Monday, December 27, 2010

I love you, Santa Claus

I normally love the Christmas season, but this year I just couldn't find my Christmas spirit. I think it has to do a lot with the fact that this hasn't really been a "break" for me. Sure, I have a month off of school, but instead I've been working 35-40 hour weeks, at a theme park, during the busiest season. I haven't relaxed as much as I would like. Also, because I work at a theme park, it didn't seem likely that I would get more than 3 days home with my family.

But this year, just in the nick of time, I received a small Christmas miracle. I ended up getting an extra 2 days off of work, for a total of 5 days home with my family. I also finally got to spend Christmas with some extended family for the first time in about 8 years. It was lovely. And Santa Claus was very, very good to me.

Judging by the picture, I obviously made out like a bandit. The obvious star is my very own KitchenAid Stand Mixer. I'm in love. You can definitely expect some recipes featuring my mixer in the near future. My mom/Santa really understands my dorky love of kitchen gadgets. She gave me a nice cutlery caddy and a spice rack. My wonderful sister gifted me some plates to feature the food for the blog. And I also received two cookbooks; the KitchenAid Baking Companion Cookbook and the Skinny Bitch cookbook, which is full of vegan recipes. Both cookbooks are beautiful, and I can't wait to test out some recipes.

All in all, I ended up having a wonderful family, filled with the most important thing: family. The gifts were just gravy...mushroom gravy (my favorite). I hope you all had a wonderful, family filled holiday. I wish you safe travels and a very happy new year for you and your loved ones.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

So this post is coming a little late, as I'm sure every has already held their Christmas parties or if your party is tonight, a menu has already been planned. But the food I served isn't especially Christmas-y, so I would recommend it for any time of the year. I made empenadas as the main event, served with rice. I changed up the empenada filling from my original recipe. And for dessert, ginger sandwich cookies with cream cheese frosting and an eggnog cheesecake. I never got a photo of the eggnog cheesecake, but the recipe can be found on the side of Silk Nog. It's delicious, trust me. We also held a secret Santa at my party and I pulled my good friend Manny, the tres leches lover. So what better to make as a gift than an entire tres leches, just for him? I couldn't think of anything better, so that's what I made. It was a lot of cooking, but it was worth it.



Revised Empenadas:
  • 2 packages regular size empenadas
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can rotel tomatoes, drained
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 small bell pepper, diced
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • Oil for frying
In a saute pan, saute the onion and bell pepper until soft. Add garlic. Stir in black beans and tomatoes. Heat the beans and tomatoes. Stir in spices and cilantro. Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool. Using a large cutting board, make your empenada assembly station. Flour the cutting board. Lay out the empenada discs. Fill with roughly a tablespoon of filling, sprinkle with cheese. Fold over and seal edges with a fork. Do this until all 20 empenadas are done. Once the empenadas are assembled, heat a large pan and add oil up to half an inch in the pan. Fry empenadas three at a time, roughly 1-2 minutes on each side, until light golden brown. Set on a plate lined paper towels. Serve hot.

Cilantro Lime Rice:
  • 1 1/2 cups white rice
  • 3 cups of water
  • 1-2 tablespoons fresh, minced cilantro
  • 1/2 of a lime
Heat water til boiling, add rice. Turn heat down, cook for about 20 minutes until rice is tender. When rice is done, stir in cilantro. Squeeze the lime over the rice. Stir and serve along side the empenadas.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Cranberry Dark Chocolate Biscotti

Before I hand over this biscotti recipe I thought I would mention that I was approached again by CSN Stores. If you remember from my previous post about them, they really are great. They have all sorts of gifts that would be great for the holidays. I loved my baking sheets and still use them all the time. They also have other great, non-cooking products. They have a really nice laptop messenger bag that I have my eye on. Keep your eye out for another product review.

Back to the food. One of my favorite blogs that I read on a regular basis is Basil & Wine. The food always looks amazing and it inspires me to try to eat more healthfully. A few weeks ago a recipe from cranberry white chocolate biscotti appeared. I had never made biscotti before, and it's possible I had never really eaten biscotti either, but I just couldn't get the recipe out of my head. I made a few adjustments for my own taste preferences and ingredients I had in the pantry. Also, I feel that the original author's suggestion and baking while listening to Christmas music is a key element to the success of your biscotti.

Cranberry Dark Chocolate Biscotti:
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 flax eggs (2 tablespoons flax, 6 tablespoons water)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 1-2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1/3 dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350. In a small bowl, combine cranberries and orange juice, then set aside. In a large bowl combine the flours and baking powder. In a separate bowl whisk the flax eggs and sugar, about 2-3 minutes until sugar is dissolved. Add zest, vanilla, and almond extracts to the wet mixture. Combine the wet and dry ingredients. Add cranberries and mix into a dough. Form the dough into a 9x2 log, place on a greased baking sheet (or line with parchment paper). Bake for 25 minutes, then cool for at least 10 minutes. Reduce the oven to 325. Slice the long into 1/2 inch slices. Bake for 10 minutes on each side. Melt chocolate over a double boiler. When the biscotti have cooled, drizzle with the chocolate. Place the chocolate drizzled biscotti in the fridge until the chocolate hardens. Serve with a cup of coffee; dipping is highly encouraged!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Carrot Soup with Croutons and Asparagus

I first had this soup about 3 years ago at my very good friend's birthday party. Everyone at that party, myself included, fell in love at first bite. Reportedly, some party guests felt the urge to hug the cook. The soup was that good. After much begging, I received a copy of the recipe. And that dear friend posted the recipe on her blog. I insist that you make this soup. It's amazing.

To go along with the soup I made homemade croutons and crispy asparagus. Both recipes couldn't be easier. You'll notice that both recipes have almost identical ingredients and methods. They're so simple they almost aren't even recipes. But really, simple food is the best food.

Simple Croutons:
  • Day old bread, 4-5 thick slices
  • Olive oil, about 1 tablespoon
  • Garlic powder
  • Salt
  • Pepper
Preheat your oven to 275. Cut the bread into cubes. Drizzle the olive oil over the bread. Sprinkle with garlic powder, salt, and pepper to taste. Toss the bread. Spread on a baking sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes, until crisp. Top your soup with the croutons.


Crispy Asparagus:
  • 1 package asparagus
  • Olive oil, about 1 tablespoon
  • Garlic powder
  • Salt
  • Pepper
Preheat your oven to 400. Cut off the ends of the asparagus spears. Drizzle the olive oil over the asparagus. Sprinkle with garlic powder, salt, and pepper to taste. Pop into the oven for about 20 minutes, until very crispy. Eat them straight up or dip them in your soup.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Chili Mac

I know all of you north of Florida have been experiencing cold weather and even snow for a few months now. But here in good ole’ sunny Florida, this week is the first week of consistently chilly temperatures; and when I say “chilly” I mean the highs are just at or below 70 degrees, with nights in the 40’s or 50’s. So what did I make to celebrate these chilly temperatures? Chili! I thought about following a recipe but that seemed boring. So I looked at a few different recipes and then I just winged it. Turns out, chili is pretty hard to mess up. I love to serve mine over some macaroni with a sprinkling of cheese, but feel free to serve yours straight up. Here is my version. Feel free to add or subtract whatever you like.

Basic Vegetarian Chili:

  • 1 package veggie crumbles (optional)
  • 1 large can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can Rotel tomatoes (diced tomatoes with green chilies)
  • 3 cans beans, any variety, drained and rinsed (I usually do a dark/light kidney bean combination)
  • 1 can vegetable broth
  • Olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 4 oz. frozen butternut squash, defrosted
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

In a large soup pot, bring to medium/medium high heat, coat with olive oil. Sauté onions, bell pepper, and carrot until soft, about five minutes. Add garlic, sauté for one minute. Stir in the squash. Add beans, tomatoes and rotel tomatoes with liquid. Stir in spices. Add vegetable broth. Cover and bring to a boil. Uncover, reduce heat, and simmer for one hour or until ready to serve. Serve over macaroni, sprinkle with cheese.

A few tips about this recipe:

  • The veggie crumbles are completely optional. They are really tasty, but if you don’t have them on hand I wouldn’t run to the store to get some just for this recipe. I’ve made this recipe with or without them and it is equally delicious.
  • The squash is also optional, but highly recommended. It gives this chili some added veggie power and makes it somewhat silky and smooth.
  • Feel free to adjust the heat level of the chili to your liking.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Halloween Dessert

For a few weeks I've been brainstorming about a perfect dessert for Halloween. I knew I wanted something chocolate. I was originally leaning towards a chocolate orange cupcake with orange frosting to keep with the colors of Halloween. But then I thought about not only keeping with the colors, but also with the flavors of fall. I came up with a chocolate cupcake with pumpkin cream cheese frosting. In all honesty, these are probably the second best cupcakes I've ever made; second to my birthday tiramisu cupcakes. The recipe for the cake comes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. The recipe can be found here online. The chocolate cake itself is incredibly moist and delicious. It's even better with my pumpkin cream cheese frosting.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Frosting:
  • 4 oz. cream cheese (or Tofutti Better than Cream Cheese), softened
  • 1/4 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Red and yellow food coloring (optional)
Cream together ingredients. If you want a more orange hue, add about 3 drops of red and one drop of yellow food coloring. Spread on cupcakes. This is enough frosting for 12 cupcakes. Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Central Florida Veg Fest!

For me, one Veg Fest isn't enough. That's why on Saturday I ventured over to Orlando for the Central Florida Veg Fest. The weather was beautiful, mid 80's and breezy. And there was so. much. food. CF Veg Fest seemed to be about twice as big as the Tampa Veg Fest. This was both a good and bad thing as there were plenty of options but my stomach (and wallet) wasn't quite big enough for me to try everything. But there was one thing I absolutely knew I wanted to eat; that was a vegan chili dog. There were not one but two booths serving vegan chili dogs. I went with the first place I saw. For $3 I could get a vegan hot dog with two toppings; I went with 3 bean chili and vegan cheeze sauce. They also had a little toppings bar so I added diced onion and vegan bacon bits. This dog was really delicious but it had one major downfall: not enough chili. I would have to give it 3.5 out of 5 stars.


Now I only had one bite of the second vegan chili dog but I feel that this one bite was enough for a proper rating. From the picture you can tell the second dog had plenty of chili. In fact, some chili fell off and was later eaten with the best utensils: fingers. This dog was sooooo good. It was $4, but a lot bigger than dog #1, and again, a lot more chili. I'm giving it 4.5 out of 5 stars. The only thing keeping this dog from the top rating is it's lack of vegan cheese. But overall, I would have eaten 3 of these if my stomach was big enough.

I also enjoyed some pretty incredible Indian food as well. I eat Indian at least once a month, so I almost didn't go with Indian because I wanted to do something different. But when I saw that it was a mere $5 for this huge plate of food I couldn't turn away. The plate had a samosa (fried pastry with potatoes and peas), stewed chickpeas, rice, and jalebi (a very sweet fried dough).


And as if I hadn't already eaten enough I cooled down with some iced coffee. It was only $2 and I had the choice between almond milk and soy creamer and was able to use agave nectar to sweeten it. I'm not a coffee expert, but this one was incredibly good. I went with almond milk and a little bit of agave. Creamy, sweet, cold, and simply delicious.

Overall, I had an awesome time at the Central Florida Veg Fest. There were lots of great organizations as well as lots of great food. I will definitely make a point to visit again next year.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Hawaiian Beans and Rices


Lately I've been on an eating healthy and losing weight quest, not that you'd be able to tell from those cookies...Anyway, I also spend a lot of time looking at other blogs for inspiration now that I no longer have cable, and most importantly, Food Network. I stumbled across a really great blog, No Meat Athlete. The No Meat Athlete has some really great recipes for beans and rice; a cheap, easy, complete protein meal. There are several variations on a theme but the one that spoke to me was the Hawaiian Beans and Rice. I love pineapple in my savory food and I also have a new found love for cabbage. So with a few tweaks, here's my version.

Hawaiian Beans and Rice:
  • 1 cup chickpeas, dried or 1 can
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 head red cabbage, sliced thinly
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 small can pineapple tidbits
  • 1 small can sliced pineapple (optional)
  • 3/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Hot sauce, to taste
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
If using dried beans, soak overnight and cook until tender. To save time, feel free to use a can of chickpeas. Cook rice according to package directions. While rice is cooking, heat a large saute pan and coat with the olive oil. Saute onions, cabbage, and garlic for about 15 minutes, until tender. Stir in chickpeas. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in pineapple tidbits with the juice, extra juice from sliced pineapples if using, soy sauce, paprika, ginger, and hot sauce. Salt and pepper again, to taste. Keep warm.

*Optional Step* In a small saute pan, lay out pineapple rings. Caramelize both sides, about 2-5 minutes per side. On a plate, place rice, then beans, then pineapple rings.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

CSN Product Review AND Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies

A few posts ago I mentioned CSN Stores approached me with the opportunity to do a product review from one of the great stores. I chose the Ciculon 25th Anniversary 3 Piece Rectangular Bakeware Set. The set includes two baking sheets and a cooling rack. Below are a side by side comparison of my old baking sheet and my new ones. Do I really need to explain why I'm already in love?



I figured the best way to test out my new baking sheets would be with cookies. As it's getting close to feeling like fall in nice and sunny Florida I've also been having some serious pumpkin cravings. I searched around on the internet for some pumpkin cookie recipes. The pumpkin oatmeal cookies from The Post Punk Kitchen seemed to fit my basic requirements; they had pumpkin and I already had all the ingredients on hand. Winner! You can find their recipe right here. I pretty much followed the recipe. I only made two changes/substitutions: 1) I used half all purpose and half whole wheat flour and 2) I didn't have molasses, so I substituted equal parts brown sugar. I also included the optional ground flax seed.



The cookies were fabulous and my new baking sheets are absolutely wonderful. They are truly nonstick; they were so easy to clean. And I love having a cooling rack. Notice that I placed a paper towel under the cooling rack for easy clean up. I would really like to thank CSN Stores again for the wonderful opportunity. I love my new baking sheets! More cookies will be coming out of my oven in the near future.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Tampa Bay's First Ever Veg Fest!

This past Saturday Tampa had it's first ever Veg Fest! I took the day off from work and was super psyched. I was not disappointed. First off, the weather was beautiful. It was possibly the first day it did not hit at least 90 degrees in about five months.



This is a view of most of the booths. There were tons of businesses, charities, organizations, and my favorite, free food! Typical me, I scarfed down every piece of food and not until I was finished did I think "Oh, I should take a picture." But I'll fill you in on some of the delicious treats I had. Gardein was there giving out free tacos with their beef tips, peppers, onions, and mushrooms. The Gardein taco was quite possibly my favorite thing I had all day. It was simply fabulous. I also sampled some sausages from Field Roast; I sampled the Italian and the Smoked Apple Sage. Both were delicious, but if I had to choose a favorite I'd go with the Italian.

While the free goodies were very tasty, I was pretty hungry so I also bought lunch. There were several local Tampa veggie friendly businesses there; I went with the Taco Bus. I had a Butternut Squash taco with Hibiscus Lemonade. Oh. My. God. Generally, I'm pretty partial to the vegan chorizo made by the Taco Bus, but really, I am now converted to the squash. It was sweet and tender and so so so good. The lemonade was also really good. For dessert, I had vegan pumpkin ice cream from Three 2 Oh. The ice cream was delicious; it tasted like a frozen pumpkin pie filling. And though I didn't have one, my friends had some vegan cupcakes and I'm pretty sure they enjoyed them, as I didn't see a crumb left.



All in all, I had an awesome time at Veg Fest. Between the weather, the food, and the company it made for a pretty perfect day. I really hope this becomes an annual event in the Tampa Bay area. Maybe I can even get a booth next year selling some homemade Blake Bakes goodies. And one final picture, just because they're so adorable; my boyfriend and Oliver (contender for the title of Cutest Dog Ever).

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Channa Masala

Before I get started with a lovely Channa Masala recipe I'm really excited to let you guys know that CSN Stores has given me an opportunity to do a product review from one of their many wonderful websites. Keep an eye out for the review and in the meantime checkout some of their beautiful dining chairs. Thanks so much CSN Stores!

Back to the food. Since becoming a vegetarian I have fallen in love with several cuisines that I had never tried in my meat eating days. The most important, delicious of these cuisines is Indian. I'm a little bit obsessed. Tampa has some really great Indian food and I make it a point to go out for an Indian lunch buffet at least once a month. But as a college student with limited funds I have been trying to recreate Indian food in my own kitchen. While this channa masala didn't necessarily taste authentically Indian it was still delicious, filling, cheap, and easy to make.



Channa Masala:
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 1 14 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (more or less based on your heat preference)
  • 2 teaspoons coriander
  • 3 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 2/3 cup vegetable broth or water, plus about 1/2 cup extra
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
In a large saute pan heat oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes and saute for about 5 minutes. Add the coriander, cumin, fennel seeds, paprika, and curry powder and saute about 1 minutes. Add the chick peas, tomatoes, and broth. Bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes. Add lemon juice and salt and pepper. If you find that the liquid is reducing and the chickpeas are sticking, add more liquid. Cook for another 10 minutes until sauce is thick. Serve with brown rice.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

First Restaurant Review:The Loving Hut

As much as I love to cook sometimes I can be pretty lazy. And on those very lazy days (usually after a long day at work) I like to go out to eat. I've become pretty attached to several restaurants, so I thought I'd do some restaurant reviews. So to start off we have the Loving Hut. I've been to the Loving Hut several times. It's an all vegan restaurant, so for me it's really nice to go to a place where I can order anything on the menu. It's a fairly new place in Tampa so it's never crowded; usually there are only a few other diners. The prices are really reasonable; my boyfriend and I always get water so our check almost always comes out under $20 before tip. The service can be slow, but the food is so good it's worth it.



This first dish is what I ordered the last time I went; Ocean Alfredo. It's a vegan alfredo and usually comes with vegan shrimp. I never ate seafood when I did eat meat so I asked to substitute vegan chicken instead, which they did, with no problems. It was really tasty. I've had more realistic vegan alfredos but this was really yummy and comforting.



This is what my boyfriend got. It was called Savory Eggplant. It had eggplant, silken tofu, and red bell peppers with a delicious sauce that reminded us of teriyaki. I only had one bite, but I enjoyed it. My boyfriend is an eggplant fanatic so he loved it. Other dishes I can recommend are the Tofu Scramble and the Noble Philly Sub. Definitely check out the Loving Hut if you're ever in Tampa.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Crispy Cajun Chickpea Cakes with Sauteed Kale

The chickpea cakes aren't an original recipe, but it turned out really tasty, so I thought I'd share. I used the recipe for the Chickpea Cakes from Vegan Dad. I pretty much just followed the recipe, except I substituted red pepper flakes for cayenne pepper. And my one piece of general advice about the chickpea cakes are to flip them as few times as possible. The more you flip them, the more likely the are to not stay together. That means you need to make sure your pan/oil is at the right temperature, so they don't cook too quickly.

And here is a quick and easy kale recipe.

Sauteed Kale:
  • 1 bunch of kale
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
Pull the kale off the stem and give a rough chop. Coat a saute pan with olive oil. Saute garlic for about two minutes, then add the kale. Saute until kale is tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper. That's it. So simple, and so delicious.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The BEST Pizza


That's right. Kale on pizza. I know it's really not that crazy for some of you, such as Sammi from Vegan Pandamonium. But for others, who would've thought? I'm here to tell you, kale is probably the best pizza topping ever. The kale gets crispy in the oven and goes lovely with melted mozzarella. Don't believe me? Try it.

Kale Pizza:
  • 1 Pillsbury thin pizza crust
  • 1/4-1/2 cup marinara sauce
  • 3-4 leaves of kale
  • 1 package Morning Star Italian Sausage (or veggie sausage of your choice)
  • 1/2 an onion
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 a bell pepper
  • 1-2 cups mozzarella cheese or Daiya
Preheat oven to 400. Slice sausage, thinly slice onion, garlic, and bell pepper. Pull kale off of stem, and roughly chop. Coat a saute pan with olive oil and brown the sausage. Once brown, take the sausage out of the pan. Add more olive oil, saute the onion, bell pepper, garlic, and kale until soft.

While sauteing veggies, spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray. Roll out crust, pre-bake crust for five minutes. After five minutes, pull crust out of the oven. Spread desired amount of marinara sauce on the crust. First layer with sausage. Add all but 1/4 cup of cheese. Layer veggies, with kale on top. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese. Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes, until the cheese is brown and bubbly.

This pizza reminds me of this soup I used to love in my pre-veggies days, from olive garden. It was an Italian sausage, kale, and potato soup. This is better, as it's vegetarian, and it's on a pizza!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Tres Leches

This isn't an original recipe (and certainly not a vegan one, sorry my veggie friends), but it turned out so good I just thought I'd share the picture and story with you, as well as a link to the recipe.

Two weeks ago, my boyfriend and I moved into a new apartment. Our friend Manny helped us move in. Since we are poor college students/Busch Gardens employees, I told Manny that if he helped us I would pay him in the form of dinner and dessert. He requested a Tres Leches cake. For those of you who are behind on your Spanish, "tres leches" means "three milks". The three milks in this case are half and half, evaporated milk, and sweetened condensed milk. So even though I had never eaten or made a Tres Leches cake, I agreed.

This recipe was really easy. The only pain-in-butt/time consuming part was the whipped cream. I do not currently own an electric mixer, so I made the whipped cream by hand. That's right. Me, a cold bowl full of heavy cream, and a whisk. For over fifteen minutes. Man, was my arm tired, but that was the best whipped cream I've ever tasted. However, though making it by hand made me feel like a domestic goddess, if you have an electric mixer, USE IT.

The cake turned out really delicious, and since Manny gave it his stamp of approval, I was rather pleased with myself. This cake was really dense, rich, and sweet. But that's how it's supposed to be. Enjoy.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Vegetable Broth (from the new kitchen)

Wow, it's been a long break. Too long. But never fear, I am finally done moving, and fresh from a Publix trip, my pantry and fridge are now fully stocked for some new, fabulous recipes. First up, something savory. I've been wanting to make vegetable broth from scratch for a while now. I googled some recipes the other day and pretty much realized, it's something you just have to make up. Here's what I did, based on the ingredients I had in my produce drawer.

Vegetable Broth:
  • 5 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 1/2 large onion, cut into chunks
  • 1 cup baby carrots
  • 2 stalks celery, plus extra celery leaves, cut into chunks
  • 1 potato, cut into chunks
  • Small handful of parsley
  • 5 small tomatoes, cut into chunks
  • 4 oz. sliced mushrooms
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1-2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 8 cups water
Cut all your veggies into chunks. Feel free to not peel them, leave the paper on the garlic/onions, etc. Throw all of your veggies and herbs into a stock pot. Cover with 8 cups of water and bring to a boil.


Reduce to a simmer, add soy sauce and pepper. Simmer for one hour. Taste and add more salt if desired. Strain your broth, put into some Tupperware, and refrigerate/freeze until you need some vegetable broth. This recipe made about 6 cups.

Don't throw those veggies away; I snacked on them right from the pot once I strained the liquid. Yum.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Best Gift Ever

I know I've been slacking with posting. I'm in the process of moving and cleaning out my fridge, which unfortunately for me and the blog, means I've been eating a lot of pasta and morning star products. But, I did want to share this with you. I just received a wonderful belated birthday gift from Sammi of Vegan Pandamonium; my very own Blake Bakes mug. It was nice coming home after work this afternoon and enjoying a cup of coffee out of my own, beautiful mug.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookies


Chocolate chip cookies had never really been my thing, at least as far as being one of my specialties. They always turned out fine, but nothing special. But one day I had a brilliant idea, one to liven up my chocolate chip cookies to make them special. That idea was cinnamon.

Chocolate Chip Cookies (makes about 1-2 dozen):
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 Ener-G Egg Replacer
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6-8 oz. chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350. In a small bowl combine all dry ingredients. In a large bowl, beat together oil and sugars. Add egg replacer and vanilla, mixing well. Slowly add the flour mixture, mixing well. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop dough by spoonful onto a greased cookies sheet. Bake 9-11 minutes until lightly browned. Cool on wire racks. Enjoy with a glass of almond milk. Yum!

A few tips:
  • Traditionally, cookies are made with butter. I was out, so I just used canola oil. I have also made this recipe with 1/4 cup vegan margarine and 1/4 canola oil. I'm sure it would also turn out fine with all margarine.
  • If you use all canola oil, as this recipe calls for, the batter is kind of crumbly. To shape the cookies, get a spoonful and press together with your hands.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Tiramisu Cupcakes

This isn't a recipe, as I got it out of a (copyrighted) cookbook. But they turned out so adorable I had to share them with you. For my birthday, I made these delicious tiramisu cupcakes. The recipe came from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. I highly recommend this cookbook. I've made three of their recipes thus far, and they were all fabulous.

I'm sorry I haven't had any recipes lately. Keep checking back, I promise I will update soon!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Peach Blueberry Cobbler


I can't think of a fruit that says "summer time" more than peaches. And I also can't think of a dessert that says "summer time" more than peach cobbler. My parents and sister were in town and my wonderful mom brought me some peaches. As delicious as peaches are by themselves, they gave me a real hankering for cobbler. I also had some blueberries in the fridge and I figured they wouldn't hurt the cobbler one bit.

Peach Blueberry Cobbler

Filling:
  • 2 cups peeled, sliced peaches
  • 1/4 cup blueberries, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
Topping:
  • 1/2 cup flour (all-purpose or whole wheat)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vegan margarine
  • 3/4 teaspoon Ener-G egg replacer
  • 1 tablespoon warm water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons almond milk (soy or rice is also fine)
Preheat oven to 400. In a saucepan combine all of the filling ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about ten minutes. While the filling is simmering, mix the egg replacer and warm water in a small bowl. Sit together flour, sugars, baking powder, and cinnamon. Cut in margarine until crumbly. Mix together egg replacer and milk, then add to flour mixture. Stir with a fork until combined. When the filling is cooked, pour into a pie plate. Drop by a tablespoon full the topping onto the filling. Place pie plate on top of a cookie sheet. Bake 25 minutes until brown and bubbly. Serve warm with vegan vanilla ice cream. Serves 4.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Red Velvet Brownies

So, I've been pretty in love with beets lately. In the last issue of Vegetarian Times there were five recipes for beets! The one I found the most intriguing was for Red Velvet Brownies. The article discussed how beets, like applesauce, are good for low-fat baked goods. They're called Red Velvet because of the reddish tint given by the beets, not food coloring. I knew I had to try them, so I just put a little vegan spin on them.

Red Velvet Brownies:
  • 1 14 oz. can beets, rinsed and drains
  • 1/2 cup vegan margarine
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 8 oz. silken tofu
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2-3 tablespoons coffee, cooled
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350. Coat 9-inch square baking dish with cooking spray. Puree beets in a food processor until smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary. Set aside. Again in the food processor, puree the tofu with coffee until smooth. Set aside. Whisk together margarine and sugar until smooth. Add vanilla and tofu. Stir in the beets. Whisk together flour and cocoa powder in a separate bowl. Fold flour mixture into beet mixture until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Cool, then cut into squares.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Orange Cranberry Muffins


This afternoon my roommate and I were sitting on the couch browsing through cookbooks and foodie magazines. Whenever I do this I get an incredible urge to bake something. However, I was having trouble finding a recipe that I already had all the ingredients for. In the Vegan Yum Yum cookbook I found a recipe for Lemon Cranberry Muffins. At first I was disappointed, because I didn't have any lemons. But just as I was about the flip the page, I realized what I did have was oranges. So, here is my slight variation on some delicious, vegan muffins.

Orange Cranberry Muffins:
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar, plus extra for dusting muffin tops
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 3 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 400. Line a muffin tin or spray muffin tin with nonstick baking spray (recipes makes 12 muffins). Place cranberries and water in a small saucepan and heat until simmering. Simmer for three minutes, then turn off the heat. Let them stand until ready to use. In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cornstarch, and zest. In a separate bowl combine the almond milk, orange juice, canola oil, and the vanilla. Gently fold the wet ingredients into the dry until almost combined. Strain the cranberries and then fold into the matter, mix until just combined. Fill muffin tins with batter. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes or until lightly browned and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool and eat!

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Best Green Beans


I know that green beans aren't the most exciting vegetable. I don't know what it says about me, but green beans are in my top five favorite vegetables. This recipe is so simple it's hardly even a recipe, but because it's one of my favorites, I had to share it with you.

The Best Green Beans:
  • 1 pound green beans, rinsed and the ends snapped off
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1-2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1-2 teaspoons fresh herbs of your choice, minced (I used rosemary and parsley)
Fill a medium sized pot with water and bring to a boil. Drop in the green beans. Cook for 3-4 minutes, until tender. Once tender, strain the green beans and immediately put them into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Once cooled, in a medium saute pan, heat the oil. Put in the green beans and garlic. Saute for five minutes. Sprinkle with fresh herbs. Serve with a side of whole wheat couscous. Enjoy a light and satisfying lunch!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Ginger Sandwich Cookies With Cream Cheese Frosting


I received the inspiration for these cookies while munching on some Newman's Own Ginger O's. They're kind of like oreos, except ginger and organic. Pretty amazing. So I thought I'd go ahead and make a homemade, vegan version (The Newman's Own Ginger O's are vegan). While searching on the internet for ginger cookie recipes I found a great candidate for veganization, a Paula Deen recipe. So, here we go.

Ginger Cookies:
  • 3/4 cup vegan margarine
  • 1 cup sugar, plus extra for rolling
  • Equivalent 1 egg Ener-G Egg Replacer
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 cup all purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 350. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Using an electric mixer at low speed, cream the margarine and sugar. Add the Egg Replacer and molasses and beat until incorporated. Sift together the flours, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg, and salt. Add the dry ingredient into the wet. Mix until incorporated. Roll the dough into balls about 1-inch in diameter. Roll the balls in the extra sugar. Place 1/2 inch apart on prepared cookie sheets. Flatten the balls slightly with your finger tips. Bake for 12 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Cream Cheese Frosting:
  • 4 oz. vegan cream cheese, softened (I used Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1-2 tablespoons almond milk (Soy or rice would also be fine)
Beat together the ingredients until smooth. If too thin, add a little extra cream cheese and sugar. If too thick, add a little extra milk.

When the cookies are cooled, create sandwiches by spreading the frosting in the middle. Devour them. Yum.


A few tips:
  • For me, the dough was super sticky, so I rolled the dough into balls with a spoon and then rolled them in sugar.
  • If you don't have vegan margarine, go ahead and use vegetable shortening, that's what the original recipe called for.
  • Make sure to let the cookies cool before frosting, or it'll be extremely messy.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Vegan Mac and Cheese


Let me tell you my food philosophy. To put it simply, good food is good food. So no, I'm not a vegan (maybe a vegan flirt) but when my roommate first made me her vegan mac and cheese, I could care less that it was vegan. Why? Because it was good food, plain and simple. I've made her recipe several times, but a few nights ago a little light bulb went off in my head when I was trying to figure out what to do with some extra sweet potatoes I had. I had heard of moms sneaking butternut squash into their child's mac and cheese to give them their daily dose of veggies. I decided to try it with sweet potato. And let me tell you, it turned out fabulously. For Sammi's original recipe, go here. Here is my twist.

Vegan Mac and Cheese:

  • 1 box whole wheat penne, cooked
  • 3 medium sweet potatoes, cooked and mashed
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1/2 cup vegan margarine
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast, plus a little extra
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
Either reserve your pasta water, or begin boiling a fresh pot. Preheat the oven to 350. In a large saute pan, melt the margarine over medium heat. Once melted, begin whisking in the flour. *WHISK don't stir* or the texture and consistency will be wrong. Once the mixture is thick, begin adding the boiling water a little at a time. You might not need all the water. Add the water until the sauce in the consistency of gravy. Whisk in the mashed sweet potatoes. Then mix in the salt, garlic, nutmeg, and nutritional yeast. Toss the pasta with the sauce and transfer to a casserole dish. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs and extra nutritional yeast on the top. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Enjoy!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Kind Cupcakes

A few months back my friend Sammi bought The Kind Diet, Alicia Silverstone's book advocating a vegan diet. Sammi was kind enough to lend it to me. It was a very easy read. It's only a little over a hundred pages of information and the rest is recipes (obviously, my favorite part). While I'm still just a regular old vegetarian, I have been trying to reduce my dairy consumption and limit how much white sugar and flour I eat. These cupcakes came from her book with just a few ingredient variations on my part, so I have christened them "Kind Cupcakes". Make them and you will not care that they are vegan and mostly healthy. I promise.

Kind Cupcakes

  • 2/3 cup soy milk
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2/3 cup agave nectar
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 325. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners. Combine the milk and vinegar in a medium bowl, and set aside for at least 5 minutes until it starts to bubble a little. Add the agave, oil, and vanilla and stir. In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the west ingredient to the dry, mixing until no lumps remain. Pour the batter into the prepared muffin tin and bake for 18 to 22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean and the tops are slightly springy when pressed. Cool for 10 to 15 minutes in the pan, then cool completely on a baking rack before frosting.

Frosting
  • 1/2 cup vegan margarine
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
Use a mixer to cream together margarine and sugar until very smooth. Add the vanilla and half of the cocoa powder, mix on low speed to combine, then add the remaining cocoa powder. This is a rather runny frosting, so let it firm up in the refrigerator before frosting the cupcakes. When the frosting is somewhat firm, frost the cupcakes. Garnish with sprinkles if so desired. Then devour them!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Strawberry Oatmeal Pancakes

This past semester I haven't had class on Fridays, so almost every Friday morning I've been making a delicious pancake breakfast for myself and my boyfriend. However, these pancake breakfasts haven't been helping my goal of eating healthy. So I did some searching on the internet and combined several recipes I found to make some vegan oatmeal pancakes, which are so delicious I forget that they're healthy. Combine that with some fresh, organic strawberries I bought directly from a local farmer and I think it just might be the best breakfast ever.

Strawberry Oatmeal Pancakes:

  • 3/4 cup of oats
  • 1 1/2 cups plus two tablespoons of almond milk, divided (rice or soy will work fine)
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (or regular white vinegar)
  • 3/4 cup of whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 banana, mashed
  • 2 tablespoons vegan margarine, melted
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 8 ounces strawberries, sliced
In a small bowl mix 3/4 cup of milk with the vinegar and let it stand for about 5 minutes. In the milk mixture mix in the oats and let soak for 10 minutes. In a different bowl mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Stir in banana, margarine, brown sugar, 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of milk, and oat mixture into the flour until just combined. Fold in the strawberries. In a pan or on a griddle, melt some margarine over medium heat and pour the batter by 1/4 full. When the edges are firm and the batter is bubbly, flip the pancakes. Cook for another minute or so until golden on each side. Garnish with some extra strawberries and serve with some maple syrup.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Irish Soda Bread

Happy (belated) St. Patrick's Day! In honor of the occasion, I made some Irish soda bread. I can't claim this recipe as my own, but it did come out pretty tasty so I thought I'd share it with you. The recipe can be found here. I would recommend slicing it up while warm and serving it with some butter and jam. The recipe isn't vegan, but I promise a vegan-ization of this recipe in the near future.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Roasted *Organic* Golden Beets

Until yesterday, I had never eaten a beet before. For a while my mom was really into making juice in the morning and she would put beets in the juice, but as far as eating one, I never had. I've lived a sad nineteen years. Yesterday, my mom and I went to the West Palm Beach Green Market. I highly recommend this market. They have some great vendors, pastries galore, and a wonderful selection of produce. While my mom and I were browsing we saw organic golden beets, which we have never seen in our local grocery store, and therefore we have never eaten. We decided to buy them and roasted them for a snack/lunch. A little sweet and a whole lot delicious, I highly recommend this incredibly simple recipe.

Roasted Golden Beets:
  • 3-4 golden beets
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
Preheat your oven to 350. Leave the skins on the beets and toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste. Place on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, until tender. Take the beets out of the oven. When the beets cool, peel and slice them. Garnish with some fresh herbs (that's thyme in the picture). Eat and enjoy!

Some tips:
  • I haven't tried this with regular purple beets, but I'm sure it's equally delicious
  • To determine if the beets are done, slide in a knife. If the beets are tender, you should meet no resistance.
  • I am now in love with golden beets, so check back for other recipes with this great vegetable.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Kale with White Beans and Polenta

When I tell people I've just met that I'm a vegetarian they generally assume that I eat a lot of salad and love my vegetables. But I have a confession to make. I'm a pretty picky eater, especially when it comes to my vegetables. And I don't really like salad. But since becoming a vegetarian I've tried to try as many vegetables as possible. I've found out that I'm not as picky as I once was. It's funny how for your whole life you convince yourself you don't like something, then you try it and feel like an idiot because you realize you've been missing out for a very long time. Kale is one of those vegetables. Leafy greens used to totally freak me out, but I am now officially in love with kale. This dish is healthy, delicious, and totally satisfying.

Kale with White Beans:

  • 1 large bunch of kale
  • 1 19 ounce can of white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 14 ounce can of diced tomatoes
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup of vegetable broth
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, rinse the kale and slice into strips (hold onto the stem and pull down, whatever comes off it good to eat). When the water is boiling, drop in the kale, stir once, and put the lid back on. Cook the kale for about 15 minutes, until tender.

While the kale is cooking, coat a saute pan with olive oil. Begin sauteing the onion and garlic. Stir in the tomato paste and the red pepper flakes. Pour in the tomatoes, including the liquid. Let the mixture simmer then stir in the rinsed beans. Season with salt and pepper.

By now, the kale should be done. Drain the kale and put in with the beans and tomatoes. Pour in the vegetable broth. Bring to a boil and let the liquid reduce, tossing the kale and beans. When the liquid has reduced and thickened, drizzle with a little bit of olive oil.


Polenta:

  • 1 log of precooked polenta (found in the produce aisle with the tofu)
Slice the polenta into 1/2 inch thick slices. Heat a small saute pan with some olive oil. Cook the polenta slices until slightly crispy or light brown on both sides. Put the polenta on a plate and top with the kale and beans. Start cooking the polenta while the liquid is reducing in the kale mixture.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Penne with Garlicky Butternut Squash


What do I love as much as pasta? Garlic. What do I love more than pasta with a whole lot of garlic? Nothing comes to mind. So this weekend, while I was reading through recipes trying to figure out what to do with my butternut squash besides soup I ran across this recipe for penne with garlicky butternut squash. I saw the recipe I knew immediately I had to try it. Not only was it super delicious but it was simple and I already had all of the ingredients in my pantry.

Penne with Garlicky Butternut Squash:

  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1 (1 1/2 pound) butternut squash, diced
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 - 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon powdered sage
  • Salt, to taste
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • 1 pound of penne (I prefer whole wheat)
  • Nutritional yeast
  • *2-3 tablespoons of vegan margarine
  • *2-3 teaspoons of garlic powder, divided
Bring a large pot full of water to a boil. Drop the penne and cook until your preferred tenderness. Once the pasta is done cooking, drain, reserve some of the pasta water, and return the pasta to the pot. *Toss the pasta with the margarine, half of the garlic powder, and nutritional yeast. While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Toss in the squash and saute for five minutes, until it begins to get golden. Sprinkle in the garlic and saute 2 minutes. Pour in 1/2 of the veggie broth, and cover the pan. Periodically check the pan for the tenderness of the squash. If all the liquid is gone but the squash isn't tender, add more broth and some of the pasta water. Cook the squash until tender, mix in the garlic powder, sage, and nutmeg. Pour the squash mixture into the pasta pot and toss, adding the salt and pepper. Sprinkle on some more nutritional yeast. Serve with some crusty whole grain baguette.

Some tips about this recipe:

  • I went a little easy on the garlic because my boyfriend doesn't love garlic as much as I do. But even he said it needed more! So the 4 cloves is just to start, I probably added about 6 and plan to add more next time. But I really, really love garlic.
  • Don't worry about adding "too much" broth or pasta water because it will make a good sauce.
  • This makes a whole lot of pasta, but make the whole recipe. It's great leftover.
  • The * indicates where I updated the recipe.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Cheesy Orzo

My mom started making cheesy orzo as a side dish a few years ago. It's simple and easy and soooooo delicious. And I decided if you throw in a vegetable, it can upgrade from side dish to main course.

Cheesy Orzo:
  • 1 cup orzo
  • 1 14 oz can vegetable broth
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Dash of garlic powder
Bring the vegetable broth to a boil in a small pot. Add the orzo and the peas. Turn the temperature to a low setting. Let cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with garlic powder and stir in cheese until melted. Put into a bowl and eat up!


A few tips about this recipe:

  • I cook this orzo (which is pasta) like you would cook rice, with a 2 to 1 ratio, 2 parts liquid to 1 part orzo.
  • Though I think the cheese is the best part, vegans could easily leave out the cheese. And I am sure vegan cheese would be great, as long as it's a cheese that melts well.
  • Feel free to substitute parmesan or whatever your favorite cheese is for the mozzarella.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Tennessee Hummus


This past summer my family and I vacationed in this small town outside of Gatlinburg, Tennessee. As a vegetarian, I figured my vacation in Tennessee would be spent eating a lot of salad. But I was given a very pleasant surprise. In the town down the road from the cabin we stayed at there was a small restaurant with several vegetarian options. My family and I ordered some hummus and sat outside by the river. It was the best hummus I've ever had, slightly spicy with whole black beans. So I developed this recipe in order to recreate the best hummus ever.

Tennessee Hummus:

  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • 1/2 an onion
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • Dash of hot sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Paprika (optional)
In a food processor combine all ingredients except the black beans until smooth. Taste to adjust the seasoning. Put into serving dish and fold in the black beans. Dust with paprika for color. Serve with pita, chips, or fresh vegetables.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Hearty Vegetable Soup

I'm sorry it's been such a long time since I've updated. The holidays were a super busy time for me. Lots of cooking and eating, but not so much photographing and writing down recipes. But I'm back with lots of great recipes in store for the new year.

While it is starting to warm back up slightly, for the past few weeks it's been really really really cold. Well, it has been by Florida standards any way. So here is my hearty, go to meal when it's cold outside. It's quite easy, what I call a "chop and drop" recipe. Chop up whatever vegetables you have, and drop them into a pot.

Hearty Vegetable Soup:

  • Olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 2 carrots
  • 2-3 handfuls of escarole
  • 1 can of white beans
  • Veggie sausage of your choice
  • 2 cartons of vegetable stock
  • Fresh or dried herbs of your choice

Start out by chopping up the vegetables. It really doesn't matter if it's a dice or a rough chop, as long as all of the pieces are roughly the same size. Then chop up the sausage. Heat a saute pan. Pour in the olive oil and saute the onions and garlic. When the onion is soft, add the sausage and brown. Add the rest of your veggies into the saute pan, except for the escarole. While the veggies are sauteing, in a decent sized pot (one big enough to fit all of your veggies in addition to the liquid) fill with your vegetable stock and bring to a simmer. When the broth is simmering add the escarole and herbs. Add beans. Add all of your sauteed veggies and sausage. Let simmer for a few minutes. Either serve right away, or lower the heat and serve when ready.

Some tips about this recipe:
  • The vegetables I listed were just a base. You can use whatever vegetables you want. Those are just my favorites and the ones I had on hand that day. Feel free to add or omit whatever vegetables you like.
  • Even if you're cooking for one, don't be afraid to make a big pot of soup. It freezes well and is a great supper to reheat on nights you really just don't feel like cooking.
  • Pasta, barley, rice, or any type of starch is also great in this soup. Just be sure not to add it too early or it'll be overcooked and mushy. For example, if your pasta takes 8 minutes to cook, throw it into the soup about 8 minutes before serving.