Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Vegan Tacos

I Love Mexican Food!  Well, perhaps Americanized Mexican food is more like it.  I think it is one of my favorite cuisines - something that I never get tired of eating.  Enchiladas, corn tortillas, empanadas, tamales, tacos, burritos, the list goes on and on.  And it is one of the easiest cuisines to make vegan in my opinion (minus the huge amount of seafood!).  Tacos are one of my favorite things to make and eat.  It comes together very quickly, is very low maintenance.  Since I have made this for the Hubby, this is his go-to meal request.  And most of the time, I don't really mind, especially if I already have the "meat" aka seasoned tvp made.  I prefer making soft tacos just because they are so much easier to make and eat, and are not crunching and breaking all over your lap like hard tacos.  Hubby and I were at Whole Foods a couple weeks ago and actually saw a container of hard taco shells and made a mad grab for them.  So, we made those (it's the first time I have had those in the longest time - since I was back in MI, living with my family) and they were delicious, and spilled the fixings all over my lap of course.  But it was great.    

I love anything spicy, so I try to add a hint of spiciness to the marinated tvp, but where I really like to add it is with the siracha on top.  I do a layer of sour cream, then the siracha because the creaminess helps to tone down the spiciness.  Sometimes Hubby can deal with the spiciness, and sometimes not.  In DR, they really do not eat spicy food at all.  I know that when I first cooked spicy food for him he had a hard time eating it without sweating bullets, even though it really wasn't that spicy.  I also remember that when both of his cousins moved to ny from dr and stayed at our place for several days, I cooked for them and added my customary dash of chipotle pepper powder, both of them took forever to eat, pasusing to drink glass upon glass of water.  Cracks me up becaue it really wasn't even that spicy.  That is the one thing, by the way, that I missed the most about food when I was in DR - spiciness.  The food had lots of flavor, just no heat.  So glad I have my container of chipotle pepper powder and my bottle of sriacha!

All The Fixings!

Mama's Taco Ready to be Eaten!


Seasoned TVP/other beef-style replacer
Soft or hard shelled tacos
Shredded Daiya
Green Peppers, small diced
Red Peppers, small diced
Red Onions, small diced
Tomatoes, small diced
Lettuce, shredded
Olives, chopped
Vegan Sour Cream
Salsa or hot sauce (I love sriracha)

1.  This is really a easy recipe.  Just prep all the veggies and make a simple seasoned tvp or you can even pick up a package of frozen/refrigerated pre-made mock meat crumbles.  Warm your soft shelled tacos in a dry pan on both sides for about 30 seconds, until heated through.  Or for hard shelled tacos, pop them in the oven for several minutes until heated through and nice and crispy. 
2.  My favorite way to assemble them is the same every time: hot seasoned mock meat, followed by daiya, so it is nice and melty.  Then, all the chopped onions, peppers, tomatoes, olives, shredded lettuce, sour cream, and finally salsa or hot sauce.  Eat and be happy.  Seriously the easiest and most delicious thing ever!



Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Gluten Free Wednesday: Vegetable Red Lentil Soup

Happy Gluten Free Wednesday!

I love soups!  I really do, especially when the weather is even a little chilly out.  It's a strange thing to be craving now when the weather is still nice and toasty, but that's what sounds good.  Not that you need an excuse to make or eat soup, but hey.  It is a little sad to me that the Hubby doesn't like soup as much as I do, because I go through these phases where I want to eat soup everyday for a week or so and be completely satisfied.  There was this time about 2 1/2 years ago where I made this soup (I already posted the recipe) and ate it everyday for several weeks and was completely happy.  As I'm typing this, I'm hungry, craving soup, but this time I really really want a delicious bowl of french onion soup.  Oh man is that stuff good!  

I was a guest chef at the Natural Gourmet Institute a couple years ago and made a menu that included french onion soup and it was seriously the most amazingly tasty soup I think I have ever made.  It's about time I make it again.  The only issue is that soups are so easy to make way too much of, and though I wouldn't mind eating it for every meal for over a week, Hubby would definitely complain.  I think making it for the family I cooke for is probably a better idea because I can then just take the extras home and enjoy it by myself.  I would like to try to make it with some kind of gluten free bread so I can post it for another Gluten Free Wednesday, and top it with some gooey, melty diaya on top. Yum!  That's next on the list!

Vegetable Red Lentil Soup:

Warm, Spicy Deliciousness!

Yields about 12 cups (freezes well)

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
3 stalks celery, sliced in half and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, small diced, about 1 cup
1 cup split red lentils, picked over and washed
10 cups water
2 medium carrots, small diced, about 3/4 cup
1 roma tomato, small diced, about 1 cup
1/2 green pepper, small diced, about 1 cup
1 red or yellow pepper, small diced, about 3/4 cup
1 stalk broccoli, cut into small florets, about 2 cups, stem reserved for another use
2 tablespoons unchicken boullion
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 tablespoon red chili paste
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1//8 teaspoon cayenne pepper or to taste

1.  In a large stock pot over medium heat, place the oil and allow to heat.  Add the onion, celery and garlic and allow to cook for about 2-3 minutes, or until fragrant.  Add the drained lentils and stir to coat with the vegetable mixture.
2.  Add the spices and boullion and stir to coat.  Add the water.  Allow the mixture to come up to a simmer and simmer for about 10 minutes before adding the vegetables.  Split red lentils cook very quickly and because the vegetables are all cut the same size, they will cook very quickly as well.
3.  Once the lentil mixture has simmered for about 10 minutes, add all of the veggies and stir to coat.  Continue to simmer until the lentils and vegetables are both cooked all the way through.  Be careful not to overcook - it is important that both the lentils and veggies are just tender.
4.  Serve with additional cayenne pepper for extra heat, if desired.  The nice part about this soup is that the hotter it is, the better it is.  It made my nose run, and I was happy every minute of it.  Serve with rice or some other kind of grain on the side the help battle the heat. 



Saturday, August 20, 2011

Tempeh Bacon & Sauteed Potatoes

Breakfast is seriously one of my favorite meals.  I cannot get enough of it and sometimes even want breakfast for dinner, although surely the Hubby would not be too happy.  He is always telling me that he wants something "strong" for dinner, which translates to something hearty and filling.  Now that summer is almost over (sad!!), I think I should start heading back into the kitchen a little more, even though it is still hot hot hot and all I want to do is make and eat veggies (too hot to turn on the stove and oven!)  Unfortunately, I have a hubby to think about and I know that would not fill him up.  Did I mention that he is a very sporty kind of guy that stands at 6'3?  Yeah, I know - feeding him is like feeding two people, seriously!

Back to breakfast - for a while I had been preparing brunch for us every Saturday.  Since I love breakfast, it makes sense that I also love brunch, but because it's been so hot, I've not been making it as frequently.  After making this super simple but super delicious breakfast, I decided I need to get back into my weekend brunch plans.  We'll see how well it goes, but I am definitely going to try!

Potatoes with Peppers & Onions, Tempeh Bacon
Serves 2

Sauteed Potatoes:
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced - keep them uniform
1/2 green bell pepper, small diced, about 1/2 cup
1 small onion, small diced, about 3/4 cup
1 jalapeno pepper, minced, about 1 1/2 tablespoons
2 generous pinches chipotle pepper powder
3/4 teaspoon sea salt, or as desired
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Marinated Tempeh Bacon, about 8 slices for 2 people:

1.  To make this breakfast a quick affair, I cooked the potatoes first before sauteing them.  Fill a medium pot with lukewarm water: not warm and not cold.  Place the peeled and chopped potatoes inside.  Place the pot over medium heat and cook until just tender.  If they still have a slight bite, that is fine, because they will continue cooking as they saute. 
2.  As the potatoes are cooking, start preparing, then sauteing the veggies.  Place a large saute pan over medium-high heat.  Add the olive oil and allow it to become hot.  Once it is hot, add the green and jalapeno peppers and the onion. Cook, stirring frequently until nicely browned and cooked. 
3.  The potatoes should be cooked by now.  Drain them over a large colander in the sink and allow all of the excess water to drain.  Add to the saute pan and stir.  To give the potatoes that nice crispy outside, the trick is to keep the heat up and not to stir the potatoes too much.  The more you stir them, the more they break up and the less time they have to create that nice crispy edge.  Once they have been cooking for about 5 minutes, add the salt, pepper and chipotle.  Stir to coat.  Season to taste with additional sea salt, as necessary.
4.  To cook the tempeh bacon, place a tablespoon of olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat and allow to become hot.  Once hot, add the sliced of marinated bacon to the pan, being careful to shake off the excess liquid  from the slices, or they will cause the oil to splatter on you.  Cook for a couple minutes on each side until nice and crispy, and drain on paper towels. 
5.  Serve the potatoes on one side and the bacon on the other.  The hubby slathered it in ketchup and was happy.  I sometimes like to put bbq sauce on the side and dip the potatoes in it.  I have also topped the potatoes with shredded daiya as soon as they come out of the pan - the heat of he potatoes melts the cheese and it is so delicious!  Now that I think about it, I should have done that!  Oh well, next time!



Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tofurky, Daiya, Tomato Pinwheels

Hey guys.  Things have been so crazy with me lately, and I have had absolutely no time to even think about blog posts, let alone actually make any!  I am thinking I will likely not be able to focus on the Gluten Free Wednesdays as much as I have in the past, and will likely post them once or twice a month from now on.  On the good news end, I recently found out that I am going back home to Michigan with the Hubby in about three weeks to visit the family.  (I haven't seen them in a year, and Hubby hasn't seen them in two years!!)  While we are there, my mum is intending to host a super belated wedding reception (we were married in NY), and in order to be able to take off those 7 days, I will have to do all of those days' work in advance to actually leaving.  It is damn hard to leave the city!  

Anyway, onto food...  This past weekend, Hubbs and I had Sunday off together.  We had lots of plans, but the weather interfered by raining allll day, so we ultimately decided to spend a lazy day at home.  When we were hungry for lunch, I didn't want to get out of the lazy mood, so I thought about something easy I could make and remembered these from back in the day.  They are so delicious and it has been forever since I have eaten these in their original form.  Now, the ingredients definitely seem a bit strange, but believe me, you will be happily surprised by the flavor combination.  I was working in a deli back home in Michigan, slicing meats cheeses, making party trays, sandwiches and salads when I was in my teens and this was by far one of the most popular, and expensive (for Michigan standards- in NY it would be ridiculously cheap!) sandwiches we sold.  I was vegetarian even then, so I would make the sandwich without the turkey, and loved it! 

I haven't thought about it in years though.  I was shopping at Trader Joe's a couple days ago, randomly browsing the bread section, not really sure what I wanted, when I discovered the lavash flat bread.  I hadn't seen it in years, since I made the sandwich in Michigan, and grabbed it without thinking.  I smiled and thought back on the good old days, deciding then and there that I would make the sandwich as soon as I got home.  That didn't exactly happen, though I made it several days later.  Seriously so good, but surprisingly filling - I couldn't eat a whole roll, and  gave the rest, plus a whole roll to the Hubby.  When I first put it in front of him, telling him I had a new sandwich for him to try, he looked at it a bit strangely, but loved it and even asked for more!  Can't wait to make it again soon!

Pinwheel Sandwich:

Tasty, Tangy Goodness!
Serves 2

1 lavash bread slice
3 tablespoons tofutti vegan cream cheese, softened
4-6 slices tofurky (any flavor)
4 slices daiya cheese (or shreds if you do not have slices)
1 large roma tomato, sliced thinly
2 tablespoons prepared Italian dressing

1.  Carefully spread cream cheese oven surface of lavash bread, all the way to the end. 
2.  Place tofurky slices on top of cream cheese, spreading out as much as possible.
3.  Layer slices of daiya over top of tofurky.
4.  Place tomato slices over top of daiya and generously drizzle with the Italian dressing. 
5.  Working from the bottom, roll up the sandwich as tightly as possible, until you reach the top. Press the top firmly to the rest of the pinwheel, ensuring it will stick. 
6.  Using a sharp serrated knife, slice the rolled sandwich into desired size circles.  Eat!  Seriously Good!



Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Gluten Free Wednesday: Lemon Blueberry Pie

Happy Gluten Free Wednesday!

I love pie.  I love lemon. I love blueberries.  What an amazing thing a Lemon Blueberry Pie is then, huh?  This was one of  my creations for Lifethyme when I was the Head Baker there.  At the time we were needing a new pie idea to help fill a space left in the shelf from where the seasonal pies had sat.  It wasn't quite Spring and certainly not summer, but I wanted something fresh, something that when people tasted it, they could  taste Spring.  I searched online for a vegan lemon pie, and not finding exactly what I wanted, I combined 2-3 different recipes, with my own changes and additions, including the blueberries.   As the first time I made this pie, I was very happy with the end result, even though as it was baking it had a little explosion in the oven - I guess the combination of ingredients makes it slightly unstable once it has been baking for a long time.  However,as long as you do not over bake this pie and chill it sufficiently, you will have the seriously most tasty amazing pie out there.

Now that it is summer and I have forgotten about pie and all kinds of other baked goods (who wants to eat pie and cookies and muffins when it's 100 degrees outside?!).  But when I remembered this pie, I had fond thoughts of it and remembered it being a nice, cooling, refreshing kind of pie.  So I thought, why not make it again?  And oh god was it good!  Hubbs had several pieces and I admittedly had a giant piece!  Yum.  Make this and tell me how crazily good it is!  And tell me how refreshed you are after having eaten it!

Lemon Blueberry Pie:

Pie, Aerial View

 Yield: 8 Slices

1 Prepared GF Pie Crust, (make it if yourself you're feeling adventurous!)

1 pkg Mori Nu Silken Tofu
8 oz. Tofutti Vegan Cream Cheese
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
1 tablespoon lemon extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup turbinado sugar
1 lemon, zested
1 pinch turmeric
3/4 cup fresh blueberries, sorted through

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Place the prepared pie shell on a baking tray and set aside until ready to use.
2.  Get out your food processor and to the bowl add the following: silken tofu, tofutti cream cheese, lemon juice, arrowroot powder, lemon and vanilla extracts, turbinado sugar, lemon zest and a pinch of turmeric.  Do not add the blueberries.  Process this mixture until completely silky and smooth.
3.  Pour the pureed mixture into a bowl and add the blueberries.  Stir until well combined.  Pour this mixture into your pie crust, smoothing out the top with a spatula. 
4.  Put in the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the top is lightly yellow and the center is firm, but still jiggles slightly.  Keep an eye on the pie after the 30 minute mark, because if it is baked for too long, it will overflow and spill all over the place.
5.  Set the pie aside to cool for several hours at room temperature.
6.  Once the pie is completely cool to the touch, place it in the refrigerator.  It is best to refrigerate overnight, or at the very least, several hours, until completely chilled throughout. 
7.  Serve on a nice warm day, where the cooling lemony blueberriness will really refresh you!



Side View, All Those Delicious Fresh Blueberries!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Yellow Rice, Beans, Seitan, Steamed Broccoli

I was really excited to make this meal, and really in the mood to cook.  It may not actually look like a lot, but it seriously took hours.  Hours!  Not kidding!  I woke up early yesterday while the Hubby was starting his baseball game, which he does every Sunday, and felt like cooking.  I have learned that when this happens, I need to follow my feeling, because it doesn't happen all that often anymore, especially now that I am cooking professionally for a family almost every day of the week.  Anyway, I went through the Viva Vegan cookbook, and I know I have said before that the cookbook looks awesome, but the recipes really should be saved for the weekend, or for a time when time is not the issue.  So I made use of that yesterday. The meal consisted of a lot of different elements, everything of which was homemade.  I made a batch of red steamed seitan from the book, which was not all that tasty (ok, if I am really being honest, it was pretty terrible!), and I ended up throwing the rest away that was not used for this meal because the flavor was too strong and the texture too strange.  I even made the anatto oil used to color the rice. 

I am not going to type up any of the recipes I used, because 1) they are in the cookbook, and 2) I didn't really like anything, so it wouldn't be very nice of me to type up something not tasty and potentially have someone try it and also not like it.  The broccoli and rice were tasty.  The flavorings in the seitan dish, aka the sauce, was tasty as well - think lots of onions, garlic, unchicken broth and wine, yum! - but the seitan itself just had such an overpowering taste.  The beans were just terrible.  It was a great idea, but I have a bean recipe I love and I really think I should just stick to that for the time being.  The idea behind a Dominican Style Sazon (Seasoning/Flavor), is to use all of the elements of Dominican bean cooking, which sounds great, and uses ingredients that I generally put in my beans anyway, but the way in which that went about is where things went awry.  The recipe called for blending onions, garlic, peppers, parsley and some other flavors in the blender - raw! - and then placing this mixture into a pot coated with oil and "frying" it for like 20 minutes.  I did it exactly like the recipe stated, then added the cooked beans, the liquid, etc. and simmered it for quite a while.  The texture was just really unpleasant, because realistically, how finely can you puree parsley leaves?  It had an overall grassy taste and texture.  SO, I think from now on, I will continue to prepare my beans that I know both Hubbs and I love.  But I will say though, the presentation of this dish was pretty amazing, and Hubbs gasped when he saw it, saying it looked exactly like how his mom used to make.  I now know how to make the rice, and with a different kind of seitan the seitan dish would work, so it was a good starting point.  And this is so far the only thing I have not liked from this cookbook.  So, perhaps when I have more time off, I will look to this book and attempt more of the recipes.

Steamed Broccoli, Yellow Spanish Rice with Garlic, Latin
Shredded Seitan, Red Beans with Dominican Style Sazon