeping and without falling apart and still staying positive.

And so, of course, when I saw the first VeganMoFo Iron Chef Challenge, I had to take it! There are no rewards in this challenge except the reward of having created something new and delicious and then sharing it with the rest of the world. That’s plenty rewarding if you ask me. Unfortunately for my theme this month, there are no “Autumn” flavors in this recipe, but the other half of my theme — the “New England” part — is fully satisfied. In classic New England fashion, in the midst of a cold season, we had a warm, summer day. And that to me, means burgers and beer for dinner.

The challenge was to create something using chickpeas. I’ve been wanting to make something light and flavorful and reminiscent of a chicken patty, but without the not-so-good breaded/fried/animal element typical of chicken patties. So basically, something not at all like a chicken patty. I mostly just wanted to use the flavors typically used in dishes with poultry. So, I reworked an older recipe for black bean burgers into one that fits the bill a little more, for people who like lighter flavors. New ingredients, new seasonings, and this time, you don’t need a food processor. These are so easy to make, especially after a long day or week, and they are so tasty you’ll have no excuse not to try them sometime!

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Three Bean Slow Cooker Chili

5 Oct

Hello MoFo’ers, after a lovely day off for cooking and baking, I’ve returned with a new comforting recipe for the season! Besides my toaster (I really love toast), there is no other kitchen appliance I love more than my slow cooker. I think it’s because both of these appliances make the kitchen smell great when they’re doing their job right. Also, they make tasty things to put in my mouth. But slow cookers are particularly awesome because they’re the only necessary kitchen tool for making great food if you’re someone who is often too busy to be home or stand over a stove.

Years ago, my mom gave me her cool, ugly, orange slow cooker manufactured and purchased in the 1970s. When I was growing up, I remember it always being kept in our basement and never in our kitchen. Every time we moved, it came with us for some reason, but it wasn’t because it was being used. I didn’t know what it was until I was older and it’s not because my mom decided to bring it upstairs and make something incredible. It’s because I saw one of the potpourri slow cookers and I put two and two together (it equals four, by the way). I’m not sure if it’s something my mom had ever used, to be honest. I don’t think she grasps the concept of how awesome it is to have an entire meal cooking slowly while you do something else. I keep telling her, it’s multi-tasking at it’s finest, but I think she’s scared of cooking in a way she’s not used to.

Anyway, when I moved to NH last year, I finally made use of it because I’d be gone for long hours at a time for class or work. I wanted to come home to something hot and ready to eat. And this is one of the recipes I would often put together because it’s simple and easy, and lasts a long time if you’re only one person. Oh, and of course, it’s delicious! I know, it’s not really “chili” if there isn’t a ground up dead animal in it, but I didn’t even want to take the steps to fake it. This is just a really vegan, product free, easy to make meal. Anyone with a crockpot can make it. I know it doesn’t look like much, but I swear, if you have a slow cooker, it’ll be one of your basic go-to’s too. Enjoy!

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