Thursday, February 27, 2014

Moro with Gandules, Beet Salad, Fried Yucca & Salad with Chipotle Dressing

I go through periods of really missing NY.  Or at least lots of things about it.  I loved that there was amazing ingredients on every corner to make the Dominican food that makes my hubby so happy.  There are a couple places here that sell a few of these ingredients thankfully, so I can make food that makes him happy (and myself-I have grown to love Dominican food!).  There were a couple items I was able to bring back with me from NY, because I wasn't sure if the ingredients would be here.  One of those was about 15 lb. of yucca (which is loooong gone!) and a couple packages of frozen gandules (pigeon peas).  You can get the dried gandules here, but they are not the same as the fresh-frozen ones.  I opened up our last package for this meal, which makes me sad, but made our bellies oh so happy!  I'll just have to figure out a place where I can get them, either online, or through explorations of other cities than Traverse City.  We've not really had the opportunity to venture outside of this area yet.  I've heard there are several vegan/vegetarian restaurants throughout the state, which I am super excited about exploring!  And hopefully not too far into the future, we will be adding another one!   

Giant plate of food for the Hubbs

Chipotle Dressing:
1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 chipotle in adobo sauce, minced or pureed
pinch black pepper
sea salt to taste
(Mix everything together in a bowl until well combined.  Season to taste.)

Fried Yucca:
2 large yucca, waxy outer peels removed, sliced in half lengthwise and cut into large rings
canola oil to fry
sea salt
granulated garlic

1.  If you are going to prepare everything in the meal, now would be a good time to get started on the rice.  You can also get the beets cooking, because they take the longest amount of time.
2.  The yucca must be cooked by boiling before it can be fried - that's just the nature of the beast.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Carefully place the yucca inside and cook just until is cooked through.  You do not want to overcook it, or it will become water logged and mushy.  Drain the yucca and allow it to cool for at least half an hour, or until it is dry to the touch and cool enough to handle. 
3.  Trim the yucca.  Yucca has a thick stem in the very center - you want to be sure to remove that because it is very unpleasant to bite into, and poses a choking hazard.  Cut the yucca into more manageable pieces.  Sprinkle the yucca all over with the granulated garlic.
4.  Place a thin layer of canola oil into a large saute pan and place over medium-high heat.  Allow the oil to become hot.  Once the oil is hot, carefully add the yucca and allow to cook for a couple minutes per side, or until nicely crispy.  Remove the yucca from the pan and place on a paper towel lined plate.  Immediately sprinkle with sea salt.  Be sure to serve warm.
5.  To serve, place a serving of each of the items on your plate. 



Saturday, February 22, 2014

Vegan Gluten Free Masterpieces Class: October 17, 2011

Just came accross some pictures of a Gluten Free Vegan Masterpieces Class I taught several years ago. About 2 1/2 years ago in fact! Thought I would share them. It was a great class - they all were! I have been blessed with awesome students at NGI!

Cinnamon Swirl Coffeecake

Partially Eaten Coffeecake

Marble Cake with Chocolate Frosting

Pretty Cake!

Another marble cake with chocolate frosting

Pumpkin Spice Pecan Cookies

Cherry Almond Biscotti

Spiced Whoopie Pies

Spiced Whoopie Pies in Action

The beautiful gluten free spread!

A blurry, but tasty sample plate.

Pumpkin Bundt Cake

Hope you enjoyed the pictures!


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Vegetable Shepherd's Pie with Spicy Vegan Chorizo and Mesclen Greens Salad

For the last two weeks I have been trying to follow the idea of writing down all of the dinners I am going to prepare for the week on a white board I have on my refrigerator.  So far I have followed 4 out of the 5 items for the two weeks I have done it.  The other three days of the week I either didn't make a big "meal" for the Hubbs and I or I ate leftovers, and one of the days we ate out (Valentine's!).  I think it is definitely a good idea and something I can manage to stick to if I don't get too crazy and rigid about it.  This was not one of the meal ideas for the week, but after looking through my fridge, I realized I had tons of miscellaneous items that needed using up (half used onions and bell peppers - thanks to the Hubby for doing that) as well as some spicy vegan chorizo I made for breakfast, but didn't finish up.  So was thinking of making a pot pie, but was feeling too lazy to make a crust.  I have been testing tons of recipes the last couple days, and the last thing I feel like doing is following another recipe to make the crust.  I decided on a Shepherd's Pie - easy and very tasty to make.  I was able to clean up the fridge and make room for preparing the rest of the dishes on the white board.
Delicious Shepherd's Pie with Spicy Vegan Chorizo

Shepherd's Pie:

Potato Topping:
4-6 medium red skinned potatoes, washed well and diced
3 tablespoons earth balance
unsweetened soy or almond milk
sea salt and black pepper to taste
granulated garlic or a couple cloves of roasted garlic

1 cup veggie protein - I used spicy vegan chorizo, but could use seasoned tofu, seitan, etc.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 carrot, diced
1 onion, diced
2 stalks celery, small diced
1/2 bell pepper - or whatever vegetables you need to use in the fridge
2 cloves garlic, minced
Nutritional Yeast Gravy
handful organic frozen corn or peas
sea salt and black pepper to taste

1.  Cover the potatoes with cold water and bring to a boil.  Cook till just tender.  Drain.  Put back in pot - add earth balance, desired amount of nondairy milk, sea salt, black pepper and granulated garlic or roasted garlic.  Mash till desired consistency.  Season to taste.
2.  Prepare the filling: have the gravy ready and set aside.
3.  In a large saute pan over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and allow to become hot.  Add the veggies: the carrot, onion, celery and bell pepper.  Cook for several minutes until the veggies begin to brown.  Add the garlic and cook for a couple minutes. 
4.  Place the veggies in a large bowl.  Add the veggie protein and enough gravy to cover the mixture.  Stir in frozen peas or corn if desired.  Season with sea salt and black pepper.
5.  Oil a glass pie plate or baking dish.  Place the veggie-gravy mix into dish and smooth out with a spatula.  Top with the mashed potatoes and bake in a 375 degree oven for about 35 minutes, or until the potatoes are golden and the filling is bubbly.




Saturday, February 15, 2014

Pasta with a Creamy Sauce, Spicy Vegan Chicken, Green Salad

Hope everyone had a nice Valentine's Day.  I definitely did.  I worked in the morning, preparing fun and beautiful pink vegan baked goods.  Then ran around doing errands, bought Hubbs some last minute V-Day gifts and figuring out a place for us to have dinner.  Yes, I know I am super last minute.  Hubbs decided that since he is usually the one that decides where we're going and what we're doing, that I would be in charge of where we went for V-Day.  I checked into a couple places but wasn't super into their menu.  Don't get me wrong - several places had specifically vegan options listed on their Valentine's Day Menu which I could have chosen from, right alongside fois gras.  Um, yuck and no thanks.  So I looked, but not really super interestedly.  I found a place in the afternoon and while browsing on Facebook, found out that one of my old high school classmates was going to be playing live at a bar downtown, and being as I've recently discovered that I love the live music scene here, we decided to check it out.  I wasn't super into the style of the music - all covers - but the group was very talented.  I ended up running into another classmate and got caught up with his life (which is funny, because he was one of the most popular kids when we were in school, and we've never actually even spoken before).  Then off to dinner with my Hubbs.  A great night!  And now some simple, tasty food.
Pasta with a tasty creamy sauce, crispy vegan chicken.  Yum!

Serves 2-3

8 oz. fettuccini, broken in half, cooked until al dente

2 vegan breaded frozen spicky chicken patties

Creamy Sauce:
3 tablespoons earth balance
4 tablespoons unbleached flour
3-4 cups unsweetened almond milk
sea salt and black pepper to taste
1 1/2 tablespoons unchicken boullion
1 teaspoon dried parsley

Green Salad:
1 small head romaine lettuce
1 carrot, shredded
desired dressing

1.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Place the frozen "chicken" patties on a baking tray and place in the oven.  Bake for about 20 minutes, turning halfway through, or until the patties are crispy and firm.  You could certainly also cook them in a small amount of oil until crispy.
2.  While the patties are baking, prepare the creamy sauce.  In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, add the earth balance and allow it to melt.  Once it is melted, add the flour and whisk to combine.  Keep whisking this mixture for severeal minutes, until golden and the flour no longer smells raw.  Add all of the milk at once, immediately whisking until a smooth sauce forms.  It will be very thin at this point.  Add the black pepper, boullion powder and parsley.  Whisk together.  Continue whisking periodically until the sauce has thickened.  Season to taste, adding salt if desired.  Keep warm.
3.  Prepare the green salad:  in a medium bowl, add all of the ingredients, including the dressing, and toss to coat.  
4.  Once the chicken patties are fully cooked, chop into bite sized pieces.
5.  To serve, place a portion of the pasta on your plate, followed by a helping of the creamy sauce and several pieces of the chopped baked chicken patties.  Serve a portion of the salad on the side.


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Valentine's Day Goodies: Gluten Free, Soy Free Sugar Cookies

Happy Valentine's (a day early!).  And happy b-day to my baby brother, who is turning 23 today.  So young!

For this Valentine's Day I am going to be posting one recipe, even though there are many, many amazingly delicious goodies that I have baked for this holiday in the past.  It's funny to me how so many people are against Valentine's, saying it's a holiday manufactured by the greeting card companies to make money.  I was definitely one of those people before I got married.  That does not mean, however, that I go all out for Valentine's Day, but that I definitely appreciate it more now.  It gives me an excuse (not that I need one at all!) to make tasty heart shaped goodies, spend quality time with my Hubby and to take the time to tell him how much I really appreciate him. 

Gluten Free, Soy Free Sugar Cookies:

I am Adorable!  And Delicious!  And Gluten Free!!

Yields: 2 dozen cookies

1 cup earth balance
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup organi cane sugar
2 tablespoons flax eggs (mix 1/3 cup ground flax seeds with 2/3 cup water in a jar and shake until combined and measure 2 tablespoons)

2 1/2 cups finely ground white rice flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line two baking trays with parchment paper and set aside until ready to use.
2.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the earth balance and vanilla extract and whip until soft and fluffy.  (If you don't have a stand mixer, you can use a hand mixer or if you also don't have a hand mixer, use some elbow grease to whip it together.)
3.  Add the sugar and flax eggs to the softened earth balance and continue whipping until the sugar has mostly dissolved.  Add all of the dry ingredients: the white rice flour, baking powder, xanthan gum and (optional) nutmeg.  Whip until the batter just comes together. 
4.  Lightly flour your work surface with additional rice flour and place the ball of dough in the center.  Sprinkle with a small amount of flour and using a rolling pin, roll out the dough to your desired thickness (some people like a crispy sugar cookie, some like a doughy cookie - I like something in the middle.)  Just be sure that the whole rolled-out cookie dough is the same thickness.
5.  Using a heart shaped cookie cutter, cut out hearts and place on the parchment lined sheet trays.  These do not spread, so they can go pretty close to one another on the trays.  Bake 8-12 minutes, depending upon the thickness, and your preference for doughy or crispy cookies. 
6.  Allow the cookies to cool for several minutes before removing them to cool the rest of the way on a cooling rack. 
7.  Eat as is or prepare a simple vegan buttercream tinted with natural food coloring and spread on top of each cookie.  Yum!

Red Velvet Cupcakes Sprinkled with Red Sugar!

Gluten Free Sugar Cookie Hearts

Gluten Free, Soy Free Sugar Cookie Hearts

So Adorable!

Pink & Reds, Not Black & Whites!

Vanilla Raspberry Cupcakes with Vegan Cream
Cheese Icing & Pink Stars




Saturday, February 8, 2014

Testing Recipes: Country Fried Seitan Caesar Salad & Smoked Tofu Sandwich

Now that Hubbs and I have broken our fast and gotten back into eating (yay!), I have been testing recipes maniacally.  Even if it means I only take a small bite of whatever it is.  I am definitely staying away from more refined sugars and trying to use more local maple syrup and agave as sweeteners, plus dates, when that works for the recipe.  I am also trying not to eat anything fried, or at least a very small portion.  Just really trying to keep things healthier. 
I was going through a bunch of photos and recipes I have saved as drafts for this blog and have found a ton that need finishing, which I will publish soon.  It's funny how many of them have fried foods and tons of carbs.  I'm not saying that's bad - it's damn tasty, but just how different it is from how I'm trying to eat now.  I also found a ton of photos of recipes I've tested over the years, especially gluten free.  I'm going to do a post soon with all the pictures of the gluten free items I've tested but don't necessarily have a recipe for.  It either got lost along the way or wasn't exactly great, but the pictures are always fun to look at. 
Here's two recipes I've been working on over the last several days.  One is for a Seitan Caesar Salad and the other for a Smoked Tofu Sandwich.  I liked the Caesar, I just wasn't crazy for the dressing.  I have researched and made tons of vegan Caesar-type dressings, but none of them have been nearly as tasty as I recall a "true" Caesar dressing tasting.  So I've still got to work on that.  The Smoked Tofu Sandwich tasted great, but was too hard to eat with that bread.  It was a locally made organic baguette that was just too crispy and hard to eat.  I ended up with a sore mouth afterwards!  But definitely easy to fix - I'll have to find another, less crispy local baguette and problem solved!  Testing these both another time, but that's the fun part, right?! We'll get to sample them all over again!

Vegan Caesar Salad with Country Fried Seitan

Smoked Tofu Baguette on Local, Organic Baguette

Closer view on that beautiful sandwich!



Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Breaking our Fast!

Our juice fast is officially over!  Yay!  The fast was great and I think I can speak for both my husband and I that we are so glad we did the fast, and also so glad it is finished.  I feel so much better - so much energy and so light!  Of course I lost some weight (10 lbs.), but like I said beforehand, that is not the main reason I did the fast.  Of course immediately after I broke the fast I gained several pounds back, which I again lost and stayed away (thank goodness).  I wanted to come out of the fast with a greater appreciation for health supportive foods and not give in as much to the "bad" foods.  I also want to continue working out with my hubby and just overall become healthier.  So far, hubbs and I have been eating very healthfully (although he did admit he had some ice cream - brat!).
I've decided to get back into making a tentative schedule of our meals for the week and post them on our white board on the fridge, so that I can be more organized with our shopping and making sure that we get in enough greens and other vegetables.  We also have one of what I am sure is the biggest organic pantries ever.  Since I used to work in a coop and the Hubby currently does, we are blessed to be the recipients of the "shrink" coming from the bulk departments.  In the case of a coop, the shrink is simply the bags of items customers take and label, then decide against purchasing.  You cannot put the bags of brown rice, beans, nuts, seeds, etc. back in the bins after a customer has handled them, but it's not a good idea to just throw it away.  So the employees split up whatever is left over and get to take it home.  Now I have to find tasty uses for all of the ingredients, which is a fun and challenging undertaking.
This is what I have tentatively decided to make for the week:
Monday: Vegetable Tofu Stir Fry over Brown Rice
Tuesday: Taco Tuesday with all the veggie trimmings
Wednesday: Lentil and Quinoa Spiced Loaf with Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Green Salad
Thursday: Vegetable and Mock Seafood Enchiladas with an Almond Bechamel, Green Beans frozen from our garden
Friday: Southwest Quinoa and Black Bean Bake, Garlic Broccoli
Saturday: Steamed Veggies over Gluten Free Brown Rice Pasta with a Spicy Peanut Sauce
Sunday not sure - hubbs and I are off together, so we'll see what is easy and quick!
What are you guys making for dinner? Ever plan on what you're making for the week?

The first meal we broke our fast with:
Organic Mixed Greens with tons of fresh veggies

Second post-fast meal: Organic Red & White Quinoa, Chickpeas
& Raw Zucchini Slices mixed with Fresh Pico de Gallo