Friday, September 20, 2013

Homemade Green Juice

It's funny that a couple days before Hubbs and I moved away from NY, both our juicer and blender broke.  Problems with the motors on both.  The juicer motor had been on its way out for months admittedly, but the blender came as a surprise to me.  After spending a ton of money on the move and relocating, we would have absolutely loved to continue juicing or blending green smoothies as soon as we arrived in Michigan, but we had neither tools, and couldn't really afford to purchase both items.  So we didn't drink either for weeks.  We had a family reunion soon after arriving and one of my aunts discovered that my grandmother (the one that passed away in February) had one at home and was willing to donate it for Hubbs and I to use.  A very kind gift!  As soon as we brought it home and washed it down, we made a giant, never-ending green juice and chugged huge glasses of it.  It sure hit the spot!  The recipe below makes quite a bit - about 2 quarts, so you can definitely halve it, but it was damn refreshing, something the whole family was able to enjoy!

Homemade Green Juice:

So vibrant and delicious!

Yields: about 2 quarts

2 cucumbers, quartered
4 stalks celery
4 apples, quartered
2" piece ginger, washed well, unpeeled
1 lemon or lime, washed well, unpeeled
1 bunch kale
1/2-2/3 bunch spinach
1/2 bunch dandelion greens or chard

1.  Push each of the fruits and vegetables through the juicer, using a juicy item, followed by a leafy vegetable, then another juicy fruit/vegetable so as not to overwhelm the motor.
2.  Once everything has been juiced, stir it well in a large container until well combined.  Adjust vegetables or fruit to your taste preference.  (We make enough to have a couple jars extra that we drink in the morning before work.)



Monday, September 16, 2013

First Vegan Meal with the Family in Michigan

My Aunt Nancy came over for lunch a couple weeks ago and brought a vegan lasagna with her.  Even for her, super health oriented, this is the first vegan lasagna she ever made.  Which is funny, because way back when, she was the first person to introduce me to tofu, and most likely, inadvertently started my journey into eating plant-based foods.  Love that woman!  We also had several things ready from the garden and decided to use those to our advantage, so I made pesto with basil from the garden as well as the veggies in the mixed green salad from the garden.  My Aunt expressed an interest in being shown how kale is made as a side dish, so I waited until she got to our house to show her how I make it.  Since showing her, she has already made it at her house!  She loved the meal, as did my mom, which I must honestly say I was shocked about.  Before I left for NYC, my mom was notoriously unwilling to try new things.  But since I have moved back, she has tried many new things and said that I am a pretty great cook now.  Hubby ate and so did one of my nieces, who also enjoyed the lasagna, but wasn't a fan of really anything else.  At least she tried everything!  Can't wait to have more opportunities to share these meals with my family!

Vegetable Lasagna, Fried Eggplant from the garden, Garlic Sesame Kale,
Pesto Pasta with basil from the garden, mixed green salad with
cucumbers from the garden.



Monday, September 9, 2013

Creamy Pasta Salad with Veggies from the Garden

We have been having a ridiculous amount of veggies coming out of the garden lately.  And because my mom spent so much time putting the garden together (all because of Hubbs and I - she hasn't had a garden since I've been away from home), it makes sense that I am the person picking the produce from the garden and trying to come up with creative ways to use up all of the ingredients.  The idea of throwing anything away because I have not been able to come up with something to use it for or didn't get to it in time is kind of nauseating.  So with the cherry tomatoes and bell peppers from the garden, as well as kalamata olives, carrots and local celery and scallions that I picked up from my local coop, I made this tasty pasta salad.  My mom is a huge fan of pasta salad, albeit the one with just celery and mayo, and surprisingly thoroughly enjoyed this one.  She loves tomatoes - she will eat the roma tomatoes from the garden like apples, so she loved the cherry tomato addition.  She was surprised at the flavor of the olives - I think she's only ever had those gross canned black olives.  And she is already a fan of edamame (thanks Aunt Nancy!), although she had no idea what they were called.  So try this pasta salad, or use it as a base and add in your own favorites/preferences.  It is delicious and I have actually already made it again, this time with lots of fresh cracked black pepper.  Crazy good!

Creamy Pasta Salad with Veggies from the Garden:

Creamy, delicious pasta with fresh veggies.  Yum!

Creamy Pasta Salad:

Serves: about 6

1-16 oz. package pasta (I used elbows)
2/3 -1 cup vegan mayo
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 green bell pepper, diced
1/3 cup sliced kalamata olives
2/3 cup shelled edamame, blanched
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and shredded
sea salt and black pepper to taste

1.  Cook the pasta in salted, oiled boiling water until just tender.  Drain and rinse under cold running water.
2.  In a small pot with boiling water, cook the edamame until just tender.  (Be sure to check your package to see if the edamame is already cooked or needs to be simmered first.)  Drain the edamame and run under cold water.
3.  Toss the pasta, edamame and remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix until completely combined.  Season to taste with sea salt and black pepper.

Tomatoes and green bell pepper from the garden.



Saturday, September 7, 2013

Homemade Pizza with White Sauce, Tomatoes and Fresh Basil

When Hubbs and I left NY, we had to use up all of the ingredients in our small chest freezer and two refrigerators (yes, two refrigerators in our Brooklyn apartment!).  Once we made it to Michigan and began cooking, we had to start all the way over from scratch.  Oh, there were a few things we couldn't use up and were fortunately able to take with us, like a couple containers of earth balance, a few packages of daiya vegan cheese and several containers of vinegar, etc.  But nothing that was ready to eat.  Once we plugged in our refrigerator and freezer, it was kind of frightening to see how empty everything was.  I mean completely empty.  I should have taken a picture of it, because it was pretty crazy. 

When we were in NY, we always had several meals already cooked and frozen in single or double servings for those days when we just didn't feel like cooking or were just too busy.  We also had homemade pizza dough frozen in ziploc baggies, seasonings frozen in ice cube trays, etc.  So it is definitely time to start using our freezer again.  Hubby decided that he wanted pizza, and instead of having some pizza dough pre-made, I had to make it for his dinner, and took advantage of needing the dough so I quadrupled the recipe.  Yes, I made 4x the recipe, which seems completely crazy, but man did it feel good to put all of those baggies of made pizza dough in that empty freezer!  I'm also planning on filling that freezer with homemade marinara sauce from all of those tomatoes continuously coming out of the garden, plus pesto from our basil, and hopefully more tasty dishes.  But at least if there is nothing that comes to mind food-wise, we'll definitely have pizza to fall back on!

Homemade Pizza with White Sauce, Tomatoes and Basil:

 Super Tasty, Creamy Sauce with Fresh Tomatoes and Basil

Pizza Dough:

Yields 2 Pizzas

1 1/2 cups warm water
1 teaspoon organic sugar
1 envelope yeast

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 1/2- 4 cups unbleached all purpose flour

Pizza Toppings I Used:
White Sauce
Daiya Cheese
Fresh Roma Tomatoes
Fresh Chopped Onions
Fresh Basil, Chiffonnaded

1.  In a medium mixing bowl, add the warm water,  organic sugar and yeast.  Whisk together until combined.  Allow the mixture to sit for 5 minutes, or until it becomes bubbly.  If It does not bubble up, the yeast is most likely dead, so begin again with some fresh yeast.
2.  Add the olive oil and whisk to combine.
3.  Add the 3 1/2 cups of flour in increments of 1/2 cups.  Mix with a wooden spoon until the dough begins to come together and is no longer easy to mix with the spoon.
4.  Liberally flour a clean surface to knead the dough until it becomes elastic and is no longer sticky.  Add more flour as necessary to achieve the right texture.
5.  Place the dough ball back into the same bowl used for mixing, drizzling a couple tablespoons of olive oil into it first.
6.  Cover the bowl with a clean towel or a sheet of plastic and place the bowl in a warm place to double in size.
7.  Once the dough has doubled in size, it is ready to use.  Punch it down and press it into the desired pizza pan.  Place desired toppings on pizza.  I baked ours at 375 degrees for about 25 minutes.  (Hubbs and I don't like super crispy crusts - this yields a softer crust.)



Thursday, September 5, 2013

Refined Sugar Free Pear Berry Crisp with Almond Milk Ice Cream

The last few days here in Michigan have been feeling less and less like summer, much to my sadness.  I still have Brooklyn's weather info on my phone, so I have been torturing myself with seeing the beautiful (most of the time) much warmer weather.  Sigh.  It can still be warm in the evening, not making me want to turn the oven on too much, but I bought these gorgeous pears from the farmer's market last Saturday and wanted to use them up before they became too soft.  My mom also has some wild blueberries (that she and my dad picked themselves) and some garden-picked raspberries in her freezer, so this seemed like the perfect thing to make.  Add in some delicious almond milk ice cream I found at the local coop on sale, and a perfect, not too sweet dessert comes into play!

I really like that this dessert is not too sweet, because the ice cream ended up being pretty sweet on its own, so it was a great contrast.  I think next time I will add a little more starch or maybe even a tablespoon or two of the unbleached flour to thicken it up.  Either way, it was tasty and hit the spot.  Mom even liked it, which surprised me, because she is a sweets-aholic!  Also a chocoholic.  Kind of disturbingly so, actually.  I didn't get that gene, but no worries, I love all kinds of other sweets!  So make this and enjoy it as a nice, refined sugar free treat in these still warm evenings.

Refined Sugar Free Pear Berry Crisp:

Warm Pear Berry Crisp with Almond Milk Ice Cream

Fruit Part of Crisp:
1 cup apple juice
juice of 1/2 lemon
4 pears, peeled, cored and diced
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch sea salt
2 1/2 tablespoons tapioca starch
1 cup raspberries
1/2 cup blueberries

Crumb Topping:
1 cup unbleached wheat flour
1 cup rolled oats
pinch nutmeg
pinch cinnamon
pinch sea salt
4 tablespoons maple syrup
4 tablespoons apple juice
3 tablespoons melted, refined coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly oil an 8x8" baking pan with spray oil and set aside until ready to use.
2.  In a medium sized pot, combine the pears, apple juice, lemon juice, vanilla extract, sea salt and tapioca starch.  Stir together very well until completely combined.
3.  Place over medium heat and stir continuously until the mixture thickens considerably.  Add the blueberries and raspberries and mix into the warm fruit syrup.  Place it into the prepared baking dish.
4.  In a medium baking bowl, add the dry ingredients of the crumb topping: the unbleached flour, rolled oats, nutmeg, cinnamon and sea salt.  Mix together well.
5.  Into the same bowl, add the wet ingredients: the maple syrup, apple juice, refined coconut oil, vanilla and almond extract.  Mix together dry and wet ingredients with your hands until the mixture becomes a nice crumbly topping. 
6.  Crumble the topping onto the prepared fruit mixture into the baking dish.  Be sure to cover as much of the fruit as possible.
7.  Bake at 350 for 35-45 minutes, or until the fruit and topping are cooked through.

The Crisp fresh out of the oven

8.  Try to wait at least 5-10 minutes to scoop up a portion of the crisp, top it with some delicious almond milk ice cream, or whatever kind of non-dairy ice cream you prefer. 

Warm bowl of deliciously lightly sweetened Crisp.



Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Last Hurrah in NYC with my Besties

Two days before I moved, I was very fortunate to have a last amazing, delicious vegan lunch and dinner with two of my besties, Kumiko and Eileen.  I have had the pleasure of knowing these beautiful, intelligent women for over  five years, and even though we were not always able to get together because of the ridiculously busy NY lifestyle, whenever we were able to get together, we had a blast.  And we would always be eating the tastiest vegan food!   Kumiko took me to a very classy, expensive Japanese restaurant in Manhattan called Kajitsu, which was "on her husband" - meaning we could spend as much as we wanted (love those two!).  We ate an amazing, gourmet meal.  It was such a different culinary experience for me, but also such a blast.  It is a kind of restaurant Kumiko has never been to.  She says that even Japanese people only go to a restaurant like that one or twice in their lives, so I was honored to share the experience with her.

After we ate, we walked around and around and around Manhattan, with me soaking up every little detail and trying to memorize everything.  We went to May Wah on Hester Street in Chinatown - the first time for Kumiko and likely the last time in a while for me (sad sad!).  I got a couple things that will hopefully last me a couple months into living in my new city and remind me of the city I'm leaving behind.  We parted ways very sadly, but with both of us promising to visit each other.

I had dinner with Eileen at Peacefood Cafe - Union Square.  Dinner was tasty, but not exactly picture-worthy, and we were too busy blabbing and blabbing to take the time out.  The cafe was mad busy and we had a great time.  It wasn't as homemade oriented as Kajitsu, but definitely tasty and a nice send off.  Enjoy the pictures of my last vegan meal in NYC.  I'll bring my awesome vegan tasty treats with me to Michigan and introduce everyone here to the tastiness!

Tomato and Bell Pepper "Tofu" in a delicious broth with
Basil Tempura.

All of the tastiness together - with Miso Tofu Skin Soup, Rice, etc.

The entree: zucchini in a yuzu broth with all kinds of delicious,
unfamiliar ingredients and herbs.    

Dessert: Mochi with Adzuki Bean Filling. Tasty!

The dessert out of the banana leaf.  Served with super strong
Green Matcha Tea.

We walked around and found a gf bakery. 
Not too impressed, sorry to say.

Blueberry Muffin, Spinach Sundried Tomato Muffin,
Vanilla Cupcake, Date Crumb Bar - all gf



Tuesday, September 3, 2013

I've Officially Moved to Michigan!

Hello everyone!  After quite a while away, I'm back!  I survived the huge, long move to Michigan and am trying to get settled into life here, although it has admittedly been more difficult than I was expecting.  We have officially been back for about three weeks and these past few weeks have definitely been full - no time left to sit around.  My mom took off several days from work and was running us around like maniacs.  Have I mentioned that we now have to purchase and drive vehicles to get to where we want to go to on a daily basis?  No mass transit?  This is the strangest feeling and such a transition!

I feel like I should be working right now, not sitting in my parents' quiet, massive house on the computer.  It is beautiful out right now and so damn quiet!  I should go do some laundry to hang on the clothes line out back or go explore the garden some more. See if there are any veggies ready to be picked.  Hmmm.  Or maybe I'll just sit out in the sun for a little bit.  I've already got more color in these past few weeks than I have in the last 6 years living in NYC!  I've got to try to chill out and enjoy the peace while it lasts!

And after taking my own advice and going through the garden, I discovered these:

After moving from NY, this is the biggest blessing I have
experienced in a long time - picking my own food and eating it.

And I made a delicious tofu scramble for breakfast, which I did not take a picture of, because Hubby started inhaling it before it was even set completely in front of him!  Love this fresh food and beautiful weather!

Until next time,