Thursday, March 27, 2014

Homemade Vegetable Stock

I have been making homemade vegetable stock for years.  Years and years actually.  I've gone through different systems of making the stock with varying degrees of success, but I've perfected the stock over my years of living in New York in all kinds of tiny kitchens and spaces.  The best method that I have come up with by far is freezing all of my vegetable scraps in a gallon Ziploc bag and placing it in the upright freezer on top of our refrigerator in our tiny kitchen.  Whenever the bag would get completely full, I would toss it all in a large pot and make stock.  Then I would use whatever stock I needed that day and freeze the rest of it in pint and quart deli containers.  Several food blogs that I follow have suggested freezing in glass jars, but I have never had success, even when waiting for the food/liquids to cool completely, then sitting in the refrigerator for a couple hours and cooling it even more before putting it in the freezer.  I have had too many jars break on me to want to try it again.  So I have been storing it in deli containers and it has been working very well.  It's also super convenient. 
Veg Stock ready to go in the fridge and freezer
There is nothing better than making homemade vegetable stock.  It is super easy, costs almost nothing and gives tons of flavor and extra nutrients to your soups, sauces, stews, etc.  I also love that you have complete control of what goes in, how you prepare it, and therefore the end result.  There are no unnecessary added ingredients.  And if you are organized about it, you can make different kinds of stock for different purposes.  Several kinds I have made before include:
1.  Roasted Onion Stock for French Onion SoupKeep the onion ends, papers and outer layer of skins separate.  If I remember, I throw the ends of garlic in there as well - frozen of course.  Once I have a good amount, I roast the contents of the bag with some peppercorns until golden and dark.  Then I will simmer that mixture until fragrant and use it to make my delicious, super tasty soup.  Yum!
2.  Mushroom Stock:  I save all of the stems of the mushrooms I cook with and place them separately in a Ziploc bag in the freezer.  Once it's full, I'll simmer the stems along with a couple dried shiitake mushrooms, black peppercorns, dried thyme (or be even thriftier by freezing the stems from fresh thyme in the same bag with the mushroom stems).  Use the stock to make a killer Green Bean Casserole for Thanksgiving, a crazy flavorful mushroom soup or a delicious sauce to go with tempeh, tofu or seitan.
3.  Roasted Vegetable Stock:  Instead of placing the frozen veggies directly into the pot and covering with water, roast for 30 minutes or so at 400 degrees, then simmer.  Add a handful of lentils, black peppercorns and bay leaves for extra deliciousness.  Then use this tasty stock for more strongly flavored soups or a seitan pot roast or something equally amazing!

Frozen veggies in the pot, getting ready for some filtered water

Suggested Veggies:

Onion ends and peels (get rid of the papery outer-skins: they will make the stock bitter)
Carrots peels and ends
Garlic ends
Celery ends and leaves
Mushroom stems
Parsley Stems
Fresh thyme stems
Tomato cores and ends

Veg Stock Working

Homemade Veggie Stock:

Yields: 1 Gallon Stock

1.  Take the contents of the gallon Ziploc bag and place it in a large pot. Cover with at least 1-1 1/2 gallons of filtered water. Add several black pepper corns, a couple bay leaves and dried thyme if you would like. 

2.  Bring the contents to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.  Simmer for 45-60 minutes, or as desired.  The longer the stock simmers, the darker in color and stronger in flavor it will be. 

3.  Allow the veggies to sit in the cooking liquid for about 10-15 additional minutes, or until the stock is more manageable to handle (temperature-wise). 

4.  Strain the veggies out of the stock, pressing to release as much liquid as possible.  Discard the stock veggies - preferably in a compost pile. 

5.  Cool the stock, package and be sure to date clearly.   Don't fill the containers completely full or they may explode in the freezer  - the liquid expands as it freezes. 

Labeled and frozen!
I've been doing this for years!
(And don't worry this picture was taken years ago & the stock long since used up.)

Fresh veggie scraps getting ready to go in the freezer.

Now save those organic veggie scraps and make your own homemade stock!



Sunday, March 23, 2014

Savory Chickpea Pancake

I found this beautiful looking recipe from the OhSheGlows blog.  It looked so interesting, and I am always trying to find different kinds of recipes to make for breakfast to keep things interesting.  When I tried this the first time, I was surprised by how different it was, but in a good way.  Tasty.  It definitely needed some more spices, and when I made it a second time, it came out great!  This was from the second time I made it - one for Hubbs and one for myself.  Sometimes he is really good about allowing me to take pictures the food I make and sometimes he is pretty impatient and just wants to dig right in.  This was one of those days.  And most of the time I give him the prettier of the dishes.  So his of course was beautiful and I was left to take a picture of the funky looking one. ;(  It was equally delicious though!  Take a look at the one Angela makes on her blog and see what is should really look like!

The cooked chickpea pancake.  Sad looking, but so delicious!

One side cooked, waiting to flip!

Savory Chickpea Pancake

Serves: 1

1/2 cup chickpea flour
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
pinch red pepper flakes
1/2 cup filtered water
1/2 teaspoon unchicken boullion
1 green onion, sliced
1/4 cup red pepper, small diced
1/4 cup roma tomato, small diced

1.  Place the chickpea flour, nutritional yeast, baking powder, garlic powder, black pepper and red pepper flakes in a medium bowl and whisk to combine. 
2.  Add the filtered water and the unchicken boullion and whisk together for several seconds.
3.  Add the veggies and unchicken/water mixture to the dry ingredients.  Whisk together until a medium-thick batter forms.
4.  Place a medium sized saute pan over medium-low heat and allow the pan to heat.  Spray pan with nonstick spray and pour the batter into the pan.  Cook for 4-5 minutes, or until the top dries out and is able to be flipped over.
5. Flip pancake over and cook an additional 3-4 minutes.

Garnish with hummus, avocado and sriracha.



Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Vegan Breakfast Sandwich: Tofu Egg Hollandaise

It is definitely no secret now that my Hubby and I plan to open our own vegan cafe here in Michigan.  We are working hard on it everyday it seems like.  In theory it doesn't seem so hard or involved - people open restaurants and other food businesses everyday.  But do they do it well?  Do they open simply because they like to eat?  Or because they see themselves as good cooks?  It definitely takes more than that to open a food establishment!  I have known since I was a teenager that I wanted to open up my own place.  It has certainly evolved over the years in regards to the theme.  I didn't always want to open up something vegan.  But I definitely know what I want now and have been working so hard over the last 10+ years to build experience and make it happen. 
I test recipes pretty much everyday.  Some days that means baking and decorating like 6 whole cakes, 10 different kinds of cookies, 5 different sandwiches, etc.  Some days that means only testing a smoothie or soup recipe.  Some are very involved, some are pretty simple and straightforward.  This is a recipe I tested recently.  As simple as it may look, it took quite a bit of time because each component was homemade.  And it was very tasty.  Hubbs and I had our own critiques, but both thought it was a great idea and definitely warranted further testing.  After I finish this post, it's time to work on the business some more.  Phew!  A lot of work, but it is going to be so worth it once we are open!  Can't wait!!

Crazy delicious!  And awesomely messy!
On a fresh baked vegan biscuit.

Fresh Baked Biscuit - it ended up being a bit too big for the sandwich.

Biscuit cut in half  - it looks so fresh!
And a juicy sliced tomato.

Tofu Egg cooking.

Almost done - just needs the sauce!  So pretty!

Hope you enjoyed the pics of the tasty sandwich!


Monday, March 17, 2014

Mostly Raw Pad Thai

I love the blog Oh She Glows!  I visit it several times a week and love looking at all of the gorgeous photos of tasty vegan food.  Everything Angela makes always looks so beautiful and healthy.  It makes vegan food really approachable and showcases how delicious it is, which I absolutely love.  I have made many of the savory recipes and a couple baked goods from her blog -they've turned out well.  I periodically go on the website and browse through the pictures, saving the ones that look especially delicious, telling myself that of course I'm going to make all the recipes.  When I saw the Rad Rainbow Pad Thai recipe, it was just so beautiful and I knew I had to make it.  Super healthy, light and gorgeous - I just made it.  And it was great.  I made a tasty peanut sauce to go with it and ate it for a couple days - giant bowls of it!  It really did make quite a lot.  So, after a couple days, there was still quite a bit of it and I was a little tired of eating it raw, so I decided to simply saute it in a little bit of olive oil, add a splash of tamari - and it turned out so delicious!  Yum! 

A tasty plate of the Pad Thai.  Before topping with the peanut sauce.

I made my mostly raw Pad Thai a little different than Angela, just based on the fresh veggies I had in my refrigerator.  I'm not huge on raw zucchini, so I only used a super small one and added more cabbage.  I felt in the mood to use my knife skills so I chopped and julienned everything by hand.  It took a while, but was very rewarding and very tasty! 

It really made a lot!

Mostly Raw Pad Thai:

Serves: 4-6

1/2  head green cabbage, julienned
1 carrot, julienned
1 small zucchini, julienned
1 red bell pepper, julienned
4 scallions, sliced on the diagonal
3/4 cup shelled edamame, steamed
2 tablespoons raw sesame seeds

Spicy Peanut Sauce:
2/3 c. smooth organic peanut butter
1/4 - 1/3 cup filtered water to thin out, or as needed
3 tablespoons maple syrup or agave
2 tablespoons tamari
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2" piece ginger, peeled and minced
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon sriracha

1.  Prepare the Pad Thai: place all of the prepped veggies in a large bowl, along with the edamame and sesame seeds.  Toss well to mix.  Set aside.
2.  Prepare the peanut sauce: place all of the ingredients for the sauce in a medium sized mixing bowl and whisk like crazy until everything is well combined.  Season to taste, adding more sweetener or tamari as desired.
3.  To serve, place a giant portion of the Pad Thai on a plate and drizzle with desired amount of spicy peanut sauce. 

So good! Hubbs loves anything with peanut sauce on it.  He was doubtful about eating this because he didn't think it would be substantial enough to keep him full.  He ended up really liking it - and used about half of the sauce on his portion!



Saturday, March 15, 2014

Green Dinner: Gluten Free Pesto Pasta, Garlic Broccoli & Simple Green Salad

Finally went shopping.  Yay fresh veggies!  Hubby was helping me bring in the groceries and hung out with me while I was putting everything away.  He had insisted we purchase some beer and went to put it in the freezer  to chill it down quickly.  Imagine his surprise when he couldn't fit even one bottle in the freezer.  Oops!  I am a huge proponent of not throwing things away, so when I make a big batch of soup of a big batch of some other kind of meal, I don't like to throw any of it away, so I put it in a deli container, label it and freeze it.  It makes for some really easy, quick meals down the road too.  So he asked me to try to use up a couple things so his cervezas could chill.  Out came the last couple packages of pesto I made with the basil from our garden last summer.  It turned out great, because then I knew exactly what I was making for dinner.  Yummy pesto pasta!  I have been craving broccoli for a while so I decided to make that and a super simple green salad.  It was a nice tasty meal, not too heavy, and Hubbs was happy about his nice, cold cervezas!
Tasty GF Pesto Pasta and Fresh Veggies!
Serves: 2, with a little extra for leftovers
8 oz. desired pasta - I used Trader Joe's GF Brown Rice Penne Pasta
Yields: 2 1/2 cups (use what you need and freeze the rest)
1 1/2 cups toasted walnuts
3/4 cup olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons white miso
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
8 oz. basil, rinsed and spun very well

Extra Virgin Olive Oil, for drizzling
Garlic Broccoli
1 bunch broccoli, separated into florets, stems peeled and diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
sea salt and black pepper to taste
1.  Prepare the pesto sauce.   Toast the walnuts and allow to cool.  Place in the bowl of a food processor along with the following: olive oil, garlic, miso, sea salt and black pepper.  Blend until relatively smooth.  Add in the basil and blend until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl several times.  Set aside until ready to use.
2.  Prepare the pasta.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Cook the pasta according to package directions.  Drain the pasta, but keep the water in the pot.
3.  Briefly blanch the broccoli until it is tender-crisp. 
4.  Saute the garlic in the olive oil until crispy.  Toss with the cooked broccoli.  Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.  Mix well. 
5.  Toss desired amount of pesto with the pasta.  Drizzle with a small amount of olive oil.  Serve with the broccoli and a simple green salad.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Potatoes and Broccoli in a Creamy Sauce

This is a recipe I made using up the last of the ingredients I had in the fridge to tide us over until we were able to schedule a time to go shopping.  I just took what I had and came up with a simple, hearty, comforting dish and it came out really tasty.  Reminds me of the peas and potatoes my mom used to make for us when we were kids, that her mother used to make for her children as a way to make an inexpensive meal stretch out to feed many.  It always makes me happy to be eating meals similar to those my grandmother served her children during those difficult times.  Shopping sometime soon and then more creative and fun meals coming up!

Hearty and Comforting

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow onion, small diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons superfine brown rice flour 
4 cups unsweetened almond milk
4 large potatoes, peeled and diced
1 head broccoli, cut into small florets, stems peeled and diced
1 red bell pepper, medium diced. or other vegetable
1.  Place the potatoes in a medium pot and cover with cold water.  Cook until the potatoes are just tender.  Add the broccoli and red bell pepper into the same pot and cook for about a minute, or until tender-crisp.
2.  Meanwhile, in a large pot over medium heat add the olive oil.  Allow it to become hot.  Add the onion and garlic.  Saute for about 5 minutes, until lightly browned.  Add the brown rice flour.  Continue cooking for several minutes.
3.  Lower the heat to medium.  Add the almond milk, stirring immediately so it does not clump.   Stir until the mixture has thickened.  Season with sea salt and black pepper.
4.  Add the cooked potatoes, broccoli and red peppers.  Season to taste.

I always top this with lots of sriracha.  Yum!



Saturday, March 8, 2014

Mashed Potatoes & Gravy, Steamed Peas, Baked Glazed Tofu

Do you ever have those days when you really need to go to the grocery store, but for whatever reason, you can't?  I'm having one of those weeks!  Since moving back to Michigan, Hubbs and I have had to buy a car to get around, which has definitely been an investment (but such a freeing one!), so we have only been able to afford one for the time being.  It has worked very well for us, especially since both of my parents and my younger brother work within a couple miles of each other downtown, so it's easy to get a ride.  For one reason or another this week, it has not worked out that I am able to take the car and go shopping.  Hubbs has never liked grocery shopping, so I always go.  Which is totally fine since I always have fun shopping.  Needless to say, since we haven't been shopping in a couple weeks (just getting a couple random ingredients from the coop here and there), we just have a couple fresh ingredients, though lots of pantry and frozen items.  That is how this meal came about.  I baked a package of firm tofu, boiled some potatoes, made a nutritional yeast gravy, tossed the baked tofu in some spicy bbq sauce and served it with some steamed frozen peas.  It was simple and tasty.  Now we basically just have a half of a head of green and red cabbage and a couple other random fresh ingredients.  I think I'll make a tasty stir-fry with edamame (frozen) and some black sesame seeds.  Yum!
Simple tasty dinner!


Thursday, March 6, 2014

Vegan Gluten Free Cakes and Cake Decorating Class: May 9, 2011

I was going through more pictures on my computer and found some more cakes from a cake decorating class that I taught a couple years ago.  I unfortunately did not record which flavors of cake are which, so I just have the pretty pictures of the cakes my students made.  So take a look at the cakes, all of which are vegan, gluten free, soy free, refined sugar free and mostly organic.



Hope you enjoyed these pretty pictures!


Saturday, March 1, 2014

Breaded Seitan Cutlets from the Vegan Diner Cookbook

I have this crazy thought that I will make most of the recipes out of the hundreds of vegan/vegetarian cookbooks I have.  I'll be honest, there are several recipes out of each cookbook that I would likely never make, simply because I do not like some of the ingredients, but lots of them look good and really make me want to make them.  That is the point of having a cookbook, right?
A couple years ago I purchased a cookbook called the Vegan Diner Cookbook.  All the pictures look great and I loved the theme.  Upon further investigation of the book, once it was delivered, I realized it had tons (and I mean tons!) of typos.  Really ridiculous ones too, like turn to this page for this sub-recipe, and the page it says is 000, as if they were going to go back and add it in once the book was completed, and just forgot.  Plus, I have been cooking for so many years that most of the time I am able to look at a recipe and realize if it will or will not work.  And there are quite a few in there that make no sense.  This really in-depth exploration of the book came after making several recipes, thinking that the recipe itself didn't make a lot of sense, then trying it and having it fail.  I cannot recommend this book for purchase, and after making several things from it that did not work, I put it on the shelf and haven't opened it in years.  But, like all meals that I cook, I took pictures of it (these are pics from Brooklyn) and felt I should post it.  So here are the breaded seitan cutlets from the book.  

Breaded Cutlets - baked and topped with melty vegan cheese

Spaghetti with Homemade Marinara and the Breaded Cutlet.