Day 29 of vegan recipe challege: 3 things to try

Who doesn’t like a round up blog post? It’s the cheat for promoting great ideas/content without actually creating much of said ideas/content. Call it the Upworthy or Buzzfeed creed. Without further ado:

1) Last Sunday, I held my inaugural “Cooking with Friends” adventure centered around a vegan staple: tofu. One of the most highly acclaimed dishes came from none other than everyone’s favorite crafter-gone-money-launderer Martha Stewart.

broiled tofuAfter broiling this tofu, make a wreath!

The recipe (found here) is ridiculously easy. The soy lemon pepper dipping sauce was a nice, punchy touch, and would make a great marinade or dipping sauce in other dishes, for sure.

2) This past Monday was Chipotle’s much publicized sofritas special. If you purchased a bowl/burrito/taco with sofritas on that day, you would be able to score a free bowl/burrito/tacos using your receipt on another visit. Alas, we were not able to partake due to time and finances (and the fact that we have a silly amount of food in our house). BUT – we did taste the sofritas a couple of Saturdays ago: I did a bowl with black beans, pico, and lettuce while Aaron took his in taco form topped with black beans and the corn salsa. The verdict: quite tasty with some nice heat. What a gesture to have another protein option outside of the bean staple in the takeout realm.

sofritasThanks Chipootle for bringing tofu to the hipsters

3) I still have yet to post about my (now TWO) sushi roll making adventures. If you’re in the market to get your nori on, the BambooMN brand is the set my friend Chelsea recommended to me, and I shall pass it on as well.:

sushikitKeep it rollin’

Even better, the price for the set is under $8.

Speaking of sushi, a new restaurant opened in downtown Durham this week. Basan brings more new life into the American Tobacco section of the Dirty D with a menu that boasts some pretty fabulous looking veggie sushi. For example:

Bonsai

Avocado, broccoli, carrot, asparagus, tempura green beans, wrapped with soy paper and cucumber, soy salsa on top

Garden

Frisee, tomato, avocado, cucumber inside, roasted pepper, chive on top, whole grain mustard dressing

This has been added to our restaurant must-hit list.

QUESTION TIME:

Alright vegans and non-vegans alike, are you a fan of sushi? If so, what are the ingredients you like to find in your roll?

Day 28 of vegan recipe challenge: channeling the God(dess) in all of us

I shall defer from making a litany of excuses and instead dive right into another recipe (blogger guilt in effect!) Although, I did write a blog post for our organization in the interim.

Need something simple, comforting, and cozy? From the brain of Isa Chandra Moskowitz, this dish combines tahini with tempeh, broccoli, and linguine to make that ideal bowl of goodness (or goddess). I tried this dish out last Friday on a friend, and rave reviews were heard around the table,

noodles2

Goddess Noodles with Tempeh & Broccoli
Serves 4
Total time: 30 min; Active Time: 30 min

8 ounces whole-wheat linguine
1/2 cup tahini
1/2 cup warm water
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt plus a couple more pinches
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flake
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
8 ounces tempeh, diced into 1/2-inch pieces
6 cups broccoli florets and thinly sliced stems
4 cloves garlic. minced
1 cup chopped fresh chives
Freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta. When it’s boiling, cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain and set aside, reserving a cup or so of the cooking water.

In a liquid measuring cup, use a fork to stir together the tahini, warm water, lemon juice, and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Depending on the consistency of your tahini, you may need to add more water to get it to be relatively smooth. Mix in the nutritional yeast. Set aside.

Preheat a large pan over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of the oil. Saute the tempeh in the soil with a big pinch of salt for about 7 minutes, tossing frequently, until lightly browned. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

In the same pan, cook the broccoli in another 1 tablespoon oil with a pinch of salt for about 5 minutes. The broccoli should be bright green and still have a snap to it.

Push the broccoli over to the side of the pan, and add the garlic, along with the remaining 1 teaspoon oil. Toss together and let the garlic cook for about 15 seconds, then  mix it in with the broccoli.

Now, add the pasta and use a pasta fork (or fork) to mix together the pasta and broccoli. Turn off the heat, add the tahini, and stir to coat. Now add the reserved pasta water as needed to thin the sauce and get everything coated.

Stir in the tempeh, chives, and some black pepper. Serve.

Notes from Isa:

  • The consistency of tahini can vary greatly from brand to brand. Some are thin and smooth, and others are firm and clumpy. Even the temperature of your tahini can make a difference. Depending on what your tahini is like, you may need to add more warm water to get it smooth. And if it is really clumpy, you may even need to transfer it to a small blender to smooth it out. For the best results, let your tahini come to room temperature before using for this recipe.
  • If you’re not up for tempeh, then you may use 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas instead. No need to saute: just toss them in with the linguine to heat through. And if you can’t find fresh chives, then chopped scallions make for a great dish, too.

noodles1

Day 27 of vegan recipe challenge: it’s time for Taco Tuesday

Plug (and not shameless) for The Lego Movie, which recently was snubbed by the Academy in this year’s Oscar animated movie nominations. This is one of the 3,409,340 movies I watched over Christmas (also known as 7 in my frame of reference), and I really, truly enjoyed it. So watch it, and say: everything is awesome. Which you will. Because it will be stuck in your head. (If you would like to remove that song from your head, I would recommend watching Frozen…so you can…let it gooooo…let it go.)

Back to taco Tuesday: no picture of these beautiful tacos because – tacos don’t last long enough in this house for their photoshoot.Fortunately, Isa and her crew at PPK also shared this recipe on their blog:

Ancho-Lentil Tacos (photo by IsaChandra)

This is also found in the Isa Does It cookbook (am I starting to sound like a broken record?) and one that is fast, tasty, and taco-riffic. For the times I have made this recipe, I have cooked up my lentils the night before. You can make them prior to starting the rest of this dish, or, if you’re in a pinch, you can purchase cooked lentils from the store. Canned lentils may throw off the salt balance, so be warned if you go that route. You can often find cooked lentils in either the produce or healthy foods sections.

Ancho-Lentil Tacos
Serves 6
Total time: 20 minutes; Active time: 20 minutes

For the Ancho Spice Mix:
2 teaspoons ground ancho chili
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt

For the lentils:
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 small yellow onion. minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch of salt
2 1/2 cups cooked brown lentils
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons hot sauce (Isa recommends Cholula; I used Frank’s)

For serving:
Corn tortillas
Shredded lettuce
Salsa
Slice avocado or guacamole
Whatever else you like on your tacos

Prepare the spice mix: Put ingredients for spice mix together, Boom goes the dynamite.

Prepare the lentils:
Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil. Keep a cup of water within reach; you’ll need to add splashes as you cook. Saute the onion and garlic in the oil with a pinch of salt for about 3 minutes, until lightly browned. Add the spice mix and toss for 30 seconds or so to roast.

Lower the heat to medium, and add the lentils, a few splashes of water, the tomato paste, and hot sauce; use a spatula to mash the lentils a bit as they cook, until they hold together. If your spatula isn’t working to accomplish this, just use a fork. Do this for about 5 minutes, adding splashes of water as necessary if it appears dry. Taste for seasoning; you may want to add more spices or hot sauce.

To assemble:
Lightly toast the tortillas in a dry pan, if desired, or microwave briefly just to warm through. Stuff with filling and fixings and then stuff face.

Taco Tuesday doesn’t just have to be on Tuesdays. Because today is Wednesday. And that makes this recipe taste even better. And, because:

Day 25 of vegan recipe challenge: everyday I’m Brusselin’

Starting this post on a slight homage to Super Bowl-bound Seattle Seahawks led by resident good-guy Russell Wilson. Still with the bitter taste of defeat on my tongue, I’ll still root for the Hawks since cheering for New England is not an option.

After the previous Sunday’s long run of 14 miles causing quite the mental consternation for me, I am happy to report yesterday’s 15-miler proved quite the opposite. Breaking my vow of no headphones, I donned a pair for the 2.5 hour journey, listening to two NPR Ted Radio Hour shows and one Pop Culture Happy Hour. Two things I learned:

1) Japanese bakeries in the United States actually invented the fortune cookie. During World War II when fear-monger and hate from the rest of the country led to Japanese internment camps, the Chinese ended up picking up the cookie market, forever cementing in the short-sighted minds of Americans that these treats were part of the traditional Chinese food experience.

2) The story of David and Goliath isn’t as epic as first told (or, repeatedly told). David was a skilled slinger, and the stones found in the particular region were much denser than traditional rock. Based on calculations, the force of the rock coming from David’s slingshot was likely equivalent to a .45mm bullet. Additionally, there is evidence Goliath had acromegaly, a form of giantism caused by the growth of a bengiun tumor on one’s pituatory gland.

Andre the Giant had acromegaly

Shifting from giantism to giantly good eats, I was surprised to find a recipe in the January/February 2015 Health magazine that: 1) was vegan; and 2) was simple. I have seen a shift to include more recipes in publications that are plant-based, which is great. I also received the latest Cooking Light in the mail:

It might be time for us to part ways, CL. It’s not you; it’s me.

So, Health magazine earns a win on this Brussels Sprouts salad. The instructions call fr you to break the sprouts up into thin ribbons. You may certainly do that. I got out the ol’ food processor and shredded away. Or, if you’re really short on time, you can purchase Brussels Sprouts pre-shredded from stores like Trader Joe’s.

bsprouts

Shredded Brussels Sprouts with Apples and Mustard Seeds
Prep Time: 20 minutes; Cook Time: 20 minutes
Serves 4

Ingredients:
1/2 cup raw pecans
16 ounces Brussels sprouts
2 Tbsp. cider vinegar (I substituted red wine)
1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. honey (I substituted agave nectar)
1 small shallot, minced
1 Tbsp. brown mustard seeds (I used mustard seeds)
3/4 tsp. fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 sweet-tart red apple such as Braeburn or Pink Lady, cored and diced

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 350F. Arrange pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toast, shaking pan once or twice, until golden brown and fragrant, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool on a cutting board for 5 minutes and then coarsely chop.

2) Thinly slice Brussels sprouts crosswise in 1/4 inch rounds. Remove any woody stems that remain and using your fingers, break up Brussels sprouts into thin ribbons. (Or, use your food processor to shred away).

3) Make dressing: whisk cider vinegar, honey, mustard seeds, shallot, salt and pepper to taste.

4) In a large skillet, warm oil over medium heat. Add shredded Brussels sprouts: saute, stirring, until soft but still retaining some crunch, about 5 minutes. Add dressing and cook, stirring to combine for 1 to 2 minutes longer. Remove from heat. Toss apples and pecans with sprouts. Serve immediately.

brusselsprouts

Oh yes, this is a warm salad. Great texture, tang, and crunch. I really cannot get enough B. sprouts in my life, and this will be a go-to, especially to complement a heartier protein or grain dish. Like this:

dinner1

The vegan Hoppin’ John recipe to come. Until then, reflect on the reason why many of us have today off: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his historic contribution to the Civil Rights Movement. I have Selma on my must see movie list. After watching 42 and 12 Years a Slave already this weekend, I still can never claim to have a full understanding or even comprehension of what transpired (what still transpires) in our world. But, I must stay present in it, must continue to learn, and then must continue to do what I can to transform the institutions and cultural norms that feed this vicious cycle of powerlessness, of fear, and of hate.

Day 24 of vegan recipe challenge: it’s all about those frites

Raise your hand if you don’t like French fries. (and, if it is because you believe them to be called Freedom fries, you may exit this blog immediately).

No doubt there are certain types of fries you may not care for, but – and this is perhaps a gross generalization – most people like French fries.

So, here’s the follow-up: what is your favorite type of French fry? In need of a great opening for your next networking event, you’re welcome. As silly as it may sound, this line of questioning can lead to serious discussions, even potential arguments, over which form of fried potato reigns supreme. Thick-cut steak fries? I know those are near the bottom of Aaron’s rankings. The spiraled delight of the curly fry? How about the porous waffle fry? Skinny? Sweet potato? Shoestring? Home fries? The list could go on and on. One that tends to be overlooked but eoften vokes strong memories of cafeteria lunches is this one:

crinkleRight next to your creamed corn and “chicken tenders”

The crinkle fry. An ole-forgotten standby of many diners, drive-ins, and now, our freezer. During menu planning last week, I had already pinpointed Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s Island Black Bean Burgers as one of the new recipes to test out. As American as I can possibly sound, what goes best with burgers?

Kale.

Yes, there was some stir-fried kale served alongside the burgers. But really, I meant:

crinkle2In one word: yum.

Unfortunately, the actual burger component of this meal went to hell-in-a-handbasket quickly. It wasn’t the preparation portion that threw me into a tailspin. Apparently, during the shopping trip, I failed to open my eyes and actually read what I was purchasing. Sooo…instead of cilantro, I picked up parsley. And, instead of scallions, I purchased shallots. And, to boot, my Jamaican curry powder arrived at 8pm that evening, so the spice component was all improv.

Regardless, these burgers were outstanding, and I know they will even taste BETTER with the island-infused curry powder and perhaps cooking my black beans just a tiny bit longer so the mashing process goes a little easier.

dinner2Baked bean burger goodness.

Isa includes a recipe for nectarine salsa with these burgers. But, since nectarines aren’t in season, I didn’t want to chance it. Instead, I picked up some Mrs. Renfro’s Mango Habanero Salsa. In three words: ay de mi!

Island Black Bean Burgers
Makes 8 burgers (mine made 10 somehow)
Total time: 45 minutes; Active time: 20 minutes

For the burgers:

1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained (1 1/2 cups)
1 (15-ounce) can black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained (1 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1 cup finely chopped scallions
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoon Jamaican curry powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup vegetable broth
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1 cup panko breadcrumbs

Burger buns
Additional toppings of choice (mango or pineapple salsa is fun!)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400F.

In a medium bowl, use a small potato masher (or a strong fork) to mash the black beans and black-eyed peas. They should be good and mushy but not totally pureed, with a few beans still identifiable in the mix.

Add the red pepper, scallions, cilantro, curry powder, salt, broth, and lime juice and mix well. Mix in the panko until it all holds together. Refrigerate for 10 minutes or so.

Then, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray or brush with oil. Form the burger mixture into 8 patties (or more) that are about 1 inch thick. Spray or brush with a little more oil and bake for 15 minutes. Flip the burgers and bake for 12 to 15 more minutes, until nicely browned.

A note from Isa: she writes in Isa Does It that to make a perfect patty every time, use a 3-inch cookie cutter. Pat the mixture into it, and don’t worry about fingerprints (they will flatten out when you flip them). If you don’t have a 3-inch cookie cutter, use an empty 15-ounce can and press it into the veggie burger mixture. Then, simply pop the patty out of the can!

dinner1

And what to dip those crinkle fries in? We kept it local with some Num Num Sauce.

The burning question: what is your favorite French fry shape?

Day 23 of vegan recipe challenge: Houston, we lost a day

After spending one-and-a-half days steeped deep in a workshop on white privilege, race, and equity, it didn’t seem that important to me to post a recipe last night in the grand scheme of things.

Renewing my commitment this morning, I want to return to the coveted protein-filled grain that is quinoa. It’s such a versatile cooking ingredient, and it is JUST so good for you. I won’t dive into the economic and environmental repercussions that Americans have created (as we tend to do) on quinoa-producing countries by hyping up this superfood in our mainstream diet.

From the good folks at Cooking Quinoa, please enjoy this tangy, simple salad for any meal of the week. I did make the mustard from scratch – it is worth it.

Honey Mustard Quinoa Salad
Serves four

mustardSo, so, so good

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups cooked quinoa
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and julienned
  • ½ cup almonds, chopped
  • 1/3 cup Honey Mustard Dressing (bottled or see below)

Instructions
In a medium bowl combine quinoa, cranberries, celery, carrots and almonds. Toss with dressing and serve at room temperature or chilled. Drizzle with additional dressing as desired.

Honey Mustard Dressing

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup honey or agave nectar
  • ¼ cup Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder OR 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt

Instructions
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until well combined.

Booya. That’s it. Happy Friday, all!

Day 22 of vegan recipe challenge: snack time

I recall a time when I was flirting with adopting the Paleo diet, and I borrowed some literature from a friend who was already on that path. I stopped dead in my tracks when I read that peanuts – PEANUTS – were a carcinogen and were to be completed shunned.

But? But?

As quickly as I picked up the book, I cast it aside, vowing to never abandon my friend the peanut, who had been with me as longer as I can remember (unless, of course, there is evidenced-based research out there that notes the dangers of eating said nut, which then I will give it stronger consideration).

Dinners growing up often had a blob of peanut butter on the side. It didn’t matter what else was served on the plate. I was going to have the daily dose of orangish-brown goodness. This trend continued through college where I would eat peanut butter straight from the jar (hello freshman 35!).

I may not have peanut butter every day still, but it’s pretty close. At least I’ve matured into integrating peanut butter more as an ingredient than the star attraction (fact: there is nothing wrong with peanut butter taking the main stage). I’ve tried to allow other butters to join the fold – almond, cashew, sunflower seed – but I’ll be honest: peanut butter is still my number uno, my home skillet, my butter from another nutter.

If you love peanut butter as much as me, then you will enjoy these incredibly simple yet satisfying Thai Peanut Cucumber Cups. My friend Samara made them as a pre-dinner appetizer last month, and we crushed them, happily.

cucumbers1

Thai Peanut Butter Cups (from Vanilla & Spice blog)
Makes about 20 – 22 cups

Ingredients:
1/2 cup peanut butter
4 tsp sweet chile sauce
1.5 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp soy sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
Dash of ground ginger (or fresh ginger)
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 tbsp water
1 English cucumber
1/3 cup shredded carrot
Sesame seeds
Chopped peanuts

To prepare:
To make the peanut sauce, stir together the peanut butter, chile sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, soy sauce, garlic, and ginger until smooth. Add the water to thin out a bit. Set aside or store in the fridge until needed.

Slice the cucumber into pieces about 1 inch thick. Use a melon baller or a ½ tsp measure to scoop out the middle seedy portion of each slice – don’t go all the way through, you still want a bit of cucumber at the bottom of each cup!

To assemble:
Lay out cucumber cups on a plate or serving dish. Spoon the peanut sauce into each cup (I just estimated how much to put in – you want a round mound in the middle of each cup but not too much that it overflows).

Sprinkle a bit of sesame seeds on top of the peanut sauce in each cup, followed by a bit of shredded carrot and crushed peanuts – it might help to do the peanuts first so they stick to the peanut butter, then finish with the carrots, but the order doesn’t really matter!

Refrigerated finished cucumber cups until serving time.

cucumbers2It’s peanut butter cucumber time!

It’s fun for the whole family! And, it definitely elevates the cucumber to a new level. Sometimes that little vegetable could use a spark, and this recipe does just that.

In non-vegan related topic, I have to share that one of my favorite podcasts is NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour (you’re welcome). If you are not an avid listener yet, you’ll discover that at the end of each show, they offer what is making them happy this week. So this is mine:

Driving home from the store over the weekend, I found myself responding to Aaron by saying: “Yep yep yep yep yep” in this strange, alien-like (and somewhat Australian??) voice. Neither of us could immediately pinpoint the pop culture reference. But, through the power of Google and a little sleuthing, we re-discovered part of our childhoods that was tucked in a brain fold far, far away: