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“Phajita” Chili

In last week’s post, SUPER EASY, DAIRY-FREE, SUPER BOWL NACHOS, I shared my recipe for making game day nachos in a snap. In the tradition of game day noshing, this week I am sharing a recipe for “Phajita” Chili and a vegan version of Double Cornbread from America’s Test Kitchen.

fajita chili2

When I created this recipe for a chili cook-off, I wanted it to stand out from the other entries which would most likely contain meat and I didn’t want it to be just another veggie chili. The butternut squash and fajita style onions and peppers give this chili a sweet and spicy edge and the black beans round out the traditional chili vibe.

Have you ever been in a Tex-Mex restaurant when all of a sudden you know it is coming, you can hear it first, sizzling away, then, you can see the steam and smoke trailing off the skillet, and as the sight passes by a waft of onions and peppers (and meat) fills your senses and you wonder if you are going to leave the restaurant smelling like fajitas? I have and this is what inspired my vegan “Phajita” Chili recipe.

fa·ji·ta, noun, \fə-ˈhē-tə, fä-\:  a marinated strip usually of beef or chicken grilled or broiled and served usually with a flour tortilla and various savory fillings —usually used in plural

Since fajita seems to refer more to the strips of meat in the dish and just so there is no confusion with the omission of meat, this plant-based chili is referred to as “phajita”.

“Phajita” Chili

For roasted vegetables:

2 Tablespoons vegetable oil

2-3 lb Butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed

3 bell peppers of different colors, sliced

1 onion, peeled and quartered

Salt and pepper

For the chili base:

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 jalapeno pepper, chopped

10 medium-sized crimini mushrooms, sliced

1-6 ounce can tomato paste

1 tablespoon vegan Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon Chili powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1-28 oz crushed tomatoes

4 cups of vegetable stock

2 cups of cooked black beans

Salt and pepper

To garnish:

Sliced scallions or cilantro

 

Directions:

Pre heat oven to 425F

Toss squash, quartered onion and bell peppers with 2 tablespoons of oil and salt and pepper. Spread vegetables out in a roasting pan. Place in oven for 35-40 minutes stirring a few times throughout cooking to ensure even browning. When ready, squash should be tender and onions and peppers should be caramelized. Remove from oven and set aside.

To start the chili base by heating 1 tablespoon of oil in a large pot on medium-high heat; add the chopped onion and sauté for a few minutes until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Next add the jalapeno pepper and mushrooms and cook for about 5 minutes until the mushrooms start to sweat and cook down.

Add the tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, chili powder, cumin, and coriander stirring until these ingredients are well mixed with the onions and mushrooms. Cook for about 2 minutes. Next add the crushed tomatoes and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the liquid from the tomatoes starts to reduce.

In a blender or food processor, blend tomato, onion, mushroom mixture from pot with half of the roasted butternut squash until smooth; adding 1/4 – 1/2 cup of stock if need to blend. Return blended mixture to pot. Add the remaining vegetable stock, black beans and remaining vegetables from the roasting pan to the pot. Stir well, simmer on low for 20 minutes.

Serve topped with cilantro or sliced scallions and double cornbread.

fajita chili clsh

 

 

A Vegan Version of Double Cornbread

Vegan Version of America’s Test Kitchen Double Cornbread

double cornbread

In the North, cornbread is cakey and sweet, while Southerners demand theirs thin, crusty, and utterly savory. For us, cornbread should offer the best of both worlds—neither too muffin-like nor too austere. It should be tender and sweet, yet dark and crunchy.        -quote from America’s Test Kitchen

Notes on recipe

This recipe calls for sour cream. I have replaced it with plain unsweetened coconut yogurt mixed with lemon juice, salt and apple cider vinegar to give it the tang of sour cream (see directions below). I have also made this recipe with silken tofu prepared in the same manner as the dairy free yogurt.  Tofutti brand makes a dairy free product called Better Than Sour Cream which you could use as an alternative in this recipe.

To replace two eggs in this recipe I use Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer. Following the instructions on the package, I used 2 tablespoons of Egg Replacer mixed with 3 ounces of water (or 6 tablespoons). Other egg replacers products exist and flax meal mixed with water could work, but for this recipe I have only tried Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer. VeganBaking.net is an excellent resource if you are interested in learning more about vegan baking. If you want to try a fabulous dessert recipe using flax meal in place of eggs, I suggest Ultimate Vegan Brownies from VeganBaking.net  These brownies are spot on and just looking at the picture makes me want to eat a whole batch!

Vegan-Version of America’s Test Kitchen Double Cornbread
Ingredients

1  cup cornmeal (yellow or white)

1  cup all-purpose flour

2  tablespoons sugar

2  teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon table salt

1  cup frozen corn, thawed

1  cup plain unsweetened coconut or soy yogurt (prepared as directed below)

Egg Replacer (see note above) as directed on package to replace 2 eggs

1/2 teaspoon  hot pepper sauce

4  tablespoons Earth Balance vegan buttery stick, melted

2  teaspoons  vegetable oil

2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and sliced into rings(optional)

 

For the sour cream replacer:

Mix until completely incorporated, one cup of dairy free, unsweetened coconut or soy yogurt with ½ tablespoon lemon juice, ½ tablespoon apple cider vinegar, and ¼ tsp salt.

Directions

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees.

Whisk cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in large bowl.

Pulse corn, prepared yogurt, prepared egg replacer, and hot sauce in food processor until corn is coarsely chopped and mixture is combined.

Fold corn mixture into cornmeal mixture, then stir in melted butter.

Add vegetable oil to 9-inch cast iron skillet or cake pan, and place the pan in the preheated oven for 5 minutes.

Take the skillet or cake pan out of the oven and quickly add batter; if using jalapeno pepper rings place them on top of the batter before returning the pan to the oven.

Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes.

Cool cornbread in pan on wire rack for 20 minutes.

Enjoy with “Phajita” Chili.

fajita chili2

Super Easy, Dairy-Free, Super Bowl Nachos

closeup whitecorn

Last weekend during the playoffs I made Gabe his game time favorite, nachos. This got me thinking that no plant loving person should be without nacho for the super bowl. Our casomorphin addicted friends may not be fooled by this recipe, but it sure does do the trick if you are avoiding dairy, or you are vegan.

A few words about cheese substitutes…there’s really nothing like the real thing.

BUT, Daiya makes cheese-like products, that are the best I have tried so far. Daiya is dairy-fee, gluten-free, and soy-free. The packaging is accurate, it melts and stretches and kind of reminds me of American cheese. We have used Daiya’s Shreds on pizza and the cheddar style block and slices for grilled cheese, quesadillas, and mac and cheese. These are not things that we eat often, but it’s nice to have a vegan rendition of comfort food every once in a while. Daiya’s products are a convenient and delicious way to replace cheese in any recipe. Check out there website to find a local retailer.

daiya
Cut Daiya cheddar style blocks into cubes then place in a glass bowl with a teaspoon of water and a teaspoon of hot sauce and melt in the microwave for 30-45 seconds.

 

There are other methods of making vegan cheeses. One I use often calls for soaked cashews placed in a blender with lemon juice, vinegar, water, salt, nutritional yeast and blended until smooth. Miyolo Schinner’s book,  Artisan Vegan Cheese, is a great resource for making all sorts of vegan cheeses from melt-able mozzarella or sharp cheddar, to cashew chevre or air-dried camembert.  The recipe times range from less than an hour to up to a few days. In addition to providing step by step intructions on how to make these cheeses, Shinner shares recipes for how to incorporate the cheeses in first courses through desserts.

BACK TO THE NACHOS

fc blueplate

 

To start you’ll need good chips. I have become familiar with the disappointment of suffering countless chip fractures when exiting the salsa bowl, seeing half of the chip being swallowed up by salsa and me left holding half a naked chip. Does chip density really matter for nachos? I consulted Gabe, the in-house chip expert. This is what he had to say, “A chip must be dip rated, but it can’t be too thick because then it just takes over the nacho experience.”

You really can’t mess up nachos. Go for it, use whatever you want for toppings and I’ll share with you my preferred method of melting the Daiya cheese for nachos. Items like olives, pickled jalapenos, or anything that is very wet should be patted dry with a towel before using. This will help keep the chips from getting soggy.

What you’ll need:

tortilla chips

2 oz (6cm cube)Daiya cheddar style block or 3 cheddar style slices

Optional toppings

Tomatoes

Black olives

Jalapeno peppers

Black beans

Guacamole or avocado

Red or green onion

Salsa

And anything else your heart desires

Preheat oven  to 425F

Layer the chips on an oven safe, dinner size plate, preferable the plate you will be serving from as the nachos may be difficult to transfer after cooking. Distribute toppings evenly over the chips. You may want to wait to put the avocado or guacamole on the nachos until after they are cooked. I prefer guacamole to be cold, so it’s the last topping I place. Put the chips in the oven for about 5 minutes until the toppings and chips heat through.

While the chips are in the oven melt the cheese. For a dinner plate size of nachos use 2 ounces (6cm cube) of Daiya Cheddar Style Block or 3 slices Daiya Cheddar Style Slices. Cut up the cheese into smaller pieces and put them into a microwave safe container. I like to use a glass measuring cup that has a spout for easy pouring. As an option add one teaspoon of hot sauce to the cheese and one teaspoon of water. If you are not adding hot sauce then just add 2 teaspoons of water to the cheese. Melt the cheese in a microwave for 30 seconds. Stir the cheese. If the cheese is not completely melted then microwave for an 15 seconds longer. You can add another teaspoon of water if you want a thinner cheese.

Remove the chips from the oven, pour the cheese over the chips, I start at the outside of the plate and spiral the pour toward the center. If you like the guacamole to be chilled add it now, I used a pastry bag (actually, a plastic food storage bag with a hole cut in the corner) for more even coverage. Serve immediately. Careful, the plate is hot!

Go Patri-hawks!

fc bluechip

 

Smokey Roasted Cauliflower and mushroom Soup

 We have mushrooms and cauliflower, what’s for dinner?

In the refrigerator we had cauliflower and mushrooms and that was about it. I wanted to roast the cauliflower, but had no idea how I was going to add mushrooms and onions to come up with a satisfying dish. That’s when Gabe suggested I make a soup. With the cold weather and limited ingredients that sounded like a great idea.  Since we have an abundance of dried peppers, it’s no surprise that he also suggested that I add chile powder to the recipe.

cauliflower soup closeup

The four main ingredients listed below make a creamy, warming winter soup. Continue reading Smokey Roasted Cauliflower and mushroom Soup

Curds of Soy Milk…Yum?

You Say, “Tofu”,

I Say, “Curdled Soy Milk”

curdled soymilk
One of the last steps of making tofu involves using a slotted spoon to transfer soy milk curds to a tofu mold.

 

Tofu is made from the curds of soy milk. You got it, curdled soymilk. Not the bad kind of curdle, indicating spoilage, but the kind forced by a good chemical reaction. If you never really cared for tofu, that last bit of information probably just affirmed your dislike. It took me a while to come around to actually liking tofu. I found it to be bland and sometimes rubbery.  I had to explore the many methods of preparing and marinating before I started to enjoy it. If done right, fresh homemade tofu has a subtle flavor and a nice light and fluffy texture. Continue reading Curds of Soy Milk…Yum?

Lime and Coconut Yogurt Tempeh with Lemongrass Risotto

Lime coconut yogurt tempeh with lemongrass rissoto and baby kale
Lime and coconut yogurt tempeh with lemongrass risotto and baby kale.

Lemongrass is amazing! Not only is the plant a looker, it smells fabulous.

I have been watching videos on how to harvest, prepare, and propagate lemongrass. It’s time to use it in a recipe.

I cut a few of the fattest lemongrass shoots as close to the root as I could get. Then I removed some of the outer leaves revealing pink near the bottom of the stalk, turning to yellow and then green going up the shoot.
I cut a few of the fattest lemongrass shoots as close to the root as I could get. Then I removed some of the outer leaves revealing pink near the bottom of the stalk, turning to yellow and then green going up the shoot.
I thinly sliced the very bottom of the shoot up to where it started to turn green. Then I used a spice grinder to pulverize the sliced lemongrass.
I thinly sliced the very bottom of the shoot up to where it started to turn green. Then I used a spice grinder to mince the sliced lemongrass. I cooked the minced lemongrass with onions, garlic, and ginger as part of the risotto.
I sliced the green part of the shoot lengthwise and used the side of the knife to crush or bruise the shoot a little.
I sliced the green part of the shoot lengthwise and used the side of the knife to crush or bruise the shoot a little.
. I put the green part of the shoot in the vegetable broth at a slow rolling boil for about ten minutes. I then simmered the broth while I made the risotto.
I put the green part of the shoot in the vegetable broth at a slow rolling boil for about ten minutes.

The only method for cooking risotto that I have tried is the traditional method of adding a 1/2 cup of liquid at a time and letting that liquid reduce while stirring often. I don’t mind this method, but I have done some research and have found recipes that suggest less tedious methods.

Lemongrass risotto closeup
The pan fried tempeh made my mouth water!

To Gabe’s chagrin, I am not a huge fan of adding processed oils to our food. I know fats add flavor and are important in our diet, but when possible, I prefer to use fats from whole foods like avocado or nuts and seeds. That being said, this tempeh was awesome fried up in canola oil. It tasted so different from the marinated baked tempeh I usually prepare.

tempeh yogurt lime
Sliced tempeh, vegan coconut yogurt (plain), and fresh lime juice.

Vegan yogurt is something new to me. Recently I tried a plain soy yogurt and a plain “Greek style” coconut yogurt. I have to say I prefer the taste of the coconut yogurt. The soy yogurt brand I tried was quite sweet for a plain yogurt. I was hoping for more of the astringent qualities of plain dairy yogurt. I sliced the tempeh and added it to a marinade of coconut yogurt, lime juice and salt. I have prepared this ahead of time and placed it in the refrigerator, but I have also prepared it and cooked it right away.

Sliced tempeh coated with plain coconut yogurt, lime juice, and salt.
Sliced tempeh coated with plain coconut yogurt, lime juice, and salt.

Don’t forget the greens!!! When the risotto was finished cooking I added raw baby kale leaves, letting the heat from the risotto wilt them. Spinach would work as well.

lgrisottoplate3

Ingredients

For the Tempeh

½ cup of plain coconut yogurt

2 TBSP lime juice

¼ tsp. salt

1-8oz package of tempeh, slice into ¼” strips

1 TBSP Canola oil for frying tempeh

For the Risotto

1 TBSP canola oil

1 white onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

½ TBSP fresh ginger, grated

1 TBSP fresh lemongrass, minced

2- 4” upper green part of lemongrass

1 cup Arborio rice

½ dry white wine

3-4 cups vegetable broth

1 cup whole baby kale leaves

Directions

For the tempeh
  1. In a bowl mix together coconut yogurt, lime and salt. Add tempeh slices to yogurt mixture, coating well.
  2. Working in two batched heat ½ TBSP oil in frying pan over medium high heat. Add half of the coated tempeh in a single layer and cook until golden brown on both sides. Repeat with the remaining ½ TBSP of oil and remaining tempeh.
  3. Put tempeh on a plate, cover with foil and hold in a 200F oven while cooking risotto.
For the Risotto
  1. Slice the upper green part of the lemongrass lengthwise and bruise the shoot by pressing down on it with the side of a chef’s knife and the palm of your hand. Place the shoots in a pot with the vegetable broth and bring to a slow rolling boil for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to a simmer.
  2. In a separate pot heat oil over medium. Add onion and cook for a few minutes. Add garlic, ginger, and minced lemongrass. Cook for one minute.
  3.  Add rice mixing it well with the aromatics and oil in the pot. After a few minutes rice will change color slightly and become pale, add white wine. Stir often until wine is completely absorbed.
  4. Add vegetable broth in ½ cup increments, avoiding the shoots which will be discarded at the end. With each ½ cup of broth stir frequently until the liquid is absorbed before adding another ½ cup. Test rice after 15 minutes for doneness. Continue ½ cup cooking method until al dente.

 

 

 

 

 

Lettuce Start the Day

Lettuce Start the Day with a Salad

Gabe and I start each morning with a huge bowl of lettuce. We each eat about 4 or 5 heaping claw-fuls (shape hand into claw and pick up as much as you can) of chopped lettuce. The contents of our bowls are different, but we both stick with the same meal each morning because it creates a routine that is quick and easy to follow and I always know what I need to buy at the market.  Gabe opts for red and green leaf lettuce with sliced or cherry tomatoes, sliced cucumber, celery, and a tablespoon of vinegar. My bowl contains red and green leaf lettuce with one tablespoon of nutritional yeast and half a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar. Sometimes we add nuts or seeds to the salad depending on whether we have a bagel or bread with coconut oil or nut butter. We have worked our way up to that amount and not everyone enjoys a big bowl of raw greens for breakfast, hence the increasingly popular green smoothie.

bowl of lettuce

One of the reasons I like to start the day with a ton of lettuce is that it fills me up and gets my digestion going. Lettuce is comprised of mostly water and is a good source of vitamins and nutrients like vitamin K and chlorophyll. We have all heard that the darker the green, the better, and I say mix it up. Surprisingly Gabe’s favorite lettuce, iceberg, provides a good amount of choline. Lettuce barely has any fat or calories so we always add fat and protein to our breakfast to ensure we get enough fuel to get us through the morning. Our routine is green and red leaf in the morning, but we do add lots of other greens and lettuce during the day so that we eat a variety of the good stuff during the week. I plan meals around which greens and other produce looks the freshest at the market. Eating fruits and vegetables that are in season is one way to do this. I must admit though, I like the variety that is available throughout the seasons these days.

We eat at least 8 heads of lettuce a week just for breakfast. For lunch or dinner on days when I am in a hurry or we feel like we need a lighter meal I will split a head of romaine lettuce between the two of us and make the Classic Vegan Caesar With Avocado & Chickpeas from the Post Punk Kitchen website by Isa Chandra Moskowitz or I will throw a cup of beans on top of the salad and make a dressing which usually contains blended avocado, tahini, or soaked and blended cashews.

Always having rinsed, spun, and chopped greens on hand makes it easy for me to come up with a meal on the fly. I prep lettuce and any other greens I have as soon as I can when I return from the market.

raomaine in waterThere are many methods for cleaning greens, find what works for you. Remove tough outer leaves and the base parts of the leaves as they can be bitter. To clean the greens I fill a large bowl with water and a little distilled vinegar and swish the greens around to remove any dirt or bugs.

romaine in spinnerI rinse them well in fresh water. Then I use a salad spinner to remove excess water from the greens. You could also use a clean lint free towel and lay the leaves out flat on the towel and gently roll the towel up from one end so that the towel absorbs the water.

loose leaf
If you don’t have a spinner, spread the leaves out flat on a lint-free towel and gently roll the towel up from one end so that the towel absorbs the water.

Removing as much water as possible will allow the cut greens to keep longer in the refrigerator. The more delicate the greens, like mustard greens and spinach, the drier you will want them to be before refrigerating them. I like to chop the lettuce or greens that have large or tough leaves (collard greens, kale, Swiss Chard, etc.) into bite size pieces. Then all I have to do is shovel some lettuce out of the container when I want a salad, sandwich, burrito, or wrap. Washed and cut collard greens, kale, or Swiss chard, and so on can be easily transferred from the fridge into a pot or pan if I want to sauté or steam them.

When we are traveling we will buy organic pre-washed greens. Our favorites being Organic Girl and Olivia’s Organics. When buying the packaged stuff make sure you take a good look at it from all sides. Choose a box that has dry, fresh looking greens throughout. Also smell it! If the plastic container allows air to pass through it, I smell it while gently squeezing the box. You will know if you smell rotting greens. Keeping them chilled will help keep them fresh.

Enjoy an assortment of greens any way you want throughout the week!

 

 

Split Double Green Pea Soup With Collard Greens

Split Double Green Pea Soup with Collard Greens

Split Double Pea Soup

It’s about that time of year when I need to go through the pantry, refrigerator, and freezer to take inventory and regroup. I do this at the end of each season to keep the dried and raw stock such as legumes, grains, and seeds fresh. I store seeds and nuts in the refrigerator since they contain natural oil that can become rancid when exposed to light and heat. Continue reading Split Double Green Pea Soup With Collard Greens