Day 26 of vegan recipe challenge: cooking with friends

Perhaps “Cooking with Friends” could be the “Words with Friends” for the new year. Less wordy, less competitive, and the outcome literally puts food on the table.

Yesterday afternoon, my friend Jessi and I took on our own culinary friendship date. During the process, we touched on our own challenges when cooking with our partners: the improv chef versus the stick-to-the-recipe, the “this is how I do it” mindset [totally guilty of this one], so for a friend to be willing to chop, simmer, and saute along side you, I chalk that up to a pretty big deal.

We started with Angela Liddon’s Thai-Inspired Hydrating Cucumber Salad with Roasted Spiced Chickpeas.. I showed some self-restraint and allowed the chickpeas to cook longer than I had previously, giving them even more crunch (and subsequently keeping fewer on the baking sheet as I snuck a couple each time I walked by – oops!). Below, find the recipes from the Oh She Glows blog for both the salad and the roasted chickpeas.

Bowl2You will be quenched, my friends.

Thai-Inspired Cucumber Salad with Roasted Spiced Chickpeas

Yield: about 3 portions

Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1.5-2 tablespoons natural cane sugar, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

Salad:

  • 2 medium field cucumbers
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 cup diced red onion
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup chopped roasted peanuts, for garnish
  • Roasted spiced chickpeas (recipe follows)

1. Whisk dressing ingredients together in a small bowl and adjust to taste. Feel free to add more sweetener if you prefer. Set aside.

2. Peel cucumbers, slice off the ends, and slice in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds with a small spoon (see photo in post if necessary). Slice halves into 1/8-inch “half moons” and toss into a large bowl. If your cucumbers are really big you can slice the half-moons in half as well.

3. Dice the red pepper and red onion and add into bowl. Roughly chop cilantro and add into bowl. Pour in all the dressing and toss to combine. Let this salad sit for about 30 minutes in the fridge, tossing every 10 minutes or so to help the dressing soak in.

4. Meanwhile, prepare the roasted chickpeas (if desired). Recipe follows.

5. Portion into bowls and top with peanuts and roasted chickpeas (optional). Serve immediately.

Roasted Spiced Chickpeas

Yield: 1.5 cups chickpeas or 3 (1/2 cup) servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 (15-oz) can chickpeas (or 1.5 cups cooked)
  • 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric

1. Preheat oven to 400F and line a medium baking sheet with a couple pieces of paper towel.

2. Rinse and drain the chickpeas and place onto paper towel. Add a couple paper towels on top and roll the chickpeas around until completely dry. This helps them crisp up in the oven.

3. Add the chickpeas into a medium mixing bowl and stir in the oil until coated. Now stir in the rest of the seasonings.

4. Discard paper towel and line baking sheet with parchment paper. Add chickpeas back onto the baking sheet.

5. Roast at 400F for 20 minutes. Give the pan a gentle shake to stir the chickpeas and roast for another 15-20 minutes, until golden and lightly charred on the bottom. I roast for a full 40 minutes because I like them on the crispy side, but keep an eye on them as oven temps vary.

6. Cool for 5 minutes or so and then top on your salad. They will lose their crispness quickly so these are best enjoyed immediately. If need be, you can freeze them once fully cooled, reheat them in the oven for about 5 minutes or so to bring back the crispiness.

But, that’s not all!

That was just the starter set. We jumped over to Isa Does It for the Curried Peanut Sauce Bowl with Tofu & Kale. Recently, I reveled in my love for peanut butter. If you have the same lust in your heart, you will MELT over this sauce. After making it, I would put it on anything (even a bird):

No, not really a bird. But as pizza sauce? Yes. On salads? Yes. Over a bowl of quinoa and veggies? Yes. On ANYTHING? Almost yes.

Curried Peanut Sauce Bowl with Tofu & Kale
Serves 4
Total time: 25 minutes; active time: 25 minutes

For the tofu:
1 tablespoon olive oil (I used peanut)
14 ounces extra-firm tofu, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the sauce and kale:
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup water
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter (!!!)
2 teaspoons curry powder (see note)
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons tamari (can sub soy sauce)
2 tablespoons agave nectar
1 teaspoon sriracha
1 bunch kale, stems removed, torn into pieces
Pinch of salt

For serving:
4 cups brown rice, quinoa, or rice noodles
Sriracha (optional)
Fresh cilantro (optional)

Note: Isa recommended S&B Oriental Curry Powder. I could not find it so I used a traditional curry powder. If you can find the S&B brand, the star anise in it supposedly really shines. It’s on my list!

Prepare the tofu:
You’ll need a cast-iron pan, or something nonstick that can take very high heat. Preheat the pan over high heat. Once the pan is good and hot, apply the oil in a thin layer. Add the cubed tofu and sprinkle with the salt. The tofu should immediately sizzle when it hits the hot pan; otherwise, turn up the heat. Cook for about 7 minutes, tossing often, until it’s nicely browned.

Prepare the sauce:
Preheat a 2-quart saucepan over medium-low heat and add the oil. Saute the ginger and garlic in the oil for about 30 seconds. Add the water and deglaze the pan, then turn up the heat a bit. Once the water is warm, add the peanut butter, curry powder, rice vinegar, tamari, agave, and sriracha. As the ingredients heat up, the peanut butter will blend smoothly into the water as you stir. It should take 5 minutes or so, stirring often. Taste for seasonings, especially to see if you like the level of curry, and add more if you like.

Prepare the kale:
Get your steaming apparatus ready. Place the kale in the steamer and sprinkle on a pinch of salt. Steam for about 5 minutes, until soft but still with a little spring to it.

To assemble:
Spoon the rice into bowls. Add the kale, then the tofu, and smother in the peanut sauce. Top with sriracha and cilantro, if you like.

How differently our three bowls turned out:

Bowl4Aaron

Bowl3Jessi

Bowl1Katie’s…and the worst photo (le sigh)

Have you cooked with any of your friends? Was it a success? Or is it still something we don’t talk about?

Day 21 of vegan recipe challenge: only 18 more days to go

Admission: taking on this self-imposed challenge to post a vegan recipe through the end of January is not easy for me.

The difficulty doesn’t stem from having access to excllent recipes. It all boils down to time. How I want to spend my time, how I actually spend my time, how I “should” spend my time. As I’ve mused before, I also feel much more burned out sitting in front of a computer these days. I essentially spend my working day basking in the glow of the online realm (the irony of working for the environment – not being in it enough!)

Still, it’s nice to be uncomfortable with meeting deadlines. I still feel that way, at times, with running. This past Sunday’s 14-miler didn’t feel bad physically, but it managed to suck my mental energy out completely. Perhaps it was my overwhelming tiredness of cold weather. Perhaps it was because I managed to get a little lost on the trail. I still completed the run, in my goal pace time. And next weekend’s runs will be better. Challenge is healthy.

In the ode to my lust for all things crunchy, I’m sharing another Oh She Glows recipe that I made with friend Samara for a double date night a few months ago. Cooking with friends is FUN and certainly not done enough. Not only does it make the meal taste even more satisfying, but you have dedicated time to catch-up over chopping onions and making quinoa. I already have additional cooking with friends dates scheduled for this month and hope to add more over the year.

Crispy Quinoa Cakes
Makes 12 cakes
Prep time: 25 minutes; Cook time: 25 minutes
Gluten free; vegan

quinoa cakesPhoto: Angela Liddon, Oh She Glows

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 2 tablespoons ground flax + 6 tablespoons water
  • 1 cup destemmed and finely chopped kale
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats, ground into a flour (use certified gluten-free if necessary)
  • 1/2 cup finely grated sweet potato
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons finely diced onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon runny tahini paste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons red or white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt, or to taste
  • 3 tablespoons gluten-free all-purpose flour (I used King Arthur) or regular all-purpose flour
  • red pepper flakes, to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Mix the ground flax and water in a small bowl and set aside for 5 minutes or so to thicken.
  3. Combine all ingredients together in a large bowl, including the flax mixture and the 1.5 cups cooked quinoa. Stir well until the mixture comes together. Don’t forget the flour because it helps bind the patties.
  4. Shape mixture into 1/4-cup patties with wet hands. Pack tightly so they hold together better. Place on baking sheet.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes, then carefully flip cakes, and bake for another 8-10 minutes until golden and firm.
  6. Cool for 5 minutes on the sheet and then enjoy!
  7. Store leftovers in a container in the fridge for up to 5-6 days. To reheat, preheat a skillet over medium heat, add a bit of oil, and cook patties for about 3 minutes per side, or until heated through.

Tips: 1) To cook quinoa, rinse 1 cup uncooked quinoa in a fine mesh strainer. Place quinoa in a medium pot and cover with 1 1/2 cups water. Bring to a low boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and then cover with a tight fitting lid. Simmer covered for 14-17 minutes until most of the water is absorbed and the quinoa is light and fluffy. Remove from heat, fluff with a fork, and then place lid back on to steam for another 4-5 minutes. Note that this makes almost 3 cups of cooked quinoa and you only need 1 1/2 cups for this recipe, so you will have leftover quinoa (which is never a bad thing if you ask me!).

2) To make oat flour, add the oats into a high speed blender and blend on the highest speed until a fine flour forms. You can also use store-bought oat flour if desired.

We paired these cakes with a salad (if my memory recalls correctly), which provided a nice balance. Have you ever “cooked with friends”? Would you?

Day seven of vegan recipe challenge: me-so hangry

Channeling 2 Live Crew is the only way to kick off this banging dish.

It’s another gem from the Oh She Glows cookbook, and as I’ve written about previously, if you haven’t meet miso yet, you are missing out.

What is miso?

Miso is a paste made from fermenting soybeans with salt, a fungus, and sometimes other special ingredients (barely!). Yum, right?

Yes, yum is the correct answer. As you strive to achieve ooji breath in yoga, you want to aim for umami, your sixth sense. (Read fun earlier blog post here).

Not only will miso ping your taste buds in ways you only thought cheese and other foods could, it will bring you to a whole new level of existence, man. Perhaps a bit of a stretch, but this enlightened miso power bowl will leave you full and feeling energized.

I also wanted to address two questions that may come up in cooking:

1) Where do I find miso? Stories like Whole Foods and Earth Fare have a wide selection of miso. It’s not always cheap (ranging from $5 to $8) but it lasts over many dishes. You can also find miso (there’s white, yellow, purple, brown, etc.) at Asian markets and even at Trader Joe’s

2) Is there a substitute for maple syrup? Always. I don’t typically keep maple syrup in the house. I’m a big fan of agave nectar, and there is even a maple-infused agave nectar that I like to buy. I buy this at Kroger. You can also use honey too. Eating honey can be contentious issue for vegans, as it is an animal-derived product. I do choose to eat honey, but I’ll let you make that decision for yourself.

Enlightened_Miso_BowlPhoto credit via Angela Liddon

Enlightened Miso Power Bowl
Serves 2
Prep time: 20 minutes; Cook time: 28 to 30 minutes
gluten-free, nut-free, refined sugar-free, soy-free option

1 sweet potato, cut into 1/2-inch rounds
1 1/2 teaspoon olive oil or coconut oil, melted
Fine-grain sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup uncooked quinoa

To Assemble:
1 cup frozen shelled edamame, thawed
1 medium carrot, julienned
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1.4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon sesame seeds (optional)
1 tablespoon hemp seeds (optional)
1/2 cup sprouts (optional)

For Orange-Maple Miso Dressing:
3 tablespoons light miso
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon tahini
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon maple syrup

1) Preheat the oven to 400 F (200 C).

2) While the oven is heating up, make the Orange Maple Miso Dressing: In a mini or regular food process, combined the miso, vinegar, sesame oil, tahini, orange juice, water, and maple syrup and process until well combined.

2) Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper (or invest in these amazing silicone baking liners!). Place the sweet potato rounds on the prepared baking sheet and drizzle them with the oil, rubbing it on both sides to coat. Sprinkle the sweet potatoes with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes, then flip the potatoes and roast fr 8 to 10 minutes more, until tender and lightly browned.

3) While the sweet potatoes are roasting, cook the quinoa following the directions on the package

4) To assemble, divide the cooked quinoa evenly between 2 plates or bowl and season it with salt and pepper (Katie note: I NEVER divide the quinoa evenly because there is too much for two dinners. I put about 1/2 – 3/4 cup in our bowls and then save the rest). Top with the roasted sweet potato rounds, the edamame, carrots, green onion, cilantro, and, if using, the same seeds, hemp seeds, and sprouts. rizzle with Orange-Maple Miso Dressing and enjoy!

Day six of vegan recipe challenge: what the kale

In 2014, what has been hotter than Nicki Minaj, selfies, and the podcast Serial?

Kale.

Kale is still reigning as the “it” food. Will it be resigned to the “so last year” list in 2015? I doubt it. No only is the vegetable packed with vitamins and antioxidants, it’s versatile enough when someone says something ridiculous like – “I don’t like kale” – you can say: “But you haven’t tried it like this yet.” Maybe they still won’t like kale, but at least you’ve hit them with your best shot.

festive

Behold! A kale salad of wonder that christened our dining room table this Thanksgiving. No surprise: it’s another Angela Liddon masterpiece found in her first and latest cookbook – “The Oh She Glows Cookbook.”

The splotch marks of the pomegranate juice in my cookbook show that while a mess may occur, it’s so worth it. Who wants a clean cookbook?

splotchThe war of cooking takes its toll

Festival Kale Salad with sweet apple-cinnamon vinaigrette & pecan Parmesan
Serves 4 to 6
Prep Time: 20 to 25 minutes; Cook time: 7 to 9 minutes
gluten-free, soy-free, refined sugar-free, grain-free

For the pecan Parmesan:
1/2 cup pecans, toasted
1 1/2 teaspoon nutritional yeast
1 1/2 to 3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon fine grain salt

For the dressing:
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (from 1/2 lemon)
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil or grapeseed oil
2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh peeled ginger

To Assemble:
1 bunch kale, destemmed and leaves torn into bite-size pieces
1 apple, cored and finely chopped
1.4 cup dried cranberries
1.2 cup pomegranate arils (from about 1/2 pomegranate)

1) Make the Pecan Parmesan. Preheat the oven to 300F (150C). Spread the pecans in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven for 7 to 9 minutes, until lightly golden and fragrant. Set aside to cool for 5 minutes.

2) In a mini food processor, combine the toasted pecans, nutritional yeast, oil, and salt and process until crumbly and combined. (You can also chop the pecans by hand and mix everything in a small bowl.) Set aside.

3) Make the Dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, lemon juice, maple syrup, cinnamon, salt, oil, applesauce, and ginger until combined.

4) To assemble the salad, place the kale in a large salad bowl and pour on the dressing. With your hands, massage the dressing into the kale leaves until fully coasted. Let stand for at least 30 minutes. The kale will soften slightly during this time.

5) Top the kale with the apple, cranberries, and pomegranate arils. Spring the Pecan Parmesan over the salad just before serving.

Voila! Easy, delicious salad with a nice healthy crunch, some sweetness – and it’s so pretty!

Day five of recipe challenge: post-holiday cleanup

Strewn wrapping paper. Needles dotting the carpet with its full-front green assault. The post-cookie/cocktail/what did I eat at 1am while hiding presents hangover in effect.

picture-perfectThe Griswold family Christmas clean-up?

The first challenge is: don’t beat yourself up if you did get off track. I definitely hung up my exercise shoes on Christmas Day. Not that I didn’t want to run (the sun was FINALLY out!) or be active, but there is something so rare and special as the time of togetherness. How often are you truly together – and present – with the ones you love? Distance, devices, and distractions keep us from achieving this more often than not, and I elected yesterday to be as faithful to the idea as possible.

The second notion to keep in mind: I’ve learned from eating a plant-based diet that – it is in fact harder to fall off the wagon than before. Sure, there are “bad foods” available to vegans (I still cannot believe Oreos are vegan). But, after time putting wholesome foods into your body that you prepare, it’s much harder to slip down that slope of processed food. Now, beer, wine and cocktails on the other hand…

Introduce, the Ohe She Glows “Eat Your Green Detox Soup” – a way to feel better, from the inside out. Put down that gingerbread cookie! Put away the nog. Or, keep it out a for a couple more days. This soup doesn’t have to just be for post-mass consumption: it’s good whenever.

Eat Your Greens Detox Soup
Serves 3
Prep time: 25 minutes; Cook time: 20 to 30 minutes
gluten-free, nut free, soy-free, sugar-free, grain-free

1 1/2 teaspoons (7mL) coconut oil or olive oil
1 sweet onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups (750 mL) sliced cremini or white button mushrooms (about 8 ounces)
1 cup (250 mL) chopped carrots
2 cups (500 mL) chopped broccoli florets)
Fine-grain sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 1/2 to 3 teaspoons (7 to 15 mL) grated peeled fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon (2mL) ground tumeric
2 teaspoon (10 mL) ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon (0.5 mL) ground cinnamon
5 cups (1.25 L) vegetable broth
2 large nori seaweed sheets, cut into 1-inch strips (optional)
2 cups (500 mL) torn kale leaves
Fresh lemon juice, for serving (optional)

1) In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Ad the onion and garlic and saute for about 5 minutes, until the onion is soft and translucent.

2) Add the mushrooms, carrots, and broccoli and stir to combine. Season generously with salt and pepper and saute for 5 minutes more.

3) Sit in the ginger, tumeric, cumin, and cinnamon, and saute for 1 to 2 minutes, until fragrant.

4) Add the broth and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the vegetables are tender, 10 to 20 minutes.

5) Just before serving, stir in the nori (if using) and kale and cook until wilted. Season with salt and pepper and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, if desired.

C’est bon!

Eat_Your_Greens_Detox_Soup1Photo via Oh She Glows – one of the best blogs/recipe sites EVER

A semi-(cook)book review: Glowing from the Inside Out via Oh She Glows

When I first stumbled upon Angela Liddon’s blog last summer, I was initially stunned by her photographs of food, nature, and even common kitchen utensils, all elevated to items of worship. Then, I reached the next stage of the OSG nirvana: actually COOKING the multitude of recipes she had tested, tried and true. I consider the Oh She Glows blog my gateway into vegan cooking, and, the opened the door into a entirely new perspective on good.

Clearly, it would have seemed ludicrous NOT to order her cookbook: “The Oh She Glows Cookbook: Over 100 Vegan Recipes to Glow from the Inside Out.” Wait, can you still see this? Or am I glowing too much? Because I have inhaled the recipes tried thus far from this must-have guide to cooking vegan like a pro.

IMG_20140406_094154

The Green Monster, while not a new recipe of hers, has become my new morning go-to breakfast. I love the dash of cinnamon (mine becomes more of a good teaspoon). Check out the new glassware obtained over the weekend in celebration of Deep River Brewing’s one-year anniversary shindig (after drinking lots of North Carolina beer this weekend, this smoothie tasted extra good on Monday morning).

As part of my lunch series for this week, I tried her Protein Power Goddess Bowl: chocked full of lentils, quinoa (recipe calls for wheatberries but surprise, surprise, Kroger doesn’t sell them), red onion, bell pepper, tomato, and this UH-MAZING lemon tahini goodness dressing:

IMAG1643Hello giant spoon – shovel away!

Feeling like some spice in your life? Then her Quick & Easy Chana Masala will satisfy you beyond measure.

IMAG1620 Serrano, take me home.

Between the toasted cumin seeds, fresh ginger, garlic, garam masala and additional spices fusing with the chickpeas and diced tomatoes over hot basmati rice (which I had not had in WAY too long), this is a must add to your weekly rotation. While we normally try to avoid eating any “white” rice, it would be a disservice to this dish (in my humble opinion, of course!) to have it over anything BUT basmati – authenticity is key!

Thanks to a friend’s push via social media, I was inspired to take another stab at homemade hummus, and Angela’s cookbook offered her classic hummus. She touts using homecooked chickpeas as the ultimate base. While my bag was a bit too low to make for this batch, I opted for canned but DID pop each chickpea out of its skin (while watching “The Simpsons” on Sunday – definitely made the task a bit more pleasurable).

IMAG1640Take that, chickpea skins!

IMAG1642The result!

Now, it is VERY creamy, as she noted, and it does have a different texture than other homemade hummus recipes I’ve tried sans removing the skins.  It has thickened up greatly in the fridge over the last 48 hours, so I’m learning how to thin it out a bit (although it spreads sooooo nicely on our wraps).

Finally, for now, I was in need of more detox last week (what does that say about our weekend adventures as of late??), so I made her Eat Your Greens Detox Soup.

IMAG1622Let’s call this a little spring cleaning.

To put it eloquently: I freaking loved this soup. Tons of veggies (onion, carrots, kale, mushrooms, broccoli) and some seriously enticing spice combinations of fresh ginger, tumeric, cumin, cinnamon and some black pepper. Honestly, I DID feel better both while and after eating it.

So, more to come from this fantastic resource. If you are still on the fence because you don’t want to add another cookbook to your shelf, don’t listen to yourself: get it. You won’t regret it.