Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas Dinner

Sheesh! Blogging has really gotten away from me. I miss the days I had lots of time to play on the internet. The kitchen has been rocking busy the last couple of weeks. Sadly, I have been very bad about taking pictures. Today I did manage to get the camera out after making dinner.

Fred has had a hankering for mashed potatoes and gravy. This was a request I was more than happy to fill. 'Taters and gravy are one of those holiday (and non-holiday for that matter) comfort foods that make me soooooo happy. We needed something green after all the holiday cookies, so we had simple steamed broccoli with a little spike seasoning. To round out the meal I had some seitan in the fridge that was a bit funky in the texture department. It was too chewy sauteed, so I decided to make it chicken fried. Now I didn't really measure, but it went something like this:

Chicken Fried Seitan Nuggets

2 seitan cutlets cut into nuggets

3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 cup soy milk
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 teaspoon dijon mustard

1 1/2 cups oil for frying in a 10 inch skillet

Preheat oil to 350 (when flour sizzles in oil).

In one shallow bowl mix panko through paprika. In a second shallow bowl combine soy milk through dijon mustard. Place seitan nuggets in soy milk mixture and soak for about 1 minute. Dredge in panko mixture and carefully place in oil. Make sure not to crowd pan (it will take 2-3 batches). Fry for about 3 minutes then flip over and fry other side for about 3 more minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pan on put on paper towel lined plate. Serve with mashed potatoes and gravy or with your favorite dipping sauce.

I hope you all had a love and joy filled Christmas Day!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Vine and Dine - Candle 79 - Panko Crusted Seitan Milanese

This round of Vine and Dine was from Candle 79 cookbook. I had the original Candle Cafe Cookbook, but I had to order this one. There are some wonderful pictures and interesting looking recipes as well. This week we tested out the Panko-Crusted Seitan Milanese. I am sad to say, I didn't have the best of luck with this dish. I opted to use the seitan cutlets from AVK. Something went very wrong with my seitan. It was really rubbery for some reason. (Mom didn't even eat hers. It reminded her of raw The crock pot method is always flawless for me, but I didn't plan far enough ahead. The seitan texture was one issue, I also had a misfire on cooking the seitan. I didn't have enough oil in the pan, so the browning was not happening. To try and save it, I added oil. Unfortunately, this made the coating a little oily. I felt that the beautifully flavored marinade was really not prominent in the final dish, which was just a shame. I saw that others used the marinade on their pasta....great idea. I also think it would have been tasty just drizzled on top of the seitan.

We were psyched to be able to use fresh arugula from our garden for the topping. It had a beautful nutty flavor. It doesn't get much fresher! We got some heirlooms from the farmers' market. They are a bit out of season, so they had a little less flavor than summer tomatoes, but I'm not complaining. They were a nice treat for the winter. To make the plate complete, I served some simple asparagus roasted with garlic and olive oil.

As a side note: The wine definitely won the day after my pathetic performance in the kitchen. Honestly, I am not one to look twice at the pinky wines in general. They tend to be too fruity for my palate. This one was perfect with this dish!! I'll let Fred tell you the rest of the story.

Today's recipe seemed to be pretty simple, but I realized that there was more than one acid in it . Lemon juice, tomatoes, and vinegar all joined in the end so I stayed safe and kept away from any wines that were lemony or had an acid tone. I chose a dry Rose from Spain. It has a nice, full fruit taste but is very light on the tongue and has a nice soft finish. The 2009 Marques de Caceres from western Spain is good all by itself, one you would give to someone who is just learning about wines, but yet it is just complex enough to be interesting to an expert. This wine actually tasted better after a few bites, melding with the basil and arugula nicely. It was a good pairing to the last drop and we can attest to that! Not a drop was wasted!

Check out what the others chose to pair this dish with over at Vegan Appetite.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Vine and Dine - The Millennium Cookbook - Baked Madras-Glazed Tofu

Welcome back to the return of Vine and Dine. A fabulous cooking challenge where the players do their best to procure and match vegan wines with a delicious dish from a variety of cookbooks. Vine and Dine is hosted by the lovely Tami Noyes over at Vegan Appetite blog where she will be posting this round's great wine finds and recipe interpretations.

This time around she let me choose the book we'd be using. I chose the Millennium Cookbook. I had the opportunity to visit Millennium a few years back and was awed! The recipes in this book often times make me freak out when I see all of the ingredients and components, so the book gathers dust too often. I thought this would be a great opportunity to use it again! Tami selected the Baked Madras-Glazed Tofu with Saffron Basmati Pilaf, Sauteed Vegetables, and Peach-Lime Chutney. That title is a mouthful all on its own!

This recipe had several components: tofu that had to be marinated, curried onions and vegetables, chutney and rice pilaf. Nothing was overly complicated, but it did take a bit of coordinating. The marinade and chutney could certainly be made ahead of time, making this much more simple to pull together. I didn't plan ahead, so all was made last night.

I did have to make a few substitutions. How I ran out of brown basmati rice is beyond me, but I did have long grain brown rice. I know the basmati would have given the dish a more complex and aromatic layer, but with all of the other flavors going on here, it worked out just fine. I wasn't able to find fresh peaches or apricots this time of the year, so used the dried apricot variation.

Sadly I have a bit of a nasty cold, so my tastebuds are a bit off. This was a great dish for that though! There are a lot of bold flavors going on here that even I could taste! The tandoori marinade had a hint of bitterness that was nicely complemented by the sweetness of the chutney. I loved the hint of lime in both the marinade and the chutney. I thought they were a great match up. I think the tandoori may have been overpowering without the chutney. The saffron made the rice a gorgeous color and gave it a hint of grassy flavor. The curried onions and vegetables rounded this out beautifully. I used zucchini, carrots and broccoli. I'd get a hit of the tandoori, then bang, the curry, followed by the sweet flavors of the chutney. It was really amazing. Eric Tucker sure knows how to marry his flavors. The colors were so vibrant. It was a very pretty plate!

I made the full amount of the marinade and only half the rest of the recipes. I have some green beens and spinach that need to be used up. I may try simmering some tempeh with them in the leftover marinade...oh, and maybe kabocha squash.

Now here is Fred to talk about his wine pairing (which was quite lovely I must say).

This dish is a sea of swirling flavors, spices and textures, one that could wash away a weak wine or clash with a strong one. 

I found a Pinot Noir that turned out to be an island that held it's own but yet coexisted delightfully with everything in this dish. One sip gave me a smokey raspberry taste and the next was a light plumish aftertaste. 

She was not a cheap date at 27 dollars, but she was worth it. This 2008 "Duck Pond" from the Willamette Valley in Oregon has a strong presence but yet knows how to blend in with the crowd. This wine complimented this intricate dish at every level. It went well with Indian seasonings, held up to the heat, and seemed to really bring out the flavor of the veggies.  

It was like a couple dancing where the main course is leading but the wine really knows how to move and they both come off looking great together. I will buy this wine again as I think it would be fantastic by itself as well as an accompaniment to a meal.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksliving!

I was so excited today to experience my very first ThanksLiving at Green in Scottsdale. Honestly, it was totally weird to celebrate Thanksgiving and not cook. I truly missed spending the day in the kitchen. However, I certainly did not miss out on amazing food.

Today I was blessed by the company of friends for a gorgeous morning hike. Then I was doubly blessed to be able to have ThanksLiving dinner with my beautiful sister and some long lost friends. It was so fun to talk with young college students who are compassionate, kind, bright and as an added bonus passionate about vegan food! What a blast!

The folks at Green put on a fantastic event. There was music, crafts and a very informative presentation by Bruce Friedrich, from Farm Sanctuary. He did a great job at talking about the advantages of veganism by not only pointing out the animal rights issues (as would be expected from a Farm Sanctuary representative) but also providing information on how veganism is also a great way to help the environment and the world's poor. He is an excellent speaker.

The turnout was impressive. I heard one of the employees say 500 tickets were sold. When we arrived there was a huge line outside the restaurant.

There were tents set up outside with lots of people enjoying the entertainment, the food, the great weather and the compassionate company. People were encouraged to bring towels and blankets for the Humane Society.

My indoor pictures are a little blurry, but I am posting them anyway because I have to give props to the amazingly friendly and fun staff at Green! Here they are serving up dinner for the hungry thankful crowd.

Lets talk food. There was not a thing on my plate that I didn't like. As a matter of fact there wasn't a dish on my plate I didn't think was incredible. The crust on the seitan was beautifully crisp. The mashed potatoes had a beautiful mushroom gravy. The stuffing was dotted with fresh cranberries and had the perfect amount of earthy sage. Both my sister and I have never been big fans of brussel sprouts, but they were so delicious, I found myself wanting more...same with the asparagus. Cranberry sauce is often overly sweet in my opinion. I have to say theirs was perfect. 

There were three desserts to choose from: Pumpkin Pie, GF Pecan Pie and GF Cobbler. I only had the opportunity to taste the pecan pie. This was the only course I thought was just OK. It was a bit too soft and overly sweet for my taste. But the cobbler and pumpkin pie looked amazing. 

There are so many things that I am thankful for: great friends, wonderful family, a beautiful home, a gorgeous dog, the ability to give to those less fortunate...but I have to say, I am especially thankful to be blessed with the best sister in the world. I love you so much sistah!

Friday, November 18, 2011

The return of FNF! - Paula Dean's Turkey Pot Pie

It's been a couple of months but we are back at it. It is the return of Food Network Friday's hosted by Tami of Vegan Appetite. Make sure to visit her blog to see how the other participants created their dishes for the challenge.

This time we are taking on Paula Dean by veganizing her recipe for Turkey Pot Pie. She loves to poo poo tofu and thinks nothing can be made without full cream butter, heavy cream and fatty meat. Despite these shortcomings, I do enjoy watching her. She has a very sunny personality. Her anti-vegetarian bent made this week's conversion even more fun.

My original plan was to not only veganize the butter queen's recipe, but to make a healthy version. I was super motivated to also make it a hand pie. While my intentions were good, once I got cooking I ended up abandoning both of my ideas. I found a box of vegan creamy portobello soup, so instead of taking the lighter road, I ripped open the box and forged on! The hand pies were still on the agenda...until my puff pastry decided to be uncooperative. So what the heck, I cut the pastry into strips and carried on.

I thought the proportion of cranberries was too much, so I reduced them to 1 cup. I used TVP chunks re-hydrated in water with Bill's Chiknish Seasoning. I had to play around with my puff pastry. I decided to serve this as a deconstructed pie. The filling was placed in small ramekins and garnished with puff pastry strips. Alternately you could make the lattices like she does in her dish, but I almost think that might make it too heavy. The cranberries provided the perfect hint of tart to mellow out the richness of the rest of the filling. I served it straight up. It was so rich, I knew I wouldn't be able to eat anything else with it. Look how pretty it is! Wouldn't it be lovely on your Thanksgiving table?

The verdict is in. I took samples of this too work for my anything but vegetarian co-workers. They were amazed at how "meaty" and really delicious this was. One guy even had seconds! I say that's another win for vegananizing another FN recipe!!!

Deconstructed Thanksgiving Pot Pie

2 cups water
2 teaspoons Bill's Best Chik'nish Seasoning
1 1/2 cups TVP chunks
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 stalks celery, diced small
1 medium onion, diced small
6 oz white or cremini mushrooms, sliced thinly
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 cup broth (using liquid drained from TVP)
1 - 16 oz container of Imagine Creamy Portobello Mushroom Soup
2 cups butternut squash, cut into 1/2" cubes
1 cup fresh cranberries
1/2 cup soy milk
1 tablespoon arrowroot
1 sheet puff pastry, cut into 1 x 3 inch strips

In a medium saucepan heat water and Bill's Best Chik'nish Seasoning to boiling. Add TVP. Turn off heat and let re-hydrate for 20-25 minutes. Drain and reserve liquid.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place puff pastry strips on un-greased baking sheet, leaving about 1 inch between strips. Bake for 15 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and keep warm.

While the TVP is rehydrating in a large saucepan (or small stock pot) over medium heat add olive oil, onions and celery. Saute until just soft, about 5-7 minutes. Add mushrooms, thyme, sage, pepper and salt. Saute until mushrooms start to release their liquid, about 3 more minutes. Stir in flour and nutritional yeast, stirring to incorporate. Saute for about 2 minutes. Whisk in broth and simmer until mixture starts to thicken, about 5 minutes. Whisk in creamy portobello mushroom soup, butternut squash and rehydrated TVP. Simmer for about 20-30 minutes until squash is tender. Add cranberries and simmer for about 5 more minutes. Whisk arrowroot powder into cold soy milk until dissolved. Whisk arrowroot mixture into squash mixture. Simmer until mixture thickens. Ladle stew into 1 cup ramekins and garnish with 4-5 strips of puff pastry. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Martinis and Manicures for the Wellness Community!!!

I usually reserve this blog for blogging about food related subjects. However, today I am making an exception. A very monumental day is coming up. After an entire year of chemo, my great friend Piot will be celebrating her final treatment. Her wish is to give back to an organization that has given so much to her and other people affected by cancer: The Wellness Community - Arizona.

This organization is amazing. They offer support services for those dealing with cancer and their loved ones...absolutely free. If you have been affected by cancer, you know how important having sources and resources at your disposal during one of the most intense and life changing times of your life. We want to help them continue to be able to provide their awesome programs.

We also want to make it a great time. To celebrate Piot's last day of chemo we are hosing our second annual Martinis and Manicures soire brought to you by the generous owner of Party Nails! Those of you who attended last year, I am sure, will attest to what a great time we had! Drinks, free snacks (there will be vegan goodies available), beauty, friends, fun. Doesn't get much better than that.

Here are the details:

Date: Wednesday, November 30th (Piot's last day of Chemo!!!)
Time: Appointment times start at 4pm - Last appointment is at 830pm.
Place: Party Nails - 3875 W Ray Road #14, Chandler, AZ 85226

Manicure or Pedicure - $20.00 suggested minimum donation*
Deluxe Combo - $35.00 suggested minimum donation*
Martini or Wine (soft drinks are complementary) - $5.00 suggested minimum donation*

*Gratuity and additional services not included. Proceeds to benefit the Wellness Community - Arizona

To make things easier for you, you can book your appointment and pay online (see the top of the blog). Just choose the service you'd like (Mani/Pedi or Deluxe Combo for both) then choose your appointment time. It's that easy! If you don't want to pay online, please contact me at vegintraining at gmail dot com to pay by cash or check.

I'm looking forward to seeing you all again this year.

Space is very limited, so make sure you book as soon as you can!!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Bloody, Bloody Sunday - Marys that is!

My friend Darlene is always making me drool and making me envious of her Sunday Bloody Mary's. I am sure her recipe is ridiculously good, but sadly we live over 1500 miles apart, so often I sit here and just covet her delicious libations. Often this daydream includes a distant memory of the best bloody mary I ever put to my lips. My friends in Illinois may remember the old Castleview Restaurant in Fox River Grove? They had the most incredible bloody marys I remember ever tasting. The restaurant has been gone for years, but the memory still lingers...

This daydreaming came to a screeching halt last weekend. While at the farmer's market I was lucky to make the acquaintance of Fran Rons, the owner of Zorroz Brand Specialty Foods of Scottsdale, AZ. He was giving out samples of his incredible Bold and Spicy Bloody Mary Mix ($8.00 for a 32 oz. bottle). Oh, my friends, I was elated when I tasted it! It's beautiful bright red color, the rich tomato flavor, the perfect texture, not too thick not too thin, and the crowning glory? The perfect balance of flavors, nice and spicy! To add to my glee, their delicious recipe is all natural, has no preservatives and no it is VEGAN!! Yay!!

I couldn't wait to share my discovery with two of my very great friends. Fred and I packed up our new treasure, a bottle of Kettle one, some celery, picked red jalapeno peppers and spanish olives and headed over to their house. We spend an awesome Sunday afternoon in the kitchen making home made tortillas and vegan tacos, watching footballs and living the Bloody Mary dream.  We polished off almost the hole giant bottle! You can order their mix online or at some of the local farmers' markets.

Ah behold the ultimate Bloody Mary!!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Engrained Cafe - ASU Campus, Tempe AZ

My sister recently sent me an invitation to attend a talk and book signing by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. My niece is part of the School of Sustainability at ASU and their school organized the entire event.  I was pretty excited to check out the lecture and the venue. I was also very excited to get my copy of The Vegan Table autographed! The room itself had a seriously modern flair. The high ceilings make it feel even bigger than it is. They use sustainable materials throughout for decorating and functional purposes. It's quite an impressive place.

Engrained Cafe's goal is to reduce their environmental footprint by educating, sourcing locally (must be within 150 mile radius) and using eco-friendly products in the cafe.

I had the opportunity to speak to Executive Chef, Jerome Fressinier about the evenings menu and Engrained's vegan offerings. He told me that about 20% of their menu offerings are vegan, 25% more are vegetarian. I'm hoping the percentage of vegan offerings will go up as plant based foods certainly leave less of an environmental footprint than their animal based counterparts. But it is a good start!! I'm super excited to see such an emphasis on sustainability as it is one of the top reasons I love vegan cooking and eating!

This was my first visit to Engrained. It was a special event with all vegan food. They did a wonderful job with presentation and flavor, so I am looking forward to going back and trying the restaurant on a normal day. They are open for breakfast and lunch (11am-4pm Monday - Friday). They also offer catering options. I'm amazed and impressed at the effort put forth by the students who put this event together and the staff at Engrained for providing delicious vegan food that looked and tasted good by vegan or omni standards.

The tasting menu for this event provided a really nice diversity of ingredients and presentations. How I forgot to bring my regular camera is beyond me, so forgive my cell phone images, they certainly don't do the beauty of the food justice.

So be good to your body, be good to your planet and be good to the animals by getting yourself some local, sustanable and vegan awesomeness and Engrained.

Apache Fry Bred Sample Tube, Corn Coulis Tofu, Singh's (local farmer) Moringa

Singh's Tepary: Almond Hummus, Heirloom Sun Dried Tomato, Queen Creek's Olives

Potato Onion Present, Engrained's Catchup Amaranth

Vegan Brownie

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Giveaway - ThanksLiving at Green!!!!

OK. Drumroll please...the winner of the Thanksliving Ticket is #6 John Oberg!!! Congrats John!!!

John, please contact me at vegintraining at gmail dot com to arrange your ticket pickup!

If you have commented and are not yet a follower, please make sure to click the "FOLLOW THIS SITE" button to be eligible to win the awesome ThanksLiving ticket!!

I just love to give things away. It is just one more thing to be thankful for. Speaking of being thankful, what are you doing for Thanksgiving? The Fredster is working and we don't really have any plans during the day on Thanksgiving, so this year I finally get to attend Thanksliving at Green in Scottsdale. I've raved about them in a couple of reviews, so you already know the food is going to be good.

What you may not know is that not only will you finally get a Thanksgiving feast that is completely vegan (and delicious), you will also be treated to music, guest speakers and kids crafts. What is also really cool is kids under 12 get a discounted rate of $8.95 per kid! Click here to check out this year's yummy menu!

Here is the really exciting news! I bought an extra ticket to the extravaganza and I want to give it to one of you my fabulous followers. Here is all you have to do: make sure you are already a follower of the blog on blogger (click join this site button on the side bar), then leave a comment on this post about what you are most thankful for (make sure to leave only one comment, duplicates will be deleted). The winner will be drawn at random this Sunday, November 13th. Please make sure to check back to see if you are the winner and good luck!!!

Monday, October 31, 2011

MOFO 2011 Finale

It has been a fun protein-filled month for me. I hope you enjoyed this year's MOFO theme  "But...where do you get your protein?" I sure had fun finding creative and delicious ways to share the protein love with you this month. I had grand plans to crate a crazy dish with a bunch of different categories of protein, but alas, the Halloween celebrations slowed my MOFO MOJO down. So instead I leave you with some more protein tidbits:

If you don't have a gluten intolerance, seitan is one of the best protein bangs for the calories. For each 100 calories you get about 22.1 grams of protein.

Want a quick option? Veggie burgers and dogs will give you about 13 grams of protein per hundred calories (so will spinach by the way, but you have to eat a lot of it to get 100 calories).

My suggestion is to mix match and have fun with all the great vegetable based proteins. There were some I didn't get to that are staples in the vegan diet: peanut butter, tahini etc. So I have more fodder for future posts.

I am hoping that the one thing you come away with from this months posts is that it is really very easy to get more than enough protein without having to slice up Bessie or Porky. Your body, the planet and the beasts will be so much more happy! Click here for another great vegan protein guide.

I still haven't heard back from a couple giveaway winners. If I don't hear back by next week, I am going to re-draw, so check back next week!

Thank you so very, very much for following my blog I am super excited to have so many new readers and so very grateful for you veterans! Have a very safe and Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

MOFO - Day 30 - Chick Peas

Wow! Only one more day of MOFO 2011. I thank all of you for reading along. I hope I was able to share some interesting and informative protein information. This was a fun challenge for me and really made me think a lot about how easy it is to add protein to meals and snacks.

Chickpeas also known as garbanzo beans are another good source of protein. Each 1/2 cup serving has about 7.5 grams of protein and 25% of your RDA of fiber. They are also a pretty darn good source of iron, providing 13% of the RDA per 1/2 cup serving.

While I love many things made with chickpeas, Fred has asked that I only eat them when he is out of town. This is one bean that really makes me get the stinkies. I will never forget the time I made Veganomicon Chickpea Cutlets and Vegan with a Vengeance Punk Rock Chick Pea Gravy. Wow that was an explosive evening. Hopefully you don't have this issue because they are so good for you and so yummy. Many a hummous dip are made using chickpeas. One of my all time favorite recipes was a crazy awesome falafel recipe by Joanna Vaught.

I am a huge lover of gravy. Sometimes you just need that hearty, stick to your ribs goodness. Gravy tends to be a little high in fat, which never helps the ol' waistline. Pictured below is a great low fat gravy courtesy of Appetite for Reduction by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, published by Lifelong Books so you can enjoy your gravy and still fit into those skinny jeans.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

MOFO - Day 29 - Navy Beans - A sweet story

I almost always think savory when it comes to my beans. I have been very intrigued by the idea of using beans in sweet dishes. This curiosity started when I posted about Adzuki beans earlier this week. I searched the internet over for ideas. I settled on this Oatmeal-Chococlate Chip (and Beans!) recipe from Epicurious. You can feel good about eating these because not only are they a delicious treat, they have some added fiber and protein from the beans! Win-win.

The recipe had to be modified a bit for veganization. A while back I bought some Ener-G egg replacer for a test recipe. I haven't used it since. I figured this would be as good a time as any to put it to use. So I replaced the eggs with 3 teaspoons Ener-G and 3 tablespoons bean liquid. I ended up having to add another 2 or 3 tablespoons of liquid to get the dough to the right consistency. In the spirit of the upcoming Hallow's Eve I opted to use 1/2 chocolate and 1/2 butterscotch chips ("black" and orange get it?). The cookies came out more cake like than cookie like. The outside had a nice bit of crunch. They are tasty little morsels!

Navy beans are a good source of fiber, iron and calcium. They will give you 7g of protein per 1/2 cup serving. OK, so to get a 1/2 cup serving out of these cookies, you will have to eat about 20, but at least you'll get a little bit more nutrition than you would with the non-bean version. Plus replacing some of the fat in the recipes with low fat beans will make your waistline happy!

OK kids! The moment we have all been waiting for! The winner of the Eden Organic bean giveaway is...

# 30 - Kris!!! Kris make sure to email me with your contact information at vegintraining at gmail dot com so Eden Foods can get those off to you. I can't wait to hear what you make!!!

Friday, October 28, 2011

MOFO - Day 28 - Black Eyed Peas if You Please

I'm not talkin' Fergie and Will I. Am. No, not those Black Eyed Peas. Although a little funk never hurt anyone. I'm talking about the kind you eat of course.

Black eyed peas are a common ingredient in southern Soul Food dishes. They are thought to bring prosperity when eaten on New Year's day. Hoppin' John is one such famous southern dish. It is traditionally made with ham hocks (gross), but there are some excellent vegan versions to be found. I've had some great BBQ versions with greens, but not this time.

I opted for a less traditional, but no less delicious preparation for dinner. I dusted off my copy of Appetite for Reduction by Isa Chandra Moscowitz to find a delicious and healthy preparation. I had a health analysis yesterday and my body fat percentage did not please me :)   I'm going to be whipping out more recipes from this book for sure. I was feeling kind of rasta-ish and thought I should run with a dish from the islands. The Caribbean Curried Black-Eyed Peas with Plantains (pg. 129) caught my eye. Fred called and said he was on his way to the grocery store, so I had him pick up some of the ingredients. It took only about 1/2 hour to whip this up.

What a great flavor profile! The habeneros gave it a nice amount of heat, but not too hot. The cocunut milk tamed 'em down a little bit. I usually use hot curry powder, but the recipe called for mild. It was a perfect balance with the heat from the habeneros, the creaminess of the coconut milk and the hint of sweetness from the red peppers and agave. We all loved that we weren't totally stuffed after. Love those BEPs!

Rather than explain all the goodness you can get from these cute little legumes with their little eyes, I thought I'd let you check out the nutritional info for yourselves.

Now if you haven't done it already don't forget to make a comment on THIS POST for your chance to win some Eden Organic Beans. 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

MOFO - Day 27 - Eden Organic Bean Giveaway!!


I've been singing the praises of Eden Organic beans all week, so y'all know how much I believe in the quality and awesomeness of their products. Well here is another reason to love them: a giveaway! I spoke to some very nice people in their office in Michigan today about my love of their BPA-free cans and their beans. For the heck of it, I thought I would ask if they might be willing to provide some beans for one of you, dear readers. I am thrilled to tell you they were happy to do it! YAY!!!

I'm all about the convenience of canned beans, but I also appreciate making them from dried. Eden Foods offers both. They also have refried, seasoned and rice and beans in the can. For this week's awesome giveaway, Eden Foods will be providing 1 can of each of black beans, navy beans, pinto beans and butter beans. What a great variety!!! All you have to do, my dear readers, is a)be a follower of the blog, b) have a US shipping address and c) post a comment on this post about what you would make with the Eden Organic beans if you win them by midnight on Friday 10/28/11. A winner will be drawn at random on Saturday. I will post the winner's name here and on Saturday's post, so make sure to check back and good luck!!

Check out this variety from my very own pantry.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

MOFO - Day 26 - Pinto Beans - Burger Me!

It's becoming a musical week in our house as Fred and I indulge in many beany dishes. I don't usually have issues with beans, but after having many bean dishes in a row, well I'll leave that to the imagination. Haha. Today's protein fix comes to you courtesy of the pinto bean. Pinto beans are very common in Mexican cooking. They are great in re-fried beans and simmered whole for Mexican dishes. Pinto beans have 6 grams of protein per 1/2 cup serving. They also have 6 grams of fiber. Click here to find out more about the BPA free cans that Eden Organics uses. Very interesting and health promoting stuff!

Black bean burgers are popular on many menus across our great nation. But pinto beans are a great substitute in this version of the Black Bean BBQ Burger from Joni Marie Newman's The Best Veggie Burgers on the Planet (pg. 90). I was out of black beans and slipped the pintos in instead. They were really good. The texture is most excellent after letting them chill in the fridge for several hours before forming the patties. I served mine with a nice spicy pico de gallo and lots of BBQ sauce. I also made the sweet potato fries from the same book. What a great and really filling lunch!!!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

MOFO - Day 25 - Cannellini Beans

Today we are going to talk about another bean I've grown to love, the Cannellini Bean. As you might be able to tell by its name, it is a very popular bean in Italy. They are found in traditional Minestrone and lots of other Tuscan dishes.

I ususally buy mine canned, but they are more commonly purchased dry. Like most dried bean they do best if you soak them overnight before cooking. One thing I learned about the dried beans is that is is very important that they are boiled for at least 10 minutes to remove those pesky substances that can cause, well some down-right unlady like issues. Stove top cooking requires about 1-2 hours of simmering time before they will be soft. If you make your beans in the slow cooker like I do, you are going to want to make sure that you boil these for 10 minutes before putting them in to the slow cooker or your belly with not be happy.

Here are some nutritional facts from the fine folks at Eden Foods:

One 1/2 cup serving of Cannellini beans provides 5 grams of fiber, 6 grams of protein, 10% of the RDA of Iron and a whopping 45% of the RDA of Thiamin (B1). You also get a nice little boost of zinc (10% RDA) and calcium (4% RDA). But frankly, to me, they just taste good. I love them because they are bigger than most other white beans, so they have a toothsome bite to them. They are great to toss into a big salad with a tasty vinegarette. They are dreamy in pastas and casseroles. One of my favorite way to get my Cannellinis is soup! It is still 95 degrees here, but as fall approaches, I often long for a nice cozy bowl of soup. This soup also has some yummy kale, which surprisingly has 2 grams of protein per 1 cup serving. Kale is another nutritional powerhouse. This same 1 cup serving boasts 206% of the RDA of vitamin A and 134% of the RDA of vitamin C! Holy anti-oxidants batman! So eat your soup and keep those nasty colds away and get some protein while you are at it.

Cannellini Bean and Kale Soup

Makes 6 servings

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 stalks celery, cut on an angle about 1/8 inch wide,( approx 1 cup)
2 med carrots, peeled and thinly sliced, (approx 1 cup)
2 medium leeks, white part only, cleaned and thinly sliced (approx 2 cups)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon dried parsley (or ¼ cup fresh chopped)
½ teaspoon Herbs de Province
½ teaspoon poultry seasoning
¼ teaspoon white pepper
¼ cup dry white wine
1 – 15 oz. can Cannellini beans with liquid
6 cups broth
1 bay leaf
1 bunch kale vein removed, torn into bite sized pieces

In a heavy bottomed stock pot heat olive oil over medium heat. Add leeks and sauté until they start to sweat, about 4-5 minutes. Add carrots and celery and sauté until they just start to soften, about 5-7 minutes. Add thyme, parsley, Herbs de Province and white pepper. Sauté for about two more minutes, until herbs become fragrant. Add white wine to deglaze. Simmer for about 3 more minutes until liquid is almost evaporated. Add vegetable broth and bay leaf. Reduce heat to med low to simmer. Simmer for about 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, stir in kale. Let simmer for 5-10 minutes or until kale has softened but is still bright green. Ladle into bowls and serve.

Monday, October 24, 2011

MOFO - Day 23 - Adzuki or Aduki Beans

Adzuki beans are a fun little red bean commonly used (after fermentation) to make a sweet red bean paste that is used in pastries in same parts of East Asia. They are believed to have originated somewhere in the Himalayas. They come canned or dried. I am a huge fan of canned beans. They are super easy to keep in the pantry and quick to whip up in a pinch. Dried beans are awesome, but require a bit more planning. I buy almost exclusively Eden Organic brand canned beans. Their beans are consistently high quality and organic. They are one of the few brands that use cans that are not lined with BPA, which has been linked to breast cancer. (For those of you who might not know, I am an 11 year survivor so I am always on the lookout for companies who voluntarily eliminate suspected carcinogens from their products).

Adzuki Beans have 7g of protein per half cup serving and absolutely no fat! Oh did I mention they have 5 grams of fiber too? Add to the list a nice dose of iron, some calcium, B vitamins and trace minerals to make this a really nutritional little bean. It is worth mentioning that you can get zero fiber from meat, poultry or fish.

I look forward to trying some sweet dishes with this yummy little bean, but this fine day I opted for a nice spicy Asian Slaw.

Spicy Adzuki Savoy Slaw

1 small head savoy cabbage, shredded
1 small head red Belgian endive or radicchio, shredded
3 green onions, separated
1 - 15 oz can Adzuki beans, rinsed and drained

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise
2 tablespoons brown rice vinegar
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons brown rice syrup
1 teaspoon sriracha sauce

Garnish each serving with black sesame seeds

In a large bowl, toss cabbage through beans. Separate green part of green onion from light green and white part. On an angle, thinly slice green part of green onion. Toss the sliced green onions in with cabbage mixture reserving the other part for the dressing.

In a small food processor or blender combine mayonnaise through five spice powder, adding roughly chopped white and light green part of green onions. Combine until smooth. Stir dressing into cabbage mixture.

Enjoy and come back tomorrow when we will be meeting the Cannelli Bean!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

MOFO - Day 23 - Beans, Beans the Magical Fruit

We are approaching the last week of vegan MOFO. This week the featured proteins will be not only beans, but dried peas and lentils too. I spent a lot of time in the kitchen today, but I was working on some test recipes. I'm a little spent, so this post is going to be short and sweet.

Beans rock my world. I love so many different varieties, I am very excited about exploring them this week. They can be used in so many ways: soups, salads, entrees, side dishes and even desserts. Not too long ago, I was testing for an upcoming sandwich book and had them in a wrap. Oh, yes, it was tasty! Here is a little preview of the mighty bean all dressed up in a wrap. It's going to be a magical and musical week!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

MOFO - Day 22 - Roasted Asparagus and Porcini Risotto with Pine Nuts

To wind up That's Just Nuts (and Seeds) Week I'm being a nut repeater, but I think this is worth it. Today's recipe has a bit o' the pine nut in it. Risotto is not difficult to make, but it does require patience. It is super important to keep stirring while it is cooking. This helps release the starches and coax the creamines from the grains. It is also very important that once the rice is added, all ingrdients that are added are warm or even hot so that the rice does not stop cooking. If it stops cooking during the process, you will end up with crunchy and not so creamy grains.

Once you have had a well made risotto, you will be hooked. 1 cup of cooked arborio rice (the kind you should have for a true risotto) has 4.4g of protein. Add the 1 tablespoon of  pine nuts and add another 1.2 grams of protein. This recipe has a beautiful flavor profile. The earthy mushrooms combined with a hint of rosemary in the broth dance withe the garlic roasted asparagus and fresh oregano and thyme to give your tastebuds a subtle comfort food treat. The pine nuts add just the right amount of nutty crunch. Their creaminess is a great complement to the creamy risotto.

Roasted Asparagus and Porcini Risotto with Pine Nuts

Makes 8 Servings

1 cup dried porcini mushroom
1 1/4 cup boiling water
6 cups vegetable or mushroom broth
1 sprig fresh rosemary

½ pound asparagus, cut into ¼-1/2 inch pieces (approx 2 cups)
2 cloves garlic minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely diced (approx 1 ¼ cup)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried thyme or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

½ cup dry white wine, warmed
2 cups Arborio rice
½ cup toasted pine nuts

Preheat oven to 350.

In a small glass bowl, pour boiling water over dried mushrooms and set aside to soften for at least 20 minutes.

In a large saucepan add vegetable/mushroom broth and rosemary. Heat until just about boiling and turn down to the lowest setting your stove has.

In a 8 x 8 roasting pan toss asparagus, garlic olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast in oven for about 15 minutes until al dente. Turn off heat and keep warm. In the mean time, drain mushrooms reserving liquid and chop mushrooms to about the same size as asparagus. Add 1 cup reserved mushroom liquid to pan with broth. Add mushrooms to pan with asparagus in warm oven. (I actually did this while the risotto was cooking but you must be a good multi-tasker).

In a small stock pot or very large sauce pan over medium heat, add the onions, oregano, salt and pepper. Sauté until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes, being very careful not to burn. Add Arborio rice and sauté until the rice is just barely starting to turn a light tan. Add warmed wine (it is very important that the wine is warm, almost hot, or the rice will stop cooking and will not soften up properly), stirring constantly. When the wine is almost totally absorbed, add about 1 cup of hot broth using a ladle, still constantly stirring. It will take a bit of time for the rice to absorb this first round of broth, but be patient. It is sooooo worth the wait. When the liquid is almost completely absorbed, add the next cup of broth and repeat. Just before adding your last cup of hot broth, stir in the asparagus mushroom mixture. Then add the last cup of broth, still stirring constantly, until the liquid is mostly absorbed. You want a bit of liquid left so that it has a beautiful creamy texture.

To serve, spoon into a wide but shallow bowl. Garnish with 1 tablespoon toasted pine nuts and one fresh rosemary sprig for each serving. Serve immediately.

And now...the winner of the Chicago Diner Cook Book is....#8 Em!!!! She says she'd opt for a classic burger and fries if she were at the diner! Can't go wrong there. Em, please contact me with your mailing address so I can get your copy of Chicago Diner on its way!!! Congrats!!!!

Friday, October 21, 2011

MOFO - Day 21 - Fabulous Flax!

Flax seeds are a great source of omega-3 essential fatty acids. These important acids help lower LDL or bad cholesterol and help raise HDL or good cholesterol. These little babies are also believed to have an anti-inflammatory property that could possibly lower the risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer. They are rich in the anti-oxidant vitamin E and several B vitamins. Add to that impressive list a few important minerals: manganese, magnesium, potassium, calcium, iron, zinc and selenium and it is easy to see why this is a great addition to your diet. They do add a bit of protein as well. Each tablespoon of whole flax seeds has 2 grams of protein.

One important thing to remember about flax seeds is that they and their oils are very unstable and prone to oxidizing and going rancid. It is best to buy small quantities of the whole seeds at a time and grind them up in your spice or coffee grinder just before using them. If you do buy the pre-ground seeds, make sure to store them in the freezer until you use them. The oil should be refrigerated and used quickly. Both the seeds and the oil have a slightly sweet pleasant flavor.

I love to have them ground and sprinkled on oatmeal or yogurt. They are also a nice addition to salad dressing. Flax seeds are a great substitute for eggs in baking. They have incredible binding power. Use 1 tablespoon flax seeds and 3 tablespoons water. Mix them up until they are thick and creamy and voila! You have yourself a very healthy egg sub for your baked goods…like these fabulous cookies: Super Charge Me Cookies from Eat, Drink and Be Vegan (click here for the recipe). I used about 2 tablespoons of currants, 2 tablespoons vegan chocolate chips and 2 tablespoons walnuts for my add ins. These are a great breakfast cookie, snack before or after working out or just a yummy cookie treat.

I used Naturally Nutty Pepita Sun Butter for the nut butter in this recipe. I've posted about this amazing product before, but I have to say it again, this butter has organic flax, hemp, pepitas, sunflower seeds and it tastes amazing. It has 5 grams of protein per 2 tablespoon serving. You want to talk about health benefits? I also threw in a few walnuts for a little more omega power and 4.3g of protein per 1 oz. serving. These three bad boys together? Your heart should be happy and healthy!

As you can see, it is really quite easy to rack up those protein grams without having to touch any animal products!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

MOFO - Day 20 - Chicago Diner!!!

I know I am still breaking from my theme, but I do hope you will forgive me when I share yet another great dining out experience.

I was lucky enough to get to visit the Chicago Diner for my 3rd Chicago PPK meet-up! This is a threepete for me and the sweet and awesome Kelly Peloza of Seitan Beats Your Meat and author of the Vegan Cookie Connoisseur. I also got to meet two new friends from the PPK: the Harmless Hunter of the Harmless Hunter blog and Pepperpot!!!! It was a great time. They are both super awesome!

The diner is a long narrow room with, well, a very diner-ish atmosphere. Nothing fancy pants here. The server we had was really great. He made sure we were well taken care of without being intrusive. The bathrooms are very clean (always a good sign that the kitchen is clean too).

The Diner has such a kickin' menu, it was really hard to decide what to order. I wanted to try something I hadn't had before, but I really couldn't remember what I had before, so it was a shot in the dark. This time I opted for the Radical Reuben ($10.50). The swirled rye bread was soft and lucious and TDF. As you can see by the pictures the "pastrami" is a very cool pink color and looked very close to actual pastrami. The texture was great: just the right amount of chewy. This sammy was just perfect.

I had an easy time convincing one of my best childhood friends to join me in my vegan culinary adventures in Chicago. To quote her "I'm a big fan of the veggies." (Love you so much by the way!!!) After much deliberation she decided on the Sweet Potato Quesadilla ($10.50). It is stuffed with another fabulous version of seitan, black beans, mashed sweet potatoes, spinach, salsa fresca and a choice of cheddar or mozz Daiya. She chose the mozz. This is a huge portion and stuffed with such tasty goodness. There was no way she could finish it.

Autumn Vegan (Kelly) and Pepperpot (Neicey hope I spelled that right) both got the BBQ "Bacon" Cheezeburger ($9.99) though they opted for different sides. AV got the mashed potatoes and gravy (which I must try next time) and PP got the sweet potato fries, which I know from prior exprerience are delish! I didn't get to try anyone elses stuff (besides the quesadilla) cuz I was blabbing away and totally forgot to ask for bites. Haha. But they both gave the burgers a thumbs up.

Last but certainly not least, Harmless Hunter (Tyler) ordered The Soul Bowl ($12.99). I was tempted to order this myself but I had to get the famous Reuben. I need to try this next time as it looked so incredible! It has spicy grilled tofu. The tofu was beautiful, seriously beautiful. It was a nice thick slice, blackened to perfection. Looking at the pictures makes me long for a bite. It was sreved with greens, sweet potatoes and black beans. Oh and I must not forget the Chimichurri sauce!

Here we all are happy as can be! L to R Pepperpot, Me, my most awesome friend Patrice, Harmless Hunter and Autumn Vegan

Sigh...I miss it already. But you can get in on some Chicago Diner action yourself. I am giving away a copy of the Chicago Diner Cookbook to one of you fabulous followers. All you have to do is be a follower of the Vegan Conversion Challenge and post a comment about your favorite diner food or experience or anything else diner related. Because I posted so late today, I will give everyone until tomorrow at midnight to post. I will draw the winner using on Saturday. Good luck and good posting!!!

I redrew today (11/13/11) because I haven't heard back from the original winner. The winner is #11 PEANUTTY PRINCESS!!!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

MOFO - Day 19 - So Long Chicago!

Today is a travel day for me, so my post will be short and sweet. My time in IL and Chicago is always too short. This trip was no exception. It is amazing what you can pack in to a few short days. I was so excited to dine at three really great vegan and vegan friendly places while I was here. In the next couple of days I will be chatting up both the Chicago Diner and Karyn's on Green.

Here is the even better news. Tomorrow I will be hosting another giveaway!! In honor of my trip to Chicago, I am going to give away a copy of the Chicago Diner Cookbook! How can you win your copy, you might ask? Well, tomorrow I will be posting a review of our PPK meetup at the Chicago Diner. All you need to do to be eligible to win is be a follower of the blog and post a comment on tomorrow's post. It's that easy.

Well kiddies, it is late here and I must get ready for my travels. Make sure to check in and comment tomorrow!!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

MOFO - Day 18 - Vegan in the Chicago 'Burbs - Miraculous

The other night my friends and I happened upon a bar close to the train station in Crystal Lake, IL called Duke's Alehouse and Kitchen. For my non-Illinois readers, Crystal Lake is in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, very close to the Wisconsin border. This is the land of dairy, beef and many things non-vegan. We stopped in very late at night for a drink before heading home on the train. While waiting at the bar to order, I saw a sign that said they were voted the #1 vegan friendly restaurant in the northwest suburbs by Urban Spoon.

I grew up in this area and visit every year. Usually I can find a gratuitous vegetarian dish here and there on a menu if I am lucky. I was thrilled to see they actually mentioned the word vegan on the menu. Well today, my mom and I went back to check it out. I was even more excited to find out that not only did they have vegan friendly fare, but most of it is local and organic! I was swooning to say the least.

Now the first visit was late night and it was pretty much a bar scene complete with karaoke. Today we went for lunch and the vibe was more comfy bistro. The wood floors and the brickwork gave it a rustic feel. The many windows made it bright and sunny on a cold, windy day.

Duke's sources much of their food from local and organic farms. They even have their own gardens. They have a cool blackboard on the wall that displays where they get their fresh ingredients from. I am hoping next time I am in town I might have time to check out their gardens!!

The menu offered several choices for the veg set. Our server had some knowledge of what was vegan and what was not. What he didn't know, he took the time to go to the kitchen and ask. As a good blogger should, I ordered way more than I could eat, but I wanted to check out several of the vegan offerings.

The Tempura Beans ($9.00) had a very light and crispy batter on them. These are offered in a vegan and non-vegan version. I wanted to find out how they made the tempura batter. It was not very greasy (yay!), crispy and light and served with a teriyaki type sauce.

I didn't need to try these, I had to try these; the Inferno Fries ($4.00/$6.00). These hand cut golden beauties were sprinkled with a mild cajun spice. The name Inferno is a quite an over-exageration, as they weren't very spicy. There was no doubt that these were fresh cut and fantastic though. There were none left!

The next delectable dish was the Raw Spaghetti Salad ($8.00). As the name indicates it is raw. It is also vegan and gluten free. This was a huge hit for me. The fresh zucchini was sliced thinly. It appeared that the mandolin they had was not working quite right as you could see the slice marks, but it had not cut all the way through. This was truly inconsequential to the dish because the zucchini was thinly sliced, the sun dried tomatoes were juicy and flavorful and teh kalamata olives lent the perfect amount of salty yumminess to the dish. I loved the fried basic garnish.

The Grilled Vegetable Flatbread Pizza ($8.00/$10.00) was amazing (and was 1/2 price for Meatless Monday). The flatbread was thin and crispy. The arugula was crazy fresh and nutty tasting. The tomato pesto was perfectly balanced. There was no doubt that the vegetables were fresh and perfectly grilled. I asked the server about the cheese. It tasted like Daiya to me, but I thought that maybe in the land of Soy Dairy Teese, they may have been using Teese. But I was correct. It was indeed Daiya. Mom and I both loved it!

Duke's features Meatless Mondays. They offer 1/2 price on selected vegetarian items when you purchase two bevvies. So my traveling friends and my friends who live in IL, rejoice! There is a great place you can go to tantalize your tastebuds, have a nice glass of wine or one of many beers offered. I hope other restaurants in the northwest 'burbs take note of what Duke's is doing! Take a ride on the train and get of the Crystal Lake exit. Duke's will be right there when you get off of the train!