Thursday, August 31, 2006

Pizza Bowls

Or maybe they're calzones in a bowl. Or Italian pot pies. Regardless they were pretty tasty. We got the idea while watching some Food Network show a few months ago. There was a piece on a restaurant (maybe in Chicago?) that does something like this. Of course the restaurant version was a big cheesy meat-laden thing so I went my own vegan way with it. I started by making a basic pizza dough (using half whole wheat flour) and while that was doing its thing I made a sauce with olive oil, onions, garlic, dried basil, a can of artichoke bottoms (diced), some sliced kalamata olives, capers, a can of tomatoes, and some tomato paste. Then I cut up the last of the veggies from last weekend's market - yellow squash and green beans - and sauteed them in olive oil with some seitan and basil & oregano. I put the veggies in little ceramic bowls, topped with some sauce, then rolled out pieces of the dough to fit on top. I baked them at 425° for 15 minutes then once they cooled a little I ran a knife along the edge and turned them out onto a plate (the photo shows one still in a bowl and one turned onto a plate).

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Pasta Salad

Darlene's taking a night class that started tonight and she left about 5 minutes after I got home so no dinner together. She made a big simple pasta salad yesterday with artichokes, carrots, celery and edamame and that was her dinner before she left. I thought about cooking something but I didn't really feel like it so I had the pasta salad as well. I put some fresh tomato on top and sprinkled liberally with a nutritional yeast/ground almond faux parmesan mixture. Not spectacular but pretty tasty.

Then later I felt like I should do something productive so I cooked after all. I've been wanting to try the Skinny Figgy Bars from the Fatfree Vegan blog and I bought the needed ingredients a couple weeks ago so I finally got around to making them tonight. Yum-ola! And so good for you too. The crust batter is a little soft and the filling a little stiff so it was delicate work spreading everything in the pan with my hands but it was worth it to lick my fingers afterwards ;-) Follow the link for the recipe and a picture. I seriously doubt I could do a better picture than that anyway.

After the fig bars came out I was on a roll (and still had plenty of oats left) so I made my favorite granola. Now breakfast is covered for the next week or so.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Seitan Fajitas

Our garden is so pathetic this year but we did get a couple of small-ish bell peppers recently (one each from 2 plants). I posted a recipe for fajitas once before but tonight it was a little more basic. I just dumped the onions, bell peppers, green beans and seitan into a pan, sauteed all that for a bit, then added the juice of 1 lime, a little agave, half a package of Bearitos taco seasoning, a fresh diced tomato and a little water. I mixed everything together and cooked another couple minutes and that was it. Onto a flour tortilla it went with some salsa and lettuce.

Violet's Place

For all of you following the saga of our sweet kitty Violet, we really appreciate the support. We've always wanted to keep this blog focused on food, so with that in mind we've started another blog to post updates on Violet: http://violetthecat.blogspot.com She's home now but the saga will likely continue. So much of our energy is going towards her right now that I don't know how focused we'll be in the food department but we'll give it a shot.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Stir Fry

We didn't stick around Richmond for dinner and Violet's night time visitation tonight because it looks like we'll finally be able to bring our sweetie home tomorrow. So that means that tonight I cooked dinner for the first time in several nights. Oh, it wasn't the best thing I've ever made but it was edible. I fried some tofu in peanut oil, then set it aside while I stir-fried broccoli, bok choy, mushrooms and ginger. Then I added the tofu back to the pan and mixed in the sauce. I winged it with the sauce but it came out pretty good: soy sauce, veg. broth, vinegar, agave and cornstarch. And I added some pomegranite glaze on a whim because what else am I gonna do with it. It worked pretty well I think.

If the colors on our photos look a bit off now that's because we listened to Al Gore and put compact flourescents in the main light in our kitchen (we already have 'em in most of the rest of the house). Trouble is, now none of the white balance pre-sets on our camera are quite right. Something to play around with I guess...

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Breakfast Hash

This is pretty similar to a breakfast from last weekend but with everything cooked together. I found some nice big red potatoes at the farmers' market yesterday so one of those got diced and fried in peanut oil. Then I added some Twin Oaks veg. chorizo, onions, mushrooms and a little baby bok choy. I just seasoned it with salt & pepper and topped it with some fresh diced tomato, also from the market.

Moe's and Pinky Tuscadaro


Violet is definitely doing better. Yeah!! We are so happy!! Last night when we saw her she was as curious as ever and had to sniff every inch of the room. We spent about an hour with her yesterday afternoon and an hour and half last night. By the end of the visit she had curled up next to me and was snoring peacefully. For dinner last night we went to a chain burrito place called Moe's Southwest Grill. We both got the triple lindy which had black beans, rice, qaucomole, tofu (yes, tofu at a fast food place, pretty cool), lettuce and hot peppers. The really fun thing about the place was that all of the food options had names from movies and tv shows. The best one was Pinky Tuscadaro which is from Happy Days which both Chris and I watched when we were kids. When I saw Violet a few days ago she started to have a pink hue around her front from the antibiotics. I then dubbed her Pinky Tuscadaro which has sort of stuck as a nick-name. It was very funny to see that as one of the food options. Well, today we are back to Richmond to visit. We brought a picture of Violet as a kitten yesterday to give to the techs and it is now hanging up on the board. She had the biggest ears as a kitten. She is probably there now say, "Great, they brought a baby picture. Now everyone is going to call me little miss big ears. Thanks mom and dad!". Everyone seems to love her at the clinic. She is adjusting well and they say she talks frequently which is really sweet. Thanks everyone again for all your well wishes for Violet. We will keep you posted.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Violet Update and Richmond Eats

We haven't cooked much this week since we've been visiting Violet in the hospital every night. Anything can still happen but so far the doctor is encouraged by her progress and he told us yesterday that she's just about ready to come home. The issue now is that she's still on a lot of medications and while no cat likes to take pills, she is especially difficult with meds. So we're leaving her in the hospital over the weekend so the professionals there can most likely do a much better job giving her meds than we can. Then her antibiotics will be mostly finished and we've ordered a little kitty "puffer" that will hopefully make it easier to give the medications for her lung disease. Hopefully she'll be home by early next week and until then we're going to visit her every day.

The weekday visitations are mid-afternoon and again at night so we've been making the hour-long drive to the vetrinary hospital just outside of Richmond for the first visitation, then driving into the city for dinner and hanging around town until the night-time visitation. So we're still exploring vegan food options in Richmond. On Thursday we had dinner at the 821 Cafe on Cary St. near VCU. It's nothing fancy but the food was good. Their vegan options are pretty typical - pasta w/ veggies, burrito, chili, vegan burger, portobello sandwich - but there are enough to choose from. The bonus for us was the excellent 80's music mix they had playing while we were in there (including a somewhat obscure Joy Division song that I hadn't heard in a long time).

And we can't get enough of Panda Veg, the all vegan Chinese restaurant, so we went back there again last night for their buffet. Since becoming vegan that's definitely the first time I've been to any buffet where I could (and did) sample everything there.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Tacos

We enjoyed our tacos so much the last time we made them that we decided to do it again for dinner last night. Plus it's a relatively quick and easy thing to do. This time we got blue corn shells and again used TVP and a store-bought seasoning mix (Bearitos I think). We were out of Tofutti sour cream but I did make the Gee Whiz Spread from The Uncheese Cookbook by Joanne Stepaniak and it was good on the tacos - tastes kind of like some pimiento cheese spread I had as a kid.

Now we're about to head back to Richmond to visit Violet. We didn't get an update from the vet this morning but no news is probably good news. We spent a lot of time with her last night and she seems to be still improving.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Seitan Portobello Stroganoff

This was actually the first meal we posted about when we started this blog and it was so good we've been meaning to make it again ever since then. There wasn't a picture last time but I took one this time. It's pretty much straight from Vegan with a Vengeance and the recipe is also on-line at the PPK. We served it over linguine and it was awesome yet again.

We actually made this several days ago right before Violet got sick. She's still in the hospital but she's doing better. We met with a doctor about her condition today and while we don't have a positive diagnosis, it's most likely a chronic lower respiratory disease that hopefully can be managed with medication. We were hopeful that we might be able to bring her home today or tomorrow but now it looks like they want to keep her there for a few more days. So that means we'll still be making a daily trip to Richmond to visit her. The last two days we've gone there for the afternoon visitation, then hung around town, had dinner, and camped out at a book store for a while before going back for the next visitation time at 8:00 at night. We've had dinner twice now at Panda Veg which is an all vegan Chinese restaurant in the Fan area of Richmond. The first time we went it was a little overwhelming because they have over 100 items on their menu and everything is vegan. We're so used to going to restaurants where there's only a few things on the menu we can actually order that we were a bit dizzy at first but we got over it. Mock meats abound at this place but they have plenty of veggies too. It's a bit of a hole in the wall and the service wasn't exactly 5-star but it wasn't bad either and the food was great. Check it out if you're ever in Richmond; on the corner of Grace and Harrison Streets.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Hash Browns and Chorizo

This was yesterday's breakfast - I think... I'm losing track of the days in this ordeal with our favorite fluffball Violet, but she's doing a little better now. We visited her twice today and she's out of the ICU and off the supplemental oxygen now and still breathing fine. She'll be in the hospital until at least Wednesday when she'll be checked out thoroughly by an internal medicine specialist but we're starting to be hopeful that we can bring her home soon after that.

As for breakfast, it was a grated yukon gold potato, fried in a little olive oil and Earth Balance, and Twin Oaks veg. chorizo, fried with some onions and mushrooms. We had some fresh diced tomato on top and whole grain toast on the side.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

A Nightmare of a Weekend

I'm starting not with food, but with Violet, as I did a couple months ago. She'd been doing pretty good since then but yesterday she took a serious and sudden turn for the worse. We knew she had some respiratory problems but yesterday she started having a lot of trouble breathing. We took her to the emergency vet and they put her on oxygen and that helped. Then we had to take her (with a portable oxygen tank) back to the specialist in Richmond, an hour's drive away. She's still there now and she's doing a little better but we miss her terribly. We were able to visit her a couple of times today but only for 5-10 minutes each time since she's in the ICU in an oxygen chamber. She seems to be doing a little better today but we don't know when (or even if) we'll be able to bring her home. We don't have a positive diagnosis but we'll get another update from the vet tomorrow morning. There's a lot more to the story but I think I'll have to leave it at that for now.

We're still cooking since it's a diversion so I'll leave you with the okra stew we made tonight. There are a couple other pics that may show up here at some point but now I think it's off to bed since we didn't get much sleep last night. We'll try to keep you posted on Violet but I don't know how much we'll have the energy to post over the next few days.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Pasta with Eggplant and Tomatoes

Trying to use up a few things tonight - like a small eggplant and half a bottle of crushed tomatoes. I cooked the eggplant in olive oil with some onion, bell pepper, garlic and salt & pepper, then added the tomatoes, a little tomato paste and some fresh basil. Then I simmered it for a while until the eggplant was soft and served it over whole wheat spaghetti with fresh cherry tomatoes on top. And the last time I made foccacia there was some left over that got frozen so tonight it was out of the freezer and into the oven and then served on the side.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Key Lime Pie

No, this wasn't for dinner but actually for dessert a couple of nights ago. My office closed a bit early today and everyone got together for a picnic. There isn't typically much vegan food at such gatherings, but there were two different large bowls of black bean salsa; a bunch of that with some chips plus the brownies that we brought and some watermelon was pretty much our dinner. So I thought I'd share the recipe for this pie that Darlene made. The pie filling is from Cooking with PETA. Neither of us is an expert in pie crusts, but we did the oat & walnut crust that we used for our Thanksgiving pumpkin cheesecake because it's easy to make and tastes great. For the filling, Nellie & Joe's Key Lime Juice is best if you can find it (acutally real key limes are best but those are harder to find).

Key Lime Pie Filling from Cooking with PETA:

1/4 c. key lime juice
2 1/2 c. soy milk
1 c. sugar
5 Tbs. cornstarch
2 tsp. lime zest

Whisk all the ingredients together in a saucepan, then turn on medium heat and slowly bring to a boil, stirring constantly until thick and creamy. Allow to cool slightly then pour into a 9 inch pie crust and chill until firm.

Monday, August 14, 2006

7 Layer Dip

This was inspired by two things: A big bag of tortilla chips that was on its way to stale-ness, and something Darlene saw recently while watching Rachael Ray. Yup, amazingly enough we get ideas now and then from the Food Network even though they're so NOT VEGAN. And I told you that Chedda Sauce from Saturday night would show up here again...

To make this hearty dip, I layered the following in a shallow baking dish and popped it into the oven at 350° for 15 minutes:
  • One can of pinto beans, mashed slightly and cooked with some diced onion, bell pepper and garlic, and seasoned with paprika, cumin, oregano and salt
  • Tofutti sour cream
  • Store-bought salsa
  • One can of black beans, mashed slightly and cooked with some diced onion, jalapeno pepper and garlic, and seasoned with chili powder, cumin and salt
  • Guacamole (a big avocado mashed with a little salt & lime juice, with some diced tomato mixed in at the end)
  • More fresh diced tomato
  • Leftover Chedda Sauce
And boy was it good. All 7 layers aren't evident in the photo but trust me, they're in there.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Cashew Butter Sandwiches and Greens

An interesting combination. Something fun and something good for you I guess. The cashew butter sandwiches we've mentioned before (more than once) and they were yummy as always. For the obligatory veggie, I cooked up some nice mixed greens (collards, kale & chard) we found at the farmers' market this weekend and they came out really good. I diced a small red onion and cooked that in olive oil with some salt & pepper. Then I added the greens (chopped pretty small), cooked for a couple minutes, then added a couple tablespoons water. I reduced the heat, covered and simmered for about 10 minutes, then added about a tablespoon of pomegranite glaze and a medium-sized diced tomato and cooked a few minutes more. I guess I could say something like the sweetness of the pomegranite glaze complemented the acidity of the tomato but really all I know is that it was a tasty way to eat some greens.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Green Beans with "Chedda" Sauce

We'd been thinking about getting a copy of The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook by Joanne Stepaniak but recently we found a used copy of her original The Uncheese Cookbook for 3 bucks so we snapped it up. We gave it a whirl tonight and tried the Hot Chedda Sauce over steamed green beans. We rounded out the meal with veggie burgers (Dr. Praeger's Tex-Mex flavor - a little mushy but tasty). The "cheese" sauce really was that bright orange - mainly from the addition of pimientos and nutritional yeast. It tasted quite good and even though I halved the recipe we have a lot left over so I'm sure it'll show up here again soon.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Kung Pao Tofu and Fried Rice

Hey everyone, I'm back from San Diego and I'm cooking again. While I was on my travels, I had some great vegan Mexican food on a couple of occasions at Pokez, but yesterday I had Kung Pao Tofu for lunch at Blue Ginger and that's what gave me the idea for tonight's dinner. There was slim pickins in the fridge tonight but we did have some tofu and a few other choice items for the fried rice. For the Kung Pao, I used the same sauce as I did with the seitan a few months ago. To start, I stir-fried a cubed block of tofu along with some finely minced red jalapeno chile, a little red onion and ginger. When the tofu was getting brown, I threw in a handful of peanuts and cooked for another minute or so, then I added the sauce and stirred until it got thick.

For the rice, I stir-fried some diced carrot, shredded red cabbage, red onion, edamame (we had a frozen package of them) and garlic and ginger. Then I added some cooked brown rice, a couple tablespoons of soy sauce and a couple teaspoons of black sesame oil. The tofu was good, though not quite as good as what I had in the restaurant, but I suspect they used a lot more oil and soy sauce than I did (and probably just have a better chef in general).

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Summer Risotto, Caramelized Onion Focaccia and Green Beans

First off, we may not be posting much next week because I'll be in San Diego at a conference until Friday. But we'll leave you with a somewhat lengthy post and a few more photos than usual. We had our friends Saul and Michelle over for dinner last night and we thought a risotto recipe with some fresh summer veggies that we did once before would be good. So let's start with the risotto, which is from The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen by Peter Berley. Like he suggests, I started by making a broth from the corn cobs and leek tops. I also added some quinoa to the mix which is an idea I got from another risotto recipe in the same book. So here's what I did:

5 cups broth
2 Tbs. olive oil
2 c. chopped leeks, white and tender green parts
1 c. arborio rice
1/3 c. quinoa
1/4 c. white wine
corn kernels from 2 ears of corn
1 lb. tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. fresh thyme
1/2 c. chopped basil, plus a little extra for garnish
salt & pepper to taste

Keep the broth simmering on another burner while you heat the oil in another pan. Add the leeks to the oil and cook for a few minutes then add the rice and quinoa and cook for another 2 minutes or so. Add the wine and continue cooking until all the liquid is absorbed then add the corn, tomatoes, garlic and thyme. Add the broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until the liquid is mostly absorbed each time. Continue cooking and adding broth for about 22 minutes, or until the rice is tender and creamy. Add the basil in the last 5 minutes and season to taste with salt & pepper.

Here we are in our kitchen while I'm stirring the risotto:


We started the meal off with some salads made with a combination of leaf lettuce and other mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers and nasturtium flowers. The dressing was the Lemon Zinger Vinaigrette which I think is my favorite dressing recipe from Vive le Vegan.



With the risotto we had some steamed green beans with a little margarine and salt & pepper, and a focaccia that I made with caramelized onions on top. The focaccia recipe was made with sourdough starter and is something I adapted from Nancy Silverton's Breads from the La Brea Bakery. For the topping I thinly sliced a large Vidalia onion and cooked it in olive oil with about a teaspoon of sugar and a little salt until it was nicely browned. And since we promised our guests that they'd be on our blog, here's Michelle, Saul and Darlene sitting down to dinner:



Finally, our guests were interested in our choice of a vegan diet/lifestyle and asked us several questions about our veganism. For them and others out there who might have similar questions, one of the best resources I know of explaining the "why" of being vegan is the appropriately named Why Vegan section of the Vegan Outreach web site.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Artichoke Wraps

This was the result of trying to make a quick meal after rooting through the fridge for things we needed to use up. I made a dip/sandwich spread with half a can of chickpeas, a can of artichoke bottoms, and a little bit of Vegenaise, Tofutti cream cheese, lemon juice and salt & pepper. All that got blended in the food processor then it went onto tortillas with some shredded carrots and red cabbage and a drizzle of a simple cider vinaigrette. Pretty decent given how quick it came together.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Creamy Gnocchi

Here we go again. We were lacking for fresh vegetables tonight but I picked what's probably the last of the chard from the garden and decided that gnocchi would make for a quick meal. I sauteed some thinly sliced sweet onion in olive oil with salt & pepper, then added the chopped chard and cooked for a bit more, then a large clove of garlic, very thinly sliced, and a handful of toasted pine nuts. Then in went the gnocchi along with about 1/2 cup of plain soy milk. I covered the pan and reduced the heat and simmered for a few minutes then mixed in a couple tablespoons of nutritional yeast. Meanwhile Darlene was making a quick salad with fresh tomatoes, marinated mushrooms, kalamata olives, celery, red cabbage and salt, pepper, oil and vinegar. It all came together quickly and was pretty tasty too.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Stuffed Pattypan Squash

This was last night's dinner but I'm just getting around to posting it. Tonight I was out late riding my bike and dinner was a veggie burger and some mac & "cheese" that Darlene made. I've been eyeing this recipe from the Fatfree Vegan Kitchen and this past weekend we found some nice big pattypan squash at the farmers' market. I never got around to getting any white beans though so I made this with black beans and changed the seasonings to more of a Southwestern sort of thing. I mostly followed Susan's instructions but the seasonings were 1 tsp. chili powder and 1/2 tsp. each of paprika, cumin and oregano. And I left out the celery but added some diced carrot and fresh diced tomato. It was quite good, especially with some Tofutti sour cream on top, but I still want to try the original recipe some time. Thanks again Susan!