Friday, February 27, 2009

Polenta Pie

In a previous post I mentioned a Sausage Polenta Pie that was made in the slow cooker. It tasted good, but was by no means a pie and looked a mess. Not that I expected a pie to come out of my slow cooker. Anyways, I decided to adapt this recipe into an actual pie.

Vegan Sausage Polenta Pie

2 Vegan Italian Sausages, chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 14.5 oz can fire roasted tomatoes
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
1/2 bunch swiss chard, chopped
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 cup cornmeal
3 3/4 cups veggie 'chicken' broth
1 TBS margarine
1/4 cup vegan parmesan cheese

In a saucepan, combine cornmeal and broth. Bring to a boil; cook while stirring over medium heat until thick, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in margarine and half the parmesan cheese. Let this rest as you combine the rest of the ingredients (from sausage to oregano) in a bowl.

Lightly oil a pie pan. Spread 1/3 of the polenta in the bottom of the pan. Add Sausage/tomato mixture to pan. Top with the remaining polenta and sprinkle with the remaining parmesan cheese.

Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for 10-15 minutes until it starts to brown a bit on top.The pie is kind of soft. Not so firm that you can cut a perfect piece, but that could possibly be fixed by using a lower vegetable broth to cornmeal ratio when making the polenta. Or cooking the polenta longer to make it thicker. You can also replace the tomatoes with roasted red bell peppers or even try other veggies instead of the swiss chard. I used Julie Hasson's Italian sausages and Bryanna Clark Grogan's cashew sprinkle for a Parmesan substitute (from Nonna's Italian Kitchen).

Here is a picture of a lunch we had the other day. I wanted to roast some cauliflower I had, so I decided to fill the oven with all kinds of things while I had it on at 400 degrees. I made roasted cauliflower, broccoli and fingerling potatoes. I also roasted some chickpeas and some tofu nuggets. The veggies and chickpeas just had olive oil and salt and pepper on them. Then I made a 'cheese' sauce from a recipe I've been using for a long time from VegWeb.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Lots of exclamation points in this post

Tonight for dinner I made a recent recipe from The Fat Free Vegan Kitchen. You just can't go wrong with a FFVK recipe! Her version was Tofu, Tempeh, and Butternut Squash in Slow-Cooked Peanut Mole.
Since I didn't have tempeh or butternut squash, my version was Tofu, Sweet Potato and Cauliflower in Slow-Cooked Peanut Mole. And I just cooked it on the stove top for an hour instead of using my slow-cooker (which was an option in the recipe). This was really tasty! And it goes together pretty quickly. I served it over brown rice.

The recipe calls for frozen tofu, so I suggest you all put some tofu in the freezer and make this very soon!

And you know what today is....
LinkYou might not think this is much to show for a Work in Progress, but to me it is a big step toward starting a project I've been wanting to do for a while. I finally made it to the store to buy snaps!
These snaps are for some bracelets I'm experimenting with making. It is a project that has been in my head for a long time.

Wednesday also means Top Chef Finale! So excited to see who wins!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Cactus part II

Here is another recipe I came up with using the cactus.

Marinated Nopalito Salad

2 cups fresh nopalito
1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pickled jalapeno or about 12 pickled jalapeno slices, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup lime juice
1 15 oz can black beans
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
2 roma tomatoes
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 tsp. salt
pepper to taste
more pickled jalapeno, minced

Puree the garlic, jalapeno and olive oil in a mini food processor. Stir in the lime juice. Pour over the nopalito and onions. (I boiled my nopalito for 7 minutes in salted water first, but it may not be necessary). Place the mixture in the fridge and marinate overnight. Add the rest of the ingredients and serve.

I used tortilla chips to scoop it up and eat it. It would also be good with spinach or lettuce over tortilla chips like a taco salad. I definitely think it needs something crunchy like the chips.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Have you eaten cactus?

the cactus in front of my house

Nopales is the vegetable made from the pads of the prickly pear plant. It is high in fiber and vitamins A,C, and K. Nopalitos is the term used once it has been cleaned and prepared for eating. Here in Texas you can buy it fresh or jarred. I bought some fresh nopales from my grocery store the other day. They actually have a person cleaning the thorns off of the pads and slicing it up for you right there. Visiting a friend in Mexico once, we walked outside and picked a young pad off of a plant and cooked it up for breakfast. I forget how or what we ate it with, but it was good. Here in Austin, I used to go to a small Mexican food place with former co-workers for breakfast and pretty much the only vegan option was nopalito and potato tacos. Those tacos were the inspiration for these enchiladas:
half eaten enchiladas

Nopalito Potato Enchiladas

2 cups fresh nopalitos
10 fingerling potatoes (about 2 cups)
1 onion, diced
1-2 TBS oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp seasoning salt
18-20 corn tortillas
20 oz can enchilada sauce

Rinse the fresh nopalitos. Boil the nopalitos in salted water for about 7 minutes. Drain and drop them into a cold water bath to stop the cooking. Boil the fingerling potatoes until fork tender and drain. When cool enough to handle, cut potatoes into small dice. Heat the oil in a saute pan over medium high heat. Add the potatoes and shake the pan to form one single layer and keep them from sticking. Let those saute for a few minutes to get brown and crispy on the bottom. Stir them to get the other sides brown and crispy and add the spices. Stir to coat the potatoes. Add the onions and stir. Saute for a few minutes. Drain the nopalitos and add to the pan, stirring.
onion, potato, nopalito filling mixture
To prepare the corn tortillas: rub each one with margarine on both sides. Heat a cast iron griddle and soften the tortillas by letting them cook on the griddle about 15 seconds each side. You want them to soften and get a few brown spots on them. The time it takes on each side really depends on how hot the griddle is. The main thing is you want them to be soft and pliable so they don't break when you roll them.

Assemble the enchiladas: Place a small amount of filling in the tortilla and roll up. Place into pan seam side down. Line them up in a single layer if possible. If necessary you can stack them some. Pour the enchilada sauce over them. Cover with foil and bake for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees.
they could have used some garnishes

My ingredients made 18 enchiladas that I split between 2 baking dishes (an 8X8 and an 11X7) You should be able to fit them all into a 9X13 inch dish.

I've never used the ones in the jar, so I'm not sure if the preparation would be the same. You may not need to do the initial boiling if you use jarred. Also, I should warn you that cactus is somewhat like okra in that it has the slimy factor going on. If you have an aversion to this, like my husband, you may not like cooking with it. It can be eaten raw, so skipping the boiling step may help it be less slimy. I might do that next time.

More to come using the cactus!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Chili and a boring pizza

This Chili recipe is a basic chili that can be tweaked in many ways. We have even used a version of this to enter and win third place in a Vegetarian Chili Cook-off.


1 TBS oil
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 large onion, diced
6 cloves of garlic
1 4oz can green chilies
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. pepper
3 TBS chili powder
1 TBS cumin
1 8oz can tomato sauce
2 15oz cans diced tomatoes
2 cans beans (pinto, kidney, or black)
3 cups water
1 1/2 cups TVP

Heat the oil over medium high heat. Saute the onion for about 4 minutes. Add the green bell pepper and saute for 4 more minutes. Add the garlic, green chilies, salt, pepper, chili powder and cumin. Stir to coat the onions and peppers in the spices. Lower the heat to low and add the beans, tomato sauce, tomatoes, water and TVP. Raise the heat and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 45 minutes.

Serve with saltines or cornbread or as Frito pie--YUM!

You can use any combination of beans that you like in this recipe. I like pinto and kidney best. You can also make this as spicy as you want. The recipe as written is mild. To make it spicier you can use 2 cans of green chilies or use beans with jalapenos added or add some cayenne.
You can also use more or less water to make this thicker or thinner. It will thicken as it cooks.

Here is a pretty boring pizza I made. It was kind of a pain to make because of a few things. First, I was making it while trying to not ignore my kids. I usually cook during nap times but this was not nap time. Second, I made the sauce from Vegan with a Vengeance and it called for 4 tsp of salt. I thought that seemed like a lot, but for some reason I went ahead and put all 4 tsp. in. Yuck! I didn't want to make a whole new batch of sauce though, so I added a can of diced tomatoes. This helped, along with just spreading it thinly on the pizza. Third, my can opener broke and I was having no fun trying to open cans. So by the time it got around to topping the pizza I was a mess and was in no mood to do it. So I put on some mushrooms and Italian Sausage and called it a day. When I originally set out to make pizza I was planning on making Melty Pizza Cheese from Bryanna Clark Grogan's Twenty Minutes to Dinner. One of these days I'll try it. I wish I would have remembered the roasted red bells and the Vegan Parmesan that I had in the fridge. Oh well. I had no problems eating half of it in one sitting.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Last Minute Baking

Yesterday at around 5:00pm I found out about a local Austin family that are having some major medical issues with their 6 month old baby. Their story really touched me since I have a 6 month old and can only imagine how scary it would be if he was really, really sick. You can read about Ike here:
So yesterday, I was reading about Ike and his family and all that is being done to help the family and I saw that there was going to be a bake sale today near UT campus to raise money for medical bills. So I got to baking as quick as I could.
I made two recipes from Vegan with a Vengeance. Well, slightly altered recipes based on what I had in the fridge and pantry. No time to run to the store.

Blackberry Chocolate Chip Blondies
I didn't even think to look and see if I had any raspberry preserves before I started baking these. And of course I didn't. But luckily I had a container of blackberries. So I followed the recipe for the Raspberry preserves using them.

Lemon Carrot Muffins
This recipe for Lemon Poppyseed muffins was going along just fine until I got my poppy seeds out and they looked funny. Kind of clumpy. Not good. So I decided to grate some carrot and add it in. It added some nice color too.

I'm so happy that I got to participate in some small way in helping little Ike-a-saurus. I only wish I could have posted this earlier in the day so that those of you in the area could have gone to buy some baked goods. But I know there will be more bake sales. You can go to the events page and see what else is planned to raise money for this family.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Quiche and W.I.P. Wednesday

This beautiful Quiche is thanks to Bryanna Clark Grogan's recipe she posted the other day. I used broccoli, swiss chard, mushrooms and roasted red bell peppers as the veggies. Yum! I loved it.


I'm a little late, but the W.I.P. roundup last week of all the love bears inspired me to make one. Perfect gift for a little friend.

Go here to see a list of all the participating bloggers.
Guess I'm not feeling too chatty today. That is all.

Monday, February 16, 2009

This and That

I haven't been cooking much this weekend. At least nothing too memorable. I did get a valentine package in the mail from my mother-in-law. Besides all the goodies for the grand kids, it had some fun baking stuff for me. She is the best at getting me all that fun baking stuff that I would never buy for myself.
Here is what I got:

A baking pan to make car shaped cakes--my 3 year old is going to love this. A fun monkey spatula. And a family baking kit that includes a little rolling pin, cookie cutters and cookie mix.

I made a tofu scramble the other day. It had broccoli, peas, fingerling potatoes and tofu--Bryanna's Breast of Tofu to be exact. I love making this tofu. It is an easy marinade to mix up and then you can keep the tofu in the fridge to be used for all kinds of things. I usually pan fry the tofu slices and make sandwiches or put it on a salad. For some reason this time when I made it the tofu slices did not stay together. I either sliced them too thin or the tofu I bought was softer then what I usually get. So I figured it would be best to just make it into a scramble.

I stuffed the tofu scramble into some potato rolls. It was a fun idea and nice and portable, but I have to say I really prefer it with toast. Something about the soft tofu with the crunchy bread is so good.

I'll try to get to cooking this week.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Potatoes--savory and sweet

I made two dishes using fingerling potatoes today. Fingerling potatoes are my favorite. They are just so cute. Plus, I have a 5 lb bag to use up.

First, I made Potato Cakes. These were Full of Beans' entry into the Vegetable Love 2009 contest. They were delicious. The caramelized onion give them such a great flavor. I served mine over Lentil Rice Pilaf. The Pilaf is from a box--the Casbash brand.

I wish I had time to try more entries in Vegetable Love before voting ends. These Potato Cakes caught my eye and I had all the ingredients to make them. Well, the cakes anyway, not the topping. Soooo good!

Next I made some Vegan Almond Joys. This is my second attempt at these. The first ones were too sweet. I had used sweetened coconut the first time. This time I used unsweetened and it was much better!
Here is the recipe:

Vegan Almond Joys

1/2 cup potatoes (I used 2 fingerlings)
2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup unsweetened coconut
2 dozen almonds
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Boil the potatoes in lightly salted water until fork tender. When cool, peel and dice. Put into a bowl and mash with a fork. Use a hand mixer to mash the potatoes further. They will become pebbly. Add one cup of the powdered sugar and blend with the hand mixer until the mixture becomes wet. Add the 2nd cup of powdered sugar and mix again. It should then thicken up and become the texture of icing. Add the coconut and mix again.
Place the bowl in the freezer to firm up the mixture.
Form the mixture into 1 inch balls that you then shape into ovals. Place onto a baking sheet lined with wax paper and press an almond into each oval. When the mixture starts getting sticky return the bowl and baking sheet to the freezer for a minute or two to firm up. I could usually make about 6 at a time.
This makes about 2 dozen candies. (I got 22).
Place the baking sheet with all the candies into the freezer to get really firm. While you do this, melt the 1 1/2 cups of chocolate chips over a double boiler. Dip the candies into the melted chocolate, completely coating them and returning them to the wax paper. To keep them firm enough to not melt in the chocolate, I dipped about three or four and then returned the whole pan to the freezer for a minute to firm them up again. My method for coating them was--drop a candy into the chocolate, spoon chocolate all over it, pick the candy up with the spoon and push it gently off onto the wax paper.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

W.I.P. Wednesday and Random Dinners

I know I said this blog was about vegan food, but I also love to knit, crochet, and do needlework. So I've decided that I need to participate in Work In Progress Wednesdays hosted by Musings From the Fishbowl. In reality, I'm hoping it will keep me on top of the crafty projects that I want to do. So here is my first WIP.

Some embroidery. I'm almost done with it, so I'll have to start something new to keep up next week. I have some requested projects I need to do. Like knitted drumstick holders for my brother-in-law and plant holders for our house.

Now for the food. Here is what I've been cooking up lately:

Triple Corn Soup from Fat Free Vegan. I don't have a vitamix, but she gives directions for a regular blender. It was really good soup. Very interesting flavor for such simple ingredients. I don't think I got mine as smooth as I was supposed to, but I liked it.

Stir Fried Bok Choy and green beans over brown rice. Simple and delicious.

Cabbage and Green peas with Chick peas. I needed to do something with a leftover cabbage and found this recipe for Bund Gobi and Mater. I added chickpeas to it to make it more of a complete meal.Link

Sausage Polenta Pie in the crock pot. I was adapting a recipe from a non vegetarian crock pot cookbook I got at a garage sale. I used Julie Hasson's Italian sausages and Bryanna Clark Grogan's cashew sprinkle for a Parmesan substitute (from Nonna's Italian Kitchen). It also had roasted red bell peppers and tomatoes in it. While this actually turned out tasting really good, it was far from a 'pie'. I'm not sure what I would call it. It was really soupy right out of the crock pot last night. But it firmed up today when I had leftovers. The flavors of the Italian sausage were really great incorporated with the polenta. I think I'll work on this dish without the crock pot and see what I can come up with.

Monday, February 9, 2009

For your littlest valentines

A valentine for my little man

I decided I needed to make more heart shaped cookies. I was inspired by this recipe on Little Birdie Secrets (one of my favorite crafty sites).

Chocolate drizzled shortbread cookiesLinkIngredients:
2 cups unbleached, all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup margarine (I used Earth Balance)
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 cup chocolate chips

Cream together margarine and sugar. Add almond extract and mix well. Add flour and mix well. Use your hands to completely combine and form a smooth dough ball. Sprinkle on some flour if sticking to your hands. Roll out the dough and use a cookie cutter to make your favorite shapes. Bake at 300 degrees. The mini hearts I made took 8-10 minutes. Larger cookies will take longer. Bake until just beginning to brown at the edges. Cool cookies on rack. Melt chocolate chips in double boiler or microwave. Line up the completely cooled cookies on wax paper. Drizzle chocolate across one way and then the other. Put in the freezer to cool.

cookies with chocolate drizzled on

bowl of little heart cookies

This is only about 1/3 the number of cookies the recipe made. The first third I dipped in chocolate like the original recipe called for. But I thought the drizzling would be faster, and it was. Another 3rd got eaten before I put chocolate on them.

We took some to share with some of my 3 yr. old's friends. They are perfect for little fingers.
OEM enjoying a cookie. One of many!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

A bouquet for your Valentine

Celery Roses would be a great appetizer to serve to your Valentine while you are putting the last minute touches on the rest of your meal. This is my entry for Vegetable Love 2009.

Celery Roses
filled with Roasted Red Bell Pepper Sun Cheese

1 bunch celery
1 cup raw, shelled sunflower seeds
2 TBS lemon juice
2 TBS Ume plum vinegar
3/4 cups roasted red bell pepper, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped

1. Put the sunflower seeds in a bowl and cover with water 1-2 inches above the seeds. Soak the seeds for 6-8 hours.
2. Rinse the seeds many times to wash away the skins that float to the top of the water.
3. Add the soaked seeds, lemon juice, ume plum vinegar, garlic and red bell pepper to a food processor and run until smooth. Stopping to scrape down the sides every so often.
4. Put the Roasted Red Bell Pepper Sun Cheese into the fridge to chill for a few hours.

1. Chop off the end of your celery. Keep it to give you an idea of how the celery will go together to form the roses.

2. Wash and dry your celery stalks and trim off ends to make them all the same length. Line them up with the wide ends all on one side.3. Fill the celery stalks with the sun cheese.
4. Cut the stalks in half.
5. Using the halves with the wide ends, nest the celery stalks back together to look like the end you cut off.
5. Wrap your bundled celery in plastic wrap and refrigerate.
6. Refrigerate the remaining stalks until ready to serve.
7. Remove bundled celery from fridge and remove plastic wrap. Slice into 1/4 inch thick slices and carefully place roses onto serving dish. They can be delicate.
8. Arrange roses and stalks into a bouquet as pictured.

*Sun Cheese based on a recipe in Casa De Luz Community Cookbook: Sauces, Dressings, Condiments, and Spreads

Saturday, February 7, 2009

I heart cookies

Peanut butter filled chocolate cookies and a glass of soy milk

I definitely have a love for anything sweet, but cookies are my favorite. They are just a perfect hand held treat.

The other day I was in the mood for some kind of chocolate/peanut butter combination. So I went to Fat Free Vegan Kitchen and used her handy search tool to search veg blogs. This is the first recipe that came up. They looked delicious and even better, I had all the ingredients already. I also had a heart shaped ice cube tray that I just bought in the dollar bins at Target. Gotta love the dollar bins! So I decided to get into the valentine's spirit and make little heart shaped peanut butter filled chocolate cookies.

There will surely be more heart shaped treats to come.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

What's for dinner?

Here are a few things we have eaten this week (no pictures, sorry):

Chickpea Cutlets from Veganomicon over pasta with marinara sauce. Can you believe I've only made these twice considering how popular they are in vegan blog land. I have to say, they are not something I'm in love with. I liked them better this second time and I think that is because I baked them. I think I just need to find a good recipe to use them in. Something saucy.

On Superbowl Sunday we had chips and guacamole. We are not big football fans, but you gotta have guacamole on Superbowl Sunday! It was a beautiful day here in Austin. Spring-like weather. So Jeff grilled Veggie Brats and veggies (onion, green bells and red bells). We had them on hoagie rolls with just a little marinara sauce. Oh so yummy!

I got a nice cabbage from the farmer's market on Wednesday and made some more chinese food from Chinese Meatless Cooking by Stella Lau Fessler. This time it was Stir Fried Rice Noodles with Vegetables. The recipes in this book don't make very big portions, at least not by my standards. We ate it all up with no leftovers.

So if anyone has any suggestions for the chickpea patties and for what to make with most of a head of cabbage, let me know!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Good things take time

This is so true when it comes to a good slow cooker recipe.
I made Robin Robertson's Slow-Cooker Seitan Pot Roast today. I've made it many times and love it. It smells so wonderful when it is cooking. I have to admit, I was skeptical on how it would turn out the first time I made it. But it firms up nicely and makes a very flavorful, juicy seitan roast. And the veggies are a nice bonus! It helps to know your slow-cooker when making this. Robin's recipe suggests a cooking time of 4 hours on low. I have to put my slow-cooker on high to get it done in that time frame. She talks about this in her recipe. Make sure to check out her blog, Vegan Planet, for all kinds of great recipes.

Okay, enough writing about it...I'm going to go eat some!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Giveaways and contests

Two exciting things going on at vegan blogs I read:

1. Susan V. at FatFree Vegan Kitchen is having her Vegetable Love 2009 recipe contest. Check out her blog for the rules.

2. Wing It Vegan is having a Juicer giveaway. You just have to leave a comment on the post with what kind of superhero powers you would like to have.

I better get busy creating something for Vegetable Love 2009. I have an idea in mind.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Tofu nuggets

Here is a quick and delicious recipe for you:

Tofu Nuggets

1 package firm tofu
1/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1 Tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.
Combine flour, nut. yeast, salt and garlic powder. Drain the tofu and pat dry. Cut the tofu into 1/2 inch cubes.
Coat the tofu in the mixture. The best way to do this is to put the tofu and mixture into a paper bag and shake. Place the coated cubes onto the baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, flipping them once half-way through the cooking time to brown all sides.

The great thing is, while you have the oven on at that temperature, 20 minutes is just the right amount of time to roast most veggies. Last week I cubed up a butternut squash and tossed it with olive oil, salt and pepper and added it to the baking sheet alongside the tofu nuggets.

This recipe is also kid approved. OEM loves dipping his in ketchup. I like dipping them in barbeque sauce.

Stay tuned: I'm working on a recipe for Vegan Almond Joys.