Recipe: Salad Wraps! A change from sandwiches

What do you do when you want a change from sandwiches, but still want something sandwich-like?  Break out the wraps, of course!

Wraps are, in a word, awesome.  I find them even more versatile than sandwiches.  There are tons of varieties of flour tortillas and sandwich wrappers out there to give you a good starting point, and even more condiments, dressings, and veggies that can be combined to create your perfect lunch.

Speaking of, have you ever noticed how chain-type sandwich shops just don’t seem to understand the concept of a veggie wrap?  The last time I ordered one, what I received was a wrap that consisted mostly of a heavy, greasy “whole wheat” tortilla, with a tiny amount of vegetables inside.  Not only was it a sad excuse for lunch, it also cost an arm and a leg.  What’s up with that?

I don’t have just one “recipe” that I use when making wraps, though my initial inspiration came from the lunch section of The 30-Minute Vegan.  In this post, I want to share the combinations I use most often, and hopefully inspire you to make a wrap that blows the ones available at sandwich shops out of the water.

Also if you like raw food bars, check out the end of this post for an awesome giveaway!

The Perfect Veggie Wrap–Made By You!

veggie wrap prep

Start with one large flour tortilla or your favorite sandwich wrapper. (I don’t recommend the magazine as a whole, given its rather frightening tendency to overuse meat in its recipes, but this month’s Taste of Home has a simple homemade tortilla recipe that sounds pretty darn tasty.)

Then feel free to mix and match the following:

Basic ingredients:
mixed greens
shredded cabbage
onion, thinly sliced
carrots, julienned or shredded

Mix ‘n’ match add-ons:
cucumbers
zucchini
bell pepper
mushrooms, any kind

Condiments and toppings:
hummus
mustard
vegan mayo
soy sauce or Bragg’s liquid aminos
nutritional yeast
dried herbs
olive oil
flax oil

To assemble your wrap:

— Warm or lightly brown the tortilla/wrap according to your preference.  I like to lightly toast mine in a nonstick pan over medium heat.

— Spread any hummus, mayo, or mustard you’re using on the tortilla.  Arrange all your ingredients except the mixed greens down the center.

wrap without greens
— Roughly chop the mixed greens and put them on top of everything else.

— Add any oil, soy sauce, herbs, or nutritional yeast you desire.

wrap with greens
— Roll the tortilla up tightly, tucking the ingredients in as you go if they try to get away from you.  Stick a toothpick or two in to keep it shut if you like.

— Slice in half (or not), and enjoy!

finished wrap

Now that you’ve got lunch covered, why not try for some amazing snacks?  The Daily Raw Cafe is giving away a box of Raw Revolution bars, which are just about the most awesome raw food bar ever.  The deadline is tonight, so be sure to get your entries in soon!

Recipe: “Old Standard” Cucumber Carrot Sandwich

When I first started making substantial veggie sandwiches, this was the first combination I settled on.

open-face cuke sandwich

It took a little while to get “just right”, but now I’m so fond of it that I eat it more often than not when I want a sandwich.  So for today’s sandwich post, I present:

The “Old Standard” Cucumber Carrot Sandwich

Ingredients

2 slices your favorite vegan bread (I used oat nut for the one in the picture)
6 round slices of cucumber OR one 2-inch piece cucumber, sliced lengthwise
2-inch piece of carrot, cut unto matchsticks
1 thin slice white onion
2-3 red pepper rings, left whole or cut into strips
2 large OR 3 small tomato slices
4-5 banana pepper rings (I use Mt. Olive brand because they have no HFCS or artificial coloring)
leaf lettuce of your choice
condiment of your choice (I prefer plain yellow mustard for this one!)

To assemble:

— Lay the bread on a flat surface.  Seriously. Veggie sandwiches love sliding apart on inclines. (Please don’t ask how I know.)

— Layer the ingredients on one slice of bread in the order listed. I’ve found they stack best that way, but if a different order works for you, go for it!

— Spread your preferred condiment on the other slice of bread, top off the sandwich, and enjoy! (Or slice it in some artistic way first, because that’s fun.)

closed cuke sandwich

Recipe: Toasted Zucchini-Cabbage Sandwich

Sandwiches are a fairly universal food in that they can be comprised of pretty much anything you have in the fridge. Given decent bread and a little imagination, it’s easy to blow past the stereotypical lunch meat and cheese combinations that may have haunted your non-vegan days.

I’m guilty of having scarfed down more than my fair share of rather scary bread-and-meat concoctions when I was younger. But I still love sandwiches. So now, instead of meat, I like to play around with various veggies to create new and different lunchtime treats!

(Of course, if you still crave the taste of a deli sandwich without the meat, there are plenty of vegan faux meat and cheese slices out there. Yves and Tofurky are my personal favorite brands for “meats”, and Galaxy Foods makes decent vegan cheese slices. Remember to always read labels, though; some brands and varieties of faux cheese contain casein, a milk-derived protein.)

Back in October, I made a brief post in my Vegan MoFo blog regarding my love of veggie sandwiches, but didn’t go into much detail about which veggies I tend to pair up. So for my first post here in what will undoubtedly be a continuing series, I offer up…

Toasted Zucchini-Cabbage Sandwich

Ingredients:

2 slices vegan whole wheat bread, toasted
6 round slices zucchini
1 white or cremini mushroom, sliced
1 thin slice white or red onion
2-3 rings red bell pepper
1-2 large tomato slices
1 large leaf red cabbage, cut to fit the bread

spread of your choice (I like Dijon mustard for this)
a few sprigs fresh herbs of your choice (optional)

To assemble:

— Place toasted bread on a plate or flat surface. This may sound painfully obvious, but if the bread isn’t level, the sandwich will try to slide apart.

— Layer the zucchini slices on one piece of the bread, followed by the mushroom slices, onion, red pepper, tomato, herbs (if using), and cabbage.

— Spread your desired spread on the top piece of bread, close up the sandwich, and press down a little to help the sandwich stay together.

— Slice on the diagonal (or not, but it does look nice) and enjoy!

On a cooking spree

I love to cook in general, but every once and a while I’ll go on a particularly prolific cooking or baking spree.  The past couple of days have been like that and, crazy foodie that I am, I thought I’d share some pictures.

First up is this fun and colorful salad I found while browsing Veganomicon:

Red peppers, scallions, black beans, mangoes, quinoa, fresh cilantro…really, what’s not to like?  Reading the recipe, I was reminded of some of the freshly-prepared foods our local co-op offers in their deli section.  They’re big on colorful mixes of grains, beans, and herbs.  This salad is just as good as, if not better than, the concoctions I get there.  Plus, mangoes are one of those things I go crazy for.

After tossing all of that together yesterday, I cooked up an impromptu lasagna (which, unfortunately, I neglected to take a picture of).  There’s no particular recipe to it, but this is what I threw in:

  • 16 lasagna noodles, cooked
  • 1 block rice-based vegan mozzarella, shredded
  • 1 recipe of Veganomicon‘s tofu ricotta
  • 1 jar organic pasta sauce (we had Muir Glen on hand)

 I layered all of that up in a 9×13 baking dish, sprinkled a little vegan parmesan on top, and baked it at 350°F for 45 minutes covered, 15 minutes uncovered.  All in all, it made 8 good-sized servings.  It came out pretty good, but I think it could have used a little more sauce.

This morning started off nasty and dreary, so I took the opportunity to beat the blues with some cookies:

Meet the lovely and mouth-igniting Mexican chocolate Snickerdoodles, straight out of Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar. (Yes, I’ve been feeling the cookbook love!)  I am a sucker for spicy food, chocolate, and spicy chocolate, so these were a very “me” choice.  They are very spicy–1/2 tsp of cayenne in the dough–and my mouth was pleasantly lit up by the time I was through munching the two pictured here.

So that’s what I’ve been up to in the kitchen!  Next week, I’ll be posting some pictures of and ideas for veggie sandwiches, since those are a big item on my weekly menu.  ‘Til then, rock on!

Mother’s Day cake

In general, my family doesn’t eat a lot of cake.  Though I love baking, cake is one of those things that is not only time-consuming, but also a little heavier on calories than I’m comfortable with.

However, I’m not adverse to a tasty chocolate treat on special occasions, so for Mother’s Day yesterday I pulled out the cookbooks and browsed for something appealing.

The end result of my search:

The cake is the quick and easy “Chocolate Cake” recipe from Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s The Joy of Vegan Baking (a beautiful book if ever there was one!), and the glaze is from 1,000 Vegan Recipes.  The result was a moist, delicious chocolate cake with a hard chocolate glaze topping.

I cut the recipe in half and baked it in an 8-inch square pan.  Then I decided that the square looked boring.

So I did a little playing around and came up with this flower-type arrangement.  The neat thing about it is that each triangle is exactly one serving of cake!  That, and I’m a sucker for triangle-cut food.

My mom loved the cake–which was what I was hoping!  And there’s enough left to enjoy it for several more days.

Recipe: "Eastern Fusion" Pizza

It seems that new and seasoned vegans alike still love their pizza.  Take a look in just about any vegan cookbook (and on many vegan websites!), and you’ll find at least a few recipes for this much-loved food.

And what’s not to like?  Just yesterday my mom and I were discussing meal variety, and we realized that pizza is one of the most versatile foods out there.  This remains true with vegan pizza.  Seasoned meat and cheese lovers may have a hard time believing this, but it’s not much of a leap to take the amazing combinations of food that are out there in other dishes and apply them to pizza.

I want to share a quick recipe for a rather quirky pizza that I whipped up for myself the other night.  I didn’t measure anything, so most of it is “to taste”, but that’s another great thing about pizza–it’s very easy to personalize!  I made a personal-sized pizza, but you can make it for as many people as you like.

“Eastern Fusion” Pizza

Ingredients

1 recipe your favorite pizza dough
— I use “basic pizza dough” from 1,000 Vegan recipes

unseasoned tomato sauce, or tomato paste thinned to sauce consistency
curry powder
cilantro
cayenne

vegan parmesan (optional)
fresh pineapple chunks, cut small
fresh kale, shredded
shredded vegan mozzarella
— my favorite is VeganRella brand

Directions

1) Preheat oven to 425°F.  Lightly oil a pizza pan and spread the dough out in it.

2) Place the desired amount of sauce in a measuring cup or small bowl, and add the curry powder, cilantro, and cayenne to taste.  Add cayenne in very small amounts–you don’t want your pizza to light your tongue on fire! (Or maybe you do.  In which case, sprinkle away!)

3) Spread the sauce over the dough to within 1/4 inch of the edge.  Sprinkle with vegan parm, if using.

4) Add the pineapple chunks and shredded kale, then sprinkle with the shredded mozzarella.  Bake 15-20 minutes, or until the crust is lightly brown and the edges of the kale are crispy.

Feel free to add any other toppings/seasonings that strike you as appropriately “Eastern”.  Let me know what you come up with–I’d love to try new combinations!

When I’m not cooking, I…mess with computers!

Several years ago, I switched from desktop computer to laptop for most of my computing needs. The laptop is more portable and generally less of a hassle to maintain. But I still like to use my desktop machine for messing around with audio and video and, of course, to play the Sims!

My brother helped me build my old machine years ago, and I’ve been using it ever since, making the necessary upgrades here and there. But ever since Sims 3 came out, it’s become more and more of a struggle to get it to cooperate with the game. After several annoying issues whose potential fixes turned out to be more trouble than they were worth, I decided it was time for a change.

I picked this up last week and have been loving it ever since. It has a faster processor and almost three times the memory of my old desktop, as well as a better graphics card. And it’s so quiet that I can barely tell it’s running most of the time!

There are still a few kinks to work out (Windows 7 seems not to be fond of hardware changes), but as a gaming machine I think I’m going to like this one a lot.

As far as food goes, I haven’t been cooking anything bloggable these past few days, but I did whip up some of Lauren Ulm’s smoky miso tofu slices for sandwiches a few days ago.

Now all I need to do is find me some good-quality English muffins. White bread ones taste good enough, but the ingredient list scares me a bit! I’m leaning toward investing in the sprouted Ezekiel kind when my mom and I visit the local co-op this weekend.