Monday, February 18, 2013

Brunch: Roasted Potatoes, Black Bean Tofu Scramble, Fried Squash

 I must admit my mind is elsewhere right now.  My grandmother on my mom's side is in the hospital and has been all last week.  Her health is declining and although everyone is trying to be positive, I think we have to be realistic too.  She has been in poor health for a while now, with diabetes, open heart surgery back when I was in college and now dementia.  She is unfortunately in congestive heart failure and is so upset to be in the hospital.  She hates being away from home and is worried because she had a bird at home that she is never away from.  I really do appreciate and am thankful for being in New York, but at times like this it really makes me want to drop everything and move back home to be with my family.  All of my 8 aunts and uncles (my mom is included in that number) are at the hospital now talking to the doctor to see what he feels.  My mom left me a voicemail as I was leaving work saying that my Grandma is terminal.  Please keep her any my family in your thoughts.  As of last night Grandma wasn't eating or drinking anything, talking about how she had a great life and wanted to be cremated and buried.  As soon as I hear back from my mom, I'm going to decide what to do.  I have to see my Grandma again.  This is making me get teary-eyed now just typing this up.  It also brings me back to the death of my sister-in-law Kenia not even a year ago - in May from cancer.  It makes me really reevaluate my life, what I am doing, where I am and what my goals are. 

This is just a heads up that I may not be blogging for a while, depending upon how things go.  In the meantime, enjoy what my Hubby and I had for brunch yesterday, our day off together.  I had some leftover cooked black beans in the fridge that needed using up, as well as a package of tofu, so I thought of doing a Spanish-style scramble, with some roasted potatoes (I am always getting organic potatoes for free from work.  Today I got some really cool organic purple potatoes and I am debating making mashed potatoes with them just because I think it is going to look so crazy on our dinner plate!) and fried up some squash I got from work.  It was tasty and came together pretty quickly, which was great - I was able to spend more time with my Hubby!

Roasted Potatoes, Black Bean Tofu Scramble, Fried Squash:

So delicious!  Wish there was some left!

Tofu Scramble:
1 lb. extra firm tofu, drained well and pressed
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeno, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 roma tomato, diced
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon turmeric
3/4 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
pinch red pepper flakes
1/2-2/3 cup cooked black beans
tamari, as desired

1.  In the base of a large wok or saute pan, add the oil over medium-high heat.  Allow to become hot.
2.  Once the oil is hot, add the onions, green, red and jalapeno peppers and garlic.  Saute for a couple minutes, or until beginning to soften. 
3.  Crumble the tofu to desired size directly into the pot.  Keep stirring the mixture.  Add the spices: nutritional yeast, turmeric, cumin, sea salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes.  Stir very well into the vegetables and tofu mixture until tofu is completely yellow in color. 
4.  The amount of time you cook the scramble from here is up to you.  I like the tofu to be pretty firm with a more "dry" texture, otherwise it reminds me of undercooked eggs.  Gag.
5.  Add the diced tomato, black beans and tamari to taste.  Stir and cook until all ingredients are heated through. 
6.  Serve with the remaining components.



Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Green Smoothie

I love fresh juice as much as the next person.  It's way too expensive for me to purchase outside, so I tend to make it at home.  There are some great things about making your own juices and also some not so great things about juicing at home - namely cleaning the juicer for 20 minutes after 5 minutes of juicing.

I've had several customers at my job lately that have been getting green smoothies - that is whole leafy greens and some kind of fresh juice to make it all blend together.  It's the best of both worlds because you still get the tasty fresh juice, but also the fiber from the leafy greens.  I have been making this quite a bit lately, but I've been making the juice base at work, usually pineapple, purchasing it there and making the smoothies at home.  Tons cheaper to just purchase the whole fruit, juice it at work and make the smoothie with all the beautiful organic ingredients at home.  I pretty much keep the ingredients the same, with a couple variations here and there, depending upon what I have in the fridge and what I feel like.  It's super tasty and super healthy.  Try it - I think you'll be surprised by how good it is and how not "green" it tastes.

Green Smoothie:

Beautifully Vibrantly Green!

Makes 2 hefty Servings

1 1/4 - 1 1/2 cups fresh pineapple juice (or use whatever juice you'd like)
2 ripe bananas, peeled
1" piece ginger, peeled and chopped
1 lime, juiced (helps preserve the color and adds a "brightness" to the smoothie)
3-4 kale leaves, torn into pieces (reserve stems*)
2 large collard leaves, torn into pieces (reserve stems*)
3-4 chard or other green leaves, torn into pieces (reserve stems*)
handful well-washed spinach
1 tablespoon ground flax or chia seeds
1/4 cup frozen strawberries or blueberries (optional but good)
6-8 ice cubes

1.  Place the juice in the base of the blender.  Add the leafy greens, the ginger, lime juice, flax and frozen berries.
2.  Blend on high until all of the leaves have blended smooth  - this may take a couple minutes and several scrapings of the blender pitcher.  If you do not have a vita mix (which I shockingly do not yet), a regular blender will work fine, although will not  be silky smooth.  I think it's great though - you know what you're eating.
3.  Once the smoothie is, well, smooth, add the ice and blend for 30 seconds or so until the juice is chilled.  Sample and if too sour, add a touch more juice. 
4.  Delicious and so healthy!

* If you will be juicing the pineapple or other fruit juice yourself, I recommend saving the green stems and juicing them along with the fruit.  A great way to keep waste to a minimum.  And extra healthy. 



Sunday, February 10, 2013

Loaded Baked Potato Soup

This cold and wintry weather we have been having here on the East Coast has really made me crave soups.  I'm the strange kind of person that could always eat soup, even when it's well into the 90's in the heat of the summer.  Not sure why, but I love them.  Usually the brothier the soup the better.  Sometimes though, I find myself craving a thick, hearty soup.  That's usually the kind of soup my Husband loves to eat.  I had the idea for this soup from seeing it at the coop here in Brooklyn, although it was not vegan at all, not even vegetarian.  Definitely full of cream, butter, milk and of course bacon.  I have a great tempeh bacon recipe myself, so I could easily see this soup come together.  And who doesn't love potatoes, bacon (vegan that is) and smoky deliciousness?  So I wrote down everything I think would make this into a delicious thick and hearty soup and went from there.  And it turned out deliciously, with Hubbs eating two full bowls of it!  

Note that this makes quite a bit of soup (3 quarts), so you can either halve the recipe, invite friends over for a soup and salad party or freeze whatever you don't use for a quick dinner later.

Loaded Baked Potato Soup:

So creamy & delicious with those amazing toppings!

Makes 3 Quarts

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2.5 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 quarts vegetable stock
4 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoons chipotle pepper powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups unsweetened soymilk
1/2 cup vegan sour cream
2 tablespoons earth balance

1scallion, chopped
2 tablespoons shredded vegan cheese
2 pieces homemade cooked & chopped tempeh bacon

1.  In a large pot over medium heat add the olive oil and allow it to become hot. 
2.  Once it is hot, add the onions and garlic and cook for several minutes until translucent.
3.  Add the potatoes and all the spices: the salt, smoked paprika, onion and garlic powder, chipotle pepper powder and black pepper.  Toss to coat the potatoes and onions in the spices and allow mixture to cook for a couple minutes. 
4.  Add the vegetable stock and bring to a boil.  Once the ingredients begin to boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are cooked all the way through.
5.  Add the earth balance and sour cream to the pot and allow to melt.  Stir to combine.  Add the unsweetened soymilk and stir. 
6.  In batches, transfer the hot soup to a blender of food processor (be very careful!!).  Place a dry towel over the lid of the machine and blend until completely smooth, but not too long or the potatoes will become gluey.
7.  Return the pureed soup back to a clean pot and bring back up to a simmer.  Season to taste.
8.  To serve, top with the vegan cheese, scallions and tempeh bacon. 
9.  Serve.  That's it!



Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Gluten Free Bread Testing

I have been doing a lot of testing lately.  Mostly vegan, and gluten free about half of the time.  My husband and I are in major crunch time testing for our future cafe.  Our main menu is finished and I am mostly working on the no-fun stuff: business plan, recipe costing, etc.  I am still making time to test ideas for our baked goods section of the cafe - there is still a lot to do there.  It's difficult sometimes to really get into the baking at home though because there is only so small of a batch I can accurately make, and then what to do with the rest of it?  It's just Hubbs and I.  We might eat it for a day or two, but then what?  I've been trying to take it to work the last couple times, but riding a bike to work makes that problematic sometimes.  I'll figure something out in the meantime and take what I can to work.

I have also been working on gf breads lately, which have been challenging, rewarding, frustrating, exciting and many other things.  Making them is soooo unlike making conventional breads, they really almost shouldn't even be called breads - it should be called something much more amazing!  I have had many many failures and several successes.  The only thing I really do not like about gf bread is that it is really amazing only the first day it is baked.  After that it gets dry and is still very good when toasted, but you really can't eat it as happily as you did the day it was baked.  Also refrigerating it is a bad idea because it turns crazilly dry and crumbly.  I'm enjoying the experience and who honestly doesn't like bread?  So, that's a great plus too.  I'm not going to share the recipes yet because I still feel like they are not quite there yet, but I will once I'm very happy with them.  Until then, enjoy some pretty pictures of the last couple batches of bread I've been testing.

Mini Loaf - Adorable!  So delicious warm with earth balance!

Mini Loaf Sliced - Next Time I'll Make Mini Tea Sandwiches!

GIANT Loaf Of GF Multigrain Bread: 2x the Recipe

I Was Surprised by how Beautifully & Easily it Sliced!