Thursday, October 11, 2012

Vegan Food Gifts!

I received my tester copy of Joni Marie Newman's new book in the mail yesterday, and I couldn't be more thrilled. I have tested for three different vegan cookbooks, but this is the first book that I've received, so I feel super special!

I signed on a little late for testing this one, but all the recipes I've made have been fantastic: Chocolate Espresso Mini Loaves, Cool Lemon Cookies, Saltine Cracker Bark, Pizza Dough Mix, Pizza Sprinkle, Pepperoni Crumbles, Chipotle Ranch Dressing, Spiced Nuts-sweet and spicy, and Homemade Granola (hopefully) pictured here!

L and I are actually roadtripping today, so I am attempting to post from the road...

I am hoping this little mobile app works out, as I have been a bit of a mofo slacker this past week.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Pear Apple Ginger Juice

I had gotten these wonderful pears from the Farmer's Market, and in typical Becky fashion, I let then get a wee bit too ripe on the counter.  So before they completely disintegrated, I figured I would juice them.

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Pear Apple Ginger Juice
3 pears
1 apple*
2 celery stalks
1" piece of fresh ginger
Juice of 1 lime
*Sweet Tango, if you have not tried these yet,  you owe it too yourself, they are AMAZING!

I must say, for being an "on the fly" juice combination, this was really good.  Clean and refreshing, and it made a TON.  I'd say almost 3 cups.

Some notes about juicing pears:

Soft pears will often clog your juicer as they can block the holes in the sieve of the juicing screen in masticating juicers, like the Omega 8006.  

Juicing screen is on the left
For this reason, I tried to alternate the pear segments with the hard fleshed ingredients such as the apple and celery to help the juice flow through the juicer. 

Pure, fresh pear juice can be a very thick for some peoples tastes, (especially my better-half), so you may to prefer to dilute it with other fruits and vegetables, or add some filtered water.  

I did both. Even though I alternated the pears with the harder fruits and veggies, I still poured some water into the juicer, which cleared out a bit of the pear pulp that was stuck in the screen.  But, even after all that, L still found it to be too thick, so I poured the remaining juice in a glass bottle and froze for a later day.

This actually worked out well, because it became the base of a smoothie which I had for breakfast this morning:

BONUS Breakfast Smoothie:
1 cup flax milk, vanilla flavored
1 tbsp flax seeds
1 frozen banana
1 cup of pear apple ginger smoothie, half frozen
1 tbsp hemp protein powder

Blend and drink to start you day off great ^_^

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Iron Chef Challenge: Beet

I see on the Vegan Mofo website, that there is an Iron Chef Challenge this weekend.  And, what luck, the featured ingredient is BEET!  Now beets are one of my favorite vegetables, but alas, they are my dear, sweet L's Kryptonite.  There is no compromise on this one.  The beautiful beet root, to her, tastes like a lump of moist dirt, recently unearthed from the ground.  She has tried: roasted, sautéed, pickled, raw and juiced, and I give her credit, but she can not get past the intensely "earthy" taste.

So, needless to say, I don't buy beets too often, (or ever, actually)  But, sometimes I sneak just one...

And make juice...

I have read that juicing beets is an acquired taste.  And that drinking too much at once, especially if you are not used to it, can actually make you feel light-headed.  They are packed with a super-rich vitamin and mineral content.  Drinking the raw juice of beets actually allows you to take in vitamins A, B-1, B-2, B-6 and C, as well as folic acid, potassium, calcium, iron and fiber, all at once!  That's quite a kick!  Now I have never eaten a beet raw, so for my first juicing experience, I decided I'd go for just ONE beet (many of the recipes I've seen call for two)...  why chance it, right?

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So, we have:

1 beet
greens of one beet, washed well
1 apple
2 carrots
1 1" piece of ginger
1/2 of a lemon

Run through your juicer.  We have an Omega 8006 Juicer, and it is one awesome piece of machinery.  It works wonderfully on greens, as well as harder root vegetables like beets and carrots.

Here is the final product:

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Check out that gorgeous color! And, please, don't let this drip on anything!

Now, I don't usually get the "earthy-dirt" taste from beets, but let me tell you, drinking one, straight-up  and RAW, I could definitely get a hint of it.  Fortunately, the sweetness of the apple and carrots balanced it nicely.  And, the lemon (one of my favorite additions to any juice) balanced out the green tops.  I think I will leave the greens out next time, though, and just go for the root.  I did feel just the tiniest bit lightheaded.  Perhaps it was all the amazing vitamins and minerals going straight to my head.  One can only hope...

Have any of you raw juicers out there juiced a beet? And, if so, what did you think?

Friday, October 5, 2012

Side of Rice with your Taco??

Since my post for National Taco Day was such a big hit, I thought I'd share my favorite dish for eating alongside of tacos:

Mexican Rice

Behold, the best gosh-darn, Mexican Rice you will ever have!  When I am not making the Cilantro-Lime rice from Viva Vegan, and have a little extra prep time on my hands, THIS is the rice I make for chomping alongside tacos.

Now, the original recipe can be found here, on the site formerly know as Recipe*zaar. (It has now been taken over by Food Network, and is a bit too corporate, and full of non-vegan ads for my taste... Now, I have Pinterest, which is a whole other addiction)! And the best part is: you only need to do one simple thing to make this recipe vegan: substitute the chicken broth to VEGETABLE.

This fantastic recipe was posted by Chef Pot Scrubber, a most colorful and vibrant member of the site.  Check out his profile page here, and see what I mean!

"Are you craving that great Mexican rice from your favorite taco stand? Here it is. This is just like a good Mexican restaurant rice. Many recipes taste good... but the texture just isn't right. You know how it is... you have prepared scores of Mexican rice recipes but always have been disappointed. It may be delicious but kinda "gloopy and wet." Try this. Everything is pureed and cooked in. There are no chunks of anything... just dry fluffy rice with all the seasonings and just the tiniest hint of a tomato flavor. I will throw away all of my Mexican rice recipes- this is the one I have been looking for for years! ... Proceed at your own peril if you stray. Enjoy". ~Chef Pot Scrubber

When you click on the link above, you will be brought to the most THOROUGH recipe instructions that I think I have ever read... or followed, for that matter.  Follow them to a "tee", and you will be enjoying some might fine Mexican rice in no time.

Mexican Rice

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Happy National Taco Day!

Just because I'm vegan, doesn't mean I can't ROCK THE TACOS!

I plan to read far and wide, through all the Vegan Mofo posts, in search of some of your favorite taco fillings during this whole month of vegan food - so be on the lookout!

Here are a few of mine:

Seitan "Fake Steak" and Green Pepper Tacos (see my review here) served with home made Flour Tortillas

Gallo Pinto - Costa Rican Rice & Beans
Gallo Pinto (Rice and Bean) Tacos!
Recipe from Viva Vegan, one of my favorite cookbooks.

Home-Style Refried Beans
Home Style Refried Bean Tacos!
Recipe (again) from Viva Vegan

Spicy Hummus, Taco Filling, Daiya and Jalapeno Wrap
Spicy hummus, taco crumbles, Daiya and XTRA jalapeños!

Cruncy Taco with Daiya and Sour Cream
I'm embarrassed that I have no vegetables whatsoever on this one, but...
The Old Standby: Taco flavored TVP crumbles, Daiya and Tofutti (totally fake, but totally good)

Spicy Bean Burrito
Here, I at least added lettuce and tomato!
Spicy canned vegan refried beans, lettuce, tomato and Daiya - Sprinkled with chili spices

Big Fat Taco Salad (from Appetite for Reduction)
Big, Fat, Taco Salad - from Appetite for Reduction (one of my favorites)  If you have never made Guacamame before, what are you waiting for?!

Sweet & Savory Jackfruit Carnitas Tacos - Recipe Testing
Sweet & Savory Jackfruit Carnitas Tacos!
Recipe Test from Terry Hope Romero's upcoming book: Vegan Eats World - which is going to be AWESOME and you should all get it!

No cheese of sour cream on my tacos!  It's GUACAMOLE all the way...

Quick & Simple Basic Guacamole
2 avocados
4 scallions or 1/2 a red onion, minced
Juice of 1 lime
1 jalapeño, minced (seeded or not, your choice)
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
3/4 tsp sea salt, or to taste
*combine and mash

Chorizo Crumbles - 500 Vegan Recipes
Seitan Chorizo Crumble Tacos - from 500 Vegan Recipes.  These crumbles are great, especially if you are pressed for time and can't make a full batch of seitan chorizo sausages.

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And, last but not least: a WTF TACO
We have all been guilty of making one of these, I'm sure.  This was actually cubed up Seitan O'Greatness, sautéed with baby spinach and some Teese... not one of my better creations, but still satisfying.

If you've made it to the bottom of this monstrous post, please feel free share with me YOUR favorite taco creations ^_^

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Simple Oven Roasted Potatoes

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Today's recipe inspiration comes from one of the biggest Food Network MOFOs of them all, Tyler Florence.
I'm kidding... but seriously...
I happened to find his simple, no-fuss recipe for home made oven fries through a random internet search.  They were such a big hit in our house (and by big hit, I mean the two of us ate the entire sheet), that I find I use this basic recipe formula pretty much every time I roast potatoes.

Simple Oven Fries 
by Tyler Florence

  • 2 large russet potatoes, scrubbed and unpeeled, cut in 1/2 lengthwise, and then cut into fourths to make 16 big, fat wedges
  • 1-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt, and pepper to taste
  • 1-2 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves, fresh or dried (I’ve used both)
  • 1/4 cup Nutritional yeast flakes
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Preheat a baking sheet in the hot oven for at least 15 minutes.
While the baking sheet is heating, toss the potatoes with the olive oil and 1 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. 
Then dump the potatoes out onto a baking sheet, spreading to a single layer. 
Roast for 30 to 35 minutes, shaking the pan every now and then, until the potatoes are cooked through, brown and crispy. 
Toss the fries in a big bowl and sprinkle with parsley and nutritional yeast.

I didn't have to change much from the original recipe; I just substituted Nutritional Yeast for the parmesan.  What is so great about this recipe is that it can be easily doubled, and, depending on your mood, you can and add any additional spices or seasonings you prefer.  For example, the batch above, I cut the potatoes into large cubes instead of fries, added some onion and garlic powder, and seasoned salt.

Some other nice additions might be:
paprika (sweet or smoked)
rosemary and sea salt
garlic and crushed red pepper
cumin and coriander
herbs de provence
or, our favorite, OLD BAY!

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One secret I do have is that I cook these on a pre-heated stone baking sheet that I got from Pampered Chef a while back.  Their stoneware heats up so nice, and really gives a nice brown crust to anything you might be roasting, especially potatoes.

What are your favorite spice combinations for roasted potatoes?  Please feel free to share because we are always looking for new flavors ^_^

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Not Your Average Chopped Taco Salad

Today we have time for a quickie (and by "quickie" I mean a quick and simple, no-fuss weeknight meal).

"NOT Your Average Chopped Taco Salad"
Aptly named by my better-half 

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Sometimes I try and challenge myself to make a meal from only the things I have on hand, or leftovers in the fridge or pantry.

Here we have:
  • Shredded Romaine lettuce (from the Farmer's Market at work) 
  • 1 can of black beans, seasoned with garlic, chili powder, and a wee bit of chipotle powder, 
  • 1/2 cup of quinoa, cooked in 1 cup of vegetable broth, with 2 tsp of taco spice and some seasoned salt
  • chopped tomato and red onion, salt and pepper

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1 avocado cubed with 3/4 cup of shelled edamame (leftovers) tossed with salt, pepper and lime juice*I had steamed up some edamame, which I would take to work as a snack.  These last few pods were the leftovers so I thought I'd toss them in with the avocado cubes, in the style of "Guacamame" from Appetite for Reduction.
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Dressing was the juice of 1/2 a lime, 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar, 1 tbsp olive oil and agave to taste!
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Ugly phone pic, sorry
Of course, we had to go and crumble tortilla chips all over our individual bowls, just for added crunch. However, I tried to keep the "food porn" healthy looking.  When will we ever learn... ^_^
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Monday, October 1, 2012

Apple, Cinnamon & Brown Sugar Steel Cut Oats

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I love oatmeal. As a child, I vividly remember waiting patiently for the kettle to boil, as I sat peering above a bowl of freeze-dried apple and cinnamon flavored instant oatmeal.  Most of the time, we would have Cream of Wheat, but every now and again, mom would buy packets of apple and cinnamon instant oatmeal, and I thought that was something really special!

1978 Instant Quaker Oatmeal Flavor Variety Packs A
~Pure 70s graphic goodness~
What I loved most was that each packet had a different scene of adorable little cartoon people, enjoying their oatmeal in a variety of ways!  This photo above brings back a lot of memories, because, as a child, I ate a lot of oatmeal.

Fast forward 30 or so years, to an age where pre-packaged, overly processed, convenience food is not my usual breakfast of choice.  The days of buying these sugary packets have long gone by the wayside.  But, the crisp, cool mornings of Fall are calling for something warm and comforting for breakfast.

Enter steel cut oats.

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I've always known they existed.  Steel cut oats, also know as Scotch oats, are one of the (many unique) fillings inside of haggis.  They are also one of the least processed forms of oats.  Once the oats are harvested, and their outer hull removed, you have a grout which looks something like a grain of brown rice, but has its outer coat of bran still intact.  Oats in this form take a very long time to cook, and even after a considerable amount of boiling time, they are still pretty much as chewy, like rice shaped rubber bands. Not fun.  But once these grouts are passed through the blades of steel cutters, and chopped down to a smaller, more cookable size, they can be prepared in about 40 minutes.

I've seen them on countless breakfast buffets, steaming away...  Sadly, they are usually cooked with milk, and even served with heavy cream on the side (gag).  I was determined to try these at home, and I decided to consult The Master of all simple, basic, from-scratch cooking: Alton Brown.  I've had the most incredible luck with his recipes, first reading his cooking techniques and food history, and then making the appropriate vegan substitutions.  So here we go:

Steel Cut Oatmeal - Vegan Style
Original Recipe from Alton Brown

1 tablespoon Earth Balance Coconut Spread*
1 cup steel cut oats
3 cups boiling water
1/2 cup almond milk
1/2 cup almond milk plus 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar** 
2 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
I large apple, cored and diced
splash of soy creamer, optional

*I had a coupon for this.  I find it does have a hint of coconut flavor, which I might not want to use in certain savory dishes, but I thought for toasting the oats it would be delicious!

**Vegan sub for buttermilk. Once the milk and vinegar are allowed to sit for a few minutes, it can be combined right with the almond milk.

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  • Start your water boiling in a kettle - I have a large heatproof glass measuring cup ready to measure out the 3 cups of water.
  • In a large sauce pot, melt the Earth Balance and add the oats. 
  • Stir for 2 minutes to toast. 
  • Add the boiling water and reduce heat to a simmer. 
  • Keep at a low simmer for 25 minutes, without stirring.
  • Combine the milk and half of the buttermilk with the oatmeal. 
  • It is here that I add the salt, cinnamon, brown sugar and 3/4 of the chopped apple.
  • Stir gently to combine and cook covered for an additional 10 minutes. 
  • Add a splash of soy creamer for a richer taste.
  • Scoop into bowls, and top with additional chopped apple and cinnamon
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These oats, made from scratch, cook up into the most delectably creamy, slightly chewy and toasty morning goodness!  And, they're a buck fifty-nine for organic at the bulk bins in Whole Foods.  Can't beat that.  Now, who's gonna try these from scratch at home? Your cholesterol numbers will thank you ^_^