Friday, June 30, 2006

Virgo, interrupted

I am a Virgo through and through. I thrive on order, routine and structure (I know, boring). And with summer upon us (not to mention the World Cup) - I have none of those things. I have teenagers coming and going - teens who want to be fed and then driven someplace. I have hot weather and an even hotter kitchen. I have no urge to cook.


I am cooking though - just not doing a good job of blogging it! H leaves for Costa Rica in two weeks so I know the pace will slow down somewhat at that time. I do have a few recipes to blog so I hope to get to those very soon...

My next post will be a dessert so stay tuned!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Barbecue roasted tofu with whipped chipotle sweet potatoes

I've been organizing my recipe binder lately (it gives me something to do while watching World Cup games and feel less guilty for the time spent in front of the tube...). I have a lot of recipes still from before we were vegetarian and I came across an old favorite and decided to veganize it.

This was a recipe from Cooking Light magazine. Basically it was salmon marinated in pineapple and lemon juice then rubbed with a spicy sweet mixture and roasted in the oven. So I subbed some tofu and cooked it on the stovetop instead. I served it on whipped chipotle sweet potatoes (I halved this recipe and used just a tiny bit of Earth Balance margarine instead of the butter it calls for. Next time I'll just leave it out entirely) .

Barbecue Roasted Tofu
adapted from Cooking Light magazine 9/98

1/2 cup pineapple juice
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 lb. extra firm tofu, sliced into 8 pieces
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 T plus 2 tsp. chili powder
4 teaspoons grated lemon rind
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
cooking spray
lemon wedges

Combine first 3 ingredients in zip-top plastic bag; seal and marinate in refrigerator several hours, turning occasionally.

Remove tofu from bag; discard marinade. Combine sugar and next 5 ingredients in a bowl. Rub over tofu; cook over medium heat in a pan sprayed with oil until evenly browned on both sides. The sugar makes it brown quickly so watch it. The original recipe called for baking in the oven which I might try next time.

We also had an unbelievably sweet sharlyn melon with blueberries:

I still had some salad left from the night before (luckily I hadn't dressed the whole thing...). It was made with red leaf lettuce, butter lettuce, cucumbers, red peppers, green beans, sugar snap peas, cabbage, carrots and more! I have a picture but blogger is being difficult so that's it for now!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Father's Day

Last week was our first week off from school and we were ever so slightly busy ;-) We went to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, I took the girls and friends to a concert in the park in San Jose, some shopping and lots of back and forth between friends houses. On Friday we took off for a little Father's Day getaway with some friends.

We went wine tasting, played in the lake,

watched the US-Italy game in a pub - in short, it was a wonderfully relaxing weekend! I'd made the soyrizo and green olive enchilidas to take up for dinner the first night and they were a hit even with the chorizo eating crowd! The second night my friend made a pasta with a bunch of mixed vegetables. It was delicious :-)

When we returned home last night we were all hungry and here it was Father's Day and no special dinner planned! The girls and I went to the store and came home with veggie burgers, tomatoes and fruit. It wasn't a fancy dinner but it was good and by candlelight anything is special!

Tonight I think I will just make a big salad and some iced green tea so we can detox from the weekend!

Monday, June 12, 2006

Like mother, like daughter

Last night Hallie cooked dinner for us - veggie chicken patties on whole wheat buns with fruit and french fries - she did a beautiful job. Everything was ready at the same time and cooked perfectly...

We decided that maybe one night each week the girls could cook dinner. I so enjoyed dinner last night (she did the clean up as well). I could get used to this!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Crockpot chili

Inspired by the chili we had at the potluck the other nightI decide to make a pot of my vegan chili. I've been making this for many years now - it's been served at my neighbor's Super Bowl party for probably the last 4 years or so with great success. I would recommend starting with less chili powder and adding more to taste. I've used some chili powders that were explosively hot!

Vegetarian Chili

1 large onion, chopped
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
¾ ounce ground cumin seed
1 ounce plain chili powder
2 tablespoons dijon style mustard
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons dried dill
2 tablespoons dried parsley
2 tablespoons red wine
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 6 ounce can tomato paste
2 28 ounce cans chopped tomatoes (do not drain)
2 cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup TVP (texturized vegetable protein)
1 small can sliced black olives
water as needed

Combine everything except olives in crockpot and cook on high for about 4 hours then reduce to low for another 4 hours or so. Add olives about an hour before you’re ready to serve. The longer it cooks, the better it tastes.

Serves: 6-8

Adapted from Silver Palate Cookbook “Chili for a Crowd”

I didn't get a picture of the chili - it was a night where we all ate whenever it was convenient. But I haven't posted a dog picture for awhile so here is a picture of Bella - she had been rummaging through the bag I keep at my desk for paper recycling and when she went back to her favorite spot, acting all casual, I spotted the post-its stuck to her face.

It is now summer vacation! Woohoo!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Seitan fajitas

After the success of the BBQ seitan the other day I decided to try another dish based on that same recipe. I made the seitan but instead of peanut butter I used a Mexican chili sauce I got at the grocery store. Then I used that sauce for basting while it baked. After it finished baking I sauteed it in a little bit of oil with some salt and pepper and then added it to some sauteed peppers and onions.

We had this on flour tortillas with diced avocado, soy sour cream and HOT salsa - they were really good and even Miss "I don't like Taco Tuesday" Hallie ate it. That makes two weeks in a row she has liked TT. Whatever is this world coming to?

Tonight was a school function/potluck - as I was walking along the table I made some comment about how nice it was that someone had labeled their lasagne as vegetarian and the woman behind me said "the chili we brought is vegetarian - actually it's vegan" - Cool. It was really good.

Two more days of school for the kiddos!

Monday, June 05, 2006

Angel Hair Pasta with Lemon and Garlic

I needed something simple tonight (I know, I sound like a broken record)... I went to my favorite produce store this afternoon and the tomatoes and basil both looked beautiful. So I made an old favorite:

Angel Hair Pasta with Lemon and Garlic
adapted from In the Kitchen with Rosie, Rosie Daley

2 teaspoon olive oil
4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 cups chopped roma tomatoes
16 oz. angel hair pasta
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
2-4 tablespoons vegan parmesan substitute
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat and maintain at a boil.

Put the olive oil and garlic in a sauté pan and cook over medium heat just until the garlic begins to brown. Remove the sauté pan from the heat and pour in the wine. Return it to the heat. Cook for another 1 to 2 minutes, until the wine has been reduced by half. Stir in the lemon juice and tomato. Remove the pan from the heat.

Place the pasta in the boiling water and cook to desired doneness. Drain the pasta and put it into a warm serving bowl. Add the basil, soy parmesan cheese, and black pepper, along with the tomato mixture. Toss and serve immediately.

Serves 4-6

The lemon and wine make a nice light sauce so the pasta isn't dry. I find it works best with angel hair pasta and not anything bigger. Everyone liked this dish.

I also made a caesar salad using hearts of romaine - whole leaf, not chopped. It just looks so nice that way - even if it's harder to eat ;-)

Everyone was goofy tonight at the dinner table - I think we are all ready for school to be over!

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Food as art...

Busy weekend, basic cooking - nothing terribly blogworthy. We went to a catered graduation party today where the food was spectacular. With the exception of a poached salmon everything was vegetarian. And out of those items, many were vegan.

There was this incredibly beautiful hummus platter (this is definitely worth clicking on to see the larger picture):

And this melon:

Amazing isn't it? There was vegan sushi, a fruit platter that was overflowing, veggies - all kinds of things. I couldn't get a picture of everything though - while my family is used to not eating until a picture has been taken - it's a little bit harder to impose on others!

Friday, June 02, 2006

BBQ seitan

I finally got around to copying the recipe that Jess made the other day. This was for vegan BBQ "ribs" but I'm just calling it BBQ seitan to eliminate the whole faux meat heebie jeebies. It was easy, fairly quick and best of all everyone loved them. I was really rushed so I couldn't give it the obvious care and attention that Jess and provided hers.. but still - definitely liked by everyone

We have some tomatoes on the vine but it will be awhile before they are ready. I found some organic tomatoes at the store - yellow and orange - and sliced them up for a salad with balsamic vinegar and basil and sprinkled it all with Hawaiian black lava salt

We also had the first corn on the cob of the season and an amazingly sweet cantaloupe. Ah, summer is almost here!!!

Cashew veg chicken and QFT

Still catching up on the last few nights... Wednesday night I made a stir fry with the veg chicken I get at the Asian market. It's called "spicy vege chicken" on the label and it actually has very few ingredients which is nice. It's spicy (but not too) and is so good in a stirfry. I sliced a couple of carrots on the diagonal, 3 celery stalks, a yellow onion, and 2 zucchini diced small. I still had some soy vay Chinese marinade in the fridge so I used that instead of making a sauce.

I had bigger plans this week than my schedule actually allowed - I had planned on making some spring rolls to go with this - but that sort of vaporized as the day got busier. I did buy all the vegetables though so I think that might be a good QFT project for this weekend (as my kids call it - Quality Family Time™).

Speaking of QFT... the reunion last weekend was fun - Hallie and I made a girls weekend out of it. We stayed at a bed and breakfast with my parents, my sister and her husband and my brother and his wife. We had this whole Victorian house to ourselves (though it wasn't as exciting as this picture might lead you to believe... )

This reunion was a little less scheduled than some of the past reunions which was nice. We did a lot of shopping in our free time. A sure fire way to a teenage girls heart.

Me with Hal and my dad...

On our drive home we ventured off of I-5 (boring, boring, boring) and hit State Route 99. It was so incredibly beautiful - farms and orchards for as far as you could see. California seems like such a crowded, crazy place sometimes. Seeing these other parts is always amazing. It's a beautiful state.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Tostada Salad

I'm a bit behind - it's the last full week of school, next week is finals. Yikes. Our Taco Tuesday dinner was a Tostada Salad. I used flour tortillas and baked them in the oven over a small bowl set on top of an empty can (all this on a cookie sheet). I first got the tortillas wet and then sprayed them a bit with canola oil. I baked them one at a time at 400 for about 5-8 minutes until they looked brown. Then I took them off the can and set them on the cookie sheet and baked a little longer until the inside of the shell was browned as well.

For the salad:

Romaine lettuce, chopped in thin ribbons
sliced black olives
avocado, diced
red bell pepper, diced
grape tomatoes, halved
1 pkg smart ground taco/burrito flavor - browned on stovetop

Mix together with a dressing made from ranch dressing and spicy salsa to taste.

These were really good - the shells were nice and crispy but didn't have that fried, oily taste. The salad was a nice mixture of flavors - even Hallie, who hates Taco Tuesdays, liked it. I made hers with just ranch because she's not as fond of spicy things. But she ate the whole thing!