Friday, August 5, 2011

Moroccan Chickpeas & Zucchini

Moroccan Chickpeas & Zucchini (page 249)
served with quinoa and green salad

Another winner from Appetite for Reduction! I enjoyed this a lot. It had a nice flavor, with a comforting blend of spices. I always love chickpeas, so I'm already biased there. As a bonus, this recipe makes a huge pot-ful, and I was able to freeze several portions for El Hombre to have on hand when the girls and I will be traveling for a couple of weeks.

I wasn't sure the girls would like this recipe, since the spices are on the exotic side, and it has cooked zucchini, which is usually not a favorite. So, I tried to bill this as a cultural experience for them: we got out the globe to find Morocco, we played some Moroccan music during dinner, we looked at pictures of traditional Moroccan dress, etc. Did it work? Well, they both said they liked it, but neither ate a whole lot, so I'm not sure.

Instead of the suggested couscous, I served this with quinoa, which I thought made a nice alternative.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Unfried Refried Beans

Beans for breakfast: Unfried Refried Beans (page 136)
served with hash brown potatoes and berries

First, let me state the obvious: it is not easy to take an appetizing picture of refried beans!

Beans and hash brown potatoes are a regular item in our breakfast rotation around here. Sometimes it is baked beans, and other times, we have black beans or refried beans. And sometimes we stuff the beans and potatoes inside a couple of corn tortillas and call them breakfast tacos.

Many people don't realize that refried beans are ridiculously quick easy to make, even without lots of oil. Isa's recipe is a slightly different variation of what I usually make, because of the addition of tomato sauce, and the coriander. Usually, I stick with cumin and a little bit of chili powder for the spices, instead.

I enjoyed the beans, but the girls did not. El Hombre wasn't here to try it, so I can't report on his assessment. SweetPotato said it was "too tangy" - maybe the tomato sauce? SweetPea said there was some "extra taste" that she couldn't identify, but she didn't like - maybe the coriander? So I guess this was too different than what they are used too.

In conclusion, even though I liked these beans, I'll probably stick to my usual way of making refried beans, since that's what the kids'll eat.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Cauliflower Pesto Soup

Cauliflower Pesto Soup (page 210)
served with a simple green salad and creamy Italian dressing, and whole-wheat cheezy garlic dinner rolls.

So this was super duper yummy! It has great flavor and texture, and once again, it was totally easy. It's basically a matter of throwing ingredients in a pot, letting them simmer a bit, and then pureeing the results with the fresh basil.

Fun fact about this soup: there are only 50 calories per serving! I guess that's entirely possible, since it's based on cauliflower, which is a naturally low calorie food. So, theoretically, you could eat the entire pot of soup for only 200 calories. That's a lot of soup.

The final product was not quite as intensely green as I had expected, but it was still a nice, light and appealing green color. The toasted pine nuts were a nice finishing touch. Another fun fact: Bulk pine nuts at my neighborhood H-E-B cost $27 per pound! It's a good thing you only need a couple of tablespoons for this recipe.

The girls were a fan of this soup also. To round out the meal, I made a simple green salad and quick whole-wheat cheezy garlic dinner rolls.

So far, one of the most valuable takeaways for me from Appetite for Reduction has been the amazing nature of cashew-based creamy dressings. For tonight's salad, I whipped up a simple creamy Italian-like dressing, with cashews, water, a little red wine vinegar, onion, garlic, and Italian seasonings. Yum.

Anyone interested in my quick dinner roll recipe? We think they are really quite good, and they are the perfect addition to a soup and salad type meal. Also, they are about 100 calories per roll.

Mix together in a bowl:
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons yeast
1 1/2 cup warm water

It'll be a little sticky. There should be enough dough to fill a lightly greased standard muffin pan (12 pieces). Let rise for 20-30 minutes. If you like, lightly sprinkle the tops with more nutritional yeast or a mixture of vegan parmesan (1 tbsp) and paprika (1/4 tsp). Bake at 375F for 15-20 minutes. Yum!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Ginger Bok Choy & Soba

Ginger Bok Choy & Soba (page 176)
with the addition of shelled edamame

I've made a similar dish several times, except I usually use whole-wheat noodles and call it "lo mein." I enjoy bok choy very much, and it always makes a great addition to Asian-type noodle dishes. This time, I went to the trouble to especially seek out soba noodles, which are generally more expensive than the whole-wheat noodles I usually have hanging out in the cupboard.

I tossed in a few handfuls of shelled edamame for a bit of extra oomph.

This was tasty, and enjoying, and comforting. But not necessarily great or exciting. Maybe it's just because this was really nothing new for me. As I mentioned, I've fed the family something similar many times, and I'll probably make it again many more times. It's a great lazy way to use up veggies and make a one-pot meal with pantry staples.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Orange-Scented Broccoli

Orange-Scented Broccoli (page 100)
with Apple-Miso Tofu (page 151) and sticky brown rice

This broccoli made a lovely accompaniment to the Apple-Miso Tofu. One of the things I really appreciate about Appetite for Reduction is how darn easy almost every single recipe is. This one is no exception. Once I had the rice cooking on the stove and the Apple-Miso Tofu tucked away in the oven, all that was left to complete an easy, healthy rounded meal was to make the broccoli. It was a simple recipe.

As a bonus, SweetPea liked it, too! It's been challenge getting her to appreciate broccoli, and today she declared the Orange-Scented Broccoli is one of her top three favorite ways to eat the little green trees (the other two being either raw dipped in hummus, or in lard na). So, it's a win!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Apple-Miso Tofu

Apple-Miso Tofu (page 151) on a bed of baby spinach
served with Orange-Scented Broccoli (page 100) and sticky brown rice

I wasn't sure about this recipe - it sounded a little strange, but maybe good. It WAS good! Delicious, in fact!

I usually prefer a firm, chewy texture in my tofu, and this turns out more soft instead (even though I started with the extra-firm variety), since it is baked with juicy apples in a covered pan. I really didn't mind the softer texture. The flavor was so satisfying. I left the skins on my apples, 'cause they're prettier that way, and served the tofu over a generous bed of baby spinach.

One note about the recipe: the ingredient list calls for one teaspoon of sesame oil. Normally, I try to leave out any added oils in my cooking, but, well, I'm a sucker for sesame oil. It's tasty. So every once in a while, I splurge. You get five grams of fat per serving with this recipe, which isn't so bad, so I figure if I'm extra good for the rest of the day, it shouldn't be a big deal, right? The problem here is that while the sesame oil is listed in the ingredient list, it is not mentioned any where else in the recipe instructions. It's not included in the marinade ingredient list, but the "everything else" category, instead. I decided to drizzle the one teaspoon of sesame oil over the tofu after marinating and before adding the sliced apples.

This is something I would definitely make again. (I might consider cutting the amount of sesame oil in half, to cut out some of those fat grams.) I was pleasantly surprised at how good it was. How about you - has anyone else tried this?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Tofu Chimichurri

Tofu Chimichurri (page 150)
served with sauteed zucchini and yellow squash and brown rice

I've had my eye on this recipe for a while. I remember the first time I ever heard of chimichurri: in our pre-child and pre-vegan days, El Hombre and I attended a potluck barbecue at the home of some Argentinian friends, and I saw this guy slathering his cooked steak with a thick green sludge like it was salsa. Curious, we gave it a try, too, and it was amazing! Bright, tangy, and flavorful. Perfect on grilled foods.

Isa says that chimichurri is a marinade, but in my experience, it is also a thick condiment, like salsa. This recipe calls for marinating the tofu in a thin chimichurri sauce. I prepared the tofu and marinade early in the day, and left in the refrigerator for El Hombre to cook up later in the evening.

The girls and I arrived home after ballet folklorico class to find El Hombre standing over the stove, flipping the tofu around in a pan. It was a little messy, and some of the tofu broke apart, but the end result was quite delicious. I liked it, and I think it's safe to say El Hombre loved it, as he devoured quite a lot.

This recipe was good, but I would do it differently next time. Cooking the chimichurri sauce results in a loss of the bright green color and taste, which is what makes chimichurri so beautiful and fresh tasting. I think grilled tofu served with a more traditional chimichurri sauce as the condiment would be great. I'm inspired and will probably do it soon!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Tempeh Helper, take 2

Tempeh Helper (page 171) with Easy Breezy Cheezy Sauce (page 173)
substituting zucchini for green peas

My first attempt at the Tempeh Helper was a real disappointment. We all found the natural bitterness of the tempeh too overwhelming for the dish, and it just really wasn't even palatable. Blech. I concluded that pre-steaming the tempeh would probably be a good idea, which is exactly what I did last night. It adds an extra step, but the recipe is simple enough that it's still pretty fast to get on the table. I simply used the microwave to steam it in a dish with a little water while I began the "Easy Breezy Cheezy Sauce."

I also got a great tip from Lazy Smurf in the comments from the last Tempeh Helper post: apparently, Wheatsville carries a locally made tempeh that isn't as bitter tasting. I had the opportunity to swing by Wheatsville the other day (not my usual part of town), so I picked some up. This stuff is great! Made by The Hearty Vegan, it is flavorful, yet mild. (I also picked up a package of their tempeh sausage patties, and those are awesome, too!)

I switched up the pasta this time, using whole-wheat elbow macaroni instead of tiny quinoa shells. And, I diced up a zucchini and tossed that in the pot instead of using frozen green peas.

So, in conclusion - the change in tempeh protocol and brand made a huge difference in this recipe for this family. The kids liked it a lot, and so did El Hombre. Me? I thought it was okay. I've never been a huge fan of dinner-from-a-box style foods, and of course, this recipe is modeled after Hamburger Helper. I'm not sure if I'll ever make it again, but if this kind of food is your thing, it certainly is a fast, easy weeknight meal.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Tortilla Soup

Tortilla soup (page 208)
garnished with crumbled blue corn tortilla chips, and chopped cilantro and jalapeno

Alright, so I made a few modifications to this recipe. I know my way around tortilla soup; I've made plenty a pot-ful in my lifetime. Admittedly, I have never before made Isa's recipe exactly as it is written, but I believe my modified version is probably, dare I say it... better than the original.

First of all, instead of using two jalapenos and one poblano or bell pepper, I used two poblanos in the soup, and saved the jalapenos for garnishing at the table. I wanted to keep the soup relatively mild for the kids, and let the adults add spice as desired to individual bowls.

Probably the most important modification I made, in terms of flavor, was to roast the peppers. I just set them on the burner grate over my gas flame, giving them a turn every now and then with tongs, until they got nice and blackened all over. Then, I scraped off the blackened skin (mostly - I left little bits here and there for flavor), chopped them up, and proceeded as usual. I added the peppers to the pot after the onion had cooked, since they were already somewhat cooked by the roasting process.

Finally, I used a few crumbled up stale corn tortillas to thicken up the soup, instead of crumbled tortilla chips.

I left the rest of the recipe pretty much intact with no other changes. The result: delicious and satisfying!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Cool Slaw

Cool Slaw (page 38)

I ate several meals out downtown this weekend with others whom I was attending a conference with. This means I ended up eating several salads. You know-- it just doesn't seem to occur to most restaurants that it is quite possible to prepare a satisfying meal without meat, dairy, or eggs... unless it's a salad. Of course, even then, everything still has cheese in it somewhere, you know-- to make it "satisfying." Now, I had some great salads this weekend. Really, delicious salads. And at home, I eat many, many salads as the main part of my meal... but the salads I make are HUGE. I think I first heard Wendy use the term "Hugh Jass Salad." Hugh Jass, indeed. But these restaurant salads, while quite delicious and bursting with flavor, were no Hugh Jass salads.

I'm getting a bit ramble-y here, but the point I'm trying to make is that it was nice to come home and have some "real" food.

El Hombre planned a little cook-out for our Sunday afternoon, with some veggie burgers, grilled corn-on-the-cob, and fresh guacamole and chips. There was still an unused half-head of cabbage in the refrigerator leftover from the Curried Cabbage & Peas, so it seemed appropriate to also make the Cool Slaw to go with our dinner.

I've made this recipe before, but as a component of the Buffalo Tempeh Wraps, which were so, so good. Have I mentioned how *~*magical*~* cashews can be, when blended into sauces and dressings? Cashews, a little onion, a bit of apple cider vinegar, mustard, agave, some water... that's it, blended into oblivion - the perfect creamy, dreamy dressing for this coleslaw. So. Freakin'. Tasty.

Anyway, this is good stuff. The perfect people-pleasing coleslaw for summer cookouts and potlucks. If you haven't already, give it a try!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Curried Cabbage & Peas

Curried Cabbage & Peas (page 111)
(substituting baby yellow squash for carrot)

Tonight was kind of a disorganized dinner-making experience. Still, dinner made it to the table, and that's what's important, right?

First of all, I didn't get home until nearly 6:00 pm, and I really wasn't in the mood to cook dinner as soon as I walked in the door. I was really quite tempted to just pick up some Chinese take-out on the way home, but I told myself, no, we have food at home, and Chinese take-out is way too greasy, anyway.

I had originally planned to make the Braised Cabbage with Seitan (page 97), but my week didn't go exactly as planned, and I didn't have any prepared seitan for the recipe. But, I still had the cabbage. Amy commented here on yesterday's post that she recently enjoyed the Curried Cabbage & Peas; I thought, hey, I've got peas! I'll make that! Along with the 40-Clove Chickpeas & Broccoli, since I've also got a big pot of chickpeas and some broccoli hanging out in the refrigerator. OK, a plan was in place.

I quickly got the chickpeas, broccoli, and garlic (and quartered small red potatoes) in the oven to roast, then I started slicing up an onion and the cabbage. Then I discovered, oops, no fresh ginger root. I figured this qualified for one of those "in a pinch" situations, so I subbed dried ginger. Then I realized, darn, no carrots! Well, might as well use up those baby yellow squash that have been languishing in the crisper drawer.

The resulting Curried Cabbage & Peas turned out okay, but not great. I'm sure the missing fresh ginger root would have made a big difference. And the carrots certainly would have made it more colorful. But all-in-all, it wasn't bad, especially considering the last-minute ingredient substitutions that were made.

I'm always trying to think of ways to make these veggie "side dishes" into a more satisfying complete meal. I bet this would be great served over brown rice with the addition of some cubed tofu or chickpeas.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Mango BBQ Beans

Mango BBQ Beans (page 133)

We had a busy Fourth. The girls had a ballet folklorico performance early in the afternoon, then we went over to our friends' house for swimming and potluck-ing before heading to the local park for an ArcAttack show (the Plan B for Independence Day, since fireworks have been banned due to drought conditions around here). All the kids were super excited about the show, though they were bummed about not quite making it to the Faraday cage. They were this close.

One of the dishes we brought to the potluck was the Mango BBQ Beans. The flavor was fantastic here, but I thought the sauce-to-bean ratio was a bit too high. I would probably either add more beans, or lessen the amount of liquid called for, or even let it cook down for an even longer time to allow the sauce to reduce further. I don't think there would be any harm at all in letting these beans hang out on the stove over low heat for a long a time - I would think they would only get better. Also, SweePea made the observation that she thinks small red beans would be better, instead of kidney beans here, and I think have to agree with her on that point.

Overall, these were excellent beans. El Hombre especially loved them, letting me know on more than one occasion that I can make them again any time, any time at all.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Unfried Fried Rice

Unfried Fried Rice (page 70)
with strips of Nomelet (baked vegan tofu omelet)

I have fond memories of making fried rice with egg, back in the day when we were fresh out of college and completely broke. It was so yummy and comforting. So, when inspiration hit me a few weeks ago to combine Isa's Unfried Fried Rice recipe with the Happy Herbivore's Nomelet, I got really excited to give this recipe (well, both recipes) a try.

I kept the add-ins super simple for the sake of the kids. It paid off, because SweetPea, normally not a fan of rice in any form, gobbled this up and asked for seconds. But I think it would also be great with lots of extra vegetables - carrots, zucchini, peas...

I used my cast-iron wok to make this, which I think was important in getting that crispy "fried" taste and texture here. Also, I found it necessary to turn up the heat a little higher than indicated to get things really going.

Served with a hefty portion of no-oil stir-fried broccoli in garlic, soy sauce, and a little tahini, this made a great healthy weeknight dinner.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Shaved Brussels Sprouts

Shaved Brussles Sprouts (page 92)
served with BBQ tofu, mashed potatoes and gravy, and El Hombre's everything-but-the-kitchen-sink salad

These Brussels sprouts were really simple, but tasty. I especially liked how garlicky it turned out, with plenty of thinly sliced garlic cloves. Sometimes simple is the best - this recipe is really only three ingredients (onion, garlic, and Brussels sprouts), plus salt and pepper to taste.

There were jokes aplenty at the dinner table, because of the name of the recipe. We all giggled at the thought of hairy Brussels sprouts (i.e., un-shaved).

El Hombre made an awesome salad to go with our dinner. I think he used just about every single vegetable we had in the house: mixed greens, tomatoes, yellow squash, cucumber, carrot, green onion, roasted eggplant, cilantro, mushrooms... I'm sure there was something else in there that I'm not thinking of right now.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Bee Ell Tees

Bee Ell Tees (page 271)
Whole-wheat bread, Cashew Miso Mayo (page 270), spinach, tomato, and Eggplant Bacon (page 42)

The eggplant bacon is something we keep going back to; it's been great in salads, and we loved it in the breakfast sandwich. This weekend, I thought it was time to try a simple BLT for a casual Saturday night dinner.

I also tried making the Cashew Miso Mayo for the first time. I was at a little bit of a disadvantage here because I killed my food processor just the day before (which means I'm in the market for a new one... anyone have one they love and would recommend?). I used my blender instead, which worked great at first, but the more blended the cashews got, the more thick the mixture became, which resulted in the blender just throwing all the mayo up on the sides of the blender, where it stuck instead of falling back down for further blending. I blended for many, many minutes, and scraped down the sides many, many times, but it still never got quite as creamy and smooth as it would have if I had been able to use my food processor. Still, it was really tasty, and the perfect spread for these sandwiches.

Bottom line: these sandwiches were a hit with all of us. Yum!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Mediterranean Bowl

Mediterranean Bowl (page 267)
Bulgur, roasted cauliflower, chickpeas, and Caesar Chavez Dressing (page 43)

Another Bowl to Go! Except that I ate it at home.

I figured you can't go wrong with the Caesar Chavez Dressing here. Once I actually assembled the bowl, however, I realized this was going to be a very monotone meal, unless I did something about it. It was all varying shades of beige/cream. Mmmmmm. So I went out to the backyard garden, snipped a bit of fresh parsley and sprinkled it on the top. Better.

This was good, but as we were eating our dinner, we thought of a million ways to make it better. This is supposed to be a Mediterranean bowl, right? How about some Mediterranean-type ingredients, beyond the chickpeas and bulgur? Like olives! Chopped tomatoes! Thinly sliced fresh basil leaves! An extra squeeze of lemon!

I was also missing my leafy greens with my dinner, so I thought maybe a big serving of baby spinach would be a smart addition here, too. But then, I suppose it might be more like a salad than a "bowl"... so maybe big salad to go with the bowl, to keep the integrity of the "bowl" concept.

Anyway, I'd certainly make this one again, but I'd also dress it up a more.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Classic Black Bean & Veggie Chili

Classic Black Bean & Veggie Chili, page 236

Another guest post from El Hombre, since he was in charge of getting food on the table tonight!

Tonight's dinner was very much true to the recipe. The Classic Black Bean & Veggie Chili is delicious and easy to fix. Thirty minutes is all you need to from start to finish. Basically, you chop up your onions, garlic and veggies add the broth and seasonings and you are set.

After things were nicely simmering, I reduced the heat and focused on fixing some yummy cornbread to go with dinner. I used the cornbread recipe from The Joy of Vegan Baking and baked the batter in a funky little cast iron corn stick pan that la Mujer (Julie) fancies as an awesome thrift store find.

As expected, the girls were less than enthusiastic, with SweetPotato saying it was a bit "spicy." I think it was my liberal use of chili powder that got to her.

I stuck with the recipe since it was my first time fixing it, but I feel really confident about adjusting seasonings and adding a variety of different veggies. Next time, I think I'll use eggplant along with the zucchini that was called for, and I would also enjoy adding mushrooms!

Overall, a great easy to fix dinner, and you can't beat that!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Arabian Lentil & Rice Soup

Arabian Lentil & Rice Soup, page 206

After breaking triple digit temperatures here every day for over a week (nine days in a row, I think?), it finally cooled off a little. Today, it was only ninety-nine degrees Fahrenheit. I wore a hoodie and made some soup.

This was really easy to put together with simple ingredients: red lentils, brown basmati rice, and few other staple ingredients. The only chopping required was for the onions, garlic, and carrots. The end result was flavorful and hearty, without being heavy. With both lemon zest and lemon juice, the soup had a lovely bright taste that paired well with the cumin and coriander seasonings.

This recipe made a lot; I think I may try a few additions with the leftovers, something green, perhaps, like spinach or peas, and a sprinkling of chopped fresh cilantro.

Pasta de los Angeles

Pasta de los Angeles, page 177

Right off the bat, I was slightly suspicious of this dish. "Pasta goes Mexican!"? Hmmmm.

I have to say, it wasn't bad. It really wasn't great, either, but it wasn't bad. Most interesting, however, were the reactions from the rest of the family. El Hombre, who I thought for sure would be the most critical, actually seemed to like it. He said it was reminiscent of a seafood-y pasta dish (?!?), like it had those little canned cocktail shrimp in it somewhere. Huh?!? SweetPea, my nine-year old, said it reminded her of the Pasta con Broccoli, and then proceeded to douse her portion with Caesar Chavez salad dressing. Okay. SweetPotato, the seven-year old, thought it was okay, but a bit on the sour (lime) side, and the black beans were the best part. She ate the beans and left the pasta.

As for me, my reaction was "Meh." It was okay. I'm not really convinced that this is what the angels are having up there in heaven. I'd rather eat my black beans, tomatoes, and cilantro in a tortilla, or a salad, or over rice, but this was interesting to try once. I probably won't make this again.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Black Bean, Zucchini, and Olive Tacos

Black Bean, Zucchini, and Olive Tacos, page 131

The addition of kalamata olives to tacos is something I never would have thought of, but the idea is genius. The olives give this taco filling a sharp, salty kick that totally works.

These tacos almost didn't get made: after a day of redecorating and furniture rearranging with the help of my good friend, Anne, we were just about out of oomph and seriously contemplating ordering some take-out. But we sat and rested for a spell, viewing the results of our hard work while sipping a well-earned glass of wine, and then we rallied in the kitchen and made these tacos happen. And I'm so glad we did - the tacos were completely satisfying.

Instead of serving with the suggested Garlic-Lemon Yogurt, I whipped up my usual garlic sauce: silken tofu, garlic, lemon juice, and salt whirred together in the food processor. So, similar, but not the same. I'm not really a fan of soy yogurt. And, we included chopped cilantro to top off our tacos. You can't have tacos without cilantro in this house.

I thought the girls wouldn't like this at all, but they surprised me! They even enjoyed them again the next day as leftovers for lunch. I'm pretty sure the olives were the magic ingredient.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Peanut-Lime Tofu Bowl

Peanut-Lime Tofu Bowl, page 267
Quinoa, steamed broccoli, tofu, Peanut-Lime Dragon Dressing (page 34), and peanuts

I'm renaming this the Peanut-Lime Dragon Bowl, because that's more fun to say! This is basically one of the bowls suggested on page 267 of Appetite for Reduction, except with broiled and glazed tofu, instead of sauteed tempeh. We just went to Costco this weekend, and there's a drawer-ful of tofu in the refrigerator.

Quinoa, steamed broccoli, broiled tofu lightly glazed with a bottled Thai sweet chili sauce, that wondrous Peanut-Lime Dragon Dressing, and a sprinkle of dry-roasted peanuts. How can you go wrong with this combination?!?

So, so, so good. And incredibly easy to put together, with uncomplicated components. This time around, for the dressing, I whirled all the ingredients in the blender for several minutes until smooth, instead of leaving a few chunky peanut-ty bits like last time. It was great!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Chili Verde con Papas

Chili Verde con Papas, page 240
with fresh homemade corn tortillas

This was really, really delicious. I adore those cute little tomatillos, and chile verde is such a comfort food. The stew had an amazing aroma as it simmered away in the kitchen this afternoon.

It really did not seem spicy to my taste buds, at all. Once you remove the seeds, jalapenos are actually a pretty mild pepper. This time, El Hombre and I both spiced up our bowls with some extra dried red chile flakes. Next time, I would probably leave the seeds in at least one of the jalapenos, or swap them out for a hotter variety, such as serrano. Poblano peppers would be good here, too, instead of the green bell pepper.

I was surprised at the amount of kale in the finished dish. I guess I was expecting a lower ratio of greens to stew, but I loved the way it turned out. It was chock full of kale, which paired beautifully with the chile verde base.

(Anyone notice the spelling variations in this post? I had to go back and correct my post title... the AFR recipe is titled "Chili Verde," even though my instinct is to spell it "Chile Verde." I think "chile" is the correct spelling for "chile verde," while "chili" would be used for "green chili." Anyway, it's good food.)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Red Thai Tofu

Red Thai Tofu, page 149

I've been enjoying the texture of broiled tofu lately, so instead of sauteeing these cubes of tofu as the recipe instructed, I went the broiling route instead. I like broiled tofu because the texture kind of reminds me of fried tofu, without all the grease - crispy corners, chewy on the inside.

The original recipe directions are to saute the tofu, then remove it from the pan while you saute the veggies, then add the tofu back to the pan when you add the sauce, and cook for a few more minutes. So while my tofu was in the oven, I sauteed up the rest of the vegetables for this dish, as well as a big pan of broccoli to go with our dinner. Then it was a snap to mix up the sauce and add it to the veggies, along with the broiled tofu.

This dish came together quickly, and it was tasty. However, I thought the sauce was too thin and wished it had clung more to the tofu and vegetables. From the recipe description in the book, I was expecting more of a glaze, but it was more broth-y instead. Otherwise, this was an acceptable dish that is nice and easy enough to keep in a regular rotation.

I've heard others rave about this recipe, so I'm wondering what I'm missing to make me rave, too. It was good, but not necessarily one of my favorite AFR recipes. Have you tried this tofu? What do you love, or not, about it?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Cranberry-Cashew Biryani

Cranberry-Cashew Biryani, page 67, before the finishing cilantro garnish

Okay, so that's kind of a terrible picture up there, but this was really yummy. Who cares that it's not really an authentic biryani? Not me. It was satisfying and delicious. El Hombre thought it was fantastic, too.

I love how colorful this dish is: the carrots, cranberries, and peas are like little jewels scattered throughout the yellow hued rice. I also really love that practically all the ingredients in this dish are pantry staples for me. So, theoretically, I could whip this up pretty much anytime.

The only problem with this dish? It makes a lot, and I wanted to eat a lot of it.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Pad Thai Salad with Peanut-Lime Dragon Dressing

Pad Thai Salad with Peanut-Lime Dragon Dressing, page 33

Really, you just can't beat the salads in Appetite for Reduction. I have loved (almost) every single salad in this chapter, so far. I knew I would also love the Pad Thai Salad as soon as I had my first taste of that glorious Peanut-Lime Dragon Dressing. El Hombre commented that he could probably just drink it.

I added a thinly sliced red bell pepper to the salad, and I topped it with some broiled tofu cubes, lightly glazed with a bottled Thai sweet chili sauce. Perfect.

Some very dear friends of ours are moving into a new house in our neighborhood (lucky us!), so I brought them some salad tonight while El Hombre was over there helping them unload the moving truck. There were positive reviews for this recipe, and according to his lovely wife, our friend Bill even remarked that he might consider moving to "Planet Vega" one day. I think that means he has enjoyed my Vegan food, right?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Bistro Broccoli Chowder

Bistro Broccoli Chowder, page 204

El Hombre was the biggest fan of this chowder. He said it had a really good chowder-y taste to it, and that the seasonings were good.

I had a hard time deciding if I really liked it, or not, and why. I haven't cooked very much with parsnips before, so maybe I'm not a fan of parsnips...? I think perhaps I'd like this better if I replaced the parsnips with cauliflower, and the rosemary with some fresh basil instead.

The girls gave mixed reviews. SweetPotato was not into it at all. SweetPea at least finished her bowl, but I'm not sure that I can say she liked it.

And now I have a few more parsnips leftover in the fridge... any suggestions on what I should do with them?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Forty-Clove Chickpeas & Broccoli

Forty-Clove Chickpeas & Broccoli, page 125

This was just what I needed tonight. Simple, comfort-like food. Easy. Tasty. Healthy. Cozy.

As an added bonus, smashing up those garlic cloves by giving them a good hard whack underneath the side of a heavy knife is really good for releasing a little aggression.

I had some baby potatoes from my garden that I thought would be a nice addition here, so I threw those in, too. Also, I used more garlic. The recipe may be called "Forty-Clove" Chickpeas and Broccoli, but it really only calls for ten. I used two whole heads of garlic, but they were big cloves. I didn't count, but I would guess there were maybe fifteen to twenty. They were good, and the house smelled absolutely amazing as they roasted in the hot oven.

The other great thing about this recipe: preparation and clean-up is minimal. Who doesn't love that? I think this dish just might become a staple in this house.

A pan-ful of goodness. Do I really have to share?

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Broiled Blackened Tofu and Pineapple Collards

Broiled Blackened Tofu, page 147, and Pineapple Collards, page 93

This tofu was coated in a Cajun spice mixture and then broiled at high heat. The collards were sauteed with a combination of sesame oil, garlic, ginger, and pineapple. Both dishes turned out tasty and complemented each other nicely.

The tofu recipe made only enough spice mixture to coat about half of my tofu; I had to mix up another batch to finish the remaining slices. I also regularly have to cook my tofu longer than Isa's recipes call for to achieve the desired result when using the oven, and tonight was no exception.

El Hombre and I both really enjoyed the greens with pineapple. It was a nice flavor profile, and I can see us making this recipe again. The kids also seemed to approve of these greens.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Polenta Stuffing (which turned into Polenta Stufffed Jalapenos)

Polenta Stuffed Jalepeno Peppers with a Creamy Lime Sauce
(adapted from Polenta Stuffing recipe, page 66)

I kept looking at the recipe for Polenta Stuffing in Appetite for Reduction, but I just wasn't feeling inspired. It's a stuffing recipe, so I felt like it needs to, you know, stuff something. Isa suggests using it to top off something like the Tamarind BBQ Tempeh & Sweet Potatoes. Now, while I'm sure that's quite yummy and delicious, that's not exactly stuffing... that's dressing.

So I mulled it over for a while, thinking about what I might stuff with this stuff. I went with jalepenos for an appetizer sort of dish to go with our Memorial Day cookout. I think it would also work well to stuff poblano peppers, as more of a main dish. Anyway, the end result here turned out very different than Isa's original recipe for Polenta Stuffing, but I think I rocked this dish. It's so good, in fact, that I'm going to share my recipe adaptation with y'all.

A few words on the use of oil: I went ahead and used the same amount of oil called for in the original recipe, because I was worried about the polenta sticking during the sauteing step. Even with a well-seasoned cast iron pan and the oil, I still had sticking issues, and my polenta cubes eventually fell apart. My stuffing turned out softer and less cube-y that what is intended in the original recipe, but for stuffing those jalepenos, that turned out to be the perfect thing, anyway.

Polenta Stuffed Jalepenos with Creamy Lime Sauce
(Adapted from Polenta Stuffing, page 66, from Appetite for Reduction)

12 jalepeno pepper
2 teaspoons olive oil
18 ounces prepared polenta, cut into small-ish cubes (I used a sundried tomato and garlic variety)
1/2 cup thinly sliced celery
1 small onion, diced small
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon crushed cumin seeds
pepper and salt, to taste
1 box of silken tofu, rinsed well
Juice of 3 limes
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon granulated onion
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast flakes

Cut a lengthwise strip from each pepper. Remove and set aside for another use, like salsa or something. Remove the seeds and white parts from the inside of the pepper and discard. Rinse, if necessary, to get all the seeds out. Don't touch your eyes! Wear gloves, if you must.

Preheat a large pan over medium-high heat. Coat the bottom of the pan with 1 teaspoon of the oil, and add the polenta. Saute for 12 to 15 minutes, tossing often. If the polenta starts to stick to the pan, that's okay - just scrape up the sticky parts and toss it around.

Add the celery, onion, garlic, oregano, cumin, and the remainder of the oil. Saute for another 7-10 minutes. By this time, the polenta should be mostly falling apart and getting mushy. Towards the end of your cooking time, dribble in a little water and stir things around until you get a softer consistency that is good for stuffing those peppers. Make sure you scrape up all the browned, sticky bits from the bottom of the pan and mix that in, too. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Using a spoon, stuff the jalepeno peppers with the polenta mixture. Then, you can either grill these or bake for 10-15 minutes in 425F oven.

To make the sauce, place the tofu, lime juice, granulated garlic and onion, salt, and nutritional yeast in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth and creamy.

El Hombre grilled our stuffed jalepenos. Muy delicioso!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Sanctuary Chef Salad

Sanctuary Chef Salad, page 28

I have been simultaneously looking forward to and avoiding making this salad. It sounded so good, but the prospect of preparing all the individual components seemed like a lot of hassle. I wondered, would it be worth it?

I'm happy to report: it is SO worth it. By the time we sat down to dinner, I was kind of tired and irritable about all the dirty dishes, and skeptical about the pay out for all the hassle. But with the very first bite, my taste buds said, "Oh, yeah!" and each bite after that got even better.

So let me break it down for you here. First, I whipped up the Sanctuary Dressing (you know, because "ranches are not nice places for cows"):

Sanctuary Dressing, page 29

Very tasty. The kids liked it, too, even though they never really liked regular ranch dressing. El Hombre asked, "How did you do that?" I only had soft silken tofu on hand in the pantry, so I used that instead of the extra-firm. It was fine.

Then we have the Eggplant Bacon:

Eggplant Bacon, page 42

You can see that a few pieces got a little burnt, but it was all good. Man, I love that stuff.

Here we have the Basic Baked Tofu...

Basic Baked Tofu, page 144

... which is perfect for a salad like this. Then there is the Herb-Roasted Cauliflower:

Herb-Roasted Cauliflower, page 108

The cauliflower was really, really tasty. SweetPotato especially enjoyed it. I did notice an error in the recipe, however... the instructions said to "drizzle in the oil" and mix it into the breadcrumb and herb mixture, but there is no oil listed in the ingredients. I went ahead and made it without any oil, which is what I would have done anyway, and it turned out great.

And finally, all the other salad veggies:

Chopped Romaine, tomatoes, red onions, carrots, radishes, and bean sprouts

I couldn't find sunflower sprouts at my grocery store, and alfalfa sprouts didn't strike my fancy this week, so I went with bean sprouts. They were nice and crunchy.

Delicious. And filling. And definitely worth the hassle. Bless El Hombre... he did all the dishes.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Caesar Chavez Wrap

The Caesar Chavez Wrap, page 271
(romaine lettuce, sauteed seitan, black olives, and Caesar Chavez dressing in a whole-grain wrap)

SweetPea has had her eye on the Caesar Chavez Wrap for a while, now. She adores seitan, and she loves the Caesar Chavez Dressing just as much as I do, and who doesn't love good things wrapped up in a neat whole-grain package?

I made the Surefire Seitan (page 262) earlier in the day. The flavor was excellent, but I've had better texture results from other recipes. I want to say it came out a bit "spongy," but not like it does when the broth boils too rapidly... it was different than that. It seemed like the dough was just a bit too wet before simmering in the broth. Next time, I might try reducing the liquid a little and see if that works better.

The Caesar Chavez Dressing is probably my favorite salad dressing from this book, so far. Again, I found myself practically licking the blender clean - it's that good. I made a double batch this time, so I can have some extra on hand for my lunch salads during the remainder of the week. There is just something magical about this combination of shallots, miso, tahini, cashews, lemon, and capers. It's magic, I tell you.

Thumbs-up of approval all around the dinner table tonight. These wraps will show up again, I predict. I'm thinking they would make perfect pack-ahead picnic food.

Have you tried any of the sandwich or wrap suggestions from AFR? How about the Surefire Seitan?

Lettuce, seitan, olives, and dressing - ready to roll

Monday, May 23, 2011

Potato-Spinach Curry

Potato-Spinach Curry, page 232
with brown basmati rice and Masala Baked Tofu, page 146

Tonight's dinner was a lovely affair of saag aloo, masala tofu, and basmati rice, enjoyed outside in the fresh air of the evening.

While I loved the feature AFR recipe, I must say that the most exciting part of making tonight's dinner was digging up my own potatoes from my own garden. They were so beautiful! Look:

Freshly dug and scrubbed potatoes from my backyard garden

And, they were delicious, too!

But anyway, back to the recipe. SweetPea helped me make the potato-spinach curry; she helped chop up those beautiful potatoes, as well as stir and taste along the way. We added more salt because of the low sodium veggie broth that I've been using (more on that below). We also left out the red pepper flakes to make it kid-friendly, and instead had some available on the table to sprinkle on as desired for the adults.

Also, I decided to revisit the Masala Baked Tofu, because I think I've figured out what went wrong last time. Not that it was bad last time. It's just that I've heard so many people rave about it, and yet it didn't get me all excited like it seems to do for others. The missing factor for my first attempt seems to be salt. Yes, salt. So simple, right? I've been using a no-salt-added vegetable broth in an attempt to be more sodium conscious, and I think the masala marinade suffered as a result. So this time, I added a bit more soy sauce, and it made a big difference. I will also confess that I was feeling lazy and used granulated garlic and powdered ginger in the marinade, instead of the fresh versions, and both seemed to work great here. El Hombre confirmed that this attempt was much better than the first, so whether that was due to the extra soy sauce, or the dried spices, or a combination.... who knows?

Again, everyone enjoyed tonight's dinner. Both kids liked the potato-spinach curry, and my Dad went back for second helpings of everything. As El Hombre and I were cleaning up the kitchen, I saw a lime left on the counter and realized I forgot to add the freshly squeezed juice as the final step in the making of the curry. But oh well - it was still delicious! Nothing seemed amiss. Getting the kids to eat their cooked spinach and my Dad to enjoy tofu so much that he goes for another serving... a win!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Spinach Linguine with Edamame Pesto

Spinach Linguine with Edamame Pesto, page 174
(actually a wider pasta, more like fettucine)

My tummy is full and happy. Tonight's dinner was an all-around crowd-pleaser, with an enthusiastic thumbs-up from everyone, including both kids and the grandpapa.

I was a little concerned when I realized, halfway through making dinner, that this recipe is supposed to serve only four, and there are five of us. So I cooked up about 3/4 of a pound of pasta, instead of just a half-pound, keeping my fingers crossed that there would be enough pesto for this to work. As it turns out, there was no need for me to worry: the recipe for the edamame pesto made plenty, and by the time it was all mixed up with the pasta and sauteed mushrooms, there was plenty of pasta for everyone.

I can tell you right now that I'll be making this pesto again, and not just for smothering pasta. I'm dreaming about using it on steamed veggies, stirring spoonfuls into soups, spreading it onto sandwiches...

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Chipotle Lentil Burgers

Chipotle Lentil Burgers, page 123
with oven baked potato wedges

I've been meaning to make these for a while now, and I figured this was a good chance to try them, while my Dad is here visiting. We were out all day, and I was tired and not really in the mood to cook by the time we got home, but the burgers actually came together pretty quickly. Dinner was on the table in less than an hour. That is one of the things I've come to really appreciate about this cookbook: most recipes are simple, straightforward, and ready to eat with loads of flavor but not much fuss.

Isa takes an unusually stern tone with this recipe, warning the cook that you must follow the recipe to the letter - otherwise, the texture might not come out right. I used store-bought bread crumbs and canned lentils as she said to, even though it seemed like it probably wasn't that necessary, but I did deviate slightly with the chipotles. I knew these burgers would be too spicy for my kids with the chipotle peppers, so I mixed all the ingredients together, per the recipe instructions, except for the chipotles. I made two patties chipotle-less, and then I mixed some finely minced chipotles into the rest of the mixture and made four more patties.

The end result was pleasing to everyone except SweetPotato - she is not a fan of bean-based burgers, and this proved to be no exception. Everyone else loved it! El Hombre's reaction upon taking his first bite was, "Ooooooh, mmmmmmmm." My Dad nodded his head in approval and said, "It's good, Julie." Later, he admitted being pleasantly surprised at how good it was, and he went back and ate the sixth burger. SweetPea devoured her burger, and part of her sister's. I thought they were really good, too. The texture was nice - crusty on the outside with a softer interior, and the flavor was just right. They reminded me of one of my favorite recipes from Rick Bayless, his Crusty Lentil Cakes from his cookbook, Mexican Kitchen.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Quinoa Salad with Black Beans & Toasted Cumin Seeds

Quinoa Salad with Black Beans & Toasted Cumin Seeds, page 31

I love quinoa. I love black beans. And I love cumin. So, I thought, what's not to love about this recipe?

I made the salad early in the day and then let the bowl sit in the refrigerator until our late dinner, so the flavors would have a chance to develop. And it was good, and satisfying, and refreshing. But still, it was missing some kind of oomph for me. Maybe a little more lime juice? I think that would be good. Maybe even some more cumin. I don't think the agave was necessary at all, and I'd probably leave that out next time.

There were mixed reviews from the family; El Hombre said it was good. As for the girls, it was the opposite from last night's dinner: SweetPea just kind of pushed things around on her plate, while SweetPotato gobbled her portion right up. I made little baby corncakes to go along with the salad, and everyone seemed to enjoy those.

My dad is coming to visit for a few days - anyone have suggestions on which recipes to try out on him? He's certainly no vegetarian, but he's not necessarily averse to meatless meals, either. I was thinking the Chipotle Lentil Burgers sound good... any other ideas?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Brussels Sprout-Potato Hash

Brussels Sprout-Potato Hash, page 65
with scrambled tofu and toasted pumpernickel

Is it Tuesday already? Yes, yes it is. The month of May is turning out to be quite the crazy time for this family, and I'm really looking forward to things slowing down once June is here. However, we just returned from a great little family vacation last week, and this hash hit the spot as we settled back into home on Monday night.

It was pretty easy: slice up some Brussels sprouts and potatoes, cook until about tender, add some onion, garlic, thyme, and lemon zest for seasoning and cook another fifteen minutes or so, and it's done. Served with scrambled tofu and toasted pumpernickel, and it was like a cozy breakfast for dinner. SweatPea surprised me and went back for a second serving. While SweetPotato enjoyed the potatoes and seasonings, she reported the Brussels sprouts tasted a bit "strong" for her young taste buds. I enjoyed this dinner, as did El Hombre; leftovers were equally enjoyable as part of my lunch today.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Baked Falafel

Baked Falafel, page 121
and green salad with garlicky-lemon sauce

I've been looking for a good but easy, low-fat, baked falafel recipe, and here it is. Again, tonight's dinner was a win for the whole house, which is always a good thing for me. I ate my falafels atop some green salad with cucumbers and tomatoes, while El Hombre and the girls ate theirs pita-style. Topped off with a simple garlicky-lemon sauce (silken tofu blended with lemon juice, garlic and salt), and dinner really couldn't have been more pleasant.

I ended up with more falafel patties than the recipe said I would - I had about 20 falafel per recipe instead of the twelve indicated. I'm not sure why. My falafel balls were about "walnut-size," as directed, before being flattened into patties. I used my mini-ice cream scoop to portion out the mixture, which made the process go pretty fast. I think they were the right size, but maybe they were a bit small.

We'll be heading out tomorrow morning for a little family vacation; I went ahead and made a double recipe so we can pack up some pita fixin's for the road. I'm looking forward to both tomorrow's lunch and having a few days to relax with my family.

See you next week!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Ceci-Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Ceci-Roasted Red Pepper Soup, page 200

It wasn't exactly soup weather today (98F? Really??), but this soup still managed to hit the spot tonight. This recipe received favorable reviews from the entire family; in fact, the girls both went back for second helpings. I love super (souper?) simple recipes that pack a powerful flavor punch, and this one certainly did just that.

I made a few modifications to the recipe, which actually made this recipe even easier and faster to put together. First, I totally cheated and used a jar of roasted red peppers, instead of roasting my own. Also, I didn't have any fresh tomatoes to chop up and toss into the pot, so I used a can of crushed tomatoes instead. I figured this would be fine, since the tomatoes are expected to break down anyway while simmering in the pot. Finally, we have a ginormous rosemary bush, so I used fresh rosemary instead of dried (two tablespoons of chopped fresh in place of the two teaspoons of dried herb). Fresh herbs are always superior in taste to dried, anyway.

The soup turned out quite tasty. I never would have thought to combine coriander and rosemary in the same dish, so that was interesting and I was pleased that it worked so well. I will certainly make this again, especially since the kids enjoyed it so much.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Big Fat Taco Salad

Big Fat Taco Salad, page 22

Feliz Cinco de Mayo! I hope yours was much more exciting than mine; I spent the day on the go around town yet again, getting home just in time to make dinner. Is this week over yet?

I started with making my own oven-baked tortilla chips, like these, because I needed to use up some corn tortillas getting stale in the refrigerator. Easy enough.

Then I made the Fresh Tomato Salsa Dressing. Since I was going to need the food processor for the Guacamame, I went ahead and used it with plenty of pulse action to make the salsa dressing as well. Also easy. As this recipe uses red wine vinegar for the sour and cayenne hot sauce for the spicy, it is a pretty good recipe to keep around for an easy salsa when my kitchen is lacking fresh limes and fresh serranos.

After washing and chopping the romaine lettuce, I started on the Guacamame. This is the part I was particularly curious about; I adore guacamole, especially El Hombre's, so I wasn't sure how we were going to feel about a version made with basically about half avocado and half pureed edamame. We were pleasantly surprised! There was enough avocado to keep the flavor and consistency about right, while the edamame cut down on the fat while boosting the protein. And it was also easy. A win! The only thing I would do differently next time is in the technique: instead of using the pulse mode on the food processor to get the onion and tomatoes chopped up, I think I'd rather chop those ingredients finely by hand and just fold them into the avocado-edamame mixture. Pulsing with the food processor seemed to make the otherwise lovely green color get a bit muddy.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Supergreen Bowl

The Supergreen Bowl, page 266

Sigh. I really don't like being over-busy, but this is One of Those Weeks. With Cinco de Mayo and Mother's Day, the girls have three different ballet folklorico performances this week, in addition to practices. Piled on top of that are a few medical appointments, cleaning and laundry from the last camping trip and preparations for the next one, and all the usual schoolwork, errands, grocery shopping, housework, etc. etc. Again, sigh.

A bowl dinner seemed like a good grab-and-go option for tonight. I went with the Supergreen Bowl since I already had some quinoa in the refrigerator, some edamame in the freezer, and I loves me some o' that goddess dressing. The broccoli and greens were easy enough to chop up and steam in the microwave, and before I knew it, these bowls had practically assembled themselves. I tossed them in a soft-sided cooler and hauled everything along with us for the evening. After the girls were done dancing tonight at a community performance for Cinco de Mayo, we headed to a nearby park and enjoyed our bowls while watching the various ducks, geese, and other waterfowl in the creek.

With the quinoa and edamame, these bowls were not only delicious, but packed with plant-powered protein. I used roasted garlic in this batch of Green Goddess Garlic Dressing, and I think it turned out perfectly. I really liked this bowl combination, and will definitely eat it again.

Has anyone else tried any of the suggested bowls from Appetite for Reduction? Do you have a favorite?

Supergreen Bowls, packed and ready to go in the 'fridge