Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Vegan Riblet, Asparagus, Red Cabbage and Bacon and Boiled Red Potato and a Taco Salad

You could say, lately, that I have been having a string of bad luck and just altogether stressed out.  My dogs had gotten into a fight and one ended up in the ER last Sunday.  He's fine with a few staples and they are getting along just fine now.  Can never be too cautious, though.  Seeing Monty in an e-collar is truly sad. 

Dealing with that had me in an uproar and that caused my creativity in the kitchen to go down the drain.  I used my disposal a lot in the last few weeks from food that I thought I wanted to create but ended up messing up (jalapeno poppers...etc..).  I decided to stick with the tried and true this weekend and made A riblet, Asparagus, Red Cabbage and Bacon and Boiled Red Potato.  Courtesy of Morning Star Farms, I used one of their vegan riblets and danced it up a little bit. 

I had caught up with an old friend earlier in the day and it just felt good to talk.  I was in a great mood, which seemed like the first time in a few days.  First call to order was to quarter my red cabbage, slather with Earth Balance Whipped Spread and add the Lightlife Smart Bacon.  I drizzled about a 1 tbls. of mesquite liquid smoke, salt, pepper and garlic and wrapped in foil.  Into the oven on 400 for about an hour.  Meanwhile, I boiled my potato and made my asparagus.  I used about 2 tbls Earth Balance Whipped Spreadand sauteed for about 10 minutes.  I, then, added a dash of cinnamon, juice from 1/2 a lemon, salt and pepper.  I added another 2 tbls of Earth Balance Whipped Spread and sauteed for another 10 minutes on low heat.  I like my asparagus cruncy so I had to time this just right.

The Morning Star Farms Riblet comes prepacked in barbecue sauce but it's never enough for me.  I took out a bottle of Annie's Naturals BBQ Sauce, (which is vegan) and slathered the riblet.  As everything was coming together, I sauteed a few white onion rings and then topped the riblet with the sauteed onion.  I stuck in the oven for about 20 minutes in order to catch the entire flavor of the meal.  Of course, add whatever spices you want. 

Everything was perfect.  I had even decided to add a few white mushrooms to the asparagus.  I cut the potato into quarters and added a bit of spread and Tofutti Sour Cream, some fresh chives and a tsp. of BBQ sauce.  I plated and it was so good that I finished the entire plate and was sad when there weren't any leftovers.   The spices that this dish had and the way all the flavors just came together will forever be remembered.  This was the beginning of my creativity realigning itself and it felt good!

That was the first of my creations and I've cooked chili and blogged about it many times before but for some reason this batch was the most perfect batch.  I had battled all day with what I wanted to eat for dinner, so Monday night I decided I wanted to do a Taco Salad in a tortilla bowl.  I don't have want you need to make a tortilla bowl so I just improvised and used a small pan.  I put my torilla in the pan and shaped it the way that I wanted it to be and stuck in the oven on 350 until crunchy and golden brown.  I filled my tortilla with Romaine Lettuce, 'Chili', onions, black olives, jalapeno's, salsa, Tofutti Sour Cream  and Daiya Shreds.  I wasn't even going to blog about it but it was so picture perfect and tasted amazing so I decided to just add it in here because it is just SO PRETTY.  The tortilla was perfect and the fillings stayed in the torilla as I ate my way through it. 

Both Dishes were definitely a VEGAN YES that was delicious all the way to the tummy.

Vegan Beouf Bourguignon and Mushroom, Spinach Noodle Soup

I've been craving steak lately and so I thought that I would get creative without having to actually give in to that craving and desire.  With a little help from Vegetarian Times I found this lovely recipe for Vegan Beouf Bourguignon created from Julia Child's original recipe.  This particular recipe called for Quorn Chick'n strips (which aren't vegan) but I substituted with Gardein Meatless Tips.

  • 2 Tbs. organic olive oil, divided
  • 2 Tbs. spread, divided
  • 1 ¼ lb. cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced (1 ½ cups)
  • 1 large carrot, diced (½ cup)
  • 1 tsp. fresh or ½ tsp. dried thyme leaves
  • 1 ½ cloves garlic, minced (1 ½ tsp.)
  • 1 750-mL bottle Côtes du Rhône or Beaujolais red wine ( I used a Pinot Noir)
  • 2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 2 Tbs. tomato paste
  • 1 package Gardein Meatless tips 
  • 1 ½ Tbs. organic unbleached white flour
  • Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
  • sour cream, for garnish

1. Heat 1 Tbs. oil and 1 Tbs. spread in medium saucepan over high heat. Add mushrooms, and cook in oil 3 to 4 minutes, or until they darken but still retain their moisture. Remove from pan, and set aside.
2. Reduce heat to medium, and add remaining 1 Tbs. oil. Add onion, carrot, and thyme; season with salt and pepper, if desired. Cook 10 minutes. Add garlic, and cook 1 minute more.
3. Add wine, and increase heat to high. Simmer 5 minutes, or until liquid has reduced by half. Stir in broth and tomato paste. Add Quorn tenders and mushrooms with any liquid that has collected; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 20 minutes.
4. Combine remaining 1 Tbs. spread and flour with fork. Stir flour mixture into stew. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 10 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper, if desired; serve garnished with parsley and sour cream.

I served over brown rice and it was delicious and satisfied that steak craving that I was having...

I did catch myself saying.. BON APETIT as I sipped on a glass of Pinot and sunk my fork into this mouth watering dish.  Definitely a healthy version of a not so healthy french masterpiece.  There may be a little birdie flying around my head trying to get me to make the original version and I may not be able to resist, simply because it would have to be absolutely amazing.

All the while I was creating this, I was also creating my Spinach, Mushroom and Onion Noodle Soup.  That simmered for about 3 hours and turned out perfect. 

Needless to say... It was a happy kitchen last night and a happy stomach as well. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Nacho Stuffed Jumbo Shells

You don't typically think of mexican and pasta being in the same dish but with a little help from, I set out to create a vegan version of this dish.  I love mexican food and I love pasta so what could better?
The recipe calls for 3/4 pounds lean ground beef
2 -3 cups mild, medium or hot picante sauce
8 oz can of tomato sauce
green onions
1 packet taco seasoning
1 can refried beans with chiles
Black Olives
1 cup cheese

For the garnishment you can really add whatever you want: jalapenos, onion, cilantro or sour cream and pico.  I wanted to keep it simple and really taste the dish so I just topped with the quacamole.

Instead of the meat I used Gimme Lean Ground Beef from Lightlife and it browned just perfectly.  I also added a 1/2 of a white onion diced and a few diced pickled jalapeno slices.  Once the beef was browned, I added the cup water and the taco seasoning and let simmer until the water had reduced.  Once the water was reduced, I added the refried beans and my daiya cheese.  That was left to simmer until smooth and creamy.  Meanwhile, I boiled my shells, drained and let cool.  While the pasta was cooling, in a separate pan, added the tomato sauce and the picante sauce and let heat for about 15 minutes.

Once the shells were cool enough, it was time to stuff the shells and prepare them for the oven.  I preheated the oven to 350.

In a 9 x 13 pan, I placed a layer of picante sauce and then started adding my stuffed shells.  Once the shells were stuffed, I covered with the remaining picante sauce and added black olives to the top.  Covered with foil and put in the oven to cook for about 1/2 hour. 

I removed the foil and cooked for another 15 minutes after sprinkling with more cheese on top.  Once the cheese was melted, I added my sliced green onions and served. 

It was a HUGE hit  and really simple to make.   I feel that this is a meal that everyone in the family will love.

Definitely a vegan YES!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Fried "Chicken" Breast and "Chicken" Fingers

Oh, it's becoming that time of year again when all you want is comfort food.  I used to, thoroughly, enjoy cooking meals such as lasagna, Fettuccine, Beef Stew, Cottage Ham and Green Beans and a plethora of other comfort foods during the fall and winter months.  Now, there are a few things that I won't be able to indulge in if I keep up my mostly Vegan diet but most of the food, I can replicate in a vegan version.

I always crave fried chicken because it's just so darn good.  Walking around outside in the crisp air, I often get a scent of fried chicken and it almost kills me because it is so tempting.

Gardein Scallopini is perfect for making fried chicken and the chicken strips are perfect for making the chicken fingers. 

Dip each in a bit of flour then coconut milk and let rest for about 10 minutes and then re-dip in milk and bread crumbs.  Once this has been completed you are ready to fry it up.  Yummmy!  Be careful not to fry for too long since it's not actually chicken, it doesn't take long to fry.

For this meal, I made mashed potatoes, gravy and asparagus with Yellow and Summer Squash.  I added a touch of cinnamon, salt and pepper and perfection was on my plate. 

The no chicken chicken boullion with the no chicken chicken broth makes for a delightful gravy and a pinch of frest sage and fresh rosemary just takes it to the next level.

This is a meal that is tried and true and it's a perfect comfort food for those cool, fall nights.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Garlicky Mushroom Sauce with Spinach Fettuccine, Homemade Mushroom and Spinach Soup and White Garlic Pizza

Hello friends!
It's been a super long time but now I'm back to blog about a very upsetting weekend in the kitchen.  I had been planning this meal for about a week and I was prepared and ready to make this delicious meal and even prepped everything the night before.  I decided to make 2 batches in case 1 batch wasn't enough. 

I was making Garlicky Mushroom and Spinach Fettuccine and it was going to be good.  Friday evening I started out making my Garlic Confit and my Garlic Sauce.  The sauce was a very time consuming process which involved a head of garlic peeled.  I had to boil and drain the garlic 4 times.  On the fourth time, I added my So Delicious Coconut Creamer and simmered for about a 1/2 hour until the garlic was fork tender.  While I was doing that, I was making the Confit which I had to boil another head of garlic in olive oil until tender.  This took about a half hour as well.  Once that was done, I de-stemmed my crimini mushrooms and sliced in about 1 inch slices.  I covered the mushrooms with water and cooked them over low heat for an hour; adding a dash of salt and pepper.  This process made my mushroom broth.  I, also, decided that I was going to make my own spinach pasta so I set out to do that and it was a total fail.  To me it tasted just like flour, was too thick and just simply gross!  Once that was out of the way, it was time to take my garlic sauce to the blender and add a pinch of kosher salt and blend until smooth.  I packed everything away and put it in the fridge for the next day. 

After running around taking care of business and having a Saturday, it was now time to start making the dinner.  I took my mushrooms and cut them into 1 inch pieces and seered each side in a skillet on medium high heat.  Once they were browned on both sides, I added my green onion slices, my broth and let cook for a few minutes.  I then added my garlic confit and Garlic Sauce and let the liquid reduce about a quarter.  At this time, I noticed that it wasn't turning out the way that it was supposed to and started getting extremely angry.  But I moved forward and heated a pan with garlic oil and added my fresh spinach and shallots.  The spinach was wilted and it, again, was not coming together the way that it was supposed to come together.  All the while, the homemade noodles were boiling and after looking at how they were turning out, I decided I was not going to continue with it.  However, Sheri, added some cornstarch to it so it thickened up a little but was still like soup.  I went outside and decided I was not going to eat.  She said it was really good and I took her word for it but for me, I made chili bowties cuz I didn't have any spaghetti.  That was my first failed meal of the weekend. 

I woke up the next day and ran to the store to get a package of Spinach Fettucine and picked up more crimini shrooms and fresh spinach and once I returned, decided that I was going to make a second batch.  So that's what I did.  I was not going to let that mistake beat me.  This time I took care into what I was doing.  The key was to not add so much broth.  Being that the second time for this meal, it was spectacular and will be enjoyed this evening.  However, I was not fond of the spinach at the bottom of the dish and it just added too much sweetness to it.  It is delicious by itself.

So, being happy with how that turned out, my confidence was again boosted as I enjoyed a small portion.  I had saved all the mushrooms from the broth that I made so I decided I was going to make a soup.  I took the leftover broth, the leftover mushrooms and a handful of diced white onion and let them simmer for about 2 hours.  The house was smelling delightful and the soup was tasting amazing.  So much so that I called my parents to see if they wanted any. 

While I was letting the soup do it's thing, I made pizza dough because I was going to do either Calzones or make a pizza.  I was tired of red sauce so I made a White Garlic Sauce.  I used Tofutti Sour Cream and about a 1/2 cup So Delicious Coconut Creamer.  Processed my garlic the same way as I made the Garlic Sauce from the Pasta.  Blended until smooth and creamy and back on the heat to thicken up. 

I marinated some Smart Bacon in a mesquite liquid smoke, diced some red onions, sliced some mushrooms and got out the black olives. 

I was having a great day and was anticipating a nice bowl of soup with my individual pizza.  I prepped the dough, which was amazing, and filled 2 pie pans and set in the refrigerator. 

Now, it was time to revisit the soup and at this point is when I added the fresh spinach and let simmer for another 15 minutes.  I went in for a taste and it was heaven except it was missing a little pepper.  I grabbed my bottle and went for a small shake and that's when it happened!!!!  THE LID FELL OFF OF THE PEPPER, INTO THE SOUP ALONG WITH 75% OF THE BOTTLE.  I rushed to remove as much as possible but to no avail... It. was. ruined.  Into the disposal it went and my spirits that were once lifted were again crushed.  UGH!  FAIL # 2

But, had to move on for dinner.  I dressed the pizza up and they were turning out lovely.  When they were done, all I could taste was mesquite liquid srmoke.  Another Fail in my book but to my roommate, he loved it and ate the entire thing. 

Lessons I've learned... always make sure the lid is securely on your spices... take your time and love the process and I learned how to make an incredible garlic sauce.  Always pick yourself and move on when there is a fail because the odds are, if you replicate it, you will achieve the desired outcome!

Stay tuned for more pasta meals and other catch up meals...  

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Thai Curry 'Chicken' with Stir-Fry Veggies and Spring Rolls and Egg Rolls

I know, I know... this is a long time coming but like I said, I've been on some sort of hiatus of late.  I haven't stopped cooking but just stopped posting for a bit.  I would love to be able to just focus all of my attention on cooking, but I do have to have a job.

Moving on...

I decided that I was going to become a little more creative in the kitchen and try some Thai food.  I've never had Thai before so I was curious of what it would taste like and how to actually make it.  It was decided that I was going to do a Thai Curry 'Chicken' with Vegetables and Spring Rolls.  (I love spring rolls)  The egg rolls sort of came along later since I had so many of the ingredients leftover. 

Earlier in the day, I prepared my spring roll mixture.  It consisted of cabbage, red cabbage, carrots, zucchini, cucumber, cilantro, chives, liquid aminos, lime juice and salt and pepper.  Mixed all these together in a large mixing bowl and tried not to eat all of it before I finished my spring rolls.  Spring Rolls are funny because you have to actually disolve the wrapper in warm water to be able to work with it.  So, one by one, I stuffed and rolled these delights.  It was extremely difficult to keep them out of my mouth because they are so yummy.  Instead, I stuck them in the refrigerator to chill out for a bit.  See, now, at this point I was having so much fun rolling the spring rolls that I decided to go ahead and use the egg roll dough that I had in the fridge.  Prepared the same mixture, but heated it up this time.  I rolled the egg rolls and stuck those in the fridge as well. 

For the spring rolls, you scoop a little of the mixture onto the edge of the wrap and then tuck and roll, almost like a burrito.  You have to be careful, though, because these buggers are a little slimy. 

The Egg Rolls were super easy.  You lay the wrapper out, diagonally, and add a little mixture to the center of the wrapper. These, too, you tuck and roll like a burrito.  They fried up wonderfully and were enjoyed by many.  Quick and Easy and a great little appetizer for parties.
Now it was time for dinner.  (yes, a lot of time passed of where I did a lot of stuff around the house but you don't want to know about any of that.)  I had my pan of hot oil ready to go to fry the egg rolls and the spring rolls and was extremely excited that this was all coming together.  I think I may have even did a little jig.  Enter MISTAKE!  Never fry a Spring Roll!  They burned pretty bad, Bob! and I ended up having to throw them away.  Never fear... I had a lot more of the ingredients and decided to do it all again the very next day and they turned out wonderful.  My neighbors are my testers and they were fighting over them.  I'm just glad I had my fill. 

For the Thai Curry 'chicken' and Veggies- The first thing that I did was prepare my ingredients of which consisted of stir-fry veggies and the lightlife 'chicken' strips.  I simmered on low for about an hour added the curry paste a little at a time.  Now, mind you, I have no idea how hot any of this stuff ever is because I've never had it before.  While I was preparing that, I soaked my rice noodles in a bowl of super hot water.  I plated rice noodles covered with the Thai Curry 'Chicken' and Veggies with a spring roll and an Egg Roll. 

It was now time to dive in... Let's just say, I added way too much curry paste.  SUPER SPICY and could barely take but a few bites.  It was delicious, though! 

And as I said, the next day I made another batch of the spring rolls and instead of wasting the entire batch, I decided to try and bake a few of the spring rolls and they turned out well but I truly believe that the spring rolls just need to stay away from any frying or baking.

I will definitely try this again and use a lot less curry paste and I will stay away from any heat source with the spring rolls!


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Vegan Spaghetti with 'Chicken' Garlic Cream Sauce

It's been a bit since I've written and there is a lot of catch up that I have to do and a lot of dishes that I have to share.  I'm going to start off with this dish that I created last evening and was delightfully surprised at the completed product.

As of late, I have been having a difficult time with my taste buds... Nothing sounds good or tastes good to me so I've just been making the same things again and again.  I tried creating something on Monday night and that turned out awful and it ended up in the garbage.  Every now and again, I do have a recipe that turns out garbage material and that just happened to be one of them.

I've been nursing my Niko boy back to health after his neuter and that has proven to be more difficult than anticipated.  Now, we are nursing an infection. 

Anyway, last night, after battling all day with myself that I really just didn't feel like eating anything, I decided that I was going to make a garlic cream sauce for either a pizza or for pasta; I'm getting a little tired of the normal red sauce (even though I do love a red sauce).

Well, I had pizza the other day so I decided I was going to use the leftover spaghetti from the failed project the night before.  First call to order was creating my garlic cream sauce.  I started to use a recipe but then decided that I was just going to wing it considering I make a mean vegan alfredo sauce and knew this couldn't be that much different.

First step was emmersing the lightlife chicken strips in no chicken chicken broth with 1 no chicken chicken boullion and let simmer for about 20 minutes. 

In a sauce pan, I added a few tablespoons of earth balance whipped spread and a little over 2 tablespoons of flour.  Melted those together and then added my So Delicious Non-Dairy Creamer, minced about 8 garlic cloves, added about 2 tablespoons of powdered garlic, a handful of "fresh from the garden" rosemary, dried basil, black pepper and a dash of sea salt.  For about 15 minutes, this mixture was heated up on medium heat and then added sliced white mushrooms, a handful of broccoli forets, the 'chicken' and chicken broth to the mixture and let cook on medium heat for about 20 more minutes, stirring often.  Once it was to my desired thickness, I added a heaping handful of the already cooked spaghetti and let warm for another 15 minutes, tossing often to get the sauce even throughout the pasta. 

I plated the dish with 2 slices of italian bread with a bit of whipped spread, topped with a few organic cherry tomatoes and dug in!

It was a masterpiece and I'm happy to say that I have a ton leftover!

Definitely 10 noodles in my book!


The rosemary definitely made this dish POP!