Baked Quinoa

While Jenni has an obsession with finding recipes on Pinterest, I flock to tumblr with similar purpose. Today while browsing the land of tumblr searching for Doctor Who gifs, I found myself with the insatiable need for more vegan recipes, and quickly went to the handy search feature and typed in vegan and it procured a whole plethora of delectable looking delicacies. At the end of the post is a link to the blog that I found the recipe on, I hope you enjoy and check out more of her recipes because they all looked amazing.

For this recipe you will need:

1 zucchini
5-6 Campari tomatoes
1 cup chickpeas
1 cup quinoa
2 cups veggie broth
3 cloves garlic
Little bit olive oil
Red pepper flakes

I also put in cayenne pepper, rosemary, oregano and parsley.

Start by heating oil in a pan and add the garlic, at the same time putting the veggie broth and quinoa in another pit and letting it come to a boil. When the oil is warm put in the zucchini, tomatoes and chickpeas.

About 15 minutes later the quinoa should have absorbed most of the veggie broth, with a little left in it take it off the heat and put it aside for 5 minutes covered. When the 5 minutes have past put the quinoa in with the veggie mixture and let it sit for another 5 minutes and soak up the liquid from the tomatoes and veggies.

After that put the entire mixture in a oven safe vessel and cover with cheese of your choice, we used daiya which is vegan cheddar “cheese” bake in the oven at 350 for 20 minutes.

Over all this dish was really good and I enjoyed it a lot. I would totally make I again, it was healthy, filling and totally satisfying.

http://www.mitchinthekitchen.com/post/32075925091/baked-quinoa-with-tomatoes-and-cheddar

Baked Mac and Cheese with Spinach

Macaroni and Cheese is a traditional staple of childhood. Growing up, my mom would make her version of “grown up” mac and cheese with breadcrumbs, various cheeses, and herbs to take a simple dish and transform it into a comfort food delicacy. As children though, Nikki and I only had eyes for the mac and cheese in the blue box. Despite the warnings that the orange dust may cause us to glow in the dark, it was not until I grew older that I truly appreciated my mom’s variation on the dish.

Now it is my turn to take a simple food and completely change it…I present you with Vegan Mac ‘N Cheese Spinach Muffins! At first glance (ok, after a lot of glances), it may seem that those words not only have no business being next to each other, but make for a culinary disaster. Somehow, this dish came together really nicely!

The recipe was another pinterest find at and looked really intriguing. I had recently stumbled upon Daiya cheddar cheese in publix (veggie, non-soy, non-dairy cheese which used to only be found in specialty stores like Whole Foods). I already had non-dairy butter, and possessed a quart of non-sweetened almond milk. Foraging for the few extra ingredients and I was set to go! I modified the recipe, and have my version below with the vegan substitutes in parentheses. Variations from the original include dijon mustard instead of a secondary cheese, and oregano as a throwback to my mom’s recipe.

Ingredients

4 cups macaroni
1 tbs flour
1 tbs butter (earth balance non-dairy)
1 cup skim milk (non-sweetened almond milk)
1/3 cup cheddar cheese (daiya cheddar)
1 tbs dijon mustard
1 garlic clove
1 egg (used a large tbs of milled flaxseed for both egg products)
1 egg white (see above)
1 10 oz pkg of frozen spinach
a few shakes of oregano
a few shakes of black pepper

Cook the macaroni until tender and set aside. Defrost the spinach in your favorite manor. I used a sauce pan and water…some people prefer to defrost via the microwave. The original recipe also states that you can substitute one cup of fresh spinach (then cooked) in this recipe.

In a small sauce pan, melt the butter. Add the flour and allow for the mixture to thicken. Add the chopped clove of garlic and milk and mix until thoroughly warmed. Once the concoction is close to boil, add the cheese and whisk until all melted. (the daiya melted really really well!). Add the mustard, oregano, and pepper. Stir really well and remove from heat. Add the eggs or egg substitute and stir until completely mixed. (if using flax seeds, do not add extra water!).

Hopefully by now, the spinach is defrosted (mine took ages!). Rinse the spinach and pat dry. Caution, it will still be really hot. Stir all the ingredients together until the macaroni is completely covered, and the spinach is spread throughout the mixture.

Spoon the macaroni into a greased (or otherwise prepared) muffin tray. Cook at 400 degrees for 10-15 min, wait until the tops are slightly browned. Leave in the tray for five minutes after taking out of the fridge. Serve and enjoy!

I felt that I could have used more pepper…fortunately, it can be added later!

Let me know if you tried this, or the non vegan version. I would love to hear other everyone else’s turned out!

I paired this dish with a cup of tomato soup and a piece of “Italian Five Grain Baguette” from Publix…both also vegan!

Simple Sauces

I am a big fan of a really good sauce, red sauce for pasta, gravy for potatoes, buerre blanc and many others. They are a simple addition to a meal that can make it all the better, but not everyone knows how to make or master these simple little devils. To me there is nothing worse than a bad red sauce or any sauce for that matter. So hopefully with this post and my advice you to can be on your way to sauce mastery. 

Now, for the all important question at least for people like my lovely co-blogger, can you make it vegan? Well yes you can and I will explain as we go along the substitutions you can make to do so. 

Let’s start with the red sauce: 

a red sauce is one of the most simple and most versatile sauces.  To me the best part of a red sauce is how quickly you can make one and have it taste so amazing.  Since I usually just make it for one night, even though red sauce freezes quite well, you don’t need a lot of ingredients. 

3-4 big leaves of Basil, cut up

3 garlic gloves, chopped

1 smallish onion, I keep them in rings so that people like Jenni who don’t like onions can easily remove them and give them to me the onion lover. 

1 16 oz can of Tomato Sauce

1 small can of tomato paste

1 8oz can of diced tomatoes 

red pepper flakes.

combine all the ingredients into a pot and let it simmer.  The longer you let the sauce simmer the more it will absorb the flavors. 

 

On to the gravy:

I like to think that one of my specialities is gravy, and I get deeply agitated and angry by really shitty jarred gravy. Now with Thanksgiving quickly approaching I’ll tell you guys about the gravy I made last year.  The way that I am going to explain this isn’t going to be vegan at all but I’ll explain at the end a vegan version. 

When you get a turkey it usually has the gizzard and stuff in a bag inside that you can use for cooking with so my mother and I took those and kept them bundled together and placed them in a pot of chicken broth along with rosemary, thyme, onions, salt and pepper.  It stayed simmering on the stove for the 8ish hours we cooked the turkey so that it fully absorbed the flavors. 

To make a gravy you first need to make a rue, which is essentially flour and a type of fat (usually butter, and for you vegans out there vegan butter will do.) So, first melt the butter and add a little bit of flour at a time, so that it thickens but not so much that it is nasty and floury.  Slowly add the broth that has been simmering to this mixture little by little so that it thickens if it isn’t thickening add a little bit more flour be careful not to add too much or it will taste absolutely horrible.  A whisk really helps with breaking up the flour and thickening the sauce.  You’ll be able to tell when it is nice and thick, and feel free to taste it during the cooking process.  It was amazing last year.  

For the Vegans out there you can make a gravy that is just as good with vegetable stock, a rue and some adobo seasoning. 

 

I’ll have to explain the buerre blanc another day through an actual recipe because I fear this post of far too long and no one will read it if I keep going.  

 

Happy saucing 😀

Guest Blog: Nikki’s Pumpkin Spice Cookies


She is so going to have to teach me how to make awesome photos like that!

Today’s contribution comes from my sister Nikki. Nikki is a first year higher education graduate student at the University of Central Florida, and works as a Residential Graduate Assistant at Rollins College. In between her classwork, her GA duties, training for marathons (she has one coming up!), and obsessing over corgis, she manages to bake for her residents and friends.

A few weeks ago, I attempted baking, and realized that it was not a failed adventure! Nikki somehow managed to obtain the baking gene from our Mom, and is able to make even simple recipes amazing. Someday I will post about our ‘bunny cake’ fiasco. (cakes that look like bunnies…no, I have not cheated on being a vegan to consume a rabbit). The following is Nikki’s post…in her own words!

Ingredients:

organic pumpkin filling
chocolate chips
spice cake mix

“hi i am nikki! i cook these for my residents! Cook in the oven at 365 for 10 minutes. Dont add eggs or oil from cake mix, just use the powder. cookies will be soft and cakey!”

She would probably write more…but is responsible and is finishing her homework before going to a staff meeting!

Quinoa and avocado salad

20121027-205110.jpg
Jenni here typing for Kristina as we hurtle towards Cocoa beach to see our friends in Ancient Sun play their one year anniversary show!

While I (jenni) have converted to a full vegan diet, Kristina is slowly coming around and is pleased with our selections so far! “If I knew that vegan food wasn’t all nasty tofu and fake meat I would have changed a long time ago” she lamented. I would like to point out that I rarely cook with fake meat, and tofu is a bit weird…and I only use it sparingly. Nevertheless, I am thrilled that she is appeasing me while I am on my culinary journey. She will still post non vegan things when we cook separately, so fear not out non vegan readers! Now to the recipe.

The following recipe comes from “The Kind Diet” online resources, and combines some of my favorite things… Quinoa, tomatoes, spinach, and avocados. It also called for cilantro which I still had in stock.

Ingredients

1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
2 cups vegetable broth
2 cups chickpeas (canned or fresh cooked)
2 cups spinach
1 cup cilantro
2 lemons (one of which was zested)
3 garlic cloves
1 onion (Kristina kept these on the side so I wouldn’t have to pick them out!)
A handful of cherry tomatoes diced
2 taps Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp agave nectar
2 tsp olive oil
Black pepper to taste
2 avocados

Cook the quinoa in the two cups of veggie broth (we used bullion) for 15 minutes at a boil and then reduce to low medium and wait until the quinoa takes soaks up all of the water. Meanwhile we were cooking the beans in my rice cooker. Using my favorite appliance, other than my rice cooker, chop the spinach and cilantro in a blender. A food processor would also suffice. Place the diced greens in a separate bowl. Add garlic and onions (or not if you are like me!) into the blender and chop up as well. Place these in the green mixture, add hand diced tomatoes and set aside. Once the chickpeas are done cooking, or released from their canned prison, add them to the mixture.

Now it is time to make the dressing. Combine the olive oil, lemon zest, juice from the lemons (Kristina interjected that you should only use one of the lemons for juice and I agree with her), cumin, black pepper, agave nectar, and Dijon mustard. Stir vigorously (although be careful, Kristina got it on her shirt!).

Add all of the ingredients together and mix…add the avocados (cut into small pieces) The original recipe says to let it sit and meld the flavors together but we were in a hurry so this didn’t happen.

Result? This was amazing…the photo doesn’t do it justice (I admit it is a little scary looking). In Kristina’s words “more avocados!! Never too much avocados!” Until tomorrow, have a good night!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup heaven


After binge-cooking Asian dishes… I decided to try a different route, desserts! I choose one out of Alicia Silverstone’s “The Kind Diet” vegan cookbook. While I did not have the majority of the ingredients, and had to forage through publix, I made some exciting discoveries.

1. Publix now sells vegan, soy free, GMO free, butter. It looks, tastes, and melts like butter! It is amazing, and I feel that I may have gushed a little too much about it to the cashier. I am so thrilled that I now have a viable butter substitute!

2. Publix also makes fresh pressed peanut butter. The ingredients for it include: peanuts. That is it…just pressed peanuts. It is the most incredible peanut butter I have ever had.

3. Ghirardelli creates “all natural dark chocolate”. I had to stop eating the chips to ensure that I could make this dish.

4. Graham crackers are vegan. Joy.

Once I finished finding my ingredients, and appearing overly excited to the cashier, I scurried upstairs to start my adventure. Kristina had posted a wonderful cookie recipe that had all sorts of dairy products in it (a whole thing of ricotta cheese!) I wanted to prove that I could also make good things, without dairy! I am sure, however, that this would work with the dairy substitutions.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup of non-dairy butter(health balance is awesome)
3/4 cup of graham crackers crumbled
3/4 cup of peanut butter
1/4 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of non dairy milk (I used sweetened almond)
1 cup of chocolate chips (again, non dairy)
1/4 cup of chopped almonds (or walnuts, or peanuts)
muffin pan and liners (I used cut up pieces of tin foil)

Line the muffin pan. This should make 12-15 cups.

Melt the butter in a pan on the stove. Once melted, add the graham crackers, peanut butter, and sugar. Mix really well. Once completely combined, separate into the muffin tin.

Using a double boiler melt the chocolate and milk (or, if you are like me, and do not have one…put water in a big pot and heat the water. Put the chocolate chips in a smaller pot with milk and place the small pot in the large pot. The idea is that the water will boil and heat the pot more evenly). Spoon the chocolate mixture on top of the peanut butter.

Once the two layers are created, add the chopped nuts to the top and place the trays in the refrigerator. They need 2-3 hours to solidify.

I am so incredibly proud of this dish, I am making it for everyone this holiday season!!

Masala does not equal Marsala


In an attempt to branch out of our usual cooking niche, I had acquired a few different cookbooks last Sunday. Since then, we have inadvertently cooked two Indian dishes, with the following being from South East Asia as well. While we have diversified significantly, I find it ironic that in our attempt to get away from the same food we ended up cooking very similar new dishes!

The following meal hails from “The Kind Diet” by Alicia Silverstone (yes, from Clueless! and other things…) It is a vegan cookbook/book that explains her lifestyle choice with some very intriguing recipes. While flipping through the other day, I found one for Vegan Masala…which my Italian brain read as Marsala. For some reason, it did not occur to me that Marsala does not have beans in it…or chili…and this recipe did not call for wine! I guess I was tired when I wrote up my grocery list, and ventured down to publix. While preparing for the meal I noticed some very familiar ingredients. I also made drastic substitution. While the original calls for eggplant, there was none to be found! There was, however, a sale on portebello mushrooms…so those went in instead.

Ingredients:

3 large onions (did not use these)
4 cloves of garlic
3 tbs olive oil
1 tsp curry powder
1-2 tsps cumin
1 large eggplant chopped (or a package of sliced mushrooms, then chopped)
2 cans of chickpeas (I used a cup and a half of cooked chickpeas)
2 14oz cans of peeled tomatoes (drained)
1 can vegetarian chili
1 large handful of fresh cilantro
pepper to taste (added this in!)
rice (Added this too)

Saute the garlic in the olive oil in a large pan. After 5 minutes, add in the curry and the cumin. A few minutes later add in the mushrooms, and allow them to soak up the flavors. Once the mushrooms are thoroughly seasoned, add in the chickpeas, tomatoes, and chili. Cook until the mixture is thick. Add cilantro at the end.

While the original recipe does not call for it…I found that this dish is great over rice!

This meal is good, easy, and is made in one pot! (with the exception of the rice). There is very little clean up, and tons of leftovers, which makes it awesome. I did need to add pepper to it, to liven up the dish a bit, but all in all, a great dinner choice…even though it is not Marsala.

Coconut Curry Soup with Jasmine Rice

Frolicking through the fields of curry with Jenni lead me to discover this tasty soup and experiment with curry like I never have before. I have always been a fan of curry and all of its complexities and variations.  Today I decided to try a soup that used red curry paste and coconut milk.  My one and only qualm with this recipe is that the comments promised a spicy soup, one that many people claimed they had to cut down on the spice with extra coconut milk.  Well I must say they are mistaken, it was not in anyway shape or form spicy.  I would  give it a 4 on a 10 point scale of spice so to remedy this I added some cayenne pepper to the final product. 

The following is the exact recipe and I followed it exactly except for the tofu cubes, I abhor tofu or at least really big off putting pieces of the strange jiggly soy based product. So, I cut them in tiny little cubes that were much more manageable for my delicate squishy soy hating palette.  

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil 
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic 
  • 1/4 cup red curry paste
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar 
  • 2 (13.5-ounce) cans light coconut milk
  • 2 1/2 cups organic vegetable broth 
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice 
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 cups thinly sliced carrot (about 4)
  • 1 1/2 cups (1-inch) pieces green beans (8 ounces) 
  • 1 (14-ounce) package water-packed soft tofu, drained and cut into (1-inch) cubes
  • 3/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves

Preparation

  1. 1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic to pan; sauté 30 seconds or until lightly browned. Add curry paste; sauté 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add brown sugar; cook 1 minute. Stir in coconut milk, broth, juice, ginger, and soy sauce. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 1 hour. Add carrot; cook for 6 minutes. Add beans, and cook 4 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender. Add tofu to pan, and cook 2 minutes. Garnish with cilantro leaves.

The jasmine rice was a last minute in the store decision, I felt it would compliment the dish and work for filling us up if the soup was not enough. Plus, if it was spicy it would help to off set.

 

Ohhhh only other thing I added to the recipe was water chestnuts what I referred to as “crunchy things” throughout my entire childhood.  

Amazing Curry!



One of the many benefits of living downtown is easy access to the library. On Sunday, I decided to stroll the few blocks down to the public library and check out their cooking section. I was overwhelmed with the selection, several aisles dedicated to different types of cooking. I picked three, with every intention on going back for more. The three chosen books were The Kind Diet (Alica Silverstone on being vegan), 660 Curries, and The Sopranos Family Cookbook (Kristina wanted more Italian recipes!) The following meal comes from the 660 Curries book.

I love curry, but I rarely eat it. In fact, every time I eat it, I am reminded how much I love it! While it has occurred to me that I could make this amazing dish, it wasn’t until I saw the book that I decided to actually try it. Imagine that! Cooking from a BOOK and not pinterest! The final product yielded an amazing dish, this may actually be the best curry I have ever had. I had to stop myself from having thirds so that I can eat some for lunch tomorrow!

The recipe calls for a pressure cooker for the beans…I used my rice cooker, which is basically the same idea, and then transferred the beans to another pot.

Ingredients

1 cup of dried black eyed peas

2 tbs oil (they recommend canola or mustard oil…i used vegetable)

8 oz of crimini mushrooms (I used a box of baby bella mushrooms)

1 tsp coarse sea salt

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp ground ginger

1 cup of fresh cilantro

Rice (not part of the original recipe, but i used it!)

First wash the beans. Make sure you get all the gunk off of them. Place them in a bowl, play around with them, rinse and repeat. You will be using the water they cook in for this meal, so it is essential that you clean them! Next, cook the beans in the manner that you are most comfortable with. I used my rice cooker with three cups of water. Adjust as needed. This process took about 45 minutes for the beans to be completely ready.

When the beans are starting to get soft, heat the oil in a frying pan. Add the sliced mushrooms and saute until they are browned and start to shrink. Add the cayenne, ginger, salt, and cilantro. Cook all together for a few minutes, until cilantro is cooked down.

The recipe says to add the mushroom mix to the beans and continue to cook. I did not want to do that with my rice cooker! (in retrospect, I could have easily switched the machine to ‘warm’ and would have been fine). I transferred the beans and their remaining water (a lot had boiled down) to a new pot on the stove. I then added the mushroom mixture. Place on medium heat and wait until the juice blends together making a nice thick sauce. This part took 7-10 minutes.

Once all the flavors have nicely melded together, the water has turned into a thick sauce, and your kitchen smells amazing, remove from heat and serve. I placed mine on a bed of brown rice.

This meal is healthy, vegan, and amazing!

Ricotta Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ricotta Chocolate Chip Cookies are a long standing tradition in my house and I had a craving for a piece of home yesterday. ( I also got a cookie jar from a lovely secret redditor)  We got the recipe from a family friend when my sister and I were much younger, and have since made the recipe a part of our family. 

Now, the recipe that I made yesterday isn’t the exact one, but it came pretty damn close. My parents were driving home from Tallahassee and visiting my sister up at college and my Mom didn’t know the recipe by heart in order to relay the details. So, I found this one simply by googling and picked one that seemed appealing to me.  

4 c. flour
1 lb. Ricotta cheese
3 eggs
1/2 c. butter
1 3/4 c. sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 bag chocolate chips

 

Mix flour and baking soda. Mix and cream sugar and butter. Beat 3 eggs and add to sugar mixture. Add Ricotta cheese and then flour mixture. Add vanilla, then chips. Bake at 400 degrees 10 to 12 minutes.
 
Now, if you don’t want a massive amount of cookies I suggest not using 4 cups of flour, I ended up with 4 batches of pretty massive cookies. Good thing my lovely guy best friends were playing a show that night at a local bar and got to enjoy the bag of cookies I brought with me.