vegetable stew with herb dumplings

Meatless Monday

I've decided to jump on the Meatless Monday bandwagon! Even though this is a vegan blog, I want it to be easier for all people to have access to simple and quick veg food without any of the 'quirky' vegan pantry items - such as nutritional yeast, agar, etc. Just easy, accessible veg recipes, that also happen to taste great.

With my new theme in mind, tonight's meal of Vegetable Stew with Dumplings is just that - quick, easy and accessible. This is a very flexible recipe that uses whatever vegetables you have on hand, including onions, celery and carrots, but can certainly (and should) include seasonal vegetables such as winter squash and root veggies.

The dumpling part is also easy since you can use a pre-made Bisquick-type of mix, or just make your own, using the recipe I have provided.

The adobo sauce (which comes out of the canned chipotle in adobo) is in every grocery store since the chipotle craze hit the culinary world a few years ago. The sauce gives you a little kick - not as much as adding a whole chipotle would - but also gives it a wonderful smoky flavor, which is also accented by the use of smoked paprika (if available) as well.
(Thanks for all your smokey ideas, Tami! American Vegan Kitchen has opened my eyes to using both chipotles and smoked paprika. Love it!)

No need to be vegetarian, vegan or even a cook for this one.

Cost Breakdown

onion, celery, carrot, garlic: $1
vegetables: $4
(I used parsnip, celery root, butternut squash, turnip)
legumes: $1
(I used peas)
chipotle in adobo sauce: $.25
spices, herbs: $1
flour, coconut oil, nondairy milk: $2

Total to make 5 servings:
$9.25




southwest wheat-meatloaf

This recipe, Southwestern Wheat-Meat Loaf, is out of American Vegan Kitchen by Tamasin Noyes. This was terrific, held together and the flavors were wonderful, but the gravy she recommends you serve with it, Jalapeno Gravy, is worth its price in gold. I exaggerate not when I say we were all licking our plates. Just make sure to toast your flour with the nutritional yeast when making the roux. A golden roux (cooked for about 5 minutes) with the nutritional yeast and the adobo sauce combination gives this gravy such a unique and lovely smoky flavor.
 Outstanding.

I served it with garlicky Swiss chard and mashed potatoes. There was hardly anything left over to put away. Saved fridge space.

Cost Breakdown

TVP, gluten, seitan, flour: $4
oil, veg. broth, nutritional yeast: $2
potato, chard: $6
spices, chipotle: $1
onion, pepper, jalapeno,garlic: $2
tamari, corn, ketchup: $1
Total to make 5 servings:
$16.00



lemon cashew-stuffed crepes

Brunch

Today's brunch item, Lemon Cashew-Stuffed Crepes with Berry Sauce, is out of Vegan Brunch by  Isa Moskowitz. Pretty much, anyway. I had made Isa's crepe recipe before and because mine is simpler and taste-wise, similar - nothing special in either of them - I used mine (updated).

Isa's filling is a lovely concoction of lemon and cashew and is even raw (if you replace the cashews with almonds - cashews are processed using heat). Creamy, easy and wonderful. The cashew filling is topped with a Berry Sauce. Again, she uses a few too many ingredients for me, so I used my own berry sauce which is nothing more than berries and a little sugar.

Brunch was an absolute hit and was ready in no time. In fact, I kept flitting back and forth from the computer to the crepe-pan (my cast iron Goliath) because each crepe takes a minute to cook on each side. One can get a good handle on the amount of time it takes to cook crepes, just don't get overzealous if you are new at it!

Cost Breakdown

crepes: $1
cashews: $4.50
maple, nondairy milk, lemon: $1.50
berries: $4
Total to make 4 servings:
$11.00



Berry Sauce Recipe

easy asian wrap

This lunch was a quick and easy generic Asian Wrap. I used a wrapped or pressed tofu, sliced it into stips, marinated them and sauteed them, along with broccoli spears, red pepper strips, green onions and a few asparagus spears. There really is no hard and fast rule for this wrap - use tofu, tempeh, seitan or just vegetables. Sautee the veggies until they are crisp tender or done to your likeness and that is about it.

After the veggies are done add the remaining marinade and stuff it all into a warmed tortilla. The Asian flare comes form tamari (soy sauce), sesame oil (toasted is best), rice vinegar and chili flakes.

Not bad for a quick meal. When I presented it to the kids they reluctantly gave it a try...and wound up eating it up and asking me to make it again soon.


Cost Breakdown

tamari, vinegar, garlic, oil, maple: $1
tofu: $2
broccoli, pepper: $3
onion, asparagus: $2
wrap: $2
Total to make 6 wraps;
$10.00




vegan hero

Who's your Vegan Hero?
Ones that pop to mind might be quite numerous - Marcus, Singer, Camp, Espinosa, Watson, Clark-Grogan, Robertson, Noyes, Messina, Moskowitz, DeGeneres, Newkirk, Baldwin, Barnard, Chavez, Harrelson, Harper, Hannah, Hynde, Kucinich, Lewis, Lyman, Mackey, Piraro, Pitt, Portman, Walker, Wynn, Weird Al, Mills, and the list goes on and on...

Today's lunch held the ideal of a hero plainly in sight by using all vegan ingredients. The cheese is Follow Your Heart sliced thin, the meatless cold cuts are Yves, Tofurkey and Smart Deli. There is avocado, veganaise, mustard, tomato, pickles, sprouts, lettuce, onion, bell pepper, olives, salt, pepper, oil and vinegar on this bad-boy. The bread should have been whole wheat, but Whole Foods was out and the kids needed lunch.

Really terrific looking and tasting. Remember, we eat with our eyes first and this sammich wouldn't have been the same had it been cut before the diners had a chance to see it.

Cost Breakdown

cold cuts: $5
FYH cheese: $3
veganaise, mustard, v&o: $1
veggies: $3
fruit: $2
bread: $2
Total to make 5 servings:
$16.00


indian potato skins with curry of greens

Indian Night

I have been enjoying the Indian Nights on the menu, but this is the last official "Indian Night." Next week the Indian gets back onto Asian Night. Not that I've become an expert at Indian food, but the last weeks have certainly given me a wonderful taste for the different flavors and techniques that Indian fare favors. Besides the cooking, I think I've read at least a dozen cookbooks on the subject and I think I need to digest the info.

Tonight's meal is a fusion of sorts - Potato Skins with Curry of Greens. The potatoes are first cooked then broiled to get them crispy. Then they are topped with the curried greens. I used a combination of cilantro, kale, chard and collards. This came out very well and even the kids enjoyed it - some more than others depending on the offending green.

I served the meal with brown rice and sauteed mushrooms with Indian spices.

The curry paste was the most difficult part of this meal, and even that wasn't difficult, so all in all this was a successful meal: tasty, quick and easy.

Cost Breakdown

herbs, spices: $1
chilies, raisins, tomato: $1
nondairy milk: $.50
greens, mushrooms: $4
rice: $1
potatoes: $4
Total to make 6 servings:
$11.50




harissa spiced sandwich

African Night

Harissa is a staple in North Africa, a hot pepper sauce. You can buy harissa or make your own using fresh hot peppers, oil, and other optional ingredients such as garlic, cumin, red pepper, coriander, etc.

Tonight's meal, Harissa Spiced Sandwich, was inspired by a recipe by Marcus Samuelsson using harissa coated lamb. I used rehydrated textured vegetable protein (TVP) instead of the lamb, but next time will definitely use either tofu or seitan - the TVP retained too much liquid (because of rehydration and being marinated) to crispen properly.

Using tofu (pressed or wrapped) or seitan, coating them with the harissa marinade and then browning them, is totally delicious. The protein is then cooked in a sauce with chickpeas and is then served with hummus and pita. A little extra harissa on the side is nice, too. 

Even using the TVP the dish was phenomenal and using solely chickpeas or using tofu or seitan will garner a better result. 

Cost Breakdown

TVP (use tofu or seitan instead): $2
tamari, harissa, broth: $1.50
onion, garlic, lemon, spices:
chickpeas: $2
tomato: $1
pita: $1.50
hummus: $1
Total to make 5 servings:
 $9.00




quinoa-corn chowder

This recipe was from Viva Vegan! by Teri Hope Romero. It has been a little while since I've hit this cookbook, and the idea of quinoa in a chowder was appealing. Quinoa "grain" is not really a grain, since it is not a grass, but in fact is the seed of the plant that has been cultivated for over 4,000 years in South America. While the greens of the quinoa plant are also edible, the seeds are what is most available to us.

Quinoa also happens to be a complete protein.

While quinoa can be intimidating to cook the first few times, get yourself a bag and start cooking with it. The ratio of water to quinoa is easy:
1 part quinoa, 2 parts water, cook 20 minutes.
Make sure to rinse the quinoa well before cooking it.

If the quinoa is added to a stew or a soup, it is even simpler since I've yet to overcook quinoa, unlike rice, which is too easy to overcook.

The Quinoa-Corn 'Chowder' I made from Teri's book was very easy to make and delicious. To top it all off, she recommended I add avocado to it.
It's like she read my mind...

Cost Breakdown

garlic, onion, spices: $1
red quinoa: $.75
aji (pepper paste, homemade): $.50
potato, corn: $1.50
beans: $2
tomatoes: $1
non-dairy milk: $1
Total to make 6 servings:
$7.75





seitan and kidney bean pie

European Night

Steak and Kidney Pie, a British comfort food is literally made with steak and kidneys - often that of a cow, lamb or pig. It is cooked in a brown gravy with onions and Worcestershire sauce and topped with a crust of some sort - pastry, shortcrust or puff.

Interesting to note, the only vegetable in the traditional pie is the onion. Well, there are plenty of other dishes with veggies in them - no need to crowd this one full of 'em!

Keeping true to the dish, I made my Seitan and Kidney Bean Pie with Firm Seitan (beef-y), but replaced the kidneys with the obvious substitution of kidney beans. 

Adding some flavor to this dish, I caramelized my onions first and then added the dredged seitan to be seared. Dredging the seitan makes sure I had the flour in the dish needed to thicken the sauce. I deglazed (added wine to the pan to help loosen the brown bits on the bottom and then allowed it to mostly evaporate to cook off the alcohol) the pan and added the beans and broth. While you would need to cook this for about an hour if it were meat, I just had to simmer it for a few minutes to marry the flavors.

I used a whole wheat herb crust as the top crust of the pie and served it with a green salad.


Cost Breakdown

onion: $1
flour, herbs, spices: $2
coconut oil (crust): $1
seitan: $3
beans: $1
wine, broth: $1 
salad: $3
Total to make 6 servings:
$12.00
  



thai winter curry

Asian Night

Curries are a simple and easy way to get dinner on the table fast. That is, as long as you have a curry paste. There are as many different kinds of curry pastes as there are people who make them. And just as many levels of heat to each paste. You can make your own paste easily enough - although it is a little time consuming. When you do make a curry paste there are a few things to keep in mind:

(1)
You want to get your paste as smooth as possible. A food processor works well as long as you process the paste long enough. A blender is better.
(2)
Make a lot for three reasons: (a) Your machine will work better (meaning it will actually move the food around and will be able to process the ingredients) if you have enough stuff in there. If you have a few tablespoons of stuff in the machine, you are making it very difficult on yourself and the appliance. (b) You don't want to go through making it again any time soon; it is time consuming.  (c) The extra paste doesn't take up that much room in your freezer, especially if you divide it into serving amounts and tuck them in here and there.

Thai curry pastes usually have these ingredients in common:
chilies (the amount and type will determine the level of heat in your paste), lemongrass, kaffir leaves, onion, vinegar, garlic, ginger (or galangal), coriander seeds

Optional ingredients range from:
cumin seeds, cilantro, peanuts, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, etc.

For my Thai Winter Curry, I used a basic red curry paste (The color depends on the chilies you use. If you use fresh green chilies you will have green chili paste.) I have an assortment of winter veggies in my curry: onion, cabbage, cauliflower, butternut squash, tofu, spinach and, of course, the coconut milk. To cut the fat I also used vegetable broth, but make sure you don't make curry soup instead by not using enough coconut milk.

Since I had the curry paste in the freezer, dinner was ready in under 30 minutes.

Cost Breakdown

onion: $.75
cabbage, cauliflower: $3
butternut squash: $2
tofu: $2
paste, tamari, lime, sugar: $1.25
spinach, pepper: $3
rice: $1
Total to make 6 servings:
$13.00





gazpacho salad

Gazpacho Salad. Yup. And why not? The soup it refers to is a bunch of vegetables and fruit with liquid. Replace the liquid with the salad greens and presto - Gazpacho Salad.

Here is your inspiration to convert any soup into a salad. Pretty simple idea, right? I'd love to take credit, but I believe I saw the idea while cruising through a cookbook - a Robin Robertson one, to be exact. It is the avocado that caught my eye. Throw avocado anywhere in a recipe and I'll give it grave consideration. During the summer I have to weed through all the avocado recipes, since I probably add at least three onto each week's menu. Although very healthy for the kids, I encourage them to eat as many as they would like, I'm too old to handle too many, as much as I love them.

That certainly does not mean I never eat the fruit and here it is in this salad.

There are two key components to a good salad:
The Dressing
The Size of the Veggies

I'm sure we are all aware of how important the moisture on the lettuce is - whether it is just a squeeze of lemon or a favorite dressing like Ranch - but, is it really well-known how important the cut of the veggies is?

Dice or thinly slice cucumbers, peppers, onions, tomatoes (after seeding them) and they take on
a-whole-nother appeal for the diner. Big, clunky veggies are okay, but to really get someone to dig in, consider how you cut them.

My diced veggies and fruits were tossed with a little walnut oil (which has Omega-3) and lime juice. I seasoned them with salt, pepper, garlic (minced) and cilantro and tossed them with chopped lettuce.

A bit of Summer in the middle of Winter.


Cost Breakdown

lettuce: $3
onion, pepper, cuke, tomato: $4
garlic, cilantro: $1
avocado: $2
walnut oil, lime: $1
Total for 4 large servings:
$11.00




crepes with shiitaki and cabbage

Crepes make great desserts, but they also make wonderful savory dishes.

Finding a vegan crepe recipe seems to have garnered quite a bit of headache as I've read many recipes where the authors try valiantly to create a vegan crepe.
 Honestly I don't understand all the fuss.

As a Hungarian, crepes were a dessert staple at our home, made with the eggs that most crepes call for. However, having been around a few crepes in my lifetime, the crepes I made for this meal were just as thin, as light, as tender as any made with eggs - and much simpler. You really only need flour and water. I used whole wheat pastry flour for these.

When making your crepe just keep your pan medium-hot but not burning hot and tilt the pan as you pour in the batter to get the thinnest possible crepe. I used a well-seasoned cast iron pan and had no difficulty. I brushed on a very thin layer of oil to keep them from sticking and when the edges were dry and curled up, flipped it.

I stuffed these with sauteed shiitaki and Brussels sprouts and baked them with a bechamel sauce.

I then finished them by topping them with sauteed red cabbage.

The CSA box got quite a workout and the crepes were delectable.

Cost Breakdown

flour: $1
vegan milk: $1
Brussels sprouts, garlic, onion: $3
cabbage: $2
shiitaki: $4
Total to make 10 crepes:
$11.00



leek- parsnip soup

We all know of Leek-Potato Soup, but how about using something other than potato? Any white vegetable would be fine here, but I had parsnips delivered in my CSA and that sounded scrumptious to substitute for the potato.

Of course, if you don't mind changing the color of the soup, substitute whatever vegetable you have available; I can't think of anything that would clash with an onion (leek).

The parsnip worked really well with the leeks and the added chives as a garnish gave it a wonderful garlic accent. Very easy, quick and delicious.

Cost Breakdown

parsnip: $3
leek, garlic: $4
chives: $.50
vegetable broth: $1
Total to make 5 main servings:
$8.50