Sneakily delicious dishes that bring all the omnivores to the yard! Look for the cookbook in 2010!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Pumpkin Mole Chili w/ Chipotle Creme and Homemade Cornbread Croutons

I really generally hate chili. There's just something so...yucky about it. I think it's the chalky awful chili powder that most people use, or the overabundance of random veggies that people seem to throw into vegetarian chili {causing the chili to lose all focus}.

However, I can't resist a competition, and when I was invited to participate in a chili cookoff today, I knew I had to change my feelings toward chili, and fast. I looked at dozens of chili recipes, deconstructing them, determining what I disliked about chili, and rethinking the whole concept of this comfort food favorite.

I came up with Pumpkin Mole Chili w/ Chipotle Creme and Homemade Cornbread Croutons. Despite being the only vegan chili in the cookoff {and me being the only vegan in the whole slew of people there}, my chili won! It was amazing, if I do say so myself. Spicy, smoky, rich, deep, and complex -- everything you'd hope for in a man, now in chili form! heh And, because I'm so very nice, I will share my recipes with you here.

Pumpkin Mole Chili
Serves 6 - 8

1 medium sugar pumpkin {sometimes called pie pumpkins}, peeled, seeded, and diced
3 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 large onion, diced
12 oz vegan crumbles {I used Boca Ground Crumbles}
4 1/2 cups red kidney beans {3 15oz cans drained and rinsed}
1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
1 - 2 cups of vegetarian broth, depending on desired consistency {I used Better-Than-Bullion No Beef broth}
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 1/2 tbsp pureed chipotle in adobo {more or less, to taste}
2 tbsp dark cocoa powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Toss the diced pumpkin with one tbsp of olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Spread on a foil-lined baking sheet, and bake for 30 minutes or until tender, stirring every 10 minutes.

2. Heat the remaining 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large soup pot. Add the onion and cook until golden and starting to caramelize. Add ground crumbles and cook until browned.

3. Add beans, tomatoes, broth, pumpkin puree, chipotle in adobo, cocoa powder, cumin, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Bring to a bubbling simmer, and check for seasoning. Lower the heat to medium low, and let simmer for 30 - 45 minutes to blend flavors.

4. Stir in diced roasted pumpkin, and salt and pepper to taste. Let simmer for 10 more minutes, until pumpkin is heated through. Serve immediately.

Tip: When I'm roasting the pumpkin, I like to roast a second whole pumpkin, split down the middle and covered with foil. Then I can use the second pumpkin for the pumpkin puree called for in the recipe. It's much fresher and tastes better than canned pumpkin.

Chipotle Creme

1 1/2 cups vegan sour cream {I used Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream}
1 tbsp pureed chipotle in adobo, or more, to taste

Swirl the chipotle puree through the sour cream so it's streaked but not fully stirred in. You can stir it in all the way, but it turns kind of an unappealing shade of pink.

Cornbread Croutons

1 recipe cornbread {I like this recipe because it doesn't rise much, is quite dense, and holds together well}, baked and cooled
2 - 3 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Cut the cornbread into small cubes, about 1".
2. Toss the cornbread cubes with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Spread evenly in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking pan.
3. Bake for 30 - 45 minutes, until crispy, tossing every 10 - 15 minutes.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Spaghetti Tacos

Okay, so this is really embarrassing, but the one show on TV that me, the Supertoddler, and the Ninjahusband can agree on is iCarly. Don't look at me like that! How often can you find a show that makes you laugh so hard you almost pee, but that is also clean enough for your 2-year-old to watch? Anyway, suffice it to say that we are big iCarly fans in our family.

On iCarly, Carly's older brother Spencer is famous for his "spaghetti tacos". They never explain what they are, and when I went looking for a recipe, all I could find was the following "recipe" from the iCarly site:

Get taco shells.
Get spaghetti (with meat sauce).
Get a BIG spoon.
Use the BIG spoon to put spaghetti into taco shells.

That didn't really sound like the most delicious thing to me. After bouncing some ideas off the Ninjahusband, we decided to make spaghetti tacos of our own, likely a little more elaborate than the above "recipe". We made them today for lunch, and they came out deliciously. Once we got over the slight weirdness of the texture of the spaghetti in the taco shells, we couldn't get enough of them. Supertoddler loved them too!

Spaghetti Tacos are serious business.

Mmm delicious!

We deliberated as to whether to go the Italian spaghetti route, or whether to stick with the Mexican/taco theme. We decided ultimately that Mexican-flavored spaghetti would be more fitting, plus afforded us the opportunity to add yummy tacolicious toppings. Here is our "recipe":

Spaghetti Tacos
{Makes 12 tacos.}

1 12oz package Smart Ground Mexican-Style Crumbles {or equal quantity of your other favorite crumbles}
1 14oz can tomato sauce
1 tbsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp oregano
1/3 lb spaghetti noodles, broken into 2 - 3" pieces
12 taco shells
your favorite taco toppings {we used Tofutti Better-Than-Sour-Cream, guacamole, shredded lettuce, and diced tomatoes}

1. Stir fry the crumbles on medium heat until browned and heated through. Add tomato sauce, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, and oregano. Turn the heat to medium low and let the sauce simmer while you cook the spaghetti.

2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook until tender, about 9 minutes. Drain. Mix noodles with sauce.

3. To construct the tacos, fill about 1/2 way with spaghetti mixture. Top with sour cream, guacamole, or whatever toppings you've chosen. Eat! {Burping optional.}

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Sesame-Stuffed Spaghetti Squash

A delicious new way to serve spaghetti squash, blogged on the 1000 Vegan Recipes blog.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Lasagna Pinwheels

Lasagna Pinwheels were a good concept, but a little disappointing. Read more about it on the 1000 Vegan Recipes blog.

Best Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

I know that's a conceited claim, that these are the best oatmeal raisin cookies...but I wouldn't claim it if it wasn't true. I promise you, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that these will be the best oatmeal raisin cookies you will ever eat in your life. They are chewy and soft and perfectly spiced, with just the perfect amount of both oatmeal and raisins. Everyone who tries these raves about them.

Now you can make them too, and collect all the accolades for yourself. I promise, I won't tell that it's not your original recipe.

Disclaimer: These are not healthy for you. Cookies are not meant to be. They are a sometimes food. Healthy cookies are just...gross. If you're on a diet, don't make these. But if you want a great treat to indulge in once in a while, these are your ticket.

Best Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Makes 3 dozen.

1 cup margarine {2 sticks of Earth Balance}, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup unrefined white sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 banana, mashed well
1 3/4 cups flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups oats
1 1/2 cups raisins

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Cream together margarine and sugars until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and banana and mix well.
2. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, baking soda, and salt. Stir into the sugar mixture until combined.
3. Add oats and raisins and stir until evenly distributed. Drop heaping tablespoonfuls onto a greased {or parchment-lined} cookie sheet and bake for 10 - 12 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool completely on a wire rack and store in an airtight container.

Broccoli and Lemon Orzo Soup

This is one of my all-time favorite soups. It's simple to put together, delicate enough to eat when you're not feeling well, but with a complex enough flavor to enjoy when you feel great and just want some good soup. It's on the brothier side, which lend itself well to being served with a loaf of crusty artisan bread.

The quality of the vegetable stock you use here is important. Use one that is relatively neutral and that you enjoy the flavor of. As with any brothy soup, it's only as good as the quality of your broth. Another note -- orzo is magical. As this soup sits, the orzo will soak up any remaining liquid. If you want to eat leftovers of this soup the next day, either plan on eating it more "casserole" or "stew" style...or add more broth/lemon to return it to its original soup state.

Broccoli & Lemon Orzo Soup
Serves 6.

1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
8 cups good vegetable broth
1 lb of broccoli, cut into bite­size pieces
3⁄4 cup orzo
the zest of one lemon
the juice of half a lemon
2 tbsp dill, chopped

1. In a large pot over medium­high heat, cook onions in olive oil until starting to caramelize, about 7 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.
2. Pour in vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Add orzo and cook for 4 minutes. Add broccoli and cook for an additional 5 minutes, until broccoli is tender and orzo is cooked through. Add zest, juice, and dill. Serve immediately.

Mango-Avocado Spring Rolls

A fun variation on the standard spring roll, Mango-Avocado Spring Rolls were an interactive and delicious dinner on Saturday night.

Portobello Po'Boys

These Portobello Po'Boys are the perfect quick but hearty lunch.

Pumpkin Bread with Cranberries

Perfectly-spiced and delicious, Pumpkin Cranberry Bread was the perfect treat to take into work yesterday.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Homemade White Bread

Pretty much nothing is better than the smell of warm, fresh bread baking in the oven. It makes your house smell the way houses should smell, and invites both daydream and excitement.

Bread is relatively easy. I used to make it often, or rather, the Ninjahusband and I used to take turns making it often, but recently we've been slacking. I think making this loaf this morning has rekindled my desire to bake bread, however.

Here is our recipe for bread, perfected through trial and error and many, many tubs of Earth Balance margarine.

White Bread
Makes 1 loaf.

1 1⁄2 cups hot water
1 tbsp yeast
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp vegetable oil
3 cups flour

1. Mix hot water, yeast, and sugar together. Allow to bloom for a few minutes. It should look kind of bubbly.

2. Sift the flour and salt together. Add oil and yeast mixture. Stir until combined, and turn out onto a floured surface. Knead a couple of minutes, until cohesive. Form into a loose ball, cover, and put in a very warm place to rise for 30 minutes.

3. After 30 minutes, uncover the dough and punch it down. Knead for several more minutes until the dough feels elastic. Form it into a loaf and place in a lightly greased loaf pan. Cover it again and let it rise for 45 minutes.

4. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 425 F. Bake the risen loaf for 20 – 25 minutes, until it is golden and hollow­sounding when tapped.

Batgirl's Tip: You can create an awesome rising environment for the first rise by boiling a pot of water and then placing it in the oven. Place the dough in a greased bowl, loosely covered, in the oven with the pot. The oven will trap the steam and make it nice and warm and risetastic. For the second rise, place the dough on top of the stove while the oven preheats. The residual heat will keep the dough warm enough to rise well.

"Cheeseburger" Macaroni

My friend Ms. Veganorama is an amazing cook. She's not really one of those cooks that follows recipes or pays meticulous attention to how much of what goes where, she just throws stuff together and makes creating amazing concoctions seem effortless. Occasionally she'll write down the ingredients and rough ideas of measurements for a recipe, and every "recipe" of hers I've tried has been positively amazing. This Cheeseburger Macaroni is no exception.

Cheeseburger Macaroni
Serves 6 - 8

1 lb dry macaroni
1 cup nutritional yeast
1 1/2 tsp salt (start with less if you are sensitive to salt)
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp paprika
pinch turmeric
1/2 cup margarine (you can cut down to 1/4 cup if you want)
big spoonful of Veganaise
1/2 cup flour (cut to 1/4 cup if you are cutting the margarine)
3 1/2 cups boiling water
1/4 cup oil (optional)
2 TBSP soy sauce (if needed)
1 pkg prepared crumbles (e.g., Boca, Yves, etc.) OR 2 cups already rehydrated TVP* (see prep area)

If using dried TVP crumbles you can prep it as a basic mix or more advanced mix.

Basic (kinda boring): Rehydrate 1 cup dry crumbles with about 7/8 cups boiling water.

Advanced (tastes better): Saute some garlic in olive oil, put 1 cup dry TVP crumbles with 1 cup water, dash of soy sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, basil, oregano, black pepper, mix it up, cover and put on low for a few mins until it is rehydrated.

1. Cook the macaroni until done, drain and set aside.

2. In a bowl, mix the yeast, salt, garlic powder, basil, paprika and turmeric and set aside. If you have unsalted bouillon powder, throw a dash in there too. If you have salted bouillon powder, you can add that and just cut the salt and season with salt later.

3. In a large pot, melt the margarine with the Vegenaise on medium-low heat. When melted add in the flour, stir well and let cook for a few minutes.

4. Gradually whisk in the boiling water a little at a time until smooth on medium heat.

5. Gradually whisk in the yeast mixture a little at a time until smooth and add in the oil and soy sauce if it is not salty enough for your tastes. Let cook until nice and bubbly. Taste and add more seasonings accordingly.

6. Stir in prepared TVP until well mixed and then mix in the noodles.

7. Now you can eat as it OR you can pour into a "buttered" casserole dish, top with bread crumbs and bake for 15 minutes at 350 F.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Robin Robertson's version of the classic Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Traditional Lasagna

Layers of tofu ricotta, spinach, sausage marinara, and creamy cashew cheese sauce between tender lasagna noodles, baked until bubbling and delicious. Sometimes the only way to scratch a lasagna craving is with -- lasagna!

I'm saving the recipe for the cookbook, as I'm still tweaking the cashew cheese sauce. I promise it will be worth the wait, though.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Moroccan Tofu w/ Cinnamon Toasted Couscous

Quick, simple, inexpensive, flavorful, unique, and tasty -- these are just some of the things being said about Moroccan Tofu w/ Cinnamon Toasted Couscous. least these are things being said by my family and friends, but I'm sure they will extend to include a broader audience once the sample size of those who have tried this recipe has increased.

Tender tofu is stir-fried with zucchini, tomatoes, and Moroccan spices, and served over a bed of cinnamon-toasted couscous.

Moroccan Tofu w/ Cinnamon Toasted Couscous
Serves 4.

1 lb tofu, drained, pressed, and cut into cubes
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 14oz cans diced tomatoes
2 medium zucchini, sliced in half moons
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp cardamom
1 tsp cinnamon, divided
1.5 cups couscous
1.5 cups water
salt & pepper to taste

1. Heat 1 tbsp of oil over medium high heat in a large saute pan. Add tofu and cook until golden brown on all sides, about 10 ­ 12 minutes.

2. Remove tofu from pan with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add onion to the pan and cook for 7 minutes, until starting to caramelize. Add garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes.

3. Return tofu to the pan, and add cumin, cardamom, and 1⁄2 tsp of cinnamon. Dry stir fry for a minute or two until the spices are fragrant.

4. Add the tomatoes and zucchini, cover, and cook on medium until the zucchini is tender, about 7 minutes.

5. In the meantime, bring the water to a boil. While the water is coming a boil, in a medium skillet combine couscous, 1 tbsp of oil, and 1⁄2 tsp cinnamon and roast until couscous is toasty.

6. When water boils, remove pot from heat and stir in couscous. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

7. Salt and pepper Moroccan Tofu mixture to taste, and serve over a bed of cinnamon toasted couscous.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Pierogi with Fried Onions

One of my favorite comfort-food meals, blogged about on the 1000 Vegan Recipes blog.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Pumpkin Peanut Thai Soup

I really love the idea of pumpkin soup. However, the more different pumpkin soup recipes I try, the more disappointed I become. They all feel like they are covering up the fresh delicately sweet pumpkin taste, rather than enhancing it.

I knew I wanted pumpkin soup for Halloween dinner, and I knew that now was the time to branch out and create my own recipe. And boy oh boy, did I. This soup was so delicious and creamy, and the pumpkin flavor really shone through. The hints of peanut and Thai curry played up the sweetness and richness. If you're looking for a complex soup that's at the same time deliciously simple, you've found your match.

Pumpkin Peanut Thai Soup
Serves 4

1 small to medium pie {or sugar} pumpkin
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion
1 cup coconut milk
2 cups vegetable broth
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 tbsp Thai curry paste {I used green}, or to taste
salt & pepper, to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Cut the pumpkin in half, remove seeds, and place cut sides down in a greased baking dish. Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours, until flesh of the pumpkin can be easily pierced. Allow to cool until the pumpkin halves can be comfortably handled.

2. Scoop the flesh of the pumpkin into a food processor and pulse until smooth. Set aside.

3. Heat the olive oil in a medium soup pot. Add the onion and sautee until golden, about 8 minutes.

4. Add the pumpkin puree, coconut milk, vegetable broth, peanut butter, and curry paste. Puree using an immersion blending to your desired consistency. Heat for 10 to 15 minutes to allow flavors to combine and all ingredients to heat uniformly.

5. Taste for seasonings, and add more curry paste, salt, or pepper if desired.

6. Serve with a dollop of vegan sour cream, some roasted salted peanuts, and a dash of paprika.

"Cheesecake For Your Pumpkin Pie Hole" Muffins

When I saw the recipe for these seasonal beauties on Nom Nom Nom Blog, it was love at first site...I mean, sight. I knew I had to make them. And really, what better activity to do with an angsty sick toddler on Halloween afternoon than bake muffins!

Despite having two "steps", they were fairly easy to throw together. I opted out of the pumpkin seed topping, as that seemed off to me. I didn't want chewy/crunchy on my muffins, no thanks!

They smelled divine while baking, and they tasted even better. The only problem was that I used cupcake liners, and they stuck horribly to the paper. Next time I'd spray the liners before filling, or just use a well-greased muffin tin sans liners.

All in all, a fun and delicious Halloween afternoon activity!

Maple-Pecan Waffles

Delicious Sunday-morning breakfast for a houseful of sickies. More details here.