Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Pasta Fagioli - No Chopping Required

This was a tasty, fast meal for a busy night that required almost zero effort (unless you consider opening cans effort).

1 can tomatoes with celery, onion, and garlic (not Italian style)
1 can cannelini (white kidney beans)
4 cloves garlic, pressed
1 t Italian seasoning
2 t vegetable broth powder
1 bay leaf
3/4 c small pasta shells
water to cover by about 2 inches
1 t nooch
4 c baby spinach

Dump tomatoes through water into the pot and bring to a boil - reduec heat and cook until pasta is cooked (the water amount is an estimate - you need enough to cook the pasta). Stir in nooch and spinach and cook a few minutes more, until spinach is wilted.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Tofu Failure and Kitchen Gadget

Isn't this fresh tofu from my local Asian store gorgeous?

I liked the idea of braising the tofu in a Thai-style coconut sauce, with basil, tomatoes, and scallions. I started out by sauteeing red onions, garlic and ginger in coconut oil. Good start, but then unfortunately I ruined it by adding too much stuff. First mistake was adding soy sauce. That is just wrong - much too strong. Should have just added salt. Then I put the tomatoes in too soon and overcooked them to mush. The kicker was when I added Thai Kitchen's Tom Yum soup seasoning. This was lurking in my fridge for who knows how long. I took a big sip of the sauce - blech, fish. I read the label after the fact and saw the shrimp on the list. What a waste of some beautiful tofu.

Favorite kitchen gadget - my immersion blender. I have long used this to puree soups without the mess of going back and forth between blender and pot. Then Vegetarian Times ran an article about gadgets that talked about using the attachments to make a mini-blender. It is perfect for when the regular blender is too big - chopping small amounts of garlic and onion, and making small amounts of sauces. I love sauces of all kinds, but to make them just for myself seems such a bother. But not with the mini blender! I used it to make this extremely simple sauce of roasted red pepper (one large piece from the jar), 1 T olive oil, 1 T mayo, salt & pepper.

The sauce was used for this Spicy Grilled Tempeh and Zucchini from Kathy Freston's 21 day cleanse. Waaaaaaaay too salty - I think the recipe called for 1 T in addition to the 1/4 of tamari. I even cut it back to 1 t, but it was still too salty. However, it was strongly flavored with chipotle, which is a good way to tame the tempeh. They also suggested an interesting slicing technique - slice on the diagonal, so the slices are wider. This worked a lot better than trying to slice the tempeh into thin pieces through the middle.

I love the soups from Dr. McDougall, and the hot and sour is my favorite. It is sort of smoky, I guess from the shiitakes. All the soups are relatively low in sodium (compared to mainstream prepared soups), and yet they taste really good. And of course, they are all vegan, and some are gluten free. Just add boiling water!

Happy Father's day to all the dads!

Sunday, June 7, 2009


When I was growing up, it was very unusual to have food originating in countries outside the US. Probably the most exotic thing we ate was spaghetti and meatballs! And that was a rare treat - pasta (or macaroni, as it was called) was certainly not a several night a week event.

We would occasionally have Hungarian goulash, and I always loved it. As I recall, it was made with ground beef, although I the recipes I checked for veganizing used cubed meat. I have never used vegetarian "crumbles" - it's one of those things I will buy occasionally and then throw out without using because I really hate meat substitutes. I saw a package on sale and decided to give it one more try. I am really glad I did! I don't know if it was the seasoning I used, but it had none of that yucky soy aftertaste that many imitation products have. And the recipe couldn't be easier for a busy day! It was quite delicious.

Hungarian Goulash

1 large red onion, cut in wedges
1/2 package crumbles
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 T mild paprika
1 T soy sauce
1/2 T worcestershire sauce
water to stew consistancy

Saute onion wedges until wilting and starting to brown. Add everything else and simmer for a while to blend flavors.

The salad in the background has Annie's Roasted Red Pepper Vinagrette, which is a dead ringer for the delicious dressing at my local pizza place.

The salad on the left has "real" ranch dressing, while the salad on the right has the vegan ranch from "The Grit Cookbook." I didn't love it, but maybe because I used lowfat mayo for the base instead of full fat Veganaise.

A big ole platter of "chiken fried" tofu. How I love this stuff, especially with gravy!

These are coffee chocolate chip muffins from Isa's new brunch book. I made these for my daughter's class (she was student of the week), so I left out the coffee. I should have added something to compensate, for they were a little flat. Maybe cinnamon? I love the chocolate-cinnamon combo.

Ummm, roasted beets! They were dressed with Citrus Mint Vinaigrette from Dreena's Vive le Vegan. Mint is a lovely complement for beets.

I am trying to use what's in my pantry and freezer in preparation of moving. So not much exciting cooking going on here. I promise not to post pictures of canned lentil soup!