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 sixteen of vegan recipe challenge: a Sunday cooking investment pays off

Confession: I had never – even in my pre-vegan days – made enchiladas. And, growing up in the Southwest, making enchiladas were practically a rite of passage. Regardless, I still ate them like they were hot cakes – covered in cheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeze (I really wanted to emphasize the layers of cheese typically covering this dish. Can you feel the gooey weight?)

SO, this past Sunday, while the Detroit Lions battled the Dallas Cowboys upstairs (to no avail in the land of football playoffs), I took on another Veganomicon recipe: Potato and Kale Enchiladas.

onions
Sweat baby sweat

Fair warning: it took me about 30 – 45 minutes longer than the hour time projection from the cookbook. I can certainly take the fall for being a little slower than the average bear in the kitchen, but it was one of those meals where I wished that I had a cooking partner or a few additional limbs to help out. Still, it was worth every minute. We enjoyed the leftovers for the next two days. AND THE ENCHILADA SAUCE is just divine – rich and spicy and I will make this and pour it on other dishes (I ate it directly out of the pot multiple times).

INGREDIENTS:
Enchilada Chile Sauce:
2 Tbs grapeseed oil or olive oil
1 onion, diced
3 large green chilies (such as Anaheim or Italian-style long green peppers), roasted, seeded, peeled and coarsely chopped (I did roast my own chilies – oh my! So much fresh flavor. If you have to use canned chilies, go for it. If you can roast them the day before, do it! I chose not to peel mine either)
2-3 tsp Ancho chili pepper power (I used chipotle because I bought the wrong spice – it was still good)
1-1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp marjoram or Mexican oregano (epazote)
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes, roasted preferred
1 tsp sugar (I used agave)
1-1/2 tsp salt

Potato and Kale Filling:
1 lb waxy potatoes (Yukon gold or red) – I used Yukon
1/2 lb kale, washed, trimmed and chopped finely
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 C vegetable broth or water
3 Tbs lime juice
1/4 C toasted pumpkin seeds
1 1/2 tsp salt (I used just one teaspoon – I still found this dish salty so I would reduce further in future making sessions or remove it altogether)
12 – 14 corn tortillas

Directions: [Note: I am pulling these instructions from Epicurian Vegan because they are FABULOUS. Check out this site for so many more amazing recipes!]

Preheat oven to 375. Use a 11.5″x7.5″ casserole dish. To save yourself a headache: first, get the kale washed, trimmed and chopped, and peel and dice the potatoes.

To prepare the sauce, saute the onion and oil in a large skillet over medium heat, about 4-7 minutes. Add remaining sauce ingredients, bring to a simmer.

Remove from the heat, let cool, then taste it to adjust seasoning, if necessary. Puree in an immersion or regular blender until smooth. (I used the food processor). – I used my blender!

To prepare the filling, boil the potatoes until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and set aside. (This next step, I recommend doing while the potatoes are cooking) Cook the grapeseed oil and minced garlic in a sauce pot (I used the same skillet from the sauce–just washed it out) over medium heat until garlic just begins to brown. Add the kale, sprinkle with some salt and stir often. Partially cover the pot and steam the kale about 4-6 minutes. Then add the potatoes, broth (or water), lime juice, pumpkin seeds, and salt. Mash the potatoes a little bit with a spoon. Cook another 3-4 minutes.

To create these fabulous enchiladas . . . finally. . . the recipe says to ladle some sauce in a shallow dish and a heated griddle. Seriously?! My kitchen already looked like the Swedish Chef had made a 10-course meal in it and adding another pan to my already-crowded workspace just wasn’t going to happen. Plus, the tortillas I used are perfect for rolling—they’re soft enough already that they won’t crack. So if you wish to torture yourself, this is what the original recipe says: Ladle a bit of sauce onto the bottom of the casserole dish (ok, I did do that). Take a corn tortilla, place it on the heated griddle for 30 seconds, flip over and heat until soft and pliable. Drop the tortilla into the sauce and cover it completely with sauce. Place it in the casserole dish and layer it with another heat, sauce-covered tortilla (or use one. Or don’t do it that way at all). Seriously, too messy and labor-intensive. Fill with potato filling and roll up. Ok, I took the easy epicurean vegan way. After adding a layer of sauce on the bottom, I scooped some filling into my already soft and wonderfully pliable tortilla, rolled it up and placedit in the pan. That easy. Continue until the pan is filled.

Katie interjection: Here’s my “enchilada making station.” And I definitely did not heat up my tortillas because at this point, I was also wiped and just wanted to eat:

stationAlmost looks like cinnamon applesauce. I need to learn how to take better food photos.

After reserving about 1-1/2 cups of the sauce, pour the rest over the enchiladas. Now, I can’t imagine enchiladas without cheese, so I sprinkled some Daiya cheese shreds on top. – I left mine cheese-less and I still thought they were great. Will definitely try with cheese next time!

Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 10-15 minutes. Top individual servings with the extra sauce (that you’ve warmed up). You may not recognize your kitchen once these are in the oven, but at least while they bake, you’ll have time to reclaim your space

So, here’s what mine looked like –

enchilNo wonder they grow so much cheese on it. I may not have let them “cool” long enough before I attacked with my spatula. The end result = messchiladas.

I even threw some avocados on top during my lunch reheats. Yum. Yum. Yum.

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!

Warming Up From the Inside Out

In case you were hibernating in an underground lair last week, the majority of our country experienced the still trending Polar Vortex. I experienced the coldest temperatures ever as an adult: a high of 27F. How to counter the chill of Jack Frost outside of continual transitions between hot baths and nestling up to the space heater? Make warm, delicious comfort food. Last week had two new gems for dinner entrees:

1) Spicy Vegan Black Bean Soup via Cookie + Kate

IMAG1172Mmmmm…

This was an easy, relatively quick dinner to make during the week. My soup isn’t quite as dark in color as the one pictured in the blog due to using homemade black beans instead of canned. This did affect the overall seasoning profile; I will be sure to add more if I use homemade beans in the future. I would also puree less of the soup than I did in the first batch – I love the chunks of carrots, beans, onions, and celery. We paired it with a slice of crusty Italian loaf from Guglhupf Bakery here in Durham.

2) Chipotle Quinoa Sweet Potato Tacos via Half Baked Harvest

IMG_20140108_190430Didn’t I just see those toppings…?

After having some overwhelming, tear-induced experiences with chipotles in adobo, I was a bit gun shy at first with the recipe. TWO minced peppers? And one tablespoon sauce? AND cayenne? Well, I opted to leave the cayenne out, which was great because this recipe did  boast a nice, robust heat (but no tears – only when I was done with my plate because I wanted to inhale more). This recipe is SUPER filling and made more than we anticipated. I did not make her Roasted Cranberry Pomegranate Salsa, but I will. Oh yes, I will.

In other fun cooking exploration in the last few days, I attempted making homemade Lara bars via 100 Days of Real Food. Since I absolutely adore anything cashew, I opted to make the bars with 1 cup cashews, 1 cup dates, 1/4 cup peanut butter, and 1 – 2 tablespoons water (i used 2). Now, this recipe SAYS it makes 12 bars. Square bars. After whipping this up in the food processor, I was shocked to feel how oily the mash had become – much more difficult to form into squares than anticipated. So, I made bars more similar to the packaged Lara bars and cut them in half. I think they are delicious, and it is great to have just a small pick me up to grab before working out. Currently, I open a Lara bar and break it into two, saving the other half for the next day.

IMAG1176

Jump into the pool!

IMAG1177

It’s getting there…

IMAG1178Awww..hey little bar (and penguin blanket – I swear, it’s my cats….right)

IMAG1180Or…not….

What are your comfort dishes on those blustery winter days?