Monday, November 29, 2010

Sesame Tempeh with Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Carrots

Sometimes you just need something warming for dinner.  A nice big pile of veggies and protein with some rice in the form of a curry, stew, or maybe a stirfry.  My friend and coworker Gabrielle is genious at creating such vegetarian dishes, and often does for the hot food bar we have at the deli we work in.  I will ask her what she is making and she will simply smile and say "slop".  Delicious slop it is, and far from slop, as her stir fries and tofu dishes are always beautiful and full of brightly colored vegetables...the slop refers to the mound of food I guess.  So yesterday I decided that I needed some slop, and I threw together a quasi Asian dish inspired by her.  She makes a tempeh dish with roasted brussels sprouts and tempeh with sauteed carrots, kale and onions that is amazing.  It contains lots of garlic, ginger and mirin, and always smells wonderful!   And so, since I don't have her recipe, I made my own version, which turned out beautifully!  Below I have included the finished dish if you would like some delicious slop as well! 

Sesame Tempeh with Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Carrots

Serves 2

3 cups organic brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved (if large)
4 medium organic carrots, peeled and thinly sliced on the bias
peanut oil

8 oz tempeh, cut into medium triangles
2 Tbsp Tamari
1 Tbsp peanut oil

2 large shallots
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp peanut oil
2 Tbsp mirin
2 Tbsp fresh orange juice
1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
1/4 cup Tamari
2 tsp cornstarch dissolved in 1 Tbsp water
sea salt to taste
1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds

brown rice for serving

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with foil, and spray with non-stick spray. Toss brussels sprouts and carrots with just enough peanut oil to coat, and spread out on one of the sheets. Roast until tender and starting to brown, about 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, toss the tempeh with 2 Tbsp tamari and 1 Tbsp peanut oil and spread out on the other sheet. Bake until starting to brown at edges, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, when the veggies and tempeh are almost through roasting, heat 1 Tbsp peanut oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add onions, and ginger and saute until onions are starting to become translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, and sautee until fragrant, about 1 minute, then add roasted veggies and tempeh. Whisk together mirin, orange juice, sesame oil, tamari, and cornstarch, and add to the pan. Stir, and cook until heated through. Add sea salt to taste, and toasted sesame seeds. Serve hot with rice!

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Thanksgiving is a bit different this year than other years for me, in the past I have always had dinner with my Mom or Grandparents in years before that, when we would all get together and Grandma would cook the big meal with the turkey and all.  Last year I simply made dinner for me and my Mom and prepared lots of vegetarian side dishes along with a turkey for her and a stuffed squash for myself. 

Me, Mom and Grandma celebrating Thanksgiving a few years back

But this year I will be joining my boyfriend Dave and his family at their house this year for Thanksgiving dinner.  But I decided that I still needed to make some sort of meal of my own a few days before the holiday for my Mom and I.  I had this big extravigant dish planned, and it was going to be wonderful.  I spent hours on making the main dish and it ended up being and inedible disaster!  I guess it is not a good idea to experiment on a holiday when you need the meal to turn out!  I was able to make something quick for us to enjoy at least and salvage part of it...but the whole experience was, well...rather humbling.  I felt bad about it, but then I realized what I had know before but is not about the food!  Thanksgiving is about spending time with the ones you love.  Funny I had forgotten because I had spent the week at work helping customers getting bent out of shape about their own holiday feasts, and I remember having a conversation with a coworker about how it is not the food thatt matters.  Instead of  worrying about food, I should be just thankful to have wonderful people around me who care about me, or just the fact that I am able to experiment with different foods (even if they don't turn out) because others have none.  I realize that it is the little things in life I am truely thankful for, like the fact that I am able to run consistently now after a year of battling with injuries and not being able to run for months.  I think I needed that cooking disaster yesterday to be truely thankful for what I DO have.  Now, even though I can't share with you the food I destroyed yesterday, nor do I want to...I decided to highlight some dishes that I think would be perfect for a holiday meal.  Ever since I was a child I have always enjoyed everything else on the table at Thanksgiving far more than the turkey...
(click on the photos for the recipes)


Pumpkin Spice Martini

5 Spice Honey Crisp Appletini


Roasted Cranberry and Kabocha Squash Salad

Pear and Spiced Pepita Salad with Chevre

Soup and appetizer...

Creamy Roasted Autumn Root Vegetable Soup with Cornbread Croutons

Roasted Fig and Carmelized Onion Pizzas with Toasted Pecans, Guyere and Mozzarella Cheeses

Rustic Whole Wheat Sweet Potato Bread and Maple Toasted Walnut Butter

Seitan in Mushroom Gravy with Fluffy Mashed Potatoes and Crispy Brussels Sprouts

Roasted Autumn Vegetable and Pasta Gratin

Roasted Autumn Vegetable Pot Pies

 And the most important...Desserts!

Vegan Pumpkin Spice Cake with Vanilla Maple Frosting and Spiced Pepitas

Maple Apple Crisp with Crispy Oat and Coconut Topping

Carmelized Autumn Nut and Date Tart
Kabocha Squash Ice Cream with Spiced Pepitas
Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Roasted Cranberry and Kabocha Squash Salad

Do you ever have an item in the produce department calling your name...and you notice it is on sale so you decide to buy it, but have no idea what you will make with it?  That was the case with me last weekend, when I walked past the fresh cranberries.  I assume they were on sale for Thanksgiving, and the many people who would be making cranberry sauce, but I wasn't planning on making any sauce.  Something about the beautiful little red berries had caught my eye, and before I knew it I was buying them.  Now, I suppose I could have made some sort of delicious baked good with them such as a cake, or made them into a relish to serve with some tempeh, but for whatever reason I decided that they might be good roasted and tossed into a salad!  I didn't know if this would work, or if they would hold together in a salad once roasted, but they ended up being fabulous!  Now, I did not simply throw them in with greens and a bit of vinaigrette, I made a salad fit for a Thanksgiving spread!  Sweet roasted kabocha squash cubes, salty roquefort, and toasty maple chipotle walnuts joined the tart little berries in my autumn salad, and it was all quite delicious!  If you have a little time to make a salad, or would like to try cranberries in a new preparation, then this is your dish!  Try it out, and your taste buds and tummy will thank you!

Roasted Cranberry and Kabocha Squash Salad with Toasted Pecans and Roquefort

Serves 3

1 small kabocha or buttercup squash, cut in half, and seeds removed
olive oil

8 oz cranberries
maple syrup
maple sugar

1/2 cup pecans
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp maple sugar
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp ground chipotle powder

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp riesling vinegar
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp dried thyme
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

5 cups mixed flavorful greens such as arugula, mizuna and dandilion
1/4 cup thinly sliced shallots
1 1/2 oz crumbled roquefort cheese or local blue cheese

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Line three baking sheets with foil, and spray with nonstick spray. Place squash cut side down on baking sheet and roast until tender about 30-40 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool.  Remove skin and cut flesh into 1 inch cubes (you should have about 2 cups for this recipe).  Toss cranberries with just enough maple syrup to coat, and spread out on another baking sheet.  Sprinkle with a little maple sugar and roast until just starting to soften, burst and slightly brown about 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool to room temp.  Decrease the oven temperature to 375 degrees.  Toss pecans with honey, maple sugar and sea salt and spread out on one of the sheets. Roast in the oven until fragrant and starting to brown, about 7-10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Meanwhile, whisk dressing ingredients together in a small bowl. Combine greens, shallots, roasted squash and cranberries in a large bowl, pour dressing over, and toss with hands to coat. Divide salad between 3 plates and top with toasted nuts and roquefort.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Vanilla Coconut Almond Waffles

Sometimes you just need to have breakfast for dinner, and sometimes nothing else will do but waffles.  Yesterday was such a day for me.  I was craving some Belgian waffles hard core after my Mom was talking about them and saying I hadn't made any in a while...which was true.  I used to make them on Sundays for brunch every so often and have a few people over to enjoy them, but I believe it has been over a year since I have done that.  This time though, I was going to make them for dinner, and I wanted them to be substantial, so I decided to create a new vegan recipe with added protein.  Of course I wanted them to be every bit as delicious as the butter filled rich version I used to make, but not be able to tell.  I decided that coconut and almonds would be the perfect addition to my waffles to give them a wonderful fragrance and aroma instead of the usual vanilla.  I wasn't sure how they would turn out, because I added soy protein powder to them, but I didn't even notice it in the finished product!  My kitchen smelled like wonderful brunch as they were cooking, and my mouth was watering in anticipation of the delicious waffles I was about to dive into!  They were crunchy on the outside, fluffy in the middle, as Belgian waffles should be, with the added toasty flavors of coconut and almonds...perfection with some persimmons and maple syrup!  If you feel that you need to make breakfast for dinner, you should!  Try this recipe out if you like!

Vegan Vanilla Coconut Almond Waffles
Makes 4 Belgian waffles

1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup organic soy protein powder
1/2 cup toasted finely shredded coconut
1/2 cup chopped toasted sliced almonds
1 Tbsp baking powder
3/4 tsp sea salt
1 cup organic full fat coconut milk
3/4 cup organic soy milk
3 Tbsp agave nectar
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp pure almond extract
3 Tbsp Earth Balance butter, melted

To serve:
1/2 cup toasted large flake coconut
1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds
2 persimmons, sliced (or fruit of choice)
1/4 cup crasins
maple syrup

Heat oven to 250 degrees, and place a baking sheet in there (to keep waffles warm and crisp while you cook the others).  Preheat waffle iron while you mix together ingredients.  Whisk together whole wheat pastry flour, protein powder, coconut, almonds, baking powder, sea salt in a large bowl.  In a smaller bowl, whisk together coconut milk, agave nectar, vanilla extract, almond extract, and earth balance, then whisk into dry ingredients until well blended.   Scoop about 3/4 cup batter onto the waffle maker and cook according to maker's instructions, then when cooked, remove to oven to stay warm while you make the remaining waffles.  To serve, scatter coconut, almonds, and fruit over waffles, and drizzle a bit of maple syrup over as well...enjoy!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Creamy Roasted Autumn Root Vegetable Soup with Cornbread Croutons

My day is often filled with soup...chopping veggies for, cooking, and refilling soup.  I guess that is a deli in the cold months!  It is always "Will you be bringing out more soup?  You don't have anymore? When are you making...I had my heart set on it!"  The talk of soup is never ending.  You would think I would be sick of soup with the amount of it that I make at work and see every day...but no, apparently not!  I decided to make some the other night...some that I felt like eating that would be healthy and comforting.  I had a large amount of root vegetables in my fridge, carrots, rutabagas and parsnips.  I knew that they would make a delicious soup, especially if I roasted them first to deepen their sweet flavors.  Of course, I had to sample a few after they had been roasted before they made it into the soup...that is part of the fun of cooking for yourself!  I combined the roasted veg with some pureed squash for sweetness, some onions and garlic, and some thyme and rosemary, as they are my favorite herbs this time of year.  I wanted my soup to be as creamy and comforting as something that contained cream, so I added almond butter for silkyness along with almond milk.  To give the soup the flavor of parmesan cheese I included miso, and nutritional yeast as well.  It tasted as if there were lots of things that were not so good for you in it, but I knew the truth!  The soup was delicious, creamy, and comforting as it was, but I like adornments so I added some corn bread croutons and vegan sour cream to top it off!  I served it alongside a salad, and I was one happy girl!  You can never have too many vegetables as far as I am concerned...and this soup is a good way to enjoy them!

Creamy Roasted Autumn Root Vegetable Soup with Cornbread Croutons
Serves 6

3 large carrots, sliced
3 large parsnips, sliced
2 medium rutabagas, sliced
olive oil
1 large red onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups pumpkin or squash puree
4 cups vegetable stock
3 cups almond or soy milk
2 Tbsp almond butter
1 1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp sea salt
freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1/4 cup light miso

2 cups cubed corn bread
olive oil
sea salt

vegan sour cream

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees with the rack set at the top position.  Line 3 large baking sheets with foil, and spray with non-stick spray.  Toss carrots, parsnips, and rutabagas with just enough olive oil to coat, and spread out on 2 of the sheets.  Roast in the oven for about 15-20 minutes until softened and starting to brown at the edges.  Remove from oven and lower temp to 375.  Meanwhile, heat 1 Tbsp oil in a large stockpot over medium heat.  Add onions, and saute until translucent and starting to caramelize, about 7-10 minutes.  Add garlic and saute a minute, then add pumpkin, vegetable stock, almond milk, almond butter, thyme, rosemary, sea salt, pepper, yeast, miso, and roasted veggies.  Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes to allow flavors to blend.  Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth (you can also use a blender and puree in batches, but allow steam to escape, or let cool a bit before blending to prevent the soup making the top of the blender explode).  To make croutons, toss cornbread with a little olive oil, and spread out on remaining sheet pan.  Sprinkle with a little sea salt, and bake until crunchy, about 10 minutes.  To serve soup, ladle some into a bowl, and top with a bit of vegan sour cream and croutons!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Pomegranate, Pear and Spiced Pecan Salad with Pecorino Romano

I had made a pomegranate cake last weekend, and had some extra pomegranate seeds on hand.  Of course I could have just eaten them plain, but what fun is that!  I thought they needed to be added to a salad I was making in order to make it more beautiful!  To me, pomegranates look like sparkling rubies, and I believe that when you add them to your salad it instantly becomes 10 times prettier!  Not to mention that they add tart sweet little pops of flavor and crunch as well!  This salad was also going to include pears, pecans, and pecorino romano cheese...just happened to be what I had on hand, and funny that it ends up being a quadruple P kind of ordeal.  Anyways, even though this was a throw together random salad, it was wonderful, so I thought I would share the recipe with you!  Now that I think about it, Thanksgiving would be the perfect time to serve this elegant salad, and it is fast approaching!

Pomegranate, Pear and Spiced Pecan Salad with Pecorino RomanoServes 3

Spiced Pecans:
1/2 cup pecans
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp maple sugar
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground chipotle powder
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp  riesling vinegar
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp pomegranate juice
1 tsp dijon
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp dried thyme
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

5 cups mixed flavorful greens such as arugula, mizuna and dandilion
1/4 cup thinly sliced shallots
2 D'anjou pear, sliced
seeds of one pomegranate
1 1/2 oz pecorino romano, shaved

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil, and spray with nonstick spray. Toss pecans with maple syrup, sugar, sea salt , spices, and chipotle and spread out on the sheet. Roast in the oven until fragrant and starting to brown, about 7-10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Meanwhile, whisk dressing ingredients together in a small bowl. Combine greens, shallots, pears and pomagranate seeds in a large bowl, pour dressing over, and toss with hands to coat. Divide salad between 3 plates and top with toasted seeds and cheese.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Vanilla Snow Martini...inspired by a snowy run

I have raced many cross country races in my running career, but never in 6 inches of snow!  Today was the team USATF Minnesota Team Cross Country Championships, and I had been looking forward to this race for weeks!  Now, I always expect cool temperatures requiring underarmour at times, but what I saw when I looked out my window when my alarm went off I was not looked like a white Christmas in November out there!  Snow piling up, no plows out there yet.  But I was determined to race this even if it was in snow that would be much better to ski on than run in!  It took about twice as long to even get to the race because it was so snowy and drivers forget how to manage in snow the first couple times they drive in it!  By the time I got there I was watching the tail end of the men's race, and they all looked very cold...not surprising since many of them were wearing shorts and tank tops in the snow!  Including my boyfriend Dave who was out there running his first cross country race ever today and did very well! 

My friend and team mate Willie and I decided that a warmup would be pointless, and it would be better to run this race for fun this time considering the conditions.  When we got out there, the number of women at the race was less than a quarter it normally was most likely due to the snow and travel conditions.  We all lined up, the gun went off and we all ran on the small path that the Men had created.  The wind immediately pelted my face with ice pellets and sent cold air up my nose and into my mouth nearly knocking the wind out of me.  Three more miles of it awaited...luckilly it wasn't slippery just tricky footing.  I couldn't see from the snow in my eyes, and I missed Dave who was cheering for me, since I couldn't see anyone on the side of the course.  When I finished I was glad I had come out and braved the conditions!  Afterall, runners are not wimps, and I plan on skiing a 35k race this winter, so it was good practice!  Willie's daughter had built some snowmen at the finish line, so we all took a photo with them after the race. 

I give everyone who came out and ran today a lot of credit...and I can honestly say I have NEVER ran a cross country race like this!  Since I had such an interesting expirience racing in the snow, I thought I needed to make myself a cocktail tonight in honor of it!  I came up with the Vanilla Snow...a silky smooth coconut vanilla cocktail with vodka as it's base and laced with vanilla beans.  It was quite heavenly in comparison to the cold snow earlier in the day was remenicent of Baily's but not so sickeningly sweet.  More balanced and deep in flavor from all of the vanilla notes.  You don't have to have a snowy expirience to enjoy it however...try making one yourself!

Vanilla Snow Martini
Makes 1

vanilla sugar:

2 Tbsp vanilla sugar
1 Tbsp agave nectar

4-6 large ice cubes
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 oz Prairie Organic Vodka
2 Tbsp vanilla bean syrup*
1/4 cup full fat coconut milk

vanilla bean for garnish

To make vanilla sugar rim, Spread sugar out on a small plate. Coat the rim of the martini glass with the agave syrup by dipping it into it on a plate, then dip the agave coated rim into the sugar and set aside. In a martini shaker add the ice, vodka, vanilla bean syrup, and coconut milk, and place top on shaker. Shake until well blended. Pour through a strainer into a chilled martini glass, and serve!
*Vanilla Bean Syrup:

1/4 cup water
1/4 cup agave nectar
seeds of one vanilla bean

Heat water until boiling, remove from heat and whisk in agave nectar and vanilla beans, until nectar is dissolved. Chill well before using in drinks. Makes 1/2 cup syrup

Friday, November 12, 2010

Chili and Cornbread...comfort food for a bad day

Wednesday I was having one of those terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days. Work was hectic to begin with, and I was feeling stressed. I spent a significant amount of time making a large batch of soup, and I walked away for too long and it burned.  This wasn't one of those times where I could just not disturb the bottom burt part and the rest would be, I knew it was bad when I walked into the kitchen and took a whiff of the horrible burnt smell that was permeating it.  I tasted some, and had a coworker do the same for a second opinion, and we both agreed that it was awful...the burnt flavor had tainted the delicate curried soup that had previously smelled so wonderful.  The worst part was that it had to be thrown out, which was quite a process...making a mess and stinking up the deli.  You can't just throw it away either, since it is a liquid it has to be strained and is still quite heavy.  By the time I got home that day I was just exhausted, feeling really rotten about the soup, and needed a pick me up.  No, I didn't go for a large glass of wine, I decided that if soup was my downfall, soup would be my comfort!  So I got to work preparing a batch of chili and some cornbread to go with it!  This wasn't going to be regular chili, I used my regular chili base, but added some roasted buttercup squash that I had on hand, since nothing makes me feel better than squash!  I used black and white beans, since I didn't have enough of either to make a full batch and what the heck, I wasn't going for glamour here, just comfort!  I always add a few unusual ingredients to my chili that make it unique, and those things are cocoa powder, worchestershire sauce, and peanut butter.  They may sound wierd, but they give it that "it is really good, but I can't quite put my finger on it" detail that I love!  I can't have chili without cornbread, so I had to make some to go with this one!  I decided to incorporate the squash into the cornbread as well to keep it moist and do something a little different than normal.  Tis the season for squash and pumpkin afterall!  I wasn't sure how the cornbread would turn out, because it was a new recipe that I made up.  But it was delicious and tender, most likely due to the squash and coconut oil.  It was a perfect partner for the chili, and the recipe was definately a keeper.  This meal ended up being just what I needed after the not so fun day I had just gotten home from.  I will be making this again soon, hopefully this time on a good day!  Here are the recipes if you are interested!

Buttercup Squash, Double Bean, and Seitan Chili
Serves 6

1 Tbsp peanut oil
2 large onions, diced
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp dried oregano
1/8 tsp ground chipotle pepper, or to taste
3 16 oz cans organic fire roasted tomatoes
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
2 Tbsp cocoa powder
1 Tbsp agave nectar
1 Tbsp vegan worchestershire sauce
2 Tbsp tamari
2 Tbsp peanut butter
3 cups veggie broth or as needed
1 1/2 cups cooked black turtle beans (or 1 15 oz can)
1 1/2 cups cooked navy beans ( or1 15 oz can)
sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
4 cups cubed cooked buttercup or butternut squash*
vegan sour cream

In a large stockpot or dutch oven, heat the peanut oil over medium heat.  Add the onions, and saute until softened, about 6-7 minutes.  Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, oregano, chipotle powder, and cook for a minute until fragrant, then add the tomatoes, cider vinegar, cocoa powder, agave nectar, worchestershire sauce, tamari, peanut butter, veggie broth, and bring to a boil.  Simmer until flavors have blended, stirring often, about 20 minutes.  Add cooked beans, squash, and sea salt and pepper to taste, and continue to cook until heated through.  Serve hot with vegan sour cream and cornbread.

* Preheat oven to 475 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with foil, and spray with non-stick spray.  Cut 1 large buttercup squash in half from top to bottom, and remove seeds.  Place cut side down on baking sheet, and roast for about 25-30 minutes until tender.  Remove from oven and let cool until cool enough to handle, then remove skin and cut into cubes. 

Buttercup Squash Cornbread

1 cup medium grind cornmeal
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp sea salt
1 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup squash or pumpkin puree
2 Tbsp coconut oil
1 Tbsp agave nectar
1 Tbsp cider vinegar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Line a 9 inch round pan (0r 2 6 inch round pans) with parchment on the bottom and spray with non-stick spray.  In a large bowl, whisk together cornmeal, flour, baking soda, baking powder, sea salt.  Whisk in coconut milk, squash, coconut oil, and agave nectar until well combined.  Whisk in cider vinegar quickly until just combined, then pour into prepared pan(s).  Bake for 15-20 minutes until lightly golden on top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Cool a few minutes before turning out from pans.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

November Roasted Vegetable Pot Pies

Yesterday after work I was exhausted...I was crabby...I was in serious need of some comfort food.  Now, most "normal" people I suppose would simply order takeout or go out some where and let another person cook.  Not me, I decided that I was going to make myself some pot pies.  Crazy, but in an odd way I found the process fun and relaxing...that is what coming up with new recipes does for me, especially if they turn out good!  I feel like whatever I am making myself means more to me because I put work into creating it, and that makes it all the more enjoyable in the end. 

So anyways, back to the pot pies I was determined to create, I had them in the oven in 45 minutes, so not a significant amount of time.  I filled them with roasted carrots, onions, and rutabegas as well as some chicken style seitan for protein bathed in a creamy rosemary and thyme scented sauce.  I had a hard time deciding what to top my pie with because I didn't know if I was in a biscuit type of mood, or a pie crust one, but in the end, the pie crust won.  I used my classic all butter (well, vegan butter) pie crust recipe replacing some of the flour with cornmeal for extra crunch.  Now, this may sound cheesy, but since my secret ingredient is always love that I put into dishes, I decided to cut a heart shape out of each pie I was making as a vent in the top of the pie.  Plus it was awfully cute, and who can resist a pie with a heart cut out of the top?  Not me! 

So when my pies were pulled from the oven and I was enjoying one, I was glad I took the time to prepare it for myself.  The filling tasted rich and comforting with all the flavorful veggies, and the topping was nice and crunchy, it was wonderful!  Take the time and prepare a pot pie for yourself if you wish!  Here is the recipe I made last night!

November Roasted Vegetable Pot Pies
Serves 3

3 cups rutabegas, thinly sliced
3 large carrots, halved, and thinly sliced
1 medium red onion, thickly sliced
olive oil

3 Tbsp olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup flour plus 3 Tbsp
1 cup vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups soy milk
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried rosemary
sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
16 oz chicken style seitan, cut into bite sized pieces
a good sized handful of spinach

3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
3/4 tsp sea salt
7 Tbsp earth balance vegan butter
2-4 Tbsp soymilk
Preheat the oven to 475 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with foil, and spray with non-stick spray.  Toss rutabegas, carrots, and onions with just enough olive oil to coat, and place in the oven on the highest racks possible.  Roast for about 20 minutes, or until starting to brown and crisping at edges.  You may  Bake at need to rotate pans to get even roasting half way through.  When finished roasting, remove from oven and lower the temp to 375.  Place the rack in the middle position.  Meanwhile, while the vegetables are roasting, prepare the rest of the filling.  In a medium stockpot, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add the garlic, and cook for about 30 seconds, then add the flour, and cook for 2 minutes stirring often.  Add the stock slowly, whisking constantly to prevent lumps.  Add the milk, and whisk well until combined, then add nutritional yeast, thyme, rosemary, and sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.  Bring to a low boil, and cook until thickened, about 2 minutes or less.  Remove from heat and stir in seitan and vegetables that were roasted, along with spinach.  Spoon the mixture into 3 6 inch wide deep dish pie plates, or ovenproof bowls dividing evenly between the 3.  To make crust, combine flour, cornmeal, and sea salt in a bowl and whisk to combine.  Add earth balance, and cut into flour mixture with a pastry blender or 2 knives until a mealy consistency with no larger than pea sized chunks. Add the soy milk, starting with 2 Tbsp, and smush the dough together with hands until it starts to form a cohesive mass (adding a little more soymilk if necessary) but not mixing to excess.  Form the mixture into 3 balls slightly flattened. Lay a piece of parchment out on the counter and roll out one ball to about a 6 inch diameter.  Cut a hole in the center with a small cute cookie cutter if desired, and place atop one of the pies (or alternatively don't cut a hole, and just pierce with a knife once on top of the pie). Brush with a little olive oil, and sprinkle with course sea salt.  Repeat with the other 2.  Place in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, until filling is bubbling and crust is golden (you may need to cover with foil if browning before filling is hot).  Let cool a few minutes, and serve! 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Roasted Brussels Sprout and Tempeh Bacon Pasta

I hated brussels sprouts as a child.  This was because the only type I was exposed to were the brownish green smelly nasty overcooked frozen ones which were a far cry from fresh sprouts.  They had an off flavor, the butter they were swimming in was doing nothing to disguse it, and were mushy...not something you want to be feeding a 5 year old you are trying to teach to like vegetables.  So, I didn't like them for most of the 25 years of my life, that is until I started cooking my own food and buying my own fresh veggies.  When I decided to give them a try I was pleasantly surprised that roasting them makes them irrisistable, and I have been cooking them this way ever since!  I am sorry to all of you who are fans of steaming them...but it just doesn't do the little cabbages justice!  No, roasting is superior in my book, and when you do so, you are creating something that is hard to stop eating.  If you are roasting them to put in a dish, you better roast extra, as you are going to snack on quite a few in the process!  I have said it before, but they are like savory candy, crispy on the outside and soft in the middle!  If you have thought brussels sprouts were gross in the past, try roasting some and I can almost guarantee you will change your mind, unless you are a die hard veggie hater and in that case what are you doing reading this blog? that I have talked them up, I will tell you about a delicious recipe I recently used them in!  Many people like to pair them with bacon, so I thought why not tempeh bacon?  I made a whole wheat pasta and combined tempeh bacon, the sprouts, some walnuts and shallots, and it was a simple, but delicious dinner.  No sauce cooking required, I just splashed the pasta with a bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and it was wonderful...the tangy balsamic with the smokey bacon, crispy sprouts, toasty nuts and savory onions!  I ate a huge pile, because it was so good, and I was really hungry!  Here is the recipe if you are interested!

Roasted Brussels Sprout and Tempeh Bacon Pasta
Serves 3

1 lb organic brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half
olive oil

8 oz whole wheat penne
sea salt

1 8 oz pkg tempeh bacon
2 large shallots, sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup toasted walnuts
1 Tbsp dried thyme
sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 475 degrees with the rack at the top position.  Line a large baking sheet with foil, and spray with non-stick spray.  Toss sprouts with just enough olive oil to coat and spread out on sheet.  Roast in the oven until tender and starting to brown, about 15-20 minutes.  Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions, drain and set aside.  Meahwhile, add a couple Tbsp olive oil to a large non-stick skillet over medium heat, and add tempeh bacon strips.  cook until browned, about 4-5 minutes on each side.  Remove from pan, let cool slightly and chop into small pieces.  Add shallots to the pan and cook until soft and starting to caramelize, about 5-6 minutes.  Add garlic to the pan, as well as walnuts, and thyme and cook for a minute until garlic is fragrant.  Add the pasta and brussels sprouts, as well as sea salt and freshly ground pepper, balsamic and a couple Tbsp more olive oil.  Cook until warmed through and serve! 

Monday, November 1, 2010

Rustic Whole Wheat Sweet Potato Bread and Maple Toasted Walnut Butter

 I love transforming leftovers into something new and creative...which is why when I had some leftover roasted sweet potatoes, instead of just eating them plain (as delicious as they are) I thought they would be a nice addition to some bread!  Not a quick bread, like you would serve with tea...a good hearty crusty bread, the kind you would use to mop up a thick soup or stew!  kneading yeast bread is a good stress reliever as well, and it is Monday, so I needed it! 

I wanted this bread to be a little savory, but still showcase the sweet potatoes, so I added a few minimal ingredients for add ins but nothing that would be too sweet or dessert like.  I added rosemary, to give it a good fallish aroma and flavor as well as some walnuts for crunch and some raisins for pops of flavor throughout the dough.  The bread was wonderful on its own, especially while it was still warm from the oven and it smelled just as good as it tasted!  Before it was out of the oven while it was still baking I decided to make some nut butter to compliment the bread. 

Walnuts were my choice, since they were already in the bread and would pair well with it.  I added a small amount of maple syrup and sea salt to my nut butter to bring out the toasty flavor of the walnuts and make it extra good!  The bread was delicious with the butter, and would be a great alternative to peanut butter toast for a snack!  If you would like to make either of the two for yourself, here are the recipes!

Rustic Whole Wheat Sweet Potato Bread
Makes 2 large loaves

1 1/2 cups warm water
2 packets of rapid rise yeast
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp sea salt
1 Tbsp dried rosemary
2 cups mashed sweet potatoes
1 cup flame raisins
1 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
6-7 cups whole wheat pastry flour, plus more if needed

In a large bowl, combine yeast and water, and let sit 5 minutes. Add maple syrup, oil, sea salt, rosemary, and sweet potatoes and mix well. Stir in flour one cup at a time, until you have a dough that stiff and not too sticky, then turn out onto a floured surface and knead until elastic and smooth, about 8-10 minutes. If dough at any time seems too sticky, add a little more flour. Knead in raisins and walnuts until evenly distributed.  When dough is finished kneading, place in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. Punch dough down, and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Divide dough into two pieces and shape each into a long loaf. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise about 30 minutes, or until almost doubled in bulk. Slash each loaf crosswise 3 times, then the other way 3 times with a sharp knife, but just marring the surface and not cutting too deep. Brush each loaf with a little olive oil, and sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Bake for about 40-50 minutes, or until golden brown, hollow sounding when tapped on the bottom the bread's internal temperature reads at 190-200 degrees. Let cool on a rack.

Maple Toasted Walnut Butter
Makes about 1 cup

1 1/2 cups toasted walnuts
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp walnut oil, or as needed
3/4 tsp sea salt

Place all ingredients in the food processor and process until smooth, adding more oil if needed.  Store in the fridge.