Monthly Archives: November 2011

Simple Soba with Kale

The past few days, with Christmas fast approaching, gift shopping to do & to plan, decorating (& cleaning) the house, upcoming birthdays to remember and just taking care of the every day needs of my two kids, I feel like I’ve barely had time do to anything… except eat leftovers!  Though after several days of eating the same (wonderful) things – I’m not one that likes to throw out delicious food – we finally couldn’t do it another night, so we “dragged ourselves” out to eat at our favorite restaurant in Athens.  I think most Athenians were feeling the same way because it was especially crowded for a Tuesday evening. (And now, guess what – I have more leftovers to eat!)

If the holiday season has already got you feeling short on time, this recipe is one I recently discovered that will feed not only your belly, but also your soul 🙂   Throwing together a few simple ingredients has never tasted so good.   Kale is fast becoming one of my favorite greens. I think it used to intimidate me  because I didn’t know how to cook it, but I’m finding that it is really easy to prepare. Kale is SO good for you and the health benefits are amazing.  This recipe is really easy & great… and  surprisingly, my kids couldn’t get enough of it… and I can’t complain about that!

Simple Soba with Kale

  • 1 large bunch  kale (any kind of kale will do, but I used lacinato)
  • 8-12 oz. soba noodles (my 8 oz. made plenty of noodles)
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 2 Tbsp tamari soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds (brown them lightly in a dry skillet)

Place a large pot of salted water to boil over high heat.

Wash and trim kale as needed.  Hold in bunch form and thinly slice remaining stems and leaves.  Place in large bowl of cold water and swish to remove any remaining grit.

Once water has come to a roiling boil, add soba pasta and cook 3 minutes less than the noodle packet instructs.  Add kale to the boiling pasta, pressing down with the back of a large spoon as kale likes to float. Continue cooking, uncovered, until kale and pasta are tender, about 5 minutes or so.

Drain pasta and kale then put back into the pot. In a small bowl, mix minced garlic (can be sautéed for a milder flavor), toasted sesame oil, tamari, and sesame seeds.  Pour over the kale and soba, toss to combine. Serve hot or at room temperature.

simple but sensational

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Lemon Maple Sweet Potatoes

With Thanksgiving looming tomorrow and the meal planning & Muppet Movie release today, I’m assuming we are all pretty busy the next two days!  😉 This recipe was actually submitted to a magazine by Jennifer Garner (yes, the actress) and it is quick, easy & delicious. I have made this table pleaser several times (I’m sorry I don’t currently have a picture – I will remedy that soon!).  It’s a great side dish!

Lemon Maple Sweet Potatoes (serves 6-8)

  • 2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1″ x 2″ chunks
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice

Preheat oven to 375 F. Toss potatoes with olive oil, salt & pepper in a large glass baking dish.  Cook until almost tender, 25-30 minutes.

Whisk syrup & lemon juice in a small bowl.  Drizzle half the mixture over the potatoes.  Gently stir and bake 10-15 minutes until golden brown and tender.  Drizzle remaining liquid and serve!

Mac-N-Cheeseless

My kids could NOT get enough of this “mac-n-cheese” I made the other night!  I didn’t want to put too much hope that my kids were gonna think this was as yummy as me, so I gave them each small bowls, but that didn’t last long. My daughter kept asking “Can I have some more?!”  and she also told me “This is the best dinner ever!” three times during our meal! My son apparently felt the same way because he cleaned his plate! They are both picky eaters, so I knew I had to share this recipe! 

My husband thought the taste was similar to the boxed faux mac-n-cheese by Roads End Organics called (Diary Free) Mac-N-Chreese.  I dont know if you have ever had that, but it’s pretty good for vegan mac-n-cheese (though it honestly tastes nothing like Kraft mac-n-cheese, if that is what you are used to).  However this homemade macaroni was easy to make and it’s full of healthy ingredients!  I will definetly be whipping this together a lot more often rather than going for the boxed kind.

NOTE: I have had mac-n-cheese made with Vegan Gourmet cheddar cheese, and it was really great (in fact, my mom made some at Thanksgiving one year and everyone loved it –  non-vegans included) but I wanted to know I could make a decent mac that didn’t contain pre-made “cheese”.  I have also seen recipes for mac using Daiya cheddar vegan cheese, which I’m sure tastes similarly delicious.  If you are truly stuck on the Kraft brand MacN-Chz taste and want to make some vegan macaroni, I would try to make it vegan using the fake brands of cheese that are out there, such as Daiya or Vegan Gourmet… BUT… if you are going for the au natural route, this recipe is for you!!

Here is my son eating his mac-N-cheeseless with gusto!

MACARONI-N-o-CHEESE (aka Mac-N-Cheeseless)

  • 1  1/2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni noodles

Cook the noodles al dente according to directions (mine took about 7 min).  While noodles are cooking, blend together the sauce in a food processor. When noodles are done, drain them & put them back into the pot.  Add the sauce and cook on a low-med temp until the sauce thickens and cooks down a little (this takes about 5-7 min, depending).  Enjoy!

To make sauce, blend the following (this sauce will make 2 cups):

  • 1/4 cup raw cashews
  • 1 cup soymilk
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • < 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 cup xtra firm silken tofu – this is about 3/4 block silken tofu (though I think regular, drained & pressed, tofu would also work fine)
  • 1/2 Tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1 Tbsp (light yellow or white) mellow flavored miso
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • heavy dash of onion powder
  • < 1/2 tsp paprika
  • fresh ground black pepper

    Hmmm...is it just me, or is a pile of mac not easily photographed?!

    I haven’t tried to do so, but I don’t see any reason why this couldn’t also be baked in a casserole dish, if that is what you desire.  I would suggest following the directions and then instead of combining into a pot to cook the sauce down, simply combine/mix then pour into a casserole dish (covered?),  keeping an eye on it until it is bubbling & cooked down, then top with breadcrumbs and broil until browned on top. Let me know how it works out if you try it!

Be Thankful for Pumpkin Pie

Ahhh… it’s that time of year again when we are getting ready to give thanks (which lets face it, should be a daily goal for all of us). I am considering a new name for this holiday of feasting – ThanksLiving Day.  The name makes sense to me since really what the day is about giving thanks to ALL living things  🙂

I stumbled across this awesome little coloring zine on another blog and I just have to share.  You should totally order one (they are only $5) if you have kids, especially if they are vegetarian or vegan (it has a veggie theme).  It is simple & cute (and will help keep the kids busy will you’re busy cooking)! It also poses the questions what can we do to peacefully live together and give thanks for our world, & makes the idea of growing, cooking & eating vegetables exciting and fun! You can get your own at www.thorathinks.com

I cant wait to cook a meatless vegan feast for my family this year.  My Thanksliving feast is usually pretty traditional .. turkey (I make my own homemade tofu “turkey”, though I also enjoy Tofurkey’s boxed Tofurky), stuffing, 2-3 vegetable dishes and of coarse some kind of delicious pie.  I always try to make everything homemade for the best quality.

This year I am making a pumpkin pie to bring to my mothers for our yearly family feast.  I have concocted a new recipe to meet all my family’s food-needs, so this pie will be vegan, and also soy & gluten-free.  Most vegan pumpkin pies use tofu (regular pumpkin pies contains eggs) but it is really easy to make one without tofu.  I am going the easy route for the gluten-free crust (in order to avoid having to buy 5 different kinds of flour) and am planning on using a gluten-free pie crust mix (though I will have to veganize some of the add-ins, like replacing the eggs & butter with Egg-replacer and a special kind of Earth Balance margarine that is soy-free & dairy free).

I am not going to lie – the crust shown in the pictures is not gluten-free, however, there should be no problems in replacing the crust for a gluten-free one.  The pie crust pictured is a ready-made frozen brand called WhollyWholesome.  Its very good and vegan, but not gluten-free.

(Gluten & Soy-free) Vegan Pumpkin Pie

 * cheesecloth required

First you have to roast 2 large pie pumpkins… Cut them in half, scrape them out and place them face down on a pan.  (Dont forget to save the seeds for roasting later!)

These 2 pie pumpkins ended up being small and I learned (the hard way) that it is best to use 3 small or two large pie pumpkins!

Cook for about an hour at 400 F.  Let them cool and then scrape the pulp out of the shells.  Plop the pumpkin pulp in the center of a piece of cheesecloth (a mesh like fabric), gather the cloth around them and twist tie the tops. Next you want squeeze out all the liquid you can!  This may take a couple of minutes.  I was surprised by how much water I was getting out!  After squeezing them as much as you can (without squirting pumpkin all through the mesh!), you ideally want to end up with about 2  1/4 to 2  1/2 cups of pumpkin(If you can’t get large pie pumpkins, roast three small ones.  I actually used two small ones the last time I made this pie and I fell short on pumpkin after squeezing the water out – so I opened up a can of pumpkin, but the consistency was so much different than the pumpkins that I had roasted myself, I went ahead and roasted another entire pumpkin to ensure that it would all be the same.)

This is BEFORE squeezing the water out... as mentioned before, I ended up having to roast another pumpkin to get the amount I needed!

Next puree the pumpkin with the following ingredients.

  • 2/3 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup (original) coconut milk
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp cloves
  • 1/4 cup arrowroot flour

Pour into a gluten-free crust (use a gluten-free pie crust mix or make your own – there were several recipes I saw on about.com and other gluten-free websites).

before baking...

Bake the pie at 350 F  for an hour.  Let the pie cool to room temperature first, then chill for 2-3 hours (or more) until ready to serve! 

The beautiful finished product! Yum!!

What are you planning to make this year and how are you going to give thanks to the earth & the people you love on this upcoming Thanksliving Day?

 

 

Cakes, Cupcakes and Birthdays

Sometimes raising vegan kids can be a challenge… for example, like when we’re going to a birthday party.  I never felt comfortable bringing my kids their own piece of vegan cake to eat (the last thing I want is for them to feel alienated) nor did I want to tell them they “can’t” have any cake or ice cream that everyone else is eating.  (In fact, I once allowed my children to have a cupcake at a friend’s birthday party before that contained real butter in the frosting – and they didnt die! hahaha) But seriously, my family is vegan for a reason (or several), and naturally I also want my children to feel part of the group and not feel like some kind of vegan weirdo.  My older child, who is almost 4, loves animals and understands why we don’t eat meat or dairy, nor does she want to (at this time).  Hopefully she will continue on the vegan (or at least vegetarian) path on her own as she grows up.  My little man is almost 2 so we haven’t had “the vegan talk” yet!  He basically eats anything he’s given (when I’m lucky).
 
So… anyway, my solution to this birthday cake dilemma is to bring an entire batch of vegan cupcakes along for anyone who wants one.  I must say, this has always gone over smashingly well. This also introduces others to how delicious vegan food can be!
 
The last party I went to (which was about 2 weeks ago), I had to grab aside my kids 2 cupcakes because my vegan cupcakes were flying off the table before the other cake was even cut!  And honestly, I really enjoy bringing and baking cupcakes!  I usually use a recipe from my favorite cupcake cookbook (pictured below) called Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World by Isa Chandra Moskowitz.  There are SO many recipes I want to try!!!  In fact, I’ve made the cookies & cream cupcakes more than once because they are sooo good!

These are the cookies and cream cupcakes (an addition to the basic chocolate cupcake recipe). They contain smashed up Newman-Os in the batter and icing, and one on top.

For my daughter’s third birthday, I baked the “chocolate death cake” (recipe by The Grit, a “famous” Athens vegetarian restaurant) in the shape of Minnie Mouse for her party. 

Here is the baked cake, popped out of the pan and cooling...

 Making the cake was really easy!  The icing part was trickier, but it wasn’t too hard & I thought it was lots of fun piping the icing.  This was the first character cake I ever made and I have to say I think I totally rocked it! I made my own icing and used a piece of an Airhead candy for Minnie’s bow & tongue.  Do I even have to say how much everyone loved it?!  I impressed myself!

All finished! What a beauty!

I also made my son had a Pluto cake for his first birthday.  I found the pan on Amazon online and it was perfect because it was small, so it was his own personal cake.  It’s more of the older version of Pluto than the newer one, and I think it turned out really cute!
 
 
I also made other dog-related “treats” (no pun intended) to go along with it, and hearts too, because my son’s birthday happens to be on Valentine’s Day 🙂

Here are the other sweets I made to accompany the Pluto cake... vegan rice krispy treats, chocolate heart cupcakes and sugar cookie hearts & bones, plus vegan truffles & chocolate covered banana chips (thank you EarthFare for the last 2)!!

As you can probably tell, I love baking sweets & character cakes are my more recent challenge… and they can all easily be made vegan!  Don’t let anyone make you think otherwise!  I highly recommend that cupcake cookbook I mentioned above.  I use the basic vanilla & chocolate cupcake recipes a lot & there are tons of awesome frosting recipes in there too!  It is a vegan must-have!

Vegan Buttermilk Biscuits

Some days, we all need something we love to give us some comfort or to give us relaxation. Maybe for you its wrapping up in your favorite super snuggly blanket and watching a movie… maybe it’s something warm, like a really great cup of coffee or tea… or maybe it’s reading a good book with a glass of wine.  With all the hurry and running around that life throws at us on a daily basis, we all need to feel taken care of sometimes (yes, all of us, whether or not we want to admit it).  One thing that does it for me is eating some good-old comfort food.

We all have our list of favorite comfort foods, and one of mine is (simply)… biscuits. I love biscuits because they are so versatile. You can make a breakfast biscuit by layering it with veggie cheese and “soysage” or fakin’ bacon.  You can stuff it with tofu scramble. You can serve it up with gravy.  You can serve it up with some grits & tempeh, or you can just eat it all by itself with some jam.   A good biscuit can multi-task as well as some of us parents 😉

These biscuits are my current favorites.  Sometimes I add garlic, veggie cheese and oregano to the batter when I know I will be eating them with tempeh, soysage or making a tofu scramble.  Other times I like to leave that stuff out so I can spread them with my favorite jelly.  Busy morning?… Heat up some tofu-chicken (I suggest Gardein vegan chicken tenders) for a yummy quick faux chicken-breakfast-biscuit (cheese optional) that you can eat on the run (even in the car). The biscuit-ilities are endless!

~Old-School Vegan Buttermilk Biscuits~

  • 1  1/2  cups all-purpose flour
  • heaping 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1  3/4 tsp sugar (omit if making the garlic & cheese biscuits)
  • > 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable shortening
  • 2 Tbsp soy margarine, chilled and chopped into bits
  • > 3/4 cup soymilk
  • < 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

If making garlic & cheese biscuits, add to dry ingredients:

  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • (set aside to add in last) 1/2 cup vegan cheddar cheese, chopped (I prefer follow your heart vegan gourmet cheddar)

Preheat the oven to 450 F.  Whisk the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.  Cut in the shortening and margarine with a fork until the mixture resembles crumbs.

Whisk together the soymilk & lemon juice (this makes “buttermilk”).  Set aside for 10 minutes.  Next, add the vinegar.  Form a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the liquids. Gently fold together – don’t overmix! (At this point, add cheese if using.)

With floured hands, consolidate the dough into a ball (if it feels too sticky, give it a light dusting of flour) and move the dough ball onto a floured surface.  Sprinkle dough lightly with flour and flatten gently into a big round circle until about 1/2″ – 2/3″ thick.  Use the rim of a glass or a biscuit cutter and make 9-12 biscuits, depending on how thick you have them.  (I usually shoot for 9 biscuits that are about 2″across.)  Place them in the center of a baking sheet with the sides just touching.  Bake 12 minutes or until bottoms begin to brown. If desired, you can brown the tops lightly under the broiler.

Garlic-Cheddar Biscuits with Grits & Tempeh Bacon... this dish should be called "the southern delight!"

( I included these biscuits in the category “childs play” because my little girl LOVES to help stamp out the biscuits with a round cookie cutter!)

Today's Tempeh & Grits made a "flower"... sometimes we eat the "tempeh graveyard" - that's when we put vertical tempeh pieces in the grits like gravestones... Aww man, maybe I should have shared that idea before Halloween! Oh well!

World Vegan Day

November 1 is World Vegan Day!   Please celebrate all animals of the world today by not eating them!  (It really is that simple!)

Also, check out my new page about eating out under ‘It’s Easy Being Veg’.  It’s about all my family’s favorite places for going out to eat!  I will always be adding restaurants and pictures to this list as we hit the streets to eat out, so keep checking back! 

IF YOU LOVE ANIMALS CALLED PETS,

WHY DO YOU EAT ANIMALS CALLED DINNER??