Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Working on a meal plan

I'm working on a meal plan and thought I'd do a quick post with some ideas.  I'm not posting recipes today, just a list of ideas.  These are things my family will be eating in the next week or two (fall season in Iowa).  Some are recipes previously posted, some are just standards we like here.  I usually add fresh fruit and fresh veggies or salads to each meal to round it out.  If you see something that strikes you and you want the recipe, just send me a note and I'll get it posted for you.  Happy Cooking!

Mushroom Barley (posted March 8, 2011)

Mexican Casserole (layered black beans, refried beans, salsa, soy chorizo, vegan cheese, topped with green onions and olives)

Vegan Lasagna (using tofu ricotta--posted May 31, 2011, marinara sauce and lasagna noodles)

Chili (posted February 16, 2011) with Beer Bread

Potato Leek Soup (posted February 12, 2011) with Garlic Bread

Spinach Artichoke Pita Pizzas (May 16, 2011) with Salad

Tomato Basil Tart (puff pastry spread on a cookie sheet topped with tofu ricotta, fresh tomato slices, fresh basil and baked 20-25 minutes at 425 degrees) with Garbanzo Bean Salad

Tofu Foo Young with Rice, Edamame

Potato Veggie Soup (posted August 14, 2011) with Homemade Bread

Gnocchi with Marinara Sauce, Garlic Bread and Salad

"B"LT with Avocado Sandwiches

Mushroom Stroganoff over Noodles

Zucchini Bake (posted July 14, 2011) and Bean Salad

Pasta Pomodoro (posted June 23, 2011, I will add chickpeas to the recipe this time), Wilted Spinach Salad

Breakfast options for the meal plan include tofu scramble, waffles, baked oatmeal and pumpkin spice muffins as well as the ol' standards cereal and toast.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Sauce (Vegan and GF)

I kind of had an itch to fool around in the kitchen tonight. (Best sarcastic/inappropriate comment wins free vegan muffins.)  And fooling around in the kitchen always makes me hungry!

My son has been bugging me for mac and cheese lately, so I thought I would give in and make him a batch.  But my hubby and I didn't want the dairy.  I started digging around in the pantry and frig to see what I had and what could I do with it.  I found a jar of roasted red peppers and thought that would make a good cream sauce.  But I was out of plain vegan milk and didn't think very vanilla would do the trick. So what could I do to make it creamy? 


I grabbed a brick of tofu and the blender and threw it all in.  I kept it fairly simple and it actually turned out pretty darn good.  Eli even grabbed a serving of it after he finished his "normal" mac and cheese.

Let me be clear about this.  I was NOT attempting to make some sort of mac and cheese substitute. This is mac, but with a pepper sauce instead of cheese.  Don't make it thinking you can pass it off for a box of the blue stuff (although the color is pretty close).

This is a completely made up recipe.  So if you think you can make it better, start messing around in the kitchen.  Just be sure to post pictures! ; )

(serves 4, GF if made with rice/corn pasta)

4 servings whole wheat or multi-grain macaroni, cooked according to package directions
(reserve 1/2 cup pasta water)

1/2 brick firm tofu
1 jar roasted red peppers (do not drain)
2 T. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion, diced
1 T. fresh basil
salt and pepper
crushed red pepper to taste

Place tofu and peppers in blender and blend until smooth.  Heat olive oil in pan and cook garlic and onion until soft but not brown. Add to onion, garlic, basil and seasonings to the pepper mix in blender.  Process for 1-2 minutes until completely smooth and creamy.  Pour back into fry pan and warm (do not boil).  Add cooked pasta and reserved pasta water to pan and toss to coat pasta.  Serve with fresh parsley and more crushed red pepper.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Whole Wheat Bread (or Buns or Rolls)

It's that time of year when I get the itch to bake and bake and bake.  Then this weekend I was asked to substitute teach Sunday School and the lesson was on the parable of the yeast (Matthew 13:33).  I had the Sunday School kids make Bread-in-a-Bag. That yummy yeast smell had me craving for some good buns. 

So I took my "regular" recipe for whole-wheat bread that I've used for years and then I veganed it up.  (Yes, "to vegan" is a verb.  At least it is now.)  It turned out pretty well, but I wish I would have let it rise a bit longer on the last step.  Don't rush your dough.  It is sometimes an all day process (depending on temperature and humidity in your home), but it is worth it to smell that fresh bread baking.

The best part was my boys (the little ones and the big one) came home and went nuts over all that fresh baked, homemade goodness.  And I really enjoy me some boy lovin'!

I'll include both the Bread-in-a-Bag recipe that's fun for kids as well as my real recipe.  The real one makes 3 loaves of bread, so share one with a friend and throw one in the freezer for another day.  If you aren't a bread maker or haven't seen it done, let me know and I can talk you through it a little more.  Don't be intimidated, it's really not that difficult. 

BREAD IN A BAG (each bag makes 2 rolls)

1 qt size ziplock bag
1/2 cup white flour
1/3 cup whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon rapid rising yeast
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

Put all ingredients together in bag.

Add: 1 tablespoon oil
1/3 cup hot tap water

IN CLASS: Mix and knead until dough forms a ball in bag. Let rest for 30 minutes.
AT HOME WITH AN ADULT HELPING: Turn dough out of bag and knead again.  Divide in half and form 2 rolls. Let rise until doubled in size.  Place on a greased cookie sheet and b
ake at 375 for 10-15 minutes.


3 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast OR 4 1/2 t. rapid rise yeast
3 T. cup honey or agave nectar
3 c. all-purpose or bread flour
2 c. whole wheat flour

3 T. oil
3 T. brown or white sugar
1 T. salt
3 ½ (or more) cups whole wheat flour

2 T. butter (vegan), melted

In a large bowl, mix warm water, yeast, and honey. Add 3 cups white bread flour and 2 c. whole wheat flour, and stir to combine. Let set for 30 minutes, or until big and bubbly.

Mix in 3 tablespoons oil, sugar, and salt. Stir in 2 cups whole wheat flour.

Flour a flat surface and knead with whole wheat flour until not real sticky - just pulling away from the counter, but still sticky to touch. This may take an additional 2 to 4 cups of whole wheat flour. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to coat the surface of the dough. Cover with a dishtowel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled.

Punch down, and divide into 3 loaves (or 24 balls for buns, or 36 small balls for rolls). Place in greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pans (or on greased cookie sheet) and allow to rise until dough has topped the pans by one inch (or doubled in size).

Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 25 to 30 minutes for loaf bread (10-15 minutes for buns); do not over bake. Lightly brush the tops of loaves with 2 tablespoons melted butter or margarine when done to prevent crust from getting hard. Cool completely.

(Note: Sometimes I brush with butter before baking. This helps it to brown a bit more.  Be careful not to puncture the dough when brushing with butter since that will cause the dough to fall.)

Saturday, October 8, 2011

NOT Sesame Chicken -- Crispy TOFU with Broccoli and Sesame Sauce

Every time I see sesame chicken, I think of my sweet nephews.  They love it, and so does my family.  They love the crunch and the sweet sauce.  It's really a great dish and something I've tried and tried to "vegan up" for a long time.  I've messed with this sauce recipe for months trying to duplicate what we have at restaurants, and I think I've finally come pretty close.

This last week, my family went to our favorite local restaurant, The Mandarin.  On a whim I asked our waitress if the cook might consider making sesame chicken with tofu instead of meat.  She thought about it a while and then scratched some notes on her little order pad.  And what showed up at our table was SUPER YUMMY!  We loved it and it inspired me to try it again here at home.  Made it last night and not one drop was left.  As a matter of fact, they dug in so quickly I didn't even get a picture.  I will try it again and post a pic when I can.  Give it a try!

Clean and cut one head broccoli into large florets. Steam broccoli for 4-5 minutes or until crisp-tender.

Crispy tofu:
Oil for frying
One block firm or extra-firm tofu cut into bite size squares or triangles, drained on a paper towel
1/2 c. corn starch
1 t. ginger
1/2 t. white pepper
Mix the ginger and pepper in the cornstarch and coat tofu pieces well with mixture. Heat enough oil in a fry pan or wok to come halfway up the chunks of tofu.  Fry tofu in hot oil for 2-3 minutes per side until golden brown and crispy.  Drain on paper towels.

3 T. Honey or Agave Nectar
2 T. Sugar (white or brown)
2 T. Ketchup
1 T. Vinegar (white, apple or rice)
1 T. Soy Sauce
1/2 t. Sesame Oil
1/4-1/2 t. chili sauce (optional, to taste)
Mix everything together in small sauce pan and bring to a boil.  Let boil 2 minutes, then remove from heat.

Toasted sesame seeds for sprinkling on top.
1-2 green onions (optional, sliced at an angle for garnish)

Plate tofu and broccoli and drizzle with sauce.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds and cut green onions.