Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Pad Thai with Broccoli and Tofu

I just love a good peanut sauce, don’t you? I remember a time when I didn’t like peanut sauces but that changed after I started making them myself at home. Can’t really explain that one but so it is. Anyway, this is a favorite dish in our house ‘cuz it’s just good stuff! This sauce is sweet and salty, with a special tang from the lime juice. Admittedly, this is probably not a very authentic Pad Thai. At least it’s not like any I’ve had at Thai restaurants, if that’s any indication. Doesn’t mean it’s not delicious though!

Pad Thai
Adapted from Vegan Table

1 lb extra firm tofu, cubed
1 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
1 ½ tbsp rice vinegar
12 oz linguini (or other pasta)
¼ cup peanut butter
¼ cup sugar
1/3 cup tamari or soy sauce
1/3 cup lime juice (or lemon)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tbsp peanut or canola oil
1 large head broccoli, chopped
1 bunch green onions, sliced

Combine tofu with tamari and rice vinegar in a small dish and toss to coat. Allow to marinate for 10-15 minutes.

Cook noodles according to package directions.

In a small bowl, combine peanut butter, sugar, tamari, lime juice, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Set aside.

In a large skillet, heat oil on medium high heat. Add tofu and cook until brown on most sides,  Remove from pan and set aside.

In the same pan, reduce heat to medium. Add broccoli and a tablespoon or two of water. Cover and steam for 5 minutes. Remove cover and add green onions. Saute for a minute or two.

Once noodles are cooked and drained, add tofu, noodles, and sauce to the pan. Continue to cook and toss for several more minutes, or until most of the sauce has been absorbed. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Mexican Chocolate Brownies

A few days ago I made some fantastic brownies but I forgot to take a picture of them. For some reason I feel like it is necessary to have a picture, but is that really true? I mean, you probably know what a brownie looks like. So just imagine a moist and fudgy brownie with a crackly top while you read on!

I decided to forgo the picture requirement because I was so pleased with how these came out and I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to post about them. At first bite, these brownies are just what they should be: incredibly moist and fudgy with a chewy edge. But then you notice your mouth starts to warm and you experience a wonderful tingling warm sensation. If it were hot out, you might even sweat a little. But it’s the dark days of winter and this is exactly what you needed. Something to dispel the cold from the inside. That is what Mexican chocolate can do for you.

You will notice there is quite a bit of cayenne in these bad boys but I don’t think it’s overwhelming. I have a medium tolerance to spicy and I think these are perfect. In fact these don’t taste spicy, they are more of a sensation, as I described above. Pure pleasure!

Mexican Chocolate Brownies

2 tbsp ground flax seeds
6 tbsp water
½ cup Coconut Earth Balance (or other vegan margarine)
3 oz bittersweet chocolate (I used Dagoba 73%)
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup white flour
3 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp cayenne
½ tsp baking soda
Pinch of salt
½ cup non-dairy chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

In a small bowl, combine ground flax seeds and water. Set aside.

In a large bowl, add margarine and chocolate. Microwave in 30 second increments until completely melted. Add sugar, vanilla, and flax seed mixture and mix well.

Sift in remaining dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips.

Line a 9x9 inch baking dish with parchment and lightly grease. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until toothpick comes out with crumbs (not wet batter). Do not over bake unless you prefer cakey brownies!

Cutting tip: Let brownies cool completely, then place in freezer for about 30 minutes before cutting.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Pumpkin-Corn Enchiladas + BBQ Tempeh Salad

Brrrr! It’s cold today, and finally finally raining. While a big cold salad may not seem that appealing in the winter, it’s what I eat a lot of this time of year. But I usually serve it with a hot bowl of soup so I think it evens out. This time I did something a little different.

Before I get to these rolls of deliciousness: the salad. This is one of my favorite salad combos. It is BBQ tempeh (homemade), red onions, avocado, and corn. During summer I will sub tomatoes for the avocado.

These enchiladas are kind of on the light side so I thought they would be good companion to the salad.  They are also incredibly easy to make so they are perfect for a quick weeknight dinner! The original recipe calls for topping with cheese, but I honestly don’t think they need it. If cheeseless enchiladas are good enough for Isa, then they’re good enough for me! (She has a fantastic potato-kale enchilada in Veganomicon.) But if you don’t share my take-it-or-leave-it attitude towards cheese, feel free to smother these babies!

Pumpkin-Corn Enchiladas
Adapted from This Can’t Be Vegan

1 tsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced small
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
15 oz can pumpkin puree
8 oz frozen corn (no need to defrost)
½ cup pecans, chopped
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
1/3 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
12 corn tortillas
1 ½ cups salsa verde

In a small skillet, sauté onions and garlic in oil for about 5 minutes, or until softened.

In a large bowl, combine onion/garlic mixture with all other ingredients except tortillas and salsa verde.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly spray a 9x13 inch baking dish.

Briefly heat tortillas in microwave to make them more pliable.

Roll at least ¼ cup filling into each tortilla. Get as much filling as you can in there; you may have leftovers if you don’t really stuff them. Place in baking dish. Once all enchiladas are assembled, pour salsa evenly over the top.

Bake, uncovered, for about 30 minutes.

It's a Cinder enchilada!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Appetite for Soup

It’s soup season! Tonight is supposed to be the coldest here so far this season, so it was a great time to bust out this wonderful stew. This stew from Appetite for Reduction is amazingly hearty and creamy while still remaining healthy and low-fat. The secret? Split peas (or in my case red lentils) that melt into the stew, giving it body and substance. This is everything you want from a pot pie, except without the fatty crust (not that I don’t like fatty crusts). This makes it perfect for January, when like many people, I am trying to get rid of that little bit of extra holiday chub. I served this with a side salad of escarole, pistachios, and dried cranberries.

Veggie Potpie Stew
1 tsp canola oil
2 medium leeks, sliced
½ pound crimini mushrooms, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ tsp dried sage
1 ½ tsp dried thyme
½ tsp salt
½ cup red lentils
3 ½ cups vegetable broth
1 ½ pounds Yukon gold potatoes, diced
½ pound carrots, sliced
¾ cup water
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 cup frozen peas
Salt and pepper, to taste
Heat oil in a soup pot. Add leeks and sauté for 5 minutes. Add mushrooms, garlic, sage, thyme, and salt and sauté for another 5 minutes. Add lentils and broth and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes. Add potatoes and carrots and return to a boil. Simmer, covered, on medium heat for 30 minutes, or until potatoes and lentils are tender.
Mix water and flour in a small bowl and add to pot along with the peas. Simmer, uncovered for about 10 minutes. The stew should thicken quite a bit. Salt and pepper to taste before serving.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Catch up: Cooking by the books

Here are some dishes I made during November and December. Since I pretty much followed the recipes, I won’t be posting them here but instead a quick review.

First up, Black Pepper Tempeh from Super Natural Everyday. This Asian-style dish was extremely flavorful; very spicy and very sweet. I do not recommend serving it alone as I did here. This dish needs a grain or something to temper the intense flavors here, such as brown rice or potatoes. I also think this would make a great filling for an Asian style wrap along with “cooling” vegetables such as cabbage, carrots, and cucumbers.

Next, the Mushroom Burgers from the Happy Herbivore Cookbook. I really liked these burgers, the spices were great and they held together well. I served these with the sweet potatoes fries from Trader Joe’s. Love these fries! You can find them in the freezer section.

Next is the Chesapeake Tempeh Cakes from Vegan Brunch. Holy crabs! These are absolutely amazing, I have made them many times before. My only complaint is that they are a bit crumbly and don’t always stick together well. Not sure how to solve that one but I don’t really care because they taste so great. I served these with the Maple-Mustard Glazed Potatoes and String Beans from Vegan with a Vengeance, except instead of green beans I used cauliflower because that’s what I had on hand.

Lastly but certainly not leastly, the Pasta de Los Angeles and the Broiled Blackened Tofu from Appetite for Reduction. I love these two recipes and I think they go perfectly together. This meal is now in heavy rotation at my house. The pasta is tossed with tomatoes (I use canned in winter), cilantro, black beans, and spinach, and seasoned simply with lime. The tofu is a wonderful dry rub made up of Cajun spices and then broiled at high heat. I love the chewy texture of this tofu. I will be using this method to make other spice blends with different flavor profiles in the future because it’s such a great idea!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Mount Tamalpais + Vegan Pizza Review

Today we took a day trip out to Mount Tamalpais (north of San Francisco) for some hiking and sightseeing. We could not have picked a better day; the weather was absolutely gorgeous: high 60’s and sunny with a gentle breeze. The weather doesn’t get much better than this in the Bay Area! We did some hiking around the mountain and eventually drove/hiked all the way to the top for some amazing 360 degree views of the bay and peninsula. Fantastic!
From the top of Mt Tamalpais towards San Francisco

Stinson Beach

Every great day should end with a great meal! By doing a quick search on happycow.com I found there was a vegan-friendly restaurant in Mill Valley called Tony Tutto Pizza. I’m so glad we found this restaurant. This pizza proves that you don’t need cheese to make a great and satisfying pizza. We ordered two pizzas: the #2, which had red onions, shiitake mushrooms, tomatoes, and herbs, and the Puttanesca, which had olives, capers, and basil. These pizzas were fresh and delicious, and I loved the crust.  All together there were 7 vegan pizzas on the menu, and as far as I can tell the rest of the pizzas were all vegetarian. Awesome! We will be back.
246 East Blithedale Ave
Mill Valley, Ca
(415) 383-8646


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Christmas Flashback

As I said in my post the other day, I have quite a lot of post materials accumulated from my time off. The above is the Christmas dinner that I made for my family. I was really happy with how everything turned out!
The lasagna is the Ultimate Vegan Lasagna from a new-to-me blog, With a Side of Sneakers, which I found via FoodGawker. I was originally planning to make the lasagna from Veganomicon, but when I saw this I knew I had to give it a try. What is unique about this recipe is that the non-dairy ricotta is made from blended white beans and cashews instead of tofu. Pure genius and, it turns out, super tasty. This also makes the dish very rich and filling.

On the side I also served some artichoke stuffed mushrooms. I put together a quick filling that was a combo of chopped and sautéed onions, artichokes, and garlic, mixed with some bread crumbs and fresh basil. Then I baked the stuffed mushrooms at 350 degrees F for about 20 minutes.
Thirdly, I made the Garlic Bread from Vegan Table. This stuff was awesome. I ended up making it again a few days later because I wanted more (and more, and more)!

Lastly (and barely discernable in the left corner), I made a salad with baby spinach, dried cranberries, and toasted walnuts, served with a homemade dressing made of equal parts fresh mandarin juice and walnut oil, with a bit of mandarin zest, shallot, and salt and pepper. Easy peasy!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Back in Black (Eyed Peas)!

Whew! I’m back. Happy New Year!

That was a long break from blogging but I intend to get back into regular posting starting now. I was so busy with getting ready for Christmas and then after I just wanted to relax for a while. But, all good things must come to an end, including vacations. On the other hand, there is always something nice about getting back to my regular schedule. And it’s nice to be posting again. I have a lot of post material from my time off. But I was so happy with what I made tonight that I will be starting with that.

This is the Cajun Pot Pie from American Vegan Kitchen and it is fantastic. It better be because this is not my usual low-fat fare. This is rich and decadent and would make a great dish for a special occasion. The crust on this is especially wonderful. It is flaky and buttery just like a good pie crust should be; and the pepper adds a nice bite.

I used Field Roast Smoked Apple Sage sausages here. I had not tried them before and they were great. I also loved that they were wheat gluten-based instead of soy protein-based.

The seasonings really make this dish – in particular the smoked paprika. If you don’t have smoked paprika, I would encourage you to use regular paprika and add a bit of liquid smoke to get that yummy smoky flavor.

Cajun Pot Pie
Adapted from American Vegan Kitchen

½ cup white flour
½ cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper (next time I will add more)
¼ cup vegan margarine, cold
¼ cup non-hydrogenated shortening, cold
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp white or rice vinegar

1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 large carrot, diced
1 celery rib, diced
12 oz vegan sausage, sliced
12 oz Yukon gold potatoes, diced
1 cup frozen peas
3 cups kale, chopped
15 oz can black eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp chili powder

3 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp white flour
1 tsp dried basil
¼ tsp cayenne
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp thyme
½ tsp salt
1 ½ cups vegetable broth
1 tbsp white or rice vinegar


Crust: Combine dry ingredients in a food processor and pulse briefly. Add margarine and shortening in chunks. Pulse until mixture resembles course bread crumbs. Drizzle in water and vinegar. Run food processor until dough clumps into a ball. Remove, shape into a disc, cover with shrink wrap, and place in refrigerator for 1 hour. (You could also put in freezer for 15 minutes).

Filling: Heat oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Add onions, carrots, celery, and sausage. Saute for 5 minutes. Add potatoes, peas, and kale and sauté for another 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and cook for another 5 minutes or so. Add a little water if things start to stick.

Sauce: Heat oil in a small saucepan on medium heat. Add flour and whisk often for 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and, stirring often, cook for another 5 minutes, or until thickened. Pour sauce into pan with filling and mix well.

Assembly: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease a 2 ½ quart casserole dish. Roll out the chilled crust in the shape of your dish, making sure it is at least 1 inch larger all the way around. Pour filling/sauce mixture in dish. Place the crust on top. Crimp all the way around the edges. Cut 2-3 slits in the crust to allow steam to escape.

Bake for 35 minutes, or until golden and bubbly. Let cool at least 5 minutes before serving.

Tippie getting ready for Christmas