Thursday, March 30, 2006

Breakfast for dinner

I always figure out menus for the week on Sunday and do the shopping on Monday. Tonight was supposed to be a team dinner for my daughter and I was to be there helping out. Well it got moved to tomorrow night so I really didn't have anything planned for tonight. And I really didn't feel like going shopping.

So it's not a dinner to write home about (or probably blog about) but there ya' go. Some nights are just like that! I went through the freezer, the fridge and the pantry and we ended up with breakfast for dinner.

We had shredded hashbrowns - made with raw potatoes - not frozen hashbrowns. My mom used to make these and while the raw potatoes taste different than using cooked, shredded potatoes or frozen ones it's the way I like it best. Crispy on the outside, lots of pepper - yum

And here's our vegan "Sausage McMuffin" - an English muffin with the Whole Foods Market vegan breakfast sausage and a slice of tofutti American cheese. We also had fresh grapefruit that was wonderful. Not health food to be sure but fast, easy and certainly no one complained!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Rain, rain go away

It just won't stop raining. Everything is soggy and people are crabby (including yours truly). And our dogs - oh lordy they are bored! I actually like rain - I really do! I grew up where the saying was "we don't tan, we rust." But enough is enough.

This weather called for some comfort food so tonight's dinner was swiss "steak" served over whole wheat/flax seed fettucine, asparagus and caesar salad.

For the steak I used a "veggie pepper steak" I bought at the Asian market the other day. I dredged it in some seasoned flour and browned it on the stovetop. Then I put it in a baking dish, covered it with one sliced onion and a large can of diced tomatoes with Italian seasoning. I covered it up and baked it for an hour. I think when I was a kid we had this on egg noodles - tonight it was whole wheat pasta.

The caesar salad was a nice accompaniment. I made Dreena Burton's "Amazing Creamy Caesar Dressing" from The Everyday Vegan. It was so good - creamy and garlicky and wonderful. Another keeper Dreena - thanks!

I usually roast asparagus but tonight I just cooked it in a small amount of water until it was crisp tender then added a shot of olive oil to the pan and cooked it for a few minutes - then a generous dose of lemon and some salt and pepper. Yum.

A very resigned-to-boredom Renzo and Bella. This is what they do all day while we work!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Baja tofu tacos

I was so happy with tonight's dinner. Back in the old days I really liked fish tacos (funny that, since I never really liked fish!). So tonight I made tofu "fish" tacos using this recipe for the fish (they were awesome Jennifer!). I've made vegan fish and chips before but that recipe has a beer batter - which while wonderfully tasty - wasn't what I wanted on the tacos. So I made the tofu fish sticks and kept the pieces rather small. I served them on handmade corn tortillas (not made by my hand mind you), shredded green cabbage, thinly sliced avocado, pico de gallo and a spicy avocado dressing (which I cheated and bought at a taqueria!). They rocked! I served them with black beans simmered with jalapenos and cilantros and a salad of thinly sliced romaine, sliced black olives, grape tomatoes, pepitas, crushed blue corn chips and a dressing of salsa mixed with tofu sour cream (about 2:1).

Monday, March 27, 2006

Mushroom manicotti

Tonight was an experiments of sorts. There is a recipe in the Whole Foods Market cookbook for vegan creamed spinach which we really like. So for dinner I made manicotti stuffed with garlic and herb tofu (Small Planet brand - it's awesome!), sauteed mushrooms and chopped hazelnuts - seasoned with some salt, pepper, nutmeg and nutritional yeast and then topped it with the creamed spinach. I added more soy milk to the spinach recipe so that it would be more sauce like. It really was quite good :-) I kept it covered with foil the whole time it baked so it wouldn't dry out - I baked it at 350 for - well, for however long it takes to drive one kid to her math tutor, drop off a prescription at Costco, pick up from the tutor, then get her sister from lacrosse practice! About an hour I reckon.

We also had some oven roasted zucchini and yellow squash tossed with fresh dill and slivered garlic, applesauce and a seeded baguette.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Kwaytiow Paht Si-Yu

Tonight's dinner was Kwaytiow Paht Si-Yu (rice noodles with broccoli and dark soy sauce), Thai cucumber salad and spring rolls (actually they were vegetable lumpia). The link I found for the recipe is slightly different than what is in the cookbook. I used some Braggs in place of the fish sauce, 1 lb tofu that I'd browned earlier, no egg and the original doesn't call for molasses but rather the dark sweet soy sauce which is what I used.

For the salad I just used cucumber and red onion and topped it with chopped peanuts in a dressing of vinegar, water and sugar (equal parts - simmered on the stovetop to dissolve sugar, then cooled). The salad recipe also comes from the Real Thai cookbook and I just make a simplified version.

If I were cooking just for hubby and I there would have been something HOT in the noodles. But we just added crushed red pepper and chili sauce at the table. The girls both love these noodles but not if they are too spicy. It was a very well-liked dinner!

Postscript to last night's dinner - both my kids have commented on the green beans we had last night and have asked me to make them again soon!

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Lazy Saturday

I think today was the first Saturday since August that we didn't have something going on. No soccer games, no dinners to attend or host, no commitments whatsoever. It was wonderful.
The girls and I went to the asian market and stocked up on all kinds of good things. Tonight's menu ended up being:

Mushroom pecan burgers from Dreena Burton's "The Everyday Vegan." Hubby ate them with a very hot Indian pepper relish, I had some spicy mango chutney with mine and the kids ate them with sweet and sour sauce. We loved them. It was quite similar to the recipe I make for vegan kebab -really good.

Chinese long beans with cracked black pepper and -

Crackling Cauliflower from the Whole Foods Market cookbook. This recipe is a favorite of the whole family.

Everything got eaten - there were no leftovers :-( Everything was a definite keeper!

Pumpkin chocolate chip muffins

I made these to take to a lacrosse parents meeting - it turned out just about everybody brought a dessert so I had plenty to bring home - no complaints about that!


1 3/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) non-hydrogenated margarine (Earth Balance), room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
Egg replacer for 3 large eggs (I used EnerG but have made it in the past with applesauce or a combination)
1 cup canned pure pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup unsweetened, regular fat soy milk
3/4 cup chocolate chips
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour mini muffin pans. Sift first 5 ingredients into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat margarine in large bowl until smooth. Gradually beat in sugar, then beat in egg replacer. Beat in pumpkin and vanilla. Beat dry ingredients into pumpkin mixture alternately with soy milk. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts. Transfer batter to prepared pan.
Bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes. Cool in pan on rack for a few minutes. Loosen edges of muffins with a knife and turn out onto rack; cool completely. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Wrap in plastic; store at room temperature.) Made almost 4 dozen.

Adapted from Bon Appetit, November 2000 Pumpkin-Chocolate Chip Loaf Cake

Friday, March 24, 2006

Tofu Bacon

I make tofu bacon essentially following this recipe. I find that you need to cook it in several batches (I slice the tofu very thin) but it doesn't need a lot of oil. Just patience. I end up using more of the soy sauce/liquid smoke combination than this recipe calls for.

Last night however, I knew I would be in a time crunch so no time for patient stove-top cooking. So I sliced the tofu thin and put it on a baking sheet sprayed with canola oil. I then brushed the soy sauce/liquid smoke on the tofu strips (both sides) and sprinkled it with nutritional yeast. I gave it another spray of oil and then cooked it in the oven. I didn't cook it long enough for it to get crispy the way it does when you fry it but you really couldn't tell once it was on the sandwich. But for a more authentic crispy "bacon" the stove-top method works well.

This is a shot of the fried version before being tossed with the soy sauce and nutritional yeast.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Bacon!?! lettuce and tomato sandwiches

Tonight we had one of our favorite sandwich dinners - tofu bacon, lettuce, avocado and tomato on toasted sourdough bread. I've served these many times to other kids when they've been over - kids who actually eat bacon - and everyone loves them. Seriously. I mean when you think about it - a slice of plain pig fat probably doesn't have a whole lot of flavor right? It's the salty smoky taste that people like. Well you can add those flavorings to tofu and get a pretty darn good "bacon" out of it.

We had our sandwiches with some organic strawberries and mango (I love those small ataulfo mangoes). The berries weren't bad for being so early in the season. They are nothing like the strawberries yet to come though.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Taco Tuesday

We pretty much always have Mexican food on Tuesdays so my daughter calls it Taco Tuesday. As it turns out, tonight we did have tacos :-). We got a late start on dinner so I used smart ground taco flavor instead of making my own filling (I usually make a filling with TVP). Some sliced romaine, shredded Follow Your Heart cheddar, chopped tomatoes and Wildwood soy sour cream and they were pretty good! I served these with refried beans, sliced jicama and grapefruit.

We've been getting such good grapefruit lately. I really long for the variety of fruit that the summer will bring - our nectarine and peach trees have blossoms on them (we just have one of each), the fig trees are sprouting tiny green leaves - even my strawberry plants wintered over and have blossoms on them. I love oranges but they are losing their charm.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Happy New Year!

Today is the first day of spring which means it's the Persian new year - eide shoma mobarak!

For our Noruz dinner we had baghali polo - which I made with veg "steak." Usually with Persian dishes I don't bother substituting anything because most of the stew dishes don't have a lot of meat. But this needed something besides the lima beans.

And as a good omen for the new year my "tadig" (the crust of rice that forms on the bottom of the pot) turned out perfectly (it's a rare achievement - trust me).

I served this with Wildwood plain soy yogurt, lavosh bread and some fresh mint (from the garden), green onions, cucumbers and tofu "feta" (tofu that has been in a salty brine for several days).

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Eggplant Parmesan

Wow - this really turned out good. We haven't had eggplant parmesan for a LONG time. I made it based on the recipe I used to use from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. I broiled two eggplants (sliced about 1/3" thick and sprayed with olive oil). I used Muir Glen chunky tomato sauce that I simmered with some torn fresh basil - put about 1/3 of the sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 12 baking dish. Layer half the eggplant, then about 1 cup of "buffalo mostarella" from the Uncheese Cookbook (mine didn't set up very firm so I put it in a ziploc bag and piped it on to the eggplant). Sprinkle with more torn fresh basil and some soy parmesan cheese. Then layer the rest of the eggplant and cover with remaining sauce. Bake at 350 for 1/2 hour to 45 minutes. It was excellent. I made a spinach salad with caramelized red onions, chopped dates and a warm "bacon" dressing. I used soy bacon bits from a local natural foods store that were quite good. An experiment that worked - hurray!

Tomorrow morning the kiddo leaves bright and early for Oregon - headed for an orchestra festival. As she says "12 hours on the bus with the orch dorks." I'll be heading up by plane (I'm not crazy) and will get to spend the weekend explaining how on earth we (all together now) get enough protein. Such fun.

Burritos with drunken beans and roasted peppers

Last night's dinner was so good - especially after an afternoon of running around, I was able to come home to dinner nearly ready to go. I made a pot of "drunken beans" in the crockpot (2 qts. water, 4 cups pinto beans, 12 oz dark beer, 1/2 cup jarred jalapenos, 1 tsp oregano, 1 onion, 3 cloves garlic and salt in crockpot on high all day) and roasted some peppers and onions in the oven. Other toppings were guacamole, Wildwood soy sour cream, a fire-roasted salsa (hot!) and some Follow Your Heart monterey jack cheese. Excellent. The leftovers beans make a wonderful bean dip if you throw them in the food processor and process until smooth.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Fettuccine with pesto

Fettuccine with pesto made from the Real Food Daily cookbook. Holy crap it was garlicky. But very good.

Tomato salad: sliced tomatoes topped with buffalo mostarella (from the Uncheese cookbook), basil, salt, pepper and balsamic vinegar

The highlight (for me) were these French carrots I found at the market today. I didn't peel them - I just cut each carrot into thirds lengthwise and lightly steamed them. Then I roasted them in the oven with a little Earth Balance margarine and a tiny amount of brown sugar. I could have eaten an entire platter of these.

My older daughter said "we should have this exact dinner again sometime" so I would declare it a success!

Mushroom Risotto

The better part of my Sunday was spent in a basement rehearsal space at Davies Symphony Hall listening to a lot of bass players (including my daughter). Some very young (and not so great) all the way up to an incredibly talented guy named Donovan Stokes. He is inspiring. When we got out of the performance it was pouring and traffic was at a standstill. It turns out we were hitting the tail end of the San Francisco St. Patrick's parade. argh.

At home, finally, I made mushroom risotto, oven roasted asparagus, applesauce and garlic bread. The risotto is simple and good. I marinated 4 (smallish) portobello mushroom caps (diced) in a mixture of olive oil, Braggs, balsamic vinegar, some nutritional yeast and garlic. I sauteed these with one chopped onion in some olive oil. Here is a picture of the mushrooms and onions:

Once the onions were translucent I added 2 1/2 cups arborio rice, stirred to coat the rice then added 1/3 cup white wine. From there it was slowly adding 32 ounces of mushroom broth and 32 ounces of vegetable broth, stirring all the while until the liquid was absorbed. Then I stirred in about 1/4 cup nutritional yeast, salt and pepper. Everyone in the house loves this dish.

Here's a shot of the completed risotto with the roasted asparagus

All in all a succesful meal!

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Chocolate Turtle Truffle Torte

We had dinner with friends last night and I said I would bring dessert. In the mood for something new I wandered over to vegweb.com and found this recipe for Chocolate Turtle Truffle Torte. It is extremely decadent and just the tiniest serving is plenty! It went together easily, though I made it sort of late in the day so I had to let it set up at their house. It looks even better today so I would recommend making it a day in advance so everything really sets up. The chocolate layer is intense - I think you could get away using less chocolate and still have a great dessert. And slightly less guilt :-)

Thursday, March 09, 2006

All's quiet on the kitchen front

Wednesday night was dinner out with clients so I was off the hook in the kitchen. Tonight my daughter had a lacrosse game in a torrential downpout (they won 13-2!) so when we got home we just had a simple dinner of Tofurky beer brats on french rolls loaded with everything, some asian coleslaw and fresh pineapple, mango and banana. No pictures - everyone was starving! I'm hoping to do some baking tomorrow - it just keeps raining and raining and I figure some homemade cookies will cheer everyone up.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Jicama and blood orange salad

Tonight was one of those nights where my actions didn't keep up with my intentions. I planned on making a nice dinner but ended up serving frozen soy chorizo and potato taquitos from Trader Joe's (okay - they weren't frozen when I served them - I do have some standards). Hubby ended up having dinner with a client so my cooking plans scaled back a bit.

I did make this jicama salad to go with the taquitos and it was quite good. I have a very distinct memory of the first time I ever had jicama. I was probably 10 years old or so and we were at a restaurant in Southern California. It was fancier than where we would usually go while on vacation but we were visiting my mom's high school friend. While we were there they spotted Lena Horne at a nearby table. Mind you I had no idea who Lena Horne was but they were very excited. Anyhoo - I had a salad that had jicama on it and while it took some convincing I tried it and liked it. So seriously - pretty much every time I buy jicama I think of Lena Horne. Such a legacy.

Monday, March 06, 2006


Tonight we had pastitsio - I made it using a recipe from Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything." I'm too lazy to type up the original so I found someone less lazy than me here. This wasn't a straightforward recipe to "veganize" - it has milk, eggs and cheese.

For the meat sauce I used my homemade spaghetti sauce (I had some in the freezer). I'd made it with meatless meatballs and once you freeze it the meatballs fall apart and there you go - meat sauce. I used soymilk for the milk. For the eggs and cheese I made a batch of flax seed "eggs" (3/4 cup water blended with 1/4 cup flax seed) and some tofu ricotta (mixed firm tofu with granulated garlic, nutritional yeast, salt, some lemon juice).

We also had a salad I made from The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen - garbanzos, red onion and green beans. Good stuff.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Meanwhile back at the ranch...

One of the things I've had the hardest time finding a vegan replacement for is ranch salad dressing. The commercially available dressings just taste weird. For salads at home I usually just use oil and vinegar but sometimes ranch dressing is just the thing. Plus it's nice to send some in my kid's lunch with veggies for dipping - like in the picture here (I save the little salsa containers from the taqueria and use them in their lunches for hummus, dip, ketchup etc - I am, after all, the product of two depression-era parents). Through some scouring on the internet and trial and error in the kitchen here is the recipe for vegan ranch dressing:

For the ranch dressing first you need to make the seasoning mix (which I found a version of online - but I don't have the source).
4 Saltine crackers
1/2 cup dry minced parsley flakes
2 T. instant minced onion
1 1/2 tsp. dry dill weed
1 T. onion salt
1 T. garlic salt
1 T. onion powder
1 T. garlic powder

1. Put 4 saltine crackers in a blender and blend on high speed until powdered
2. Add parsley, minced onions and dill weed.
3. Blend again until powdered.
4. Dump into a bowl and stir in onion salt, garlic salt, onion powder and garlic powder.

Now make buttermilk:

(to make 1/2 cup)
Mix together
7 1/2 T. soy milk
1/2 T. lemon juice
(or easier: put 1/2 T. lemon juice in measuring cup and fill to 1/2 cup with soymilk)

Let it sit for 10 minutes - it will thicken up.

To make dressing take your 1/2 cup of buttermilk, and add 1/2 cup vegenaise (I use the Follow your Heart organic one) and add ~2 tsp of the seasoning mix. Voila - its tastes good!

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Pappardelle with artichoke hearts and mushrooms

Tonight was the last night of the musical and my daughter is now at a cast party. Since we have to stay up to give her a ride home I figured I'd post tonight's dinner. I did kind of a rushed dinner before the play tonight. I found some whole wheat (and egg free) pappardelle at Trader Joe's and made a sauce of mushrooms sauteed with garlic in olive oil, a can of artichokes cut into quarters, some dried basil, lemon juice and cherry tomatoes. It is loosely based on the Easy Artichoke Sauce recipe from Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home. I also made baguettes - which come to think of it isn't something to make when you're trying to get dinner on the table in a hurry. I'm not sure what I was thinking. But the house smelled great with the bread in the oven!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Guys and Dolls

Tonight was the official opening night of the high school musical (they are performing Guys and Dolls). Here is our very own doll upon her arrival home, still wearing stage makeup

Everyone was tired of the fend-for-yourselves approach to dinner lately so I pulled a dish out of the freezer for tonight. Manicotti stuffed with a spinach-tofu "ricotta." I was worried it would be too dry so I made a cheese sauce recipe from the Uncheese Cookbook to go over the top before I put it in the oven. We had a caesar salad with this dressing and a kalamata olive baguette from Trader Joe's.

Not exactly fine dining - for atmosphere we sat in front of the TV and watched The Real World Key West - but it was better than anything else I've managed this week. I'm so looking forward to Sunday when the musical is over.

better late than never...

Since I'm not really cooking much this week I've been perusing my photo files - looking at stuff I made but never posted. I came across the picture I took of the mushroom dish we had for Christmas dinner. I marinated portobello mushrooms and then roasted them in a hot oven. I then made the sauce from this recipe (with obvious subtitutions - no-chicken broth and margarine). It looks a wee bit weird in the picture but they were delicious served over mashed potatoes. We love using roasted portobellos as a stand-in in meat recipes.