Thursday, July 14, 2011

Rigatoni with Mushroom Cream Sauce

Tonight's menu was Rigatoni with mushroom cream sauce, garlic bread and a green salad.  Good stuff. I used a combination of white button mushrooms and cremini mushrooms (baby portabellas) because that's what our grocery store had on hand.  Feel free to mix and match your 'shrooms to your liking. This pic is a kid's plate.  Adults got big servings and big salads on the side.  But the kids were so impressed with the tomato flower they insisted I take a photo.  You're impressed, aren't you!  ; )

2 T. olive oil
2-3 c. sliced mushrooms,  (white, baby bellas, wild mushrooms, etc.)
3 cloves garlic, minced
Salt, Pepper and Thyme to taste

2 T. vegan butter or olive oil
2 T. flour
¾ c. soymilk
½ c. vegetable broth
¼ c. white wine or cooking wine
1 pinch salt
Pepper to taste

Pasta, cooked to al dente according to directions. Reserve ½ c. of the cooking water.

Saut√© the mushrooms and garlic in a large saut√© pan in olive oil until soft.  Season with salt, pepper and thyme. Remove to a plate. 

In the same pan, heat the butter and/or olive oil on medium heat. Add the flour and whisk to form a roux. Continue whisking for about 2 minutes. Slowly add the liquids while continuing to whisk, making sure there are no lumps. Salt and pepper to taste.

Remove from heat when the sauce is thick – it should coat the back of a spoon. Stir in mushrooms and reserved pasta water.  Serve over pasta.

Garlic Steak Fries, Zucchini and Yellow Squash Bake

I love working fresh garlic.  It's one of my top three most favorite things to do in the kitchen!  I love smashing the head and gathering up the cloves, smashing them again to peel, chopping and then rubbing with the knife and some sea salt to mince.  I love it.  I've worked garlic on a quiet afternoon just for fun before, even when there's no recipe that requires garlic on the menu.  I love it that much.

So when I found a recipe for garlic steak fries, I was all over that.  It was a recipe that I borrowed from Vegetarian Times magazine, but I changed it slightly to fit our tastes. These fries were very good.  Soaking in the hot water to pull out the starches makes them brown up crispier, so don't skip that step in a hurry.  It's worth the time. 

For tonight's dinner, I doubled the amount of oil I used to brown the garlic so I could use the garlic infusion on both dishes. Very tasty.  The menu was Garlic Steak Fries, Zucchini and Yellow Squash Bake, and some fresh Strawberries and Blueberries.  (We did not have a separate protein with supper tonight because we had already taken care of that at lunch. I served it with milk and that was good enough for the day. Feel free to add one if you need.)

3 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into ¼-inch-thick wedges
1 T. canola oil
1 T. olive oil
4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
2 Tbs. chopped fresh parsley or dried parsley 

Preheat oven to 475°F and coat baking sheet with cooking spray.  Soak the potatoes wedges in a large bowl of hot water for about 10 minutes. Drain, pat dry, and return to a dry bowl.
In a small fry pan, heat canola oil, olive oil, and garlic over medium-low heat. Cook the garlic until it begins to brown. Remove the garlic to separate bowl and save for later.
Pour the garlic infused oil over potatoes, toss well to coat evenly, and season with sea salt and fresh cracked pepper. Place the potatoes in a single layer on prepared baking sheet with a cut side down (not the skin). Bake 20-30 minutes, or until potatoes are golden on bottom. Turn, and bake 10 minutes more, or until golden and crisp.  Right before serving, toss parsley into reserved garlic and sprinkle over fries. Season with salt and pepper, and serve immediately.

Very pretty and easy to make.  Bake until browned on top, but don't let them get mushy by over cooking.
(NOTE: As part of our main meal, I used one good sized squash per person and our family had no problem eating it up.  But I would suggest using half a squash per person as a side dish.)
2 green zucchini and 2 yellow summer squash, sliced 1/4" thick
Olive oil
Salt, Pepper, other seasonings to taste (red pepper flakes, Italian herbs, thyme or lemon pepper are nice)

Try to buy zucchini and squash that are about the same size.  Brush bottom of casserole dish with olive oil and stand the squash slices up in the dish, alternating colors.  Brush tops of squashes with olive oil and season.  Bake about 30-40 minutes in a hot oven (425-475 degrees) or until just browned on top. 
(This is one of those dishes you can just throw in as you cook something else, so I don't have an exact temperature and/or time.  But this gives you an idea.  I actually just threw mine in when I put the fries in and both were done about the same time.)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Vegan Salisbury Steak (Cheater Recipe)

I'm embarrassed to admit that my family loves those cheap freezer meal Salisbury Steaks.  I used to buy the cheapest ones they make in bulk and my family would devour them over mashed potatoes or buttered noodles.  I wouldn't even bake them, I would just throw them in the microwave. (Yes, I do that sometimes.)

Anyway, I set out to create my own version of vegan Salisbury Steak.  The boys loved it, and I admit it wasn't too bad.  They even said it tastes just like the ones they love, but I'm not sure that's a compliment! : )

I have used this sauce in the past for beef steaks or deer steaks--even served it up for guests--and always got a great response.  It is easy to make a large batch for a big dinner, so adjust the numbers accordingly.  My family devoured it faster than I could get the camera out, so no picture today.  We ate ours tonight with wild rice cooked with broccoli and carrots. I would have done noodles if I had any in the house, but I bought the rice because it sounded healthier.

One note: I had a few Boca burgers and a few of another brand in my freezer.  This was definitely better with the Boca.  I wouldn't use the other brands for this recipe because of the texture.

This makes enough sauce for 4 Boca Burgers.

1 package vegan Boca Burgers
1 cup veggie broth
3 T. bottled Teriyaki sauce
1/2 t. fresh cracked black pepper
1/2 red onion, sliced into thin rings
1/2 c. sliced mushrooms (optional)
(possibly some cornstarch and cold water if you want to thicken your sauce)

Place the broth, teriyaki sauce, pepper, onions and mushrooms (if you're using them) in a large fry pan.  Bring to a boil and let reduce for about 10 minutes uncovered.  Place the frozen Boca burgers on top of the onions and spoon a little sauce over the top.  Cover and cook on medium about 6 minutes or until the burgers are hot.  Remove the burgers from the pan to serving tray or plates. If you wish to thicken the sauce, bring to a boil and stir in about 1 t. cornstarch dissolved in 1/4 c. cold water.  Bring back to a boil and stir for about 1 minutes or until thick and bubbly. Serve burgers covered in the onions and sauce.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Fried Tofu, Louisiana Boil, Sesame Noodles, Zu-ghetti, Chickpea Salad (vegan and GF)

I have five NOT recipes to share with you today.  These are ones that are just kind of thrown together for quick meals.  I'll list some simple ingredients and a few techniques, but not entire recipes.  If you really want one of the recipes or more information, just let me know and I'll send it off to you. Enjoy!

fried tofu

Simple enough to just cut up a cube of tofu into squares or triangles, dredge in cornstarch and/or cornmeal and then fry until crisp.  I added a little salt, garlic and wasabi powder to the cornmeal mix to spice it up.  Dips are honey mustard and sweet chili sauce.  We had this as one of our "munchie lunchie" meals with honeydew melon and watermelon.  I also served up some fresh veggie dippers with it.

Louisiana Boil


Not your traditional shrimp or crayfish boil, but great flavor.  I use Zatarain's shrimp boil (a liquid seasoning you add to the water).  Keep in mind that that longer you leave something in the boil, the spicier it will get.  In a big ol' pot, I added a can of beer, a little olive oil, salt and squeezed in a whole lemon.  Then I added red potatoes, red peppers, yellow peppers, green peppers, red onion, zucchini, corn on the cob and some vegan sausages. Really any veggies would work in this.  The best way to cook this is in a huge pot over an open fire, then dump it out on a picnic table covered in newspaper.  Then everyone just digs in.  Serve it up with melted butter on the side.  All good. (This Zatarain's is a favorite way for making corn on the cob around here.  A little of that seasoning in your water adds a great kick.)

sesame noodles
 SESAME NOODLES (GF if made with rice noodles)

For those days when you see Rachael and her 30 minute meals and think to yourself, "who the hell has 30 minutes?!?" here's a total cheater meal.  I used angelhair pasta that cooks in 4 minutes (I've also used rice noodles or ramens without the sauce packet in a pinch, or even turned it into fake "fried rice" made with Minute Rice).  I used a bag of stir-fry veggies that you steam in the microwave.  I sauteed up some cubes of tofu in a little oil.  Tossed it all together with the a simple stir-fry sauce, and sprinkled on some toasted sesame seeds.

3 T. Soy Sauce
3 T. Rice Vinegar
2 t. Sesame Oil
1-2 T. honey (or sugar or agave nectar)
I served it up with some spring rolls I had ready to cook and fresh cherries and peaches.


zu-ghetti and chickpea salad

That's zucchini spaghetti for those of you who are wondering.  Use a spiral slicer or just a veggie peeler to slice your raw zucchini into long, thin strips. You can use it cold/raw, or you can blanch it for a quick minute to heat it.  Toss zucchini with a little red onion, salt, pepper and olive oil and then serve like spaghetti.  We topped our with a fire-roasted tomato and mushroom sauce.  Then we served it with garlic bread and Chickpea Salad. 


1 can chickpeas (garbanzos), drained
1 small cucumber, seeded and diced small
1 tomato, seeded and diced small
1-2 T. diced red onion (or whatever onion you have)
2 T. olive oil
2 T. red wine vinegar (or white balsamic vinegar)
1 T. honey or sugar
dill weed, salt and pepper

Toss it all together and chill before serving.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Gazpacho -- Cold Veggie Soup (vegan, GF, raw)

This is a wonderful, crisp, refreshing veggie soup.  Different than the norm, and perfect to use up fresh produce in the summer.  Served chilled, it is great for hot nights or a nice brunch on the patio.

This recipe is an original of mine.  I've tried a number of other recipes for Gazpacho and ended up doing some mixing 'n' matching to get what I like. So feel free to mix 'n' match to get what you like.  These amounts are a bit of an estimate.  I usually use up what I have, so my "true" recipe would be more like 4 tomatoes, 1 cucumber, 1 red pepper, etc.  Use what you have, and if there's something you add in that makes it amazing let me know. I have added different olives and different peppers when I have them, just depends on who I'm feeding!

I serve it with pita chips or big, homemade croutons and a salad on the side.  If I'm cooking for a crowd, I make it with the more mild V-8and then serve it with Tabasco sauce to spice it up a bit more for those that want.

I'm making this one later in the week to take to a family get together this weekend.  I'll add a pic when I get it made. 

(when prepping, chop veggies nice and small so you can get a variety in a spoonful)
This makes about 6 main dish servings, or 8 side dish size servings

1 1/2 c. tomato, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
1/2 c. celery, finely chopped
1/2 c. cucumber, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 c. green pepper, finely chopped
1/2 c. red pepper, finely chopped
1/2 c. green onions, finely chopped (include green parts)
1 bunch fresh parsley
2 cloves garlic
3 T. red wine vinegar
2 T. good olive oil
1/2 t. Worcestershire sauce
Sea Salt and Freshly cracked Black Pepper
~2 1/2 c. Spicy V-8 (or blend of regular and spicy, or your favorite Bloody Mary mix), enough to cover the veggies and to make it "soupy"

Mix all and let chill 4 hours before serving.  Garnish with green onions and/or parsley.
NOTE:  If you don't care for the texture/flavor of raw garlic, then saute just until softened in the olive oil first.