Eggplant!

I have a habit of picking up random vegetables when they’re on sale.  This past week, it was eggplant.  I hadn’t cooked anything with eggplant in a while, so I grabbed a couple with the intention of hunting down a good recipe this week.

1,000 Vegan Recipes once again yielded something tasty: couscous-stuffed eggplant!

eggplant stuffing

The recipe was a bit time-consuming, but simple.  Couscous, chopped eggplant, onions, red peppers, and a little corriander, salt, and pepper…mmm.  It also called for golden raisins, but lacking those I used currants instead.

stuffed eggplant

The end result was amazing.  My family and I pretty much sucked it down, and I think it’s a new favorite!

served eggplant

Plus, as I may have already mentioned in previous posts, I’m a sucker for couscous.  And new recipes.  And Robin Robertson.  Heck, I’m a sucker for good food.

Speaking of, today’s been a busy day in the kitchen already.  Since the forecast was for a kind of hot and humid day, I made muffins around 6:30 this morning so they’d be done before it got too warm.  And as I type this, there’s a batch of Veganomicon’s seitan recipe simmering on the stove.

For dinner tonight, I’m keeping it simple with an old favorite black bean and rice recipe.  If I remember, I’ll take some pictures!

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Quantum Vegan, meet Daiya cheese

chickpea pilaf and veggie masala

I had a craving for chickpeas a couple days ago, and this is what came of it.  Yes, I do occasionally stray from the one-pot meal and cook more than one dish–from more than one cookbook!  I went with chickpea quinoa pilaf from Veganomicon, and vegetable masala from Vegan Fire & Spice.  Talk about yum!  The veggie masala is definitely a new favorite of mine.  Potatoes, carrots, zucchini, peppers, onions, tomatoes…delicious.  Plus I’m a sucker for anything seasoned with generous amounts of garam masala!

Speaking of being a sucker, I used to be one for pizza.  I’m half Italian, so I can’t really make any secret of how much mozzarella I ingested before losing the ability to eat cheese.  However, since going vegan, I’ve lost most of my taste for even the good vegan cheese substitutes.  The more I use nutritional yeast and make my own “cheese” sauces, the less I feel the need to add commercial vegan cheeses to things.

daiya-topped pizza

So what’s this?  This, fellow food lovers, is my first foray into the world of Daiya.  Our local co-op finally got it in last month.  Of course, I’d heard all the hype and wanted to try some.  And given that I am still somewhat of a sucker for pizza, I picked up the mozzarella-style shreds and…you guessed it, made a pizza.

pizza slices

Veggie pizza with onions, red peppers, mushrooms, and broccoli, to be exact.  And yes, Daiya is worth it.  It lives up to the hype so much that even my 100% Italian mom was impressed.  Needless to say, we gobbled it down.  Given the price tag of Daiya, it will have to be an occasional treat, but it will definitely be finding its way onto more pizzas in our house in the future.

That’s what I’ve been up to on the food front!  At some point in the near future, I’ll no doubt wind up gushing about my recent order from Lush Cosmetics.  It’s been hours since I showered and the entire bathroom still smells like their Karma Soap!

One-pot meals and stuffed peppers

Looking through my Photobucket albums yesterday, I realized that there are a lot of recent pictures of this:

jambalaya

It’s the biggest saucepan out of a set of red-and-white pans my mom bought a while back, and apparently I’ve been making more one-pot meals in it than I thought.  Not that this is a bad thing!  The latest concoction above was Robin Robertson’s (yep, her again) Jumpin’ Jambalaya, out of Vegan Fire & Spice.

jambalaya bowl

I love that cookbook to bits.  “Decently spicy” isn’t good enough for me–I like hot food, and Robertson really delivers in most of the recipes.  The jambalaya was something I’d made before, but it’s been a while so I thought I’d whip it up again.  So good with a little brown rice!  I didn’t have any homemade seitan left; the stuff in the pictures is from a neat local business called Vegan Creations.  I envy their seitan.  The seasonings are tasty and it’s always way more firm than mine ever comes out.

Last night I mixed things up a bit.  Sticking with the Robin Robertson theme (1,000 Vegan Recipes this time), I tried out peppers stuffed with quinoa and pinto beans:

stuffed peppers

They were pretty awesome, but I think adding a few more spices and a little lemon juice to the filling would be even better.  It was mostly quinoa and mashed pinto beans, with a little parsley, salt, and pepper.  I like experimenting with seasonings, so the next time I make these I’m going to mix it up a bit!

Question for the comments: What’s your favorite stuffed vegetable recipe?

Sweet potatoes & peanut butter

african peanut stew 01
I had an intense craving for sweet potatoes this week.  Over the winter months, the local markets had them on sale for holiday dinners, and I cooked with them a lot.  But since it’s gotten warmer, I haven’t made anything sweet-potato-y.  So I grabbed one while out on my weekly shopping trip.

I was also in the mood for peanut butter which, oddly, I don’t really eat on sandwiches any more, but I love it in recipes.  I broke out the cookbooks and poked around the indexes for suitable recipes.  Once again, Robin Robertson fit the bill with African Sweet Potato & Peanut Stew from Vegan Planet.  I made it once before, a long time ago, and it sounded like the perfect thing to satisfy my dual cravings.

african peanut stew 02

The recipe suggested serving it over rice or couscous.  Given that we eat an enormous amount of rice around my house, I decided to use couscous instead.  And I’m glad I did–it was delicious!  Sweet potatoes, red beans, onions, peppers, peanut butter…mmm…

african peanut stew 03

Chocolate chip cookies! And vegan desserts

chocolate chip cookies

Yes, I’m blogging about cookies again!

Ever have one of those mornings when you wake up and just have to bake something?  That happened to me on Sunday.  Despite still having some of those tasty blueberry muffins hanging around, my brain latched on to the idea of  a fresh batch of cookies and wouldn’t let go.  What was I to do except break out Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar and appease it with the most classic cookie there is?

Needless to say, my cookie-craving brain was indeed appeased.  I think I baked them a little too long, since the recipe seemed to be hinting at chewy cookies and these came out more on the crispy side.  But I’m not complaining.  They’re delicious, and just what I wanted!

I’ve seen remarks around the internet and have been on the receiving end of them in real life from people who are baffled by the idea of vegan baked goods.  Not because they don’t understand how a cookie can be a cookie without eggs, but because they’ve somehow become convinced that veganism is the same thing as eating health food all of the time.  They seem to think that vegans never, ever ingest anything that resembles junk food.

This mindset makes me a little sad, because I think it’s part of what turns people off to veganism.  It’s also part of the prevailing attitude that any healthy lifestyle is the same thing as self-deprivation.  I wish there were one or two simple sentences that could automatically convince these people that things like cookies can be, and often are, part of a healthy diet.  As long as you’re eating a variety of other foods, what’s wrong with eating a cookie??

That’s my soapbox moment for the day.  Stop reading my ranting and go bake something. 😉

Tempeh tantrums and nori rolls

I really wanted to do a post about the tempeh-based burgers I made the other night, but for some reason most of the pictures I took didn’t come out right.  I do have this one:

tempeh burger process

All of the ingredients in the food processor, processed and ready to be made into patties.

The recipe was “Tempeh Tantrum Burgers” from 1,000 Vegan Recipes.  It’s become a favorite for my mom and I when we want a fast dinner.  They have chopped walnuts and oats in addition to tempeh, so they’re hearty enough to almost make a meal in an of themselves.  We usually cook up a green vegetable as a side.  I like that they can be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated if need be.

I had much better luck taking a picture of my lunch today:

nori rolls

I recently picked up an inexpensive package of nori sheets and have been itching to do something with them.  Ever since I got The 30-Minute Vegan, I’ve been eyeing the “Sushi Nite” recipe, and that wound up being the inspiration for my lunch.  I rolled up some jasmine rice, bell pepper, carrot, ginger, scallions, red cabbage, and cucumber; and the dipping sauce is dilluted Bragg’s Liquid Aminos with cilantro and red pepper flakes.

Yes, it was amazingly good.  No doubt I’ll wind up having it for lunch again sometime during the week!

Not much else to blog about just now.  I haven’t been taking as many food pictures as I’d like, but I’m going to try and be better about that over the next few days.

Question for the comments: What’s your favorite thing to do with nori sheets?

Cooking up Couscous…and Muffins!

I was out of town over the weekend and forgot my camera at home, which kind of bummed me out because I really wanted to blog about this recipe!

Meet Moroccan Couscous from The 30-Minute Vegan:

couscous 01

I’m making it my mission this summer to try new and unusual recipes and, compared to what I usually make, this one definitely qualifies!  Chickpeas, fire-roasted tomatoes, raisins, shiitake mushrooms, orange juice, and more, all in the same recipe?

couscous 02

Had somebody pitched the idea to me a year ago, I doubt I would have tried it.  But now I’m up for a little cooking adventure now and then, and I can tell you without a doubt that this is a new favorite of mine.

One major thing I had to change was the seasoning.  The recipe calls for saffron and I had no way of getting any before making it, so I looked up a few other Moroccan-spiced recipes and worked from there.  I’m sure the flavor will be different if I can get my hands on some saffron, but it worked out just fine with the substitutions.

couscous 03

And since blueberries seem to have come into season somewhere in the US, today was muffin day!

muffins 01

At my mom’s request, I put together a batch of blueberry muffins this morning.  I made big ones to have for breakfast, or to cut in half for dessert.

muffins 02

If I do say so myself, they came out pretty darn amazing!

muffins 03

I used the Blueberry Lemon Muffin recipe from The Joy of Vegan Baking, and substituted cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla extract for the lemon.  The combination has just a hint of warmth, which is good as mornings around here are still on the chilly side!

Tonight, there will be pilaf.  Because rice is awesome.

Recipe: Sesame Soba Bowl for One

Last night was one of those rare occasions where I find myself cooking only for…myself!  Rather than resort to some sort of “lazy vegan” fare, as I sometimes do, I decided to cook up some soba noodles I had hanging around and make a little, single-serving stir fry.

Talk about wow!  For something cobbled together from random ingredients I had in the house, it came out pretty darn amazing.  I didn’t know I was going to be sharing the recipe, so there aren’t any pictures, but here it is nonetheless.  Feel free to mix up the ratio of veggies, or substitute whatever you happen to have on hand.

Sesame Soba Bowl for One

Ingredients

2 oz. soba noodles
3/4 tsp. sesame oil

3/4 tsp. vegetable oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp. minced fresh ginger
hot pepper flakes, optional
3/4 cup shredded cabbage
1/2 cup broccoli, chopped small
1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup onion, sliced thin
1/4 cup bell pepper, sliced
1/4 cup carrots, sliced or cut into matchsticks

soy sauce or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
sesame seeds, for garnish

Directions

1) Cook the soba according to package directions.  Drain, rinse with cold water, and leave to finish draining while you cook the veggies.

2) Heat the vegetable oil in a sautee pan or wok over medium-high heat.  Add the garlic, ginger, and optional hot pepper flakes and stir fry until fragrant–about 30 seconds.

3) Add the onion and bell pepper and stir fry for 2-3 minutes, until soft.

4) Add the carrots and broccoli, stir-frying for another 2-3 minutes, or until the carrots begin to soften and the broccoli is bright green.

5) Add the cabbage and mushrooms and stir-fry until the mushrooms are soft.

6) Stir in a splash of soy sauce or Bragg’s to taste.  Continue stir-frying for another minute or so to incorporate the flavors.

7) Remove the pan from the heat.  Transfer the soba noodles to your favorite bowl, drizzle with the sesame oil, and toss to coat.  Add the veggies, mix it all up, and shake on a few sesame seeds to finish it off.

Orange chili? Yes please!

orange chili 01

There’s really not much to say here except YUM! After searching my cookbooks futilely yesterday for a couscous recipe that didn’t require a trip to the store, I set my sights on something else. I still had several links of “sausage” left in the freezer, and thought it might be fun to scare up a recipe to use them in.

Enter my old friend, Vegan Planet! As I often enthuse to anyone who will listen, it was the first 100% vegan cookbook I acquired, and the book that started my ongoing love affair with the recipes of Robin Robertson. Thus far, I haven’t had a miss with one of her recipes. I love them, my family loves them, and she’s compiled so many collections that there’s always something new to try.

Speaking of, I decided on “Orange and Thyme-Scented White Bean and ‘Sausage’ Chili”, since it sounded unusual and is a bit of a departure from the chilis I’m used to making. Usually I go for a standard veggie-and-bean chili with enough seasoning to melt your lips off. This recipe called for beans and veggies, too, but also for chopped faux sausage and, of all things, orange juice!

Dudes, it was awesome. The flavor combination isn’t one I ever would have thought to try myself and, as usual whenever I come across a recipe like that, I’m kicking myself for not being more adventurous with my own recipes.

Mmmm, orange.

orange chili 02