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?