Jun 30, 2010

toasted noodles with kale and navy beans

Tonight is Italian/Pasta Night

Although tonight's meal is not Italian, but Jewish, it is a pasta dish.

The kids love this meal and requested a repeat, especially Kate who did not want me to forget about making garlic bread! Traditionally it is simply referred to as 'fideos'; the noodles are first sauteed in olive oil and then baked with just enough vegetable broth to soften them. After baking I crispen them in the oven on broil. I added kale and navy beans this time around. I know the kids will add some Better Than Sour Cream -it is just how they roll and this can be traditional as well.

Then they'll do an un-traditional thing and put it on some fresh garlic bread. Yeah, we live adventurously here.

Cost Breakdown:
brown rice pasta: $2.50
vegetable broth (homemade): $.50
tomatoes: $2
1/2 kale: $1.50
bread: $2
garlic and onions: $.50
Better Than Sour Cream: $1
beans: $2
Total to feed a family of 5:

basil-tomato soup

When we suddenly went vegan (really- one weekend I tossed everything that wasn't vegan and on Monday we went to Whole Foods; that was it) back about a decade ago, my daughter's, four at the time, new comfort food became Whole Food's Basil-Tomato Soup. She would get that soup every time we went to Whole Foods!

Then one day a few years ago, we returned for her obligatory soup-fix only to find that it was no longer vegan - it had cream in it. Yikes! Magic in the kitchen was needed. I managed to recreate her beloved soup for her and she has been enjoying it ever since. This is her contribution to the family cooking this week and she does a tasty job of it. Thank you, Cat!

Simple, more cost-efficient, and vegan.

Cost Breakdown:
tomatoes: $5
basil, dried: $.50
onion, garlic: $1
sugar or agave: $.50
bread: $3
Total to feed a family of 5 a few times:

Jun 29, 2010

piri piri summer vegetables with jollof rice

Tuesday nights are Asian/African nights

...or anything that is nice with rice. Tonight I made an African meal complete with red palm oil, a distinctive African flavor. Piri Piri means 'hot chilis' in Swahili and so the name of the marinade echoes the content of it. Unfortunately, I could not find any thai bird's eye chili, so I made my piri piri marinade with Fresno and serrano peppers - less spicy. It seems to be a chili week, here at my house! After the vegetables - eggplant, green beans, zucchini and yellow squash - were marinated for 20 minutes, I grilled them on the griddle I still had out (but cleaned, of course :) from lunch. I served it in butter lettuce to cut the heat and provide a vessel to the mouth. Yum!

The rice is cooked with tomatoes, onions, cinnamon sticks, fenugreek seeds, coriander and cumin, and the ubiquitous African red palm oil. I love African food. The family is still getting used to the unique flavor - especially of the palm oil (which you can skip and just spice your neutral oil by simmer it with onions, garlic and the spices for 15 minutes, straining it and using it as the cooking base). The flavor of the vegetables - spicy and sweet with a little tang from the lemon in the marinade - were well received, though.

Cost Breakdown:
vegetables: $5
peppers: $1
rice: $.50
tomatoes: $2.50
red palm oil : $1
lettuce: $2
spices: $.50
Total to feed a family of 5:

panini burritos with roasted corn and chili cream sauce

I am pretty sure kids don't really care that they have the same type of meal right after another, because Mikel chose to make bean burritos for lunch. He grilled the burritos like a quesadilla, so we decided to call it a 'panini.' Yes, we pressed it down to make it official, even though we have no panini press.

He roasted some corn on the griddle, added that to the refried beans he made, some Daiya cheese and a bit of sour cream and avocado and the meal was complete. I, however, wanted to make a sauce for it and even Mikel liked it. I just rehydrated some 2 chilis and blended them with some almond milk, a few cashews, a dash of salt and sugar, strained it and heated it to meld the flavors. Oh my! The humble burrito, as fabulous as Mikel made it, was flown to even more glorious heights.

Cost Breakdown:
tortilla: $2
beans: $4
corn: $1
avocado: $3
sauce: $1.50
Daiya: $2
Total to make 10 burritos:

Jun 28, 2010

raw tacos two ways

Wow! This was fabulous. The inspiration came from my coffee-table cookbook, Raw, but I significantly simplified it.

One of the tacos has oyster mushrooms and fresh cut corn marinated in lime juice and a little chili sauce I made for the vinaigrette. I then dehydrated it a bit to let it 'cook.' The other taco has jicama and mango filling with guacamole. The shells I made using fresh cut corn and soaked golden flax seeds. I made my cashew sour cream, which is raw anyway. The chili vinaigrette was made by rehydrating ancho and guajillo chilies, (but any dried chili would be fine) and whisking it with lime juice, vinegar and olive oil. The sauce was super awesome!

The tacos with the sour cream and the chili vinaigrette were a mouth-watering combination.
Even picky-daughter who swore she would never eat raw had a few of these.

Cost Breakdown:
nuts and seeds: $5
olive oil and vinegars: $1
chili peppers: $.50
produce: $7
Total to feed a family of 5:

banana-chocolate chip pancakes

Kate made today's lunch. She not only loves pancakes, but she thinks the flipping is out of this world! The only thing better than flipping pancakes, is eating them. She wanted to do something different with her pancakes today so she blended bananas with her wet ingredients. Of course, she used whole wheat flour.
Yeah, breakfast for lunch.
Why not?

Cost Breakdown:
white whole wheat flour: $1.50
almond milk: $2
chocolate chips: $1
bananas: $2
maple syrup: $3
Total to stuff 5 people:

Jun 27, 2010

french dip

Family Favorite night. French Dip. I worked in restaurants most of my life, and French Dip was something that many featured on their menu. This has to be one of the most difficult sandwiches to recreate vegan since the sandwich itself has nothing but sliced meat on it and the dipping sauce, au jus, is made of meat drippings.

Difficult, but not impossible. It is a Sunday Fave because we managed to do just that: take something wholly meat-laden and recreated it delicious and added nothing to it and took nothing away (except the meat). The seitan is inspired by Bryanna Clark Grogan's 'beefy' seitan. The au jus uses vegetable broth, portabella mushrooms (do not be deterred by this even if you hate 'shrooms) and onions. It is divine!

Cost Breakdown:
seitan: $2
mushrooms, onions: $2
vegetable stock: $1 
bread: $3
Total for 5 sandwiches:

summer garden pasta salad

Summer time is wonderful for bright, vibrant vegetables. Showcasing them simply in a light pasta salad is not only ideal, but imperative. Adding some cannellini beans and a garlic crostini (toast with fresh garlic rubbed on it) makes this a complete meal. I make Sunday's lunch lite because Sunday's dinner is a family favorite and more often than not is either a heavy meal or more involved to prepare. A lite lunch balances things out.

This pasta salad has broccoli, asparagus, red bell peppers and green onions that I lightly sauteed for a few minutes until they were just crisp. I added sliced grape tomatoes, some vinegar and a few tablespoons of olive oil and a few fresh herbs. Great flavors, little time.

Cost Breakdown:
asparagus: $3
1/2 bell pepper: $1
1 bunch broccoli: $2
green onions and garlic: $1
herbs: $1
tomatoes: $2
pasta: $.50
beans: $2
bread: $1
Total to feed  a family of 6:

Jun 26, 2010

poblano and potato tacos

I was looking through a Rick Bayless cookbook and came across a taco recipe using poblano peppers, potatoes and swiss chard. I am always on the lookout for different taco recipes and this one fit the bill. In fact, except for the chicken stock (easy to fix) and the cream it called for, it was vegan. To sub the cream, I blended 1 c of cashews with 1/2 c of water and strained it through my milk bag. I was left with the needed 3/4 c of cream.

I love poblano peppers,leftover from living in Texas for many years, and the potatoes were an interesting addition. The cream made the tacos delicious, but the swiss chard lent too much earthiness for the kids.

Cost Breakdown:
poblanos: $3
beans: $2
chard: $3
potatoes: $2
onions, garlic, spices: $1
tacos: $2
Total to feed a family of 5:

summer scramble

Brunch was for lunch.
I made a seasonal tofu scramble, complete with summer yellow squash, Hungarian peppers, tomatoes, carrots and onions. I wanted some starch to accompany it -like home fries or hash browns - but, tonight's meal has potatoes. So I made a Home Fried Butternut Squash. The two squashes from opposite seasons complimented each other very well. The kids loved the scramble as well.
Two for two.

Cost Breakdown:
tofu, 2 :$4
vegetables: $3
spices, nutritional yeast: $1
butternut squash: $2
toast: $2
Total to feed a family of 5:

Jun 25, 2010

zucchini and beans couscous with baby beet remoulade

My CSA box is brought on Fridays; among other things, I received amaranth greens, dill, baby beets and zucchini. As I was looking through Speed Vegan, trying to be inspired (I knew there would be no cookbook with a recipe using the exact ingredients I had), I came upon 'Zucchini and Red Beans.' That was enough for me.

I sauteed the zucchini with onions, started slow-sauteing garlic, put the baby beets in a pot of water and started Israel Couscous cooking. I made a remoulade sauce for the beets - simply veganaise, yogurt, capers, pickles, dill and parsley. I brought the whole thing together with some red beans and added the amaranth greens to the zucchini at the last moment. I topped the zucchini saute with the beets remoulade and that was it. 

While David and I enjoyed our meal very much, the kids decided it was too adult-y for them. David said the kids are being Veg-air-tarians. Get it? They are eating nothing but air.

Cost Breakdown:
zucchini: $3
amaranth: $3
beans: $2
beets: $2
couscous: $.50
garlic and onions: $1
remoulade: $2
Total to feed a family of 5 if they all ate:


grilled chicken-ran salad

I take the kids hiking on Fridays now, so we have a picnic. I made Chicken-Ran salad last night using Soy Curls. The texture was more tender than the regular TVP I use, which I guess isn't regular TVP, anyway. I grilled the reconstituted soy and, as we've been doing for years, added veganaise mixed with yogurt (lower fat, creamier outcome), celery, onions, and red peppers. It is a great picnic food that the kids love and is easy to make. The name, btw, comes from David who came up with it for our catering business. Cheesy? Maybe, but it's accurate; the chicken did run from this salad and is now safe from being in it. Love it!

Cost Breakdown:
soy curls: $4 (w/ shipping)
veganaise and yogurt: $2
vegetables: $2
loaf of whole wheat bread: $4
Total to make 10 sandwiches:

Jun 24, 2010

roasted vegetables with red pepper sauce

The red pepper paste I made earlier this week came in handy tonight. I roasted potatoes, garlic scape, summer squash and carrots with garlic and fresh herbs. I made a sauce with the red pepper paste using rice milk, which turned out delicious, that I covered the veggies with. Topped the whole kit and caboodle with panko crumbs, returned it to the oven and enjoyed it with a crisp bibb salad. Simple.

Cost Breakdown:
potatoes: $2
carrots and squash: $2
garlic scape and garlic (CSA): $2
herbs: $1
red pepper sauce: $2
salad: $3
Total to feed a family of 5:

Jun 23, 2010

baked pasta with rapini and shitaki

As I was perusing the Food Network for research, I came across an Ina Garten recipe for baked pasta. She used 6 T of butter, 3 c of cream and several different varieties of cheeses. Except for the quantity of fat and cholesterol, the dish sounded good. Veganizing it was easy and cutting the fat was a breeze. The dish doesn't really look that photogenic, but it is fabulous! Crunchy on the top because the pasta was baked for 10 minutes, but creamy on the inside. So good.

 I subbed whole wheat pasta for the macaroni, used rapini instead of radicchio as well as switching everything out but the sage and shitaki. The kids thought the rapini was too bitter (nothing new there), although ate pretty much everything else. Whatever wasn't eaten by the kids was taken care of by David who volunteered to be the human food-disposal tonight.

Cost Breakdown:
cashews and Earth Balance: $2
rapini: $3
shitaki: $3
pasta: $3
sage: $1
nutritional yeast, Follow/Heart, Daiya: $4
Total to feed a family of 5 + Dad's lunch:
(Food TV recipes tend to be expensive, it seems.)

hot and sour soup with bok choi

  Mikel needed to make something quick today. He likes Chinese Hot and Sour Soup and we haven't had much luck finding a recipe he liked; none were like he's had in restaurants. Although we had tried and failed a few times in the past - too complicated, too sour, didn't have all the ingredients, etc. - it did supply the much needed experience to go from making it so-so, to finally making it exceptional. It was ready in a jiffy and it was tasty. All good.

Cost Breakdown:
1 oz shitaki mushrooms: $1.50
1/2 package baked tofu: $2
onion, garlic, ginger, vinegar, green onion: $2
bok choi (CSA): $2.50 
Total to feed a family of 5:

Jun 22, 2010

raw eggplant manicotti

I have decided to serve one meal a week...raw. Now if you are an adult, it may sounds intriguing, even adventurous; but, if you are a kid, not so much. Or if you are my husband. Once a year, he says, is more than enough. Unfortunately for my family, the raw meal stays. At least for now. If they start withering away, I'll reevaluate.

Tonight I made a raw eggplant manicotti. 'Cooking' raw is actually quite easy and uncomplicated, as long as a plan is in place. The eggplant needed a few hours to marinate and a few hours to dehydrate. Dinner was actually ready on time.

I totally dug this dish, but my family collectively thought otherwise.
Baby steps.

Cost Breakdown:
eggplant: $2
sun-tom: $2
tomato: $2
nuts: $4
lemon: $.50
spices, herbs and oive oil: $4
Total to feed Mom thrice and Dad once:

italian stuffed pita

Kate made today's lunch. And boy did she make a great lunch! She sauteed some onions, peppers, garlic and tomatoes. She added red beans and olives and seasoned it with marjoram and basil. She wanted to add some Daiya, so she put about 3 T of it in the mix as well. It was stuffed into small pita pockets and backed for 15 minutes. She also made some Ranch dressing to dip her carrot sticks in. The pockets were creamy with a delightful crispness afforded by baking the pita.

Cost breakdown:
pita: $.50
beans: $2
Daiya: $.75
onion, tomato, garlic, pepper: $2
olives: $.50
carrots: $1
Total for 5 sandwiches:

Jun 21, 2010

turkish lentils and chickpeas

Excellent meal!
It was easy to make, too. It would have been even easier had I used my food processor for the salad. In fact, the salad was the most time consuming part of this meal; everything was finely diced. It was only when I was three-quarters of the way through that the idea of a machine came to mind. The lentils were cooked with some eggplant, onion and carrot and then pureed. I added the chickpeas at the end. The Turkish salad has cucumber, onion, bell pepper and tomato with a red pepper dressing. The combination of the two was outstanding. A little heat by way of red chili flakes added some oomph. 

Cost Breakdown:
lentil: $.50
chickpea: $2
veggies: $4
pita: $2
lemon: $1
Total to feed a family of 5:

Jun 20, 2010

hungarian layered potatoes

Continuing with Dad's Day, I made Layered Potatoes. This, too, is a childhood favorite. Of course, when my dad made this, he used bacon, pork sausage, at least a pint of sour cream, eggs and tons of butter!

 A little adjutment was required here. I made some super easy seitan sausage, made some creamy 'sour cream' using almonds and I used olive oil instead of butter. Not diet food, but not hear-attack material either. Since my CSA brought swiss chard, and since chard stands up to long cooking times, I added that and some yellow squash to the layers as well. 

It turned out very yummy; creamy and savory.

Cost Breakdown:
seitan sausage: $1
potatoes: $3
chard and squash: $4
almonds and lemon: $3
Total to feed a family of 5 twice:


Happy Father's Day! David chose Benedict for his Father's Day lunch. He feels just awful that I have to blog about something we've so recently eaten, but I think he's getting over it :)
Needless to say, we love Benedict. I used to make Eggs Benedict only on special occasions, since it required so much butter and so many eggs. Now we make it once  a month or so. It is almost all soy, but then Eggs Benedict is almost all eggs.

Update: I have not been able to confirm that black salt is not sodium. In fact, there is dispute on the web since no one has done a chemical analysis on kala namak. Although in India it is used at times for medicinal purposes (as most Indian spices are), there is considerable debate regarding the chloride content. To be on the safe side, treat black salt as regular salt and go easy.

Cost Breakdown:
Veganaise: $1
Earth Balance, almond milk: $ .50
tofu: $2
English muffin: $2.50
Soy protein: $3
Nutritional yeast and spices: $2
Total for 12 Benedicts:

Jun 19, 2010

fried vegan omelet sandwich

RECIPE UPDATE: this recipe has been tested and revised and will be featured in the upcoming cookbook "Everyday Vegan Eats," by Zsu Dever.

One of my fondest food memories is my mom making fried egg sandwiches. She'd put mayo, raw onion slivers and tomatoes on them. Childhood memories. In fact, food wise, that is one of my hubby's favorite recollections as well. Raising second-generation vegans (yes!) means that I, too, am laying the foundation for their comfort foods. 

Cat and Kate have loved our 'omelets' since we have been vegan - almost nine years now. We've improved it over the years, but one thing remains the same: Cat eats it with just ketchup and Kate likes it in a sandwich with veganaise. David loves it, too, although he thinks it stands on its own. 

I named it what I did because it had to be called something; if I called it a 'fried tofu' sandwich, something completely different comes to mind. If I said 'fried "egg" sandwich', I'd have been very misleading: there is no yolk to break.

In any case, if you are fond of the 'egg' flavor, add some black salt (Kala Namak) , otherwise stick to our family's tradition: veganaise, slivers of red onion and tomato slices.
 Comforting, delicious food. 

Cost Breakdown:
2 tofu: $4
nutritional yeast: $1
bread: $2
onion, tomato, flour, rice milk: $2
veganaise: $.50

Total to feed a family of 5:



Jun 17, 2010

french onion soup

How is this for perplexing: My eldest daughter cannot stand onions in anything. In fact, she picks them out if she can. BUT her favorite soup is French Onion. Go figure.
This soup is easy to make, but there is a lot of stand-by cooking, kind of like for an airplane, but not as tedious. Not necessarily food-sitting, but standing near-by to stir the onions while they cook for an hour. You can wash the dishes from last night, read a book, mop the floor - whatever, as long as you are standing by. Once the onions are cooked way down (from 8 cups to maybe 2 cups) the soup is almost done. This soup is deep, dark and rich. You can serve it with Daiya or Follow Your Heart or just a crouton.
It is no wonder Cat likes it so much.

Cost Breakdown:
onions: $2
homemade stock: $1
bread: $2
 wine: $1
tamari: $ .50
Total to feed a family of 5:

Jun 16, 2010

FNF - spicy cherry seitan

I am playing along with Tami's Food Network Friday challenge at Vegan Appetite. She chose Spicy Cherry Ribs to veganize to show the Food Network how easy vegan eating can be. I made a seitan using tofu and gluten which I make when I am trying for a layered seitan - you know, one that when ripped tears in layers. It turned out very tasty, but a little salty, thanks to Guy Fieri's love of salt. I am of the mind that the first time you try a recipe it should be as the cook wrote it. Then you can mess with it, assuming it is good enough to make again. Of course, it did not require the 4 hours of baking. Thank the universe.

I made some creamy cole slaw to accompany it; sort of a quintessential American BBQ. Just not. Better!

Cost Breakdown:
seitan: $3
cherries: $8!
cabbage: $3.50
Veganaise: $1.50
baked beans: $2
onion, garlic, spices: $2
Total to feed a family of 5 an American BBQ:

corney chili dog

Kate made the meal today. She wanted chili and she added corn because she loves corn. Hence, Corney Chili Dogs. The chili is mildly spicy, topped over a grilled veggie dog. Nothing too complicated here; even the chili was ready in a half hour. Because chili gets better with age, like I do, Dad's lunch tomorrow will be better than ours. 

Cost Breakdown:
 package of veg dogs: $3.50
1/2 package of buns: $1.50
Batch of Chili (freezing half)
TVP and beans: $3
onion, pepper, garlic, spices: $3
corn: $1
green salad: $3
 Total to feed a family of 5:
(Half of the cost of the chili.)

Jun 15, 2010

coco loco

When we lived in San Francisco we patronized a quaint little cafe, Feel Real, that was open only when the owners decided to open.
There were many times we would show up, but the owners didn't.
Still, the place had awesome food. Two of their most fabulous meals were a veggie burger, that resembled no 'burger' I've seen since, and Coco Loco, a coconut, seaweed, noodle dish with steamed greens.
To die for.
Since we are no longer in San Fran, it was up to me to recreate it. I did. Kate asked for this one; she said it's been too long. I think the last time when the aroma of coconut milk and lime filled the kitchen was last month. Gotta love anything that is green and with seaweed and is being requested by a ten-year-old.

Cost Breakdown:
2 bunches, kale: $5
noodles: $2
coconut milk: $2
garlic, lime, tamari: $1.50
seaweed: $2
 (I bought it bulk from Frontier Co-op)
Total to feed a family of 5:

curried red lentils with sweet potatoes

The sweet potatoes added such a lovely sweetness to this dish. Not overpowering, since the curry powder balanced them out. It was just a wholesome, delicious meal. I served it with pita and steamed broccoli. Kate enjoyed it more than the other two, and I enjoyed it more than Kate. I also added some heat with chili flakes. I love sweet and spicy together.

Cost Breakdown:
lentils: $1.25
sweet potato: $1.50
broccoli: $ 2
onion, garlic, spices: $1
pita: $2
Total to feed a family of 5:

Jun 14, 2010

grilled artichoke soup

Every once in  a while I will make something and think it might not come out well. And then we'll take it to the table and it shines. This was one of those diamonds in the rough. It doesn't sound substantial and the ingredients are so minimal that you think it couldn't possibly be a meal. Surprise. This soup has a total of 6 ingredients - onion, garlic, artichoke, tomato, pine nuts, lemon. Admittedly artichokes and pine nuts are expensive, but the menu is give and take. We don't always have the costly items, so having it ever so often is doable.
It was delicious.
 Even Eldest Daughter had a second bowl - and she is picky! Some bread and a salad and the meal was complete.

Cost Breakdown:
onion, garlic, lemon: $1.50
artichoke, bottled: $4
tomato: $1
pine nuts: $1
bread: $2
salad: $3
Total to feed a family of 5: