Monday, February 27, 2012

Banana Bread and Guacamole...But Not Together!


It's been crazy around my house, and so the posts have been slowing down...but not stopping so no worries!  I was thinking about maybe doing 1 to 2 a week.  It's hard with kids and keeping up with the house, rehearsals, schooling, and the like...aaahhh, life...

So, I have two recipes I wanted to share.  One is another one of my brothers, and the other is from a cookbook where I changed a few little things....

We'll start with my brother's guacamole.  There's the original version and the quick version.  The first one is the quick one...which is what I have time for most of the time anyways!  I need quick and healthy recipes.  Those are my favorites to share because I know most people are busy.  Healthy eating can be done with little time...

...my son and daughter thought the avocado pits were special...




I made the guacamole the other night to dip our extra tortilla chips from Surf Taco....

Oh boy, that place should go nation wide!  Surf Taco is our local "Mexican fast food" restaurant where you can take out.  It's fast, but it's fresh!  Everything is made right there at the store.  They have fresh salsa, fresh veggies...so good!  They're like Qdoba, Chipotle Grill, and Moe's Southwest Grill.  That sort of place...

...here's the recipe...  

Matthew's Quick Guacamole
2 ripe Haas avocados, pitted and removed from skins

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1 Tablespoon bottled lemon juice

salt and pepper to taste


Combine all the ingredients in your food processor and process until smooth...that's the way I like it...or mash with a fork if you like it chunky.  Serve!



Matthew's Guacamole
2 ripe Haas avocados, pitted and removed from skins

2 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced

2 jalapenos, seeded and diced (optional)

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 small onion, finely chopped

1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice OR lime juice OR half each

salt and pepper to taste

several dashes of hot sauce to taste (optional)

1 Tablespoon minced fresh cilantro (optional)

This version you might not want to throw it all in the food processor with the tomato and the onion and all...mash avocados first, then combine everything else into the mashed avocado.  Serve!    





Next I want to share the banana bread recipe.  My family loves banana bread, especially, with some cream cheese.  It's a favorite for breakfast around here!  So, if you got some very ripe bananas...the riper they are, the sweeter they are...make this recipe!

I got this recipe from How It All Vegan but I changed a few little things.  This is another one of those must-have vegan cookbooks.  Some great recipes in there!

Banana Bread
3 ripe bananas, peeled

1 teaspoon bottled lemon juice

1/2 cup apple sauce (the original called for oil...that's too much for me, plus, the apple sauce reduces the fat)

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup unbleached all purpose flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup wheat germ

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Combine bananas, lemon juice, apple sauce, and sugar in your food processor and pulse until thick and lumpy.  You don't want to mash the bananas until it's smooth.  Pulsing leaves for pieces of banana in your bread...if you like it that way.  If no food processor is available, or you don't feeling like using one, mash bananas with a fork and combine the mashed bananas with the lemon juice, apple sauce, and sugar.


 In a separate bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients.  Pour the banana mixture into this bowl of the dry ingredients mixture.  Combine until just mixed.


Pour batter into a lightly greased bread pan.


 Bake for 45 minutes.  Once baking is complete, let cool in the bread pan for a few minutes.  When cool, remove loaf from bread pan, slice and serve.


Friday, February 24, 2012

Swiss Chard

Last night, I made another old recipe that my brother gave to me with swiss chard.  It's something  he likes to whip up fast with garlic and onion, and eat over brown rice or pasta.  I love it over pasta!  It's really good with linguini or fettucini because these types of pasta soak up the broth really well.  Chard is very rich in nutrients.  It contains vitamins A, K, and C, and also contains minerals, dietary fiber, iron, and PROTEIN!  Score for the vegetarians!  You can use other types of leafy greens for this recipe, too (mustard greens, collards, spinach, broccoli rabe).  All leafy greens are very, very good for you.  But some have a very distinct taste.  I like spinach and chard, but I don't like broccoli rabe for it is too bitter to me.  Anyways, this recipe is fast and simple!  That's what I like to here!

Matthew's Sauteed Swiss Chard With Pasta

10 oz uncooked linguini OR fettucini

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 bunch swiss chard, washed and rinsed thoroughly and chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 medium onion, chopped

2 cups vegetable broth (1 cup if your eating the chard over brown rice)

15 oz can chick peas (optional)

handful cremini mushrooms, chopped (optional)

salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions, until al dente and set aside.


While pasta is cooking, heat oil in a large pot.  Saute garlic and onion until translucent.  You can also throw in the chopped mushrooms here, too, if you're using.


 Once onions are cooked, add broth and chard.  Cover and cook on medium until chard has wilted.  Season with salt and pepper.



When chard is done, combine with the cooked pasta.  Top with some parmesan or soy parmesan if you choose...tastes just as good with out the cheese...and eat up!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Potato Corn Chowder, Veganized

Quick post today...

I took out a recipe I haven't made in a while.  It's a veganized chowder my brother and I made once from a soup cookbook...I don't remember which cookbook it was...but anywho, it's a good one.


Potato Corn Chowder

1 cup uncooked small pasta (I used alphabets to make it fun...we like our soups chunky...but pasta is optional)

2 Tablespoons vegan butter (I use Earth Balance)

1 medium onion, chopped

1/4 cup chopped celery (that came to about 1 small celery rib)

3 1/2 cups chopped white potato (I used Russett)

3 1/2 cups vegetable broth (I use a vegetarian "chicken" broth powder)

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon dried parsley

2 1/2 cup soy milk  (I used Silk Original)

2 1/2 cups frozen corn 

salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions, until al dente, and set aside.

Melt butter in a large pot and saute onion and celery until tender.


Add broth, potato, garlic powder and parsley, and cook on medium heat until potatoes are tender.


When potatoes are cooked, add the milk and corn. Heat through.
Once heated through, with a slotted spoon, scoop out about 2/3 of potato veggie mixture and process in food processor.  Be sure to pulse it because you don't want it to look like wet mashed potatoes.  Try to leave it chunky.  Doing this, makes the soup thicker.



Once processed, pour back into the pot, add the cooked pasta, and season with salt and pepper.  Heat through again and serve!  

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Alfredo Sauce Made From Tofu?!?


One recipe I have always been pleased to find that you can make non-dairy is Alfredo sauce...thank God! I have never been able to eat Alfredo sauce because it was always too heavy with the cheeses and the cream, that I never felt too good afterwards.  The sauce that I make is made with silken tofu.  Silken tofu is an amazing invention because of it's versatility. 

The recipe I use is from The Vegetarian Family Cookbook...with a few of my alterations.  I sometimes make the quick version.  Sooooo easy!  Basically, you throw everything for the sauce in the food processor, heat it up, and cook the fettucini, linguini, whatever pasta you want to use, and combine.  Done!  When I have more time, I usually add sauteed mushrooms, peas, and fresh garlic.  But sometimes, time is not on my side for the assembly of a healthy dish.  

Here's my version with the garlic cloves, mushrooms and peas...the above picture obviously was the quick version...the the quick version recipe follows...

Pasta With Vegan Alfredo Sauce

8 ounces uncooked pasta (I use linguini, fettucini, penne...larger pastas)

2 Tablespoon soy butter (I use Earth Balance)

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup sliced cremini (baby bella) mushrooms

1 cup frozen peas, defrosted

12.3 ounces silken tofu

1/2 cup soy milk (preferably unsweetened, but sweetened works well, too)

1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

black pepper, to taste

grated parmesan or soy parmesan cheese, to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions, until al dente, drain and set aside.


Melt 1 Tablespoon of soy butter in a medium sauce pan and sauté garlic until tender.

In a separate pan, melt 1 Tablespoon of soy butter and sauté mushrooms until tender.  Set aside.

In food processor, combine silken tofu, soy milk, salt, sauteed garlic, and black pepper, and process until smooth.

Pour tofu mixture back in to the medium sauce pan where the garlic was first sauteed, add the sauteed mushrooms and peas, and simmer until completely heated through.

When sauce is done, pour over pasta, sprinkle on some parmesan cheese, salt and ground black pepper to taste and serve.  Enjoy!

For the quick version...

8 oz uncooked pasta

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

12.3 oz silken tofu

1/2 cup soy milk

1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

ground black pepper, to taste

grated parmesan or soy parmesan, to taste

Cook pasta according to packaged directions, until al dente, and drain.  Set aside.

Combine the garlic powder, silken tofu, soy milk, salt, and black pepper in the food processor and process until smooth.  

Place tofu mixture in a sauce pan and heat through.  

Pour over pasta, sprinkle on some parmesan cheese, and serve.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Veggie Tofu Frittata

What a week!!  


Thursday night I had made a frittata...minus the eggs...how'd I do it?  TOFU!!  



I got the idea from the recipe, Swiss Chard Frittata, from Post Punk Kitchen.  Another great site with tons of great delicious recipes.  It's a must to check out.  There's a mac and cheese recipe made from sunflower seeds I have been wanting to try.


Here's my variation of the frittata... 


Veggie Tofu Frittata
1 Tablespoon olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 medium carrot, shredded
1 cup chopped cremini (baby bella) mushrooms
1 cup frozen chopped spinach
2 teaspoons dried oregano
14 oz extra firm tofu (I use Woostock Farms)
1 Tablespoon soy sauce OR tamari
1 teaspoon brown mustard
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes (see information on what the heck this stuff is at the bottom of this post!)
ground pepper to taste
salt to taste


Preheat oven to 400 degrees


Drain and press tofu.  If you don't have a tofu press, wrap your tofu in a non-fuzzy towel...something that will not leave fuzz all over your tofu...and place a large, heavy book on top.  You will want to press tofu for 10 minutes, just to get some of the extra water out of the cake.




Heat up the olive oil in your pan and saute the garlic and onion until onion is translucent.


Add carrots, mushrooms, and oregano and cook until veggies are tender.


Mix in the spinach and let it sit with the veggies, covered, on low until ready to add to the rest of the ingredients.  Spinach will defrost right in the pain.


After tofu has been pressed, crumble it to the consistency of cottage cheese in a large mixing bowl.  Mix in the soy sauce, mustard, turmeric, black pepper, nutritional yeast, and salt until well combined.  Using your hands is easiest!


Next, add the veggies to your tofu mixture and combine well.


Spoon the tofu and veggie mixture into you greased pie plate and press down into the plate.


Bake for 20 minutes until golden on top.  Let cool in the pie plate for about 5 to 10 minutes...and serve!

NOTE:  What is nutritional yeast???

Happy Herbivore says it well!  I had just gotten her cookbook for Christmas.  She has a lot of good vegan recipes that are a must to try.  

Here is the information from the web site that I purchase the nutritional yeast from.  I have found the best price at Bulkfoods.com.  

So you ask, where can you get a good source of protein with out having to eat dairy and meats?  Nutritional yeast is a good one!!!  

PS...tofu is also an excellent source of protein as well!

So don't ever let people tell you that you HAVE TO have animal products in your diet to survive!  

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies...the Best!

I wasn't planning on doing a post tonight...but I had to share this recipe...


After I had made dinner tonight...which turned out okay...I decided to whip up a batch of vegan chocolate chip cookies.  They came out amazing!  I think it's the best recipe for vegan chocolate chip cookies I have found yet!  The only down side of the recipe is that silken tofu or soft tofu is used as the binder (aka egg) and you would have to open up a whole box or container of tofu just to get 1/3 cup of it.  I had made a pasta dish for dinner tonight that called for some silken tofu in the sauce and I had some of the silken tofu left over.  So, I used it for the cookies.  I think that is the only time I would make this recipe, if I had left over silken tofu.  It's so worth it if you are a lover of chocolate chip cookies.

The recipe came from La Dolce Vegan!: Vegan Livin' Made Easy.  This cookbook is another one of my faves.  I have used it for many recipes.  I did change two things on the recipe.  I changed the sugar to brown sugar because the brown sugar makes the cookies chewy.  And I also used 1 cup of chocolate chips rather than the 3/4 cup in the original recipe.  We love chocolate chips!  Here it is...

Rachel's Chocolate Chip Cookies...with a few of my changes...

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Combine the following in a large bowl...
2 cups flour (I used unbleached all purpose flour)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup brown sugar

In your food processor or with your mixer, combine the following...I used my food processor, of course...
3/4 cup vegan soy margarine OR butter ( I use Earth Balance)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup silken tofu OR soft tofu (I used Mori Nu extra-firm silken tofu)

 
Next, scoop the tofu mixture into your flour mixture...add the chips...mix well...I used my hands to mix it all together.

Scoop cookies on to greased baking sheet...shape and flatten the cookies.
Bake for 10 minutes.  It will be gooey in the center, but I've learned that after they cool, it's not gooey anymore.  I thought they were still not cooked through, but they were!  

Eat up!!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!!...Veggie Soup and Vegan Thousand Island Dressing


HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!


It was a low key day for my family.  We're not real big with Valentine's Day, but we sometimes leave little things for each other or make a card or something.  We made a Valentine's E-card video for our parents and my sister-in-law who is stationed in Afghanistan.  My sister-in-law sent us an Edible Arrangement, pictured to the right, sent to our house, which was gone by dinner time.  My husband left me a little surprise gift in the car so that when I went to take my son to gymnastics class, it was waiting for me on the front seat of my car.  It was one of those music cards next to a real rose and a huge Hershey kiss.  It was very, very cute  :)  Then for dinner we had...drum roll please...sandwiches and veggie chips!  So romantic!  Hey, I was pooped by the time we got home from gymnastics!

So, for lunch today, I made a mock "chicken" soup as some would refer to it.  Technically, it's just a vegetable noodle soup, BUT it is very delicious for a quick meal.  I got the recipe from...where else...VegWeb.com.  I made a few little alterations though.  Here's the link to the original recipe.  And here's my variation below...

Mock "Chicken" Noodle Soup 

1 1/2 cups uncooked small pasta (we like a bit more pasta in our soups, and I like to use the cut spaghetti)
1 small onion, chopped
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 cup water
2 medium celery stalks, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
3 teaspoons dried parsley
2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes (optional)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, or to taste
4 cups vegetable broth (I use a "chicken" flavored powder from Bulkfoods.com, which is 2 teaspoons per 1 cup of water)

Cook pasta according to package directions, until al dente.  Drain and set aside.


In large pot, saute onion in oil until translucent.


Stir in to the pot the water, celery, carrot, parsley, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.  Simmer for 5 minutes until vegetables begin to get tender.


Add in the broth and stir.  Simmer the soup on medium for 10 more minutes.

When soup is done, add in the pasta, and serve!  Leftovers are even more delicious the next day!

This morning, I made a vegan Thousand Island dressing for our salad tonight for dinner...which I never got around to assembling...so we'll have the dressing with our salad tomorrow.  My daughter, who's 2 years old, eats her salad up with this dressing recipe!  This recipe belongs to my younger brother, Matthew, who is a pastry chef that LOVES to cook!

Matt's Vegan Thousand Island Dressing

1/4 cup soy mayonnaise (I use Nayonnaise)
3 Tablespoons ketchup
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 Tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons sweet pickle relish
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon vegan Worcestershire sauce (I use Annie's)
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all the ingredients in a a mixing bowl and whisk until well blended.  Serve over a garden salad.    

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Pizza With the Bread Machine!

I made pizza Friday night for my baby sitter and the kids while my hubby, Scott, took me to a Valentine's Dinner at our church.  I made the dough in my bread machine and I used the tomato sauce recipe from Peas and Thank You...another good quick food processor recipe.  It is a very easy assembly for pizza!  Even though I grew up in an Italian American home, I used to be intimidated by pizza making because I thought it was too much work and questioned where I would find the time.  BUT with a bread machine, it cuts out a lot of the time to make it.  My goal is to always figure out how to schedule my time and fit in preparation time for a healthy dinner with out spending all afternoon making it.  



The recipe I use for my dough is the "Easy Whole-Grain Pizza Dough" recipe from the book Vegan Lunch Box by Jennifer McCann.  I can make two 16 inch pizzas with this dough.  

Here is the recipe...place the ingredients in your bread machine in this order...

1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 Tablespoons olive OR canola oil
3 cups unbleached all purpose flour (I add my 1 Tablespoon of wheat germ per 1 cup of flour in this recipe, too...see February 3rd's post)
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup ground corn meal
...make your "volcano" and place in it...
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast

Set your bread machine to the pizza dough cycle...

When the pizza dough cycle is complete place your dough on a floured surface...AND preheat your oven to 450 degrees.


Divide your dough in half to make 2 pies...roll out your dough to form your pizza crust.


Place them on your baking sheets.



When crusts are ready, bake them in your preheated oven for 5 minutes before putting on your sauce and toppings...I have found that when doing this, it is easier to "decorate" your pie before completely cooking it.  Plus, in my opinion, it does make a nice crust, too...don't forget to slice open those air pockets after baking!  :)


At this point, you can also freeze your crusts to save for a later dinner, and then use them for a future quick meal.  I froze one of my crusts, by wrapping it in plastic wrap, since I didn't need both of them Friday night.  


After baking the crust, it is time to add some flavor!  

1 cup of your favorite home made tomato sauce per pie
2 cups mozzarella or soy mozzarella per pie

I also add veggies at this time, too, or crumbled "sausage" that I have made...see February 8th's post...you can add whatever topping you desire!



Place your pie in the preheated oven and bake for approximately 10 to 12 minutes.  I like the cheese to be bubbly and lightly golden...  

MANGIA!