Friday, January 30, 2009

Easiest Chili

I know, I know, everyone knows how to make chili. This is what I did tonight, and it was so tasty and easy that I thought I'd share.

1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 can diced tomatoes with jalapenos
1 can pinto beans
4 T chili powder (I used 2 T regular chili powder and 2 T pure ground mild chilis)
2 T soy sauce (add only 1 if you want less salt)
3 whole cloves (I know, here I go again with the cloves, but this is how we ate chili growing up, courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens old red and white cookbook (only their recipe had you know what))

Saute onion until soft (sprinkle with salt). Add green pepper and saute until soft (sprinkle with salt). You know Lydia Bastianich says to sprinkle each layer with salt as you add it, don't you? Add everything else and simmer a while until it tastes good! Top with chopped raw onion and that yummy Tofutti sour cream.

We ate it up before I thought to take a picture (even the Carnivore ate it, so you know it had to be good).

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Breakfast and Beets

I guess it is pretty boring to blog about cereal. But I have to tell you about one I just tried. It is Bob's Red Mill Scottish Oats. I have always loved oatmeal (old fashioned, never instant!) But lately the texture is not appealing, for some reason. Too chewy (and eating steel cut oats or whole groats is really too chewy). Now you would think I would like this, since I hate instant oats. But I think that is more because of the cardboard taste than the creamy texture. So, on Bob's package, he explains that he went to Scotland and learned how they grind oats. The raw cereal is almost a powder, but it still has a few chunks. When cooked up (5 minutes in the micro), it is like the Cream of Wheat of my childhood, except that it has fiber and protein! With some orange dried cranberries, a few walnuts, and vanilla Silk, it is heaven on earth!
And then there are the beets. Who hated beets as a child? Well, I never tasted them till I was an adult, and then it was pickled from a jar (which I also love). But fresh beets - yum! They are so easy to cook - roast for about an hour wrapped in foil. Then the skins slip right off. I have always made a kickin' horseradish vinaigrette for them, but recently I came across this recipe for a salad with a Moroccan dressing in Stop the Clock Cooking by Cheryl Forberg. It also has tomatoes in it, which never occured to me, but is delicious!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Halleujah! Sour Cream

Sometimes when I buy things I haven't tried before (i.e. meat and dairy subs), they sit and sit and sit in the fridge until almost expiration date. I don't know why - maybe because I am so often disappointed when I try some expensive processed product, or because the stuff is so expensive that I want to make sure I find a good recipe for it. Such was the case with the Tofutti sour cream. It sat in my fridge for 2 months before I tried it. Wow! It's delicious. What a great surprise. I used it in some delicious chick pea tacos. I sauteed some chickpeas in olive oil, tamari, and taco seasoning (I meant to put lime juice in but got distracted with joy after tasting the sour cream), and mashed them up a bit. I softened corn tortillas in a nonstick pan sprayed with olive oil (I have not mastered frying the already filled tacos yet). Piled on the chickpeas, lettuce, the wonderful sour cream, and my favorite hot hot hot fresh salsa from Trader Joe's. What a fabulous meal, ready in 10 minutes.

This is my 4 year old's favorite soup. It is Coco Pazzo's White Bean and Escarole soup. It's over $3 a can, but I consider it a bargain because it is 2 meals for her and she is eating BEANS! Of course, she will not eat the same thing if homemade, where that $3 would serve all 5 of us (not that anyone but me would eat it). Bonus that it is much lower in sodium than most canned foods.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tofu and Artichokes

I had not yet tried the Italian Marinated Tofu from VWAV. I added fennel seed to my marinade as I do with all things Italian. Simple and delicious. The steamed artichoke has a sauce called Faux Choron from Vegan Planet. It is basically a Hollandaise with white wine reduction, shallots, tarragon, and tomato. It was really delicious.
I know many vegans do not like to replicate the flavors of animal products. But if you are someone who misses eggs, may I suggest Indian black salt (which is actually pink). I first saw this suggested for tofu egg salad over at PPK. I finally got some and it is remarkable how egg-like the flavor is. I don't miss eggs in general, but I did love egg salad and hard-boiled eggs. I used the black salt in my Choron and it really added a nice flavor.

Another recipe from VWAV - chocolate chip raspberry blondies. It was okay. More like cake. I think of blondies as chocolate chip cookies in bar form, so the cake-like texture was wrong to me. But the flavor was good. I think I will have to go make a chocolate raspberry smoothie now to go get that awesome flavor combo in a healthy form.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

A Recipe, a Recipe Review, and a Product Review

So, this started out as an eggplant curry. But when I cut into the eggplant and found it spoiled (yikes, more spoiled produce!), I started searching for some other veggies to use. I came up with potatoes and squash. I thought it was pretty good!

Have you used coconut oil in your cooking yet? I have read mixed opinions about it. Some swear it will kill you, and others say it is a healthy fat because it's composed of medium chain fatty acids, which are apparently difficult to get anywhere else. Whatever, it sure tastes good! It seems pricey at about 8 bucks for a small jar, but it lasts for a really long time. So probably not more expensive than a decent olive oil.

Squash and Potato Curry

1 T coconut oil

1 small onion, chopped

2 minced garlic cloves

1 t black mustard seeds

1/2 t cumin seeds

2 small Yukon golds, in small dice

1 delicata squash, in somewhat larger cubes

1 T tomato paste

3/4 c water

1 t curry paste (I like Patak's)

salt (a fair amount)

Saute onion in oil until starting to brown (sprinkle with salt). Add garlic, mustard and cumin seeds and cook a few minutes until fragrant. Add all else, bring to a boil, and simmer about a half hour, until veggies are cooked and sauce has thickened.

Here is a tomato paste tip - freeze what is leftover, and slice off chunks as you need it. Much cheaper than that stuff in the tube!

Product Review - Trader Joe's Bengal Lentils, bottom right of pic. Pretty good stuff. A bit spicy for the kids - the 4 year old acted like I was trying to poison her. (So then I said we would try plain beans with salt next time, and she happily agreed, heh, heh, sneaky mom.) It comes in a pouch and has 2 good sized servings. Can't beat it for easy protein. Most of TJ's Indian food has dairy, so I was excited to try this one.

Recipe Review - Lettuce with Peaches, Pumpkin Seeds, and Sour Orange Vinaigrette from Jack Bishop's "A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen." Super delicious - I have made it several times. As you probably know, pumpkin seeds have lots of zinc, which is a tough one for us. I just love the smoky flavor.

What do you think of produce from Chile in winter? I have heard it slammed for high pesticide use. I don't know if it's higher than the U.S. I find the peaches and nectarines to be quite flavorful with nice texture, considering the distance they travel. They are often better than what comes up from the South in the spring. So perhaps their food production standards are not worse than ours? One interesting argument I have heard is that it is beneficial to get nutrients from different parts of the world. And last week we had cherries from Chile that were excellent, and at $2.44/lb. way cheaper than any from the U.S. in season. Now are we helping the world economy with our consumption or exploiting people? Are the environmental costs of food that travels so far too great? Is it worse than trucking in strawberries from California? I remember once going to a strawberry festival out east on the farms in June (strawberry season on LI). I was disappointed that they used California strawberries instead of local in season ones! So much to consider.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Happy New Year and a Product Review

Happy New Year! It has been two weeks of partying and having fun with my kids and hubby (he always takes off between Christmas and New Year, and the kids had two weeks off from school). Now we are back to the routine. It was nice to be off the schedule, and it's also nice to get back to reality.

I hope you don't mind a product review, since I have no good recipes to share today. I actually like to read other people's product reviews, because I have spent so much money on things that were terrible. So, it has to be really good for me to mention it here.

The product in question is Trader Joe's Mediterranean Hummus. I am not a fan of commerically prepared hummus. It always tastes off to me - too tangy, or just not fresh. Kind of like that lemon juice in the little plastic lemons. But this stuff is just about as good as homemade. It has the proper creaminess and great flavor. The other versions from Trader Joe's are not as good, although they're still better than other brands I've tried. I guess to me, hummus should not have basil or sun-dried tomatoes or horseradish or olives or any other stuff. Just straight up old fashioned chickpeas and tahini, lemon and garlic. Yum!