Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Vegan Etouffee & Asparagus Risotto Soup

Happy late Easter everyone!!!  As usual life has gotten me distracted from blogging.  I'm still cooking though!!  Not much new going on except Husband and I buying a motorcycle!  Husband has been riding for years and has been busy working to get the bike just the way he wants it.

I believe spring is in full swing.  If you haven't noticed you will after reading all of my asparagus recipes!  I had another bunch to use up and found this recipe online for an asparagus risotto soup.  I've been wanting to try a risotto but the last time I tried I kinda....screwed it up. I figured a risotto soup wouldn't be half as hard and I can work my way up to the real deal!  I followed the recipe exact except for subbing veggie broth for chicken broth and leaving out the parmesan.  I did top my bowl with some Parma though.  The soup was really yummy.  My friend and I ate almost the whole batch in one night!  My only warning is the soup has a heavy broth flavor, so you want to use your favorite veggie broth for this recipe.  There is very little seasoning but it has a ton of flavor!  No salt needed.  Perfect recipe for those cold spring nights when you still need something to warm you up!

For Easter I didn't want to make a ton of recipes but rather focus on one main dish.  I have been dying to make a recipe from Kathryn Lovett's blog for a vegan etouffee, and I figured Easter was the perfect occasion!  Plus my mom would be there to supervise since it would be my first time making a roux on my own!!  Etouffee is a traditional southern cajun dish.  It's typically made with a roux and crawfish, or other seafood.  A roux is the base of the dish.  You make it by heating oil and flour together over the stove and constantly stirring until you reach your desired color, a deep golden brown.  It's pretty easy to make as long as you keep stirring to keep it from burning.  So if you tire easily have a friend to help stir.  I followed the recipe as it states except I left out the vegan andouille sausage.  I couldn't find any in my stores and I didn't want to sub for an alternate for fear of messing with the other flavors.  Plus I'm not the biggest fan of vegan sausage.  It tasted fine without it.  Just make sure when making the roux you are patient and let it get a deep golden brown.  It's also a good idea to get all of your veggies cut and prepped, measuring spoons out, and cans opened so when you start cooking you have everything ready.  Once you make the roux everything is pretty fast after that.  You are constantly stirring and you won't have much down time to prep anything.  Mine looks a little different than Kathryn's and I think that is because I didn't shred the collard greens.  I wasnt' sure exactly the best way to shred them so I just cut them into strips instead.  I think I would have preferred them shredded, but again it still tasted fine. 

Etouffee after done cooking in the pot.

Honestly I'm more of a gumbo kind of a gal, okay that's more of an understatement, I LOVE gumbo.  So I never ate etouffee much before becoming vegan so it's hard to say if this tastes much like the real thing, but either way it was really tasty.  It just makes me want to find a good vegan gumbo recipe that much more.  I haven't been very successful yet.  When my parents make gumbo they've tried taking some out for me before adding the meat but it never tastes right.  It's always missing something.  I'll have to start experimenting and go from there.   Y'all will be the first to know when I get it right.  =)  Until then the etouffee will hold me over.  Thanks Kathryn for the yummy recipe! 

I don't have much planned for cooking this week, I'm going to take it more by ear.  I'm always open to recipes so keep me in mind if you run across anything!  As always, thanks for reading!

Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Spinach Pinwheels & Hot Air Balloons!

I went searching for some new recipes and found this on my VegWeb iPhone app from Veggegrrl.  It was just as good as I imagined it to be.  Husband couldn't get enough of them.  They barely made to our plates, we just started eating them fresh from the oven.  Dipped in ranch....BLISS!!  Perfect for a quick and easy dinner or for appetizers at a party. 

Before rolling

Before baking
 1 can vegan croissants (makes 8 croissants)
3 Tablespoons of vegenaise
3 Tablespoons of vegan cream cheese (I use tofutti)
2 T of salt free garlic and herb seasoning (I made my own, recipe to follow)
1 teaspoon of sea salt (I didnt' really measure and probably used a lot less than this called for)
2 strips of roasted red peppers, chopped finely and patted dry
24 leaves of baby spinach

1.  Preheat oven to 350*
2.  Mix vegenaise, cream cheese, garlic seasoning, salt and roasted red peppers in a bowl, and mix well.  Set aside
2.  Unroll the croissants and make 4 rectangles.  Seal the seams with your fingers.  I recommend doing this at the last minute so the dough doesn't get too soft.  When it gets too soft it makes it harder to roll and cut the dough without making a mess.
3.  Divide the spread amongst the 4 rectangles evenly.
4.  Top 6 spinach leaves on each rectangle, roll and cut into about 1inch pinwheels
5.  Bake in the oven for about 10-15 minutes until golden brown. 

Now for the fun stuff....HOT AIR BALLOON PICS!!! =) 

Our Balloon

Waiting to load the basket

You can see our shadow.

He swooped down low, we were so close to the vineyard

One of my favs of the day

That is San Fran in the way back!

I hope you enjoyed the pics!!

Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Venegan Potluck at Work!!

I can't beleive it's been so long since I last posted.  I'm not sure how this happened.  I swear it was just a few days ago that I posted.  Time has gotten away from me!  I haven't had much to blog about.  All veggie burgers and grilled veggies over here.  I have a small review of the chipotle lime chik'n strips from Gardein.  They are really good.  My favorite of the Gardein brand as of yet.  I added them to the top of spaghetti, and another time just dipping in some good sauce. 

Since the apartment has been put back together my coworkers have been wanting to come up and take a look.  My coworker had a great idea to have a potluck and everyone could bring a venegan (vegan in my boss' George speak) dish.  I think I'm rubbing off on my coworkers.  ;).  So today we toured the apartment, and then had a YUMMY lunch!  I'm so proud of all of my vegan proteges'  They all did so good with their vegan dishes!!  I'm collecting a few recipes after this. 

Pre baked

Post baked
 I brought in stuffed tomatoes.  I took the general recipe of the stuffed tomatoes I made for the get together with my friends.  I wanted something more of an appetizer, so I used grape tomatoes.  The beef tomatoes I stuffed with a rice mixture.  Since that would be too big for the grape tomatoes I subbed for breadcrumbs.  I didn't follow a recipe, so the below is pretty close to what I made.  They were really easy to make.  The only time consuming part was scooping out the tomato guts.  Just stick on a movie and have at it.  =)

3 slices of bread of choice, I used sprouted wheat
Pesto:  Use all that the below recipe calls for
1/2 medium onion, sauted in some olive oil until soft and translucent
The guts of all of the tomatoes (put through a food processor to chop up)
1 10oz container of grape tomatoes

15-18 fresh basil leaves
3 T of walnuts (or pine nuts is more common, but I never have them on hand)
3 T of olive oil
3 cloves of garlic
about 1 Tablespoons of vegan parmesan, I didn't measure so this is more estimated

1.  Chop the onion into small chunks, and saute.  While the onions cook, start with step 2.
2.  With your hands break the bread into big chunks and throw in a food processor.  Process until you have pretty fine breadcrumbs.  Enough so the chunks aren't too big to fit in the small tomatoes.  Throw the breadcrumbs in a medium size mixing bowl.
3.  When the onions are done toss them in the food processor and chop them up.  Then toss them in the mixing bowl with the breadcrumbs.
4.  Put the garlic cloves in the processor and chop up until chopped, add in the walnuts and chop a little more.  Add in the remaining pesto ingredients and process until you have a nice pesto made.  If you want the pesto a little more "wet" add some more olive oil.  Add salt to taste
5.  Add the pesto into the mixing bowl and mix everything well.  Set aside while you chop and scoop out the tomatoes. 
6.  Get a baking pan and spray with olive oil.  Keep it by you so you can set the tomato shells in the pan.  Set them in bottoms up.  Once they are all in the pan spray the bottoms with more olive oil, sprinkle with salt to taste and then turn them over so you can stuff them. 
7.  I cut the tomatoes long ways, then took a metal 1/2 teaspoon to scoop out the inside of the tomatoes.  Keep a separate bowl of the tomato guts.  When done throw them in the processor then add to the stuffing mixture.
8.  When all of the tomatoes are ready, I used the same teaspoon and scooped the filling into each shell.  I used a little more than a 1/2 teaspoon for each tomatoe depending on the size.  I made quite a large mound on each tomato.  I found it easy to use my fingers to help keep the stuffing in the tomatoes and pack it in.  I sprayed the tops of the tomatoes with more olive oil.  Stick them in a heated 350* oven for about 15-20 minutes.

I found some of the tomato fillings kind of plopped out of the tomatoes but they were easy to put back in.  They weren't super sturdy, but they were easy enough to pick up and pop into your mouth.  Plus if any don't stay together more for the cook to enjoy before sharing!  =)   

Cathy brough a broccoli slaw which was super tasty.  It had craisins, walnuts and sliced apples.  Perfect spring/summer meal for a barbeque!

 Amber brought her famous pasta salad with cherry tomatoes and red/yellow bell peppers.  You can't go wrong with Amber's pasta!

Val brought a chinese salad.  She typically makes it with chicken, and browns the ramen noodles in butter.  I let her borrow some of my vegan butter (which I think I've made her a lover) and she left out the chicken and it was really good.  Better than my recipe for a similar salad.  Can't wait to try it on my own.

Aryn brough the fab fruit salad, which she brought plenty of so I got to take some home.  Thank you Aryn for breakfast!  Amy brought one of my all time fav lemonades, Newman Own, along with a tasty baguette. 

Here's my half eaten plate.  I almost forgot to take photos, so this was last minute. 

Kurt picked up a vegan cake at the Co-Op.  He sliced some fresh strawberries on top.  I had some left over cream cheese frosting from the red velvet cake cupcakes I made.  So we topped it with the frosting, and it resulted in a perfect dessert.  It was moist and not too chocolaty.  YUM! 

I had so much fun with all of my coworkers at lunch time.   Even a room full of meat eaters can enjoy a vegan potluck!  Can't wait to do it again!  =) 

Husband and I finally took advantage of our gift certificate to go hot air ballooning.  It was soooo much fun.  I have a ton of pictures that I'll be sharing in my next post!  Till then....

Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Gratitude Shout Out : Agave+Cinnamon Toast

I want to make a shout out to my boss George!  One of my co-workers is retiring tomorrow so we had a big retirement party for her today at lunch.  No one in my office is vegetarian/vegan and I don't expect them to cater to me.  I feel being vegan is my choice not the rest of the worlds.  It's not fair for me to make others go out of their way to cater to me.  I am completely happy with eating a salad and green beans, or whatever "sides" a party has.  Plus  I ♥ green beans and can easily make a whole meal out of that alone!  I don't feel like I'm missing anything.  So with that said George surprised me and as I sat down to eat he had the country club cater a special vegan plate just for me!!  I completely wasn't expecting that.  It totally put a smile on my face for the rest of the day.  So thank you George for thinking of me.  It meant a lot that you went through the trouble for a little ole "venagan" like me!  You're the best!  =)

The food was super yummy and I'm bummed I didn't think to take a picture of my plate.  I'm not sure exactly what everything was but it all tasted GREAT.  There was some rice with carmelized onions, what I think was some sauted bok choy, spinach, grilled zuccini, and some other leafy green that was sooo good.  I wish I would have asked what it was because it was so yummy.  Plus I topped my plate with plenty of green beans, roasted red potatoes and salad to top.  I had a whole feast!  Pretty amazing for a vegan! 

Since I haven't cooked anything new, just leftovers, I wanted to have at least one photo to post I figured I'd share the dessert I had for dinner.  It's a classic, but still worth mentioning.  I toasted a piece of sprouted wheat bread (Alvarado St. Bakery is my favorite).  Drizzled some agave nectar on the top and sprinkled with cinnamon.  Can't go wrong.  Sometimes it's the simple things that make me happy.  Kind of like a simple gesture from a boss, the sun being out, Bella greeting me at the door, my Husband sending me I love you texts or simple cinnamon and agave toast!  I'm convinced it's things like that, that make the world go round.  =) 

So don't forget to spread the gratitude, because it will only create more happiness in this crazy world we live in.  ♥ ♥  and as always....

Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Baked Asparagus and Pan Fried Cabbage

If you know me at all you know I love cabbage.  I had a head in my fridge and kept putting off cooking it because I wanted to do something different with it, but just didn't find anything that strung any cords.  I love pan fried cabbage and it's super easy so I stuck with what I knew before the cabbage went bad.  I've posted about it before and did the same as I always do.  Heated a tablespoon of olive oil with a few tablespoons of butter.  Added a chopped shallot and a garlic clove and 2 teaspoons of brown sugar.  Once that cooked down added 1 head of chopped cabbage and let that cook until the cabbage was soft.  This time it needed a little salt and pepper.  I cooked some mini bowtie pasta on the side in my pasta boat and added to the cooked cabbage.  Mix well to coat the pasta. 

The cabbage is good by itself, but my parents got me some fresh asparagus at the farmers market yesterday and I figured it would be best to cook it while fresh.  I chopped it into quarters (cutting the tough end off) put it in an oiled pan.  Sprayed some more olive oil on top with my misto.  I minced two garlic cloves and spread that around with the oil/asparagus.  tossed around to coat.  Topped with some garlic powder, salt/pepper, and some red pepper flakes and rosemary.  Baked at 350 for about 10-15 minutes.  Top the cabbage with the asparagus.  Make sure to get some of the roasted garlic in your bowl.  It will MAKE the dish!  Yummm...

You can't get any better than fresh veggies!  This meal is easily adapated to what you have in the cabinet.  Use your favorite spices.  Maybe even add some fresh squeezed lemon juice to make it a little more "spring".  Or you could cook the asparagus and cabbage in just a little oil until soft and add in the cooked pasta.  Do you remember the garlic lemon pasta I posted about..that I was a little obsessed about for a few days?  Then coat with the lemon dressing from that recipe.  Too bad I didn't think of that until just now!  I will have to pick up some more asparagus and cabbage and try it out.  Let me know if you try it out before me. 

I'm a little sad that there is rain in the forecast this week, along with below 60 degree weather.  =/  Hopefully the sun doesn't stay away for long.  I'm enjoying this weather far too much for it to disappear.  How is it that the sun can uplift someone's mood so much??  The ultimate drug I tell you!  Maybe I will get some soup recipes out of my system before summer comes for good.  We'll see what my kitchen brings me.  =)

Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Gardein Buffalo Wings Review:Pancakes

I meant to write this blog a few days ago but when I sat down to write it, after sentence in a HUGE bug crawled across the keyboard of my laptop which made me accidentally throw the laptop on the floor while I screamed and ran like the little girl that I am.  Luckily the laptop is okay (of course my husband isn't sure if he's going to allow me to use it anymore lol) but I had to get the nerve to sit down and write again.  So with that said, sorry for the delay!  I picked up some new gardein products at the co-op the other day.  I've tried the regular chick'n strips which are pretty good.  Some of the refridgerated ones are just okay for me.  Tal Ronnen is one of the cooks who helped create Gardein and he is fabulous!  I've tried a few recipes from his cookbook.  They are pretty labor intensive with uniquie ingredients so I save it for special occasions.  If you go to their website Gardein.com you can find a TON of recipes using their products that are more simple than Tal's cookbook.  I think if you are a meat eater trying to transition to being a vegetarian or vegan they are great products to use.  I find my husband likes them much more than I do. 

So I picked up the spicy buffalo wings.  I wanted to make a traditional American dish.  So I cooked the buffalo wings according to the package over the stove.  I made the famous ranch dressing for dipping (I added some horseradish to the mix this time to kick it up a notch).  With twice baked potatoes on the side.  It was all super yummy and Rich said it was one of his favorite meals yet.  The buffalo wings were good, but that was partially due to the buffalo sauce and ranch I dipped it in. 

For the potatoes I just threw a bunch of stuff together without following a recipe.  So the following is a general idea of what I did.  It's super easy to adapt to your liking. 

2-3 potatoes
Few tablespoons of prepared ranch dressing (see hyperlink for recipe above)
Few tablespoons of butter
Teaspoon or so of horseradish
Salt/Pepper to taste
(I think that is all I used, but it's been a few days now and my memory is failing me, feel free to add seasoning upon tasting)

1.  Boil the potatoes until fork tender, not too soft or else the skin won't hold up
2.  Cut the cooled potatoes in half, and spoon out the inside with a tablespoon (metal works the best)
3.  Put the spooned out potato in a bowl and mix with the remaining ingredients
4.  Oil your baking dish
5.  Take your potato skins and spread with oil and sprinkle with salt to taste.  I just turned them upside down, took a baster and oiled the skins, sprinkled with salt, and let them sit until I was ready to fill
6.  Turn the skins over and spoon in the potato mixture.  Divide evenly, you should have plenty for a large mound in each skin
7.  Bake at 350 degrees until golden and crispy

You can probably do plenty of other things with the wings, maybe make a buffalo wing sandwich with some good bread.  For my leftovers I cut up the buffalo wings and mixed with a left over potato, topped with some ranch, butter and seasoning.

Since I waited so long to post, I'll just extend this one out.  I watched my nieces and nephew this weekend and made some vegan breakfast with them!  We had fun making pancakes, and even better they loved the pancakes.  Their plates were EMPTY!  Which is always impressive for a 10, 6, and 2 year old!  I found the pancake recipe food.com.  It was super easy, and the ingredient list should be readily available in your pantry.  The only adjustment was the batter was a little runny so I had to add a few more tablespoons of flour to thicken it up. 

My niece Lilah helping in the kitchen!  She's so adorable!

I also attempted to make a breakfast quinoa, but I'm wasn't a fan, and the kids didn't like it either.  I prefer my quinoa savory and for dinner rather than sweet.  There are plenty of recipes online if you would like to try it.  I just made the quinoa with rice milk instead of water, mixed in with some brown sugar and cinnamon, and fresh fruit.  Give it a whirl, you might just like it.  =) 

Till next time, and hopefully no more buggies...

Laissez Les Bon Temp Rouler!