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Archive for the ‘Vegan Cooking’ Category

As I was preparing this curry, I realized that almost all of the ingredients were white: Tofu, cauliflower, potato, onion, garlic, coconut milk. Yes, I used green curry paste, but I still planned to call this dish “White Curry.” When I realized I wanted a little more heat, I added jalapeno, and it became a “White and Green Curry.” Because I used a prepared curry paste, this was a very fast dish to prepare. You can serve it over rice, and use your favorite curry condiments (Alan likes chutney and raisins, I just love avocado slices).

Ingredients

2 Tablespoons vegetable or olive oil

One small onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, diced

One jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced (more to your taste)

One cup cauliflower florets, broken into bite size pieces

2 medium potatoes, chopped into bite size pieces

One can light coconut milk

One Tablespoon green curry paste (more to your taste)

One cup vegetable broth or white wine

One package firm or extra firm tofu, cubed

1/4 cup roasted, unsalted peanuts (optional)

White pepper and salt to taste

Cilantro (for garnish)

Directions

In a large skillet or soup pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft. Add the pepper, cauliflower, and potatoes and cook for two more minutes. Add the coconut milk, broth, and curry paste. Increase the temperature  and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Add the tofu and peanuts. Reduce heat and simmer until the sauce thickens and the potatoes are cooked. Serve with rice and garnish with cilantro.

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It happens every year. The weather starts to warm up, and suddenly I’m all about salads. Even though our weather has been amazingly cool (so far) this May, my tummy starts craving some lighter, cooler, yet still filling and delicious, fare.  Another nice thing about salads is that they are pretty easy and fast to put together.  A little chopping, a little shredding, a little tossing, and you’re good to go.

The inspiration for this salad comes from Native Foods‘ ‘Yo Amigo Taco Salad.’  The first time I ordered it, Megan, my server (who also works with me as a personal trainer), suggested that I ordered it tossed. It became my favorite for a while, although it was never quite as delicious as the first time (true about a lot of things, huh?). Anyway, as I tend to do when I find a restaurant dish that I like, I tried to re-create it at home. With some success, I’d say.

(I apologize for the quality of the pictures in this post. After killing my camera during our trip to Knott’s Berry Farm last weekend, I have ordered a new one, but in the meantime I’m using my several years old Kodak EasyShare.)

Step 1: The Veggies

I chose the vegetables for this salad based on two requirements: One-they needed to create a nice variety of color and taste combination; and two-I needed to have them in the refrigerator.  One nice benefit from this method of veggie selection is that this salad is always just a little different each time you make it. So for today’s salad we have:

Cucumber, tomato, onion, orange and yellow pepper, cauliflower, and carrot. Chop them up into small pieces (I shredded the carrot). About 1.5-2 cups. Other excellent veggie choices would be corn, celery, zucchini, broccoli, or just about anything your taste buds desire (just remember the color rule, though).

Step 2:  The Greens

The ‘whatever you have on hand’ rule applies here, too. For this salad I had romaine and kale.  I steam the kale for a few minutes so that it will be tender, then rinse it in cold water and put it in the refrigerator until I’m ready to toss everything together. Chop the greens into bite sized pieces and toss together with the vegetables.

Step 3: The stuff that makes it a ‘Taco Salad.’

I cooked about 4 ounces of vegan ground ‘beef’ and 4 ounces of Soyrizo. Season to your taste with chili powder, onion powder, and salt. If you have a favorite taco filling recipe, you can use that. I’m trying to keep it simple, remember. After cooking, I let it cool a bit, then added it to the salad.

I also had some Daiya Cheddar, so I added about a half cup.

Step 4: The Dressing

Start with vegan ranch dressing (I make my own from this recipe from Meet the Shannons). Mix in Sriracha to taste (yes, it’s Asian, not Mexican, but oh, so yummy!). Toss it all together and divide into two bowls.

Step 5: The Toppings

Finish your salad by adding sliced avocado, chopped cilantro, and a small handful of crushed, vegan tortilla chips.

This is the perfect summer (or anytime) salad. It is light, yet filling; easy to prepare, yet offers a nice variety of flavors and textures. I know I’ll be making it again soon.

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Sunday was Mother’s Day, and it started off in the best possible way. I slept in. Seriously, I don’t get to do that very often. Between working most days at 5:30 (yes, that is AM), trying to beat the desert heat, or just getting an early start on the day, my alarm clock generally goes off somewhere between 3:30 and 4:00. So my big deal was no alarm clock and I slept all they way until about 5:30. Woot!

After my coffee, I figured I’d be a good mother and take my furry kids for a run. They love it so much, but sometimes when time is short they miss out on their run. So I took them for a two mile run. The video below is from a different day, but it gives you an idea of how much we all enjoy our run.

Next up..a bike ride with my husband. I am so happy that Alan is finally recovered from his bike crash. Yes, it’s great that he feels good and can get back to training, but, to be honest (and totally selfish), I am much more committed to my training when my training partner is healthy. In any case, we had a nice 35 mile ride with almost perfect weather.
Our timing was so spot on..with high winds forecast and of course, Mother’s Day plans, we chose to cut the ride short, arriving home just as the winds kicked up. The shorter ride allowed me time to have a short nap (oh, yeah!) before getting dressed for the actual “Mother’s Day” part of the day.

We were meeting my youngest son, David, at my favorite restaurant for lunch. Native Foods, is, of course, the only vegan restaurant in the desert, but even if there were competition, it would stand out above the others.

I needed to try their Mother’s Day special. As quoted from the Native Foods Facebook page:

Oh yes, I needed that. I encouraged my son to order the Oklahoma Bacon Cheeseburger, something I always suggest for first-timers, non-vegans (or anyone who is hungry). Alan had the Chicken Run Ranch Burger, which was the daily special and came with a side. My entree was wonderful. Why doesn’t my tofu scramble taste like that?
We had an extra treat during this visit. Chef Tanya was in the house and kindly stopped by the table to chat and let me pose with her! She is always so nice whenever we see her at Native Foods and seems to love to get out and talk with her customers. She suggested I post the photo on Facebook (which I did–Twitter too!).

That's my little boy!

Following my advice…
David gave me, you guessed it, a new cast iron pan for Mother’s Day. I always feel the direct request works pretty well. Nathan, my oldest, and my future daughter-in-law, Sarah, sent flowers.  Very nice.
This post has been a bit of a ramble, but it was obviously an event filled day. After lunch, I resumed being “Debbie” instead of “Mom.” We did a little shopping, then headed home. I did want to mention dinner (since it is in my post title). I made Vegan Mexican Pizza. Follow the link for the recipe, but I did make a slight change. I didn’t have any of the Vegan Queso, so I made my own. I took about a half cup of Daiya Cheddar, added an eighth cup of almond milk and an equal amount of fresh salsa and popped it in the microwave until the cheese melted. Perfect!

I sprinkled some cilantro on top and served with a chopped salad.

Really an excellent day.

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After I went vegan, a little over a year ago, I dramatically cut down on my sweet intake, mostly because it was a lot more difficult to find cookies, cakes, and other dessert-type items that weren’t made with eggs and milk. In recent months, I have been expanding my baking horizons. I purchased Kelly Peloza’s Vegan Cookie Connoisseur and had a great time trying out the recipes.

For Easter, though, even though there were only three of us, Alan, myself, and my son, David, I felt that we needed something a little more than cookies, something more special.

Did I plan for this? No, I did not. I decided on Easter Sunday, at lunch time, that it would be nice to have something for dessert. What to do?

I don’t have a lot of vegan cookbooks. I have Tanya’s cookbook, of course, Native Foods being our only vegan restaurant in the desert I had to show support. I also have Viva Vegan and Vegan with a Vengeance on my Ipad. I skimmed through the desserts in those books, my main requirement being that I needed to have the ingredients (or at least most of them) on hand.

I finally found the recipe I wanted in the American Vegan Kitchen, “Pineapple Upside Down Cake.” I had all the important ingredients, like flour, baking powder, and well, pineapple. I substituted the flaxseed with EnerG Egg Replacer, the dried cherries with raisins, and the soy milk with almond milk, and added pecans to the topping. All reasonable substitutions. My big problem was when the instructions said, “using an 8″ round cake pan.”

Uh oh. The last time I baked a cake, well, I’d guess Ronald Reagan was president. Even though I have many older items in my kitchen (I just recently replaced my original, mustard colored crock pot), there was no cake pan to be found. My choices were few, but I settled on a 8″ish glass baking dish. Not too different, right?

Well, the directions said to bake for a half hour. At that time, I slid a knife into the cake to check if it was done. Nope. Actually, it was so gooey I worried that the outside would burn before the inside was cooked through. It ended up taking about 45 minutes.

After 45 minutes, my cake looked ready.

I'm proud!

Now, all you cake bakers may scoff at my results. The texture wasn’t perfect, the outside was just a little overcooked, and it wasn’t as pretty as it should have been, but, well, it tasted pretty damn good. My husband and son loved it. And that was good enough for me.

Looks satisfied, doesn't he?

I was inspired by my success. A few days later, I purchased both a round and a square cake pan. I’m ready for the next holiday!

Now I'm ready!

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