Monday, February 28, 2011

Roasted Eggplant

Last night I posted about my pasta sauce, which we enjoy every Sunday. I had an eggplant floating around that needed to be used up so I decided to roast it up and toss it into my sauce. It's so easy, try it out!

Roasted Eggplant

  • 1 eggplant, any size
  • olive oil to coat
  • salt and pepper to taste

 Preheat Oven to 400ยบ.
First peel the eggplant, then slice it into rounds about 1/4" thick. Drizzle a little olive oil on a baking sheet and place eggplant on the sheet, giving each piece a quick rub in the oil. Then drizzle a tiny bit more oil on top of the eggplant. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and place into oven for about 20 minutes. Keep an eye on yours to make sure the eggplant doesn't burn. After 10 minutes, flip the slices with tongs or a fork. Once they are done, simply add to your sauce and mix to incorporate throughout. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sunday Night Sauce

Hello my blogi's. I do apologize for my extended absence. I found myself quite sick, not with the flu, but something just as bad, if not worse, on Valentine's day. Luckily for me, this sickness lasted over a week. Now, let's get right back to things here.

We have a Sunday night tradition here. It's actually my family's tradition, which I happily brought along with me when I moved. Each and ever Sunday we have pasta with gravy. No, not the gravy you put on mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving, gravy in this sense means tomato sauce.

Dinner prep on Sunday begins early in the morning. Before breakfast is made, sauce is being started.

Feel free to use this recipe as a guideline. You can customize your sauce to your owns taste and texture likes. For example, you can use two cans of tomato sauce if you want something a little thinner. Or, you can use two cans of crushed tomatoes if you want something a little chunkier. Experiment until you find the combination you like. Additionally, you can add whatever dried spices you prefer. I always use dried herbs, but if I have fresh herbs around, I use those also.

Gravy (aka Sauce)
Serves 2 (with some leftovers)

  • olive oil to coat

  • 1 large onion, chopped

  • 2-3 garlic cloves, chopped

  • 1 28 oz can tomato sauce

  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes

  • 1 6 oz can tomato paste

  • garlic powder, to taste

  • dried Italian seasonings blend, to taste

  • crushed red pepper, to taste

  • 1 lb pasta

  • Italian bread for dipping

Heat the olive oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium high heat. Add onions, cook until soft about 5-7 minutes. Add garlic, cook until just barely browned. Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce and paste, mix well. Bring to a rapid simmer, then turn the heat down to the lowest setting. Add the garlic powder, Italian seasonings and crushed red pepper, then cover. You can let the sauce sit like this, covered on low heat, all day. Once you are ready to eat, taste and season again if needed. Boil your pasta according to package directions. Drain pasta, do not rinse, then mix pasta into the sauce until completely covered. Serve and top with an extra scoop of sauce. Dunk and scoop your extra sauce with the Italian bread. Serve with a nice side salad.

My favorite thing to do as a kid was to take a piece of Italian bread, spread it with butter and pile my spaghetti on top. Then I folded the piece of bread in half and voila! Spaghetti sandwich!

Now, seriously. Stop buying that jarred crap and make your own.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day

Ok, Valentine's Day is made up and commercial, etc, etc. But I still like an excuse to make something fun and festive...

I started the morning off with heart shaped breakfast sandwiches. The omelette and "sausage" patty recipe come from the Happy Herbivore cookbook. The sausage patties are made with quinoa, and my are they delicious.  

I wasn't planning to make dinner being that we had so many leftovers from the night before, but I kept seeing one recipe pop up all over the place, and decided to go for it. Heart shaped, spinach filled ravioli floating in tomato sauce. YUM! Try this one out.

Finally, for dessert was my take on a classic Valentine's tradition. I set up a platter of strawberries, pineapple, banana slices, Dandies marshmallows, and mini strawberry cupcakes alongside chocolate fondue made in the crock pot. Everything was great but the chocolate hit the spot. We ate enough Dandies to make us sick. 

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Pre Valentine's Day

Wow, am I lucky. Tonight, T took over the kitchen to make me a special Valentine's Day dinner all from the book Vegan Italiano. What a nice change of pace to be able to lazy around until dinner was ready! I did keep offering to help, but was rejected each time. I think part of my food "snobbery" is that I get nervous when others cook for me, even when it is people I trust. Anyway, everything was so delicious, and even better, we have tons of leftovers.

We started with potato and onion focaccia bread.

Next was tomato florentine soup.

Followed by roasted veggies over thyme polenta.

 And finally Sicilian orange salad. 

Yumm. I feel loved. And, quite full. 

Happy V Day!

Sticky Fingers Bakery

Well, rounding out this weekend of good eats was a trip to Sticky Fingers Bakery. I know I said Cafe Green was my fav restaurant in DC, but it actually takes second place after Sticky Fingers. It's especially perfect for Sunday afternoon brunch.

As an appetizer, we shared the sticky bun. It's basically mandatory. Then both T and I got the breakfast burrito. This thing is massive. If ever you are hungover in DC, this burrito will cure you as fast as you can shove it down your throat. A whole wheat wrap is loaded with scrambled tofu, black beans, potatoes, spinach, tomatoes, mozzarella and cheddar Daiya.

Lastly, a treat from my sweet. A red velvet cupcake topped with a tiny heart. Rounding out the meal was a perfect hot chai.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Happy Herbivore at Cafe Green

Today I attended a lunch and book signing with Linsday of Happy Herbivore. It was held at Cafe Green, which is one of my favorite restaurants in DC. It was fabulous to meet and chat with some fellow bloggers and tweeps, in person. A great time was had by all, and I cannot wait to see everyone again at Vida Vegan Con. I had a giant cup of (much needed) coffee, a quinoa & lentil veggie "cheese"burger and a chai milkshake. The food was delish of course. Here are some photos... with more to come.

Soup & Salad

It is frigid here. The cold temperatures have stirred up a craving for tomato soup. Luckily I had some canned tomatoes just waiting to be used.

Tomato & Leek Soup

  • olive oil
  • 2 28oz cans whole, peeled tomatoes
  • 1 large leek, roughly chopped (white and most of the green part)
  • dried Italian herbs, to taste
  • onion powder, to taste
  • garlic powder, to taste
First, chop and wash your leek very well, please. Heat a little oil in a soup pot, add leeks, saute until soft. Add tomatoes with all liquid from can. Then add about 1 can of water. (I filled each can about half way and swished it around to get the rest of the tomato-y goodness that got left behind.) Bring to a boil and break up the tomatoes a bit with a spatula. Turn down to a simmer, add Italian herbs, fresh cracked pepper, and salt if desired. I also added a few shakes of garlic powder and onion powder. Remove from heat and blend (in batches, if needed) in blender or food processor.

I love the combination of tomato soup and grilled cheese, but I wanted to ex-nay on the grilled cheese this time and replace it with a large salad. The problem with this was I wanted hot food, not cold salad. Fellow bloggers to the rescue. Susan from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen just posted a Hot Skillet Salad. Using her recipe as a guideline, I made a hot salad for the side of my soup.

Hot Salad
  • olive oil, optional
  • 1/4-1/2 onion, sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, sliced
  • crushed red pepper to taste
  • 1 large sweet potato, cut into 1" cubes
  • 1 bunch kale, torn
  • 1bunch bok choy, chopped
  • 1 bunch swiss chard, chopped
  • 1 can beans (use what you have, I used Great Northern)
Over medium heat, I cooked the onion, garlic and crushed red pepper in a smidge of olive oil. After about 3 minutes, I added the sweet potato and cooked another 5 minutes or so. Then, added in all the greens and 1 cup water. Cover and cook about 5 minutes or until the potatoes are soft. Add the beans, toss and serve. I seasoned with fresh cracked pepper, a dash of sea salt, and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Teese - an unsolicited review

As part of a Vegan Pizza Day giveaway, I was sent 2 packages of Teese vegan cheese from the lovely people at Chicago Soy Dairy (Dandies <3). I was quite excited, as I've never tried Teese before. In the past, I would have had some nervousness around trying a vegan cheese, but I've heard many good things about Teese, so I was thinking positive.

I received my samples just a few days before Super Bowl and used that as an opportunity to try out the cheddar cheese sauce. I mixed the package of cheddar Teese with about half a jar of salsa and heated in a saucepan until the Teese was nice and melty. I picked up organic blue corn chips to serve with my cheese dip. I know one of the golden rules of veganism is never serve vegan cheese to omni's, but my omnivorous aunt, uncle and boyfriend all enjoyed the dip (or at least it seemed like it, since there was none left).

I really was please with the Teese product. It was definitely much more pleasant when the cheese was warm and melty, but that didn't stop us from eating it cold too. Although I am a diehard Daiya fan, I can definitely see the cheddar Teese becoming a regular in our macaroni and cheese dishes.

I still have a package of Teese mozarella still just waiting to be melted on top of a pizza. I'll let you know how that goes.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


I have this problem where I get home from work, I'm starving, and I end up either 1) eating an entire meal of leftovers, or 2) eat a loaf of bread. Then, later on when T gets home, I eat a meal again. Now you can see how this is a problem as I am pretty good about eating breakfast and lunch and a few snacks throughout the day at work. I am trying to remedy this snacking/premature dinner problem with smoothies.

My favorite smoothie combination is:

  • natural peanut butter (1-2 tablespoons)
  • 1 banana
  • ground flax seeds (2 tablespoons)
  • maca powder (1-2 teaspoons)
  • soy milk (1-2 cups)
More recently, I have been trying out green smoothies. I've made:

  • spinach (large handful)
  • pineapple (1 cup)
  • 1 banana
  • 1 carrot
  • ground flax seeds (2 tablespoons)
  • maca powder (1 teaspoon)
  • water (1/2 cup)
  • 5 ice cubes
It was good, but would have been great without the maca powder. 

Yet another combination I've tried is spinach/carrot/grapefruit/flax. Not my favorite, but I still finished it all. 

Stay tuned for my up and coming smoothie combinations. 

Seitan Stir-Fry

If I had a signature dish, this would be it. It is a regular, go to, I'm starving right now, busy weekday, feel too lazy to cook, quick and easy meal. The ingredients are few and pretty basic, plus it is also really versatile, and can be adjusted to suit your own taste. Let's have a look...

Seitan Stir-Fry

  • toasted sesame oil  
  • 1 package seitan (I used WestSoy chicken style, feel free to sub your favorite brand or homemade)
  • 1 cup mushrooms, sliced (cremini, white button, or baby bella)
  • Bragg's Liquid Aminos (or soy, tamari, etc)
  • freshly grated ginger, to taste
  • 1-2 bunches broccoli, chopped into small-ish florets 
  • sesame seeds
Heat a drizzle of sesame oil over medium high heat. Add seitan and cook until browned about 10 minutes. Be sure to keep the seitan moving in the pan, it will stick to the bottom otherwise. Add another drizzle of oil if needed, and scrape the bottom on the pan for the good browned bits. Add mushrooms and continue to cook another 5-7 minutes, until shrooms are nice and softened. 

Remember, keep moving the food around with a nice sturdy rubber spatula. Add a light drizzle of Bragg's, just enough to cover the bottom of the pan. It will sizzle, just give it a good mix. Grate your ginger right into the pan. A little ginger goes a long way, so don't over do it, kay? Stir, stir, stir. At this point add the broccolli, mix, then add another drizzle of Bragg's. Throw a top on the pan for about 2-3 minutes, this will steam up the broccoli. Remove the lid, and give everything a good toss. Plate up and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Now, devour. Omnomnom.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Homemade Nut Milk!

And we're back! My hand is healing nicely, so it's time to get back to all this food.
I'd like to take this time to talk about something I'd like to make more often. I should make more often. I will make more often. Homemade nut milk. I know technically it isn't "milk" per say. More like blended nut water, but that doesn't sound as good. If you utilize the bulk bins in your local health food or grocery store, this can be a very inexpensive way to keep your fridge stocked with a variety of tasty non-dairy milks.

As much as I love my store bought non-dairy milks, it is so easy to make nut milk at home that it's asinine. Here's what you do.

Take 1/2 cup of your favorite nut and blend with 1-2 cups of water, (start with 1 and add as needed, you'll know if you need more by the thickness as your blending)  Give it a good long blend for a few minutes. Place a fine mesh strainer over a large bowl or pitcher and pour your milk into the container through the strainer. Use a spoon to swish around the pulp that collects in the strainer as the milk strains through.

Once you've finished, take the remaining pulp, place it back in the blender with 1 cup of water and blend again. You are going to strain the milk again, like before be sure to push around the pulp in the strainer. Repeat this process until you have a very small amount of pulp left, reserve it in a covered container and store in the fridge. I usually blend a total of 4 times.
Next, rinse out your blender and pour your milk back into it. Give it another really good blend for a minute or two. Pour it through the strainer one last time.

And voila, you have homemade milk. I've done this with almonds, brazil nuts and even sesame seeds (though, sesame seeds go through a slightly different process. First you blend them dry into a powder then blend with water.) I plan to make hazelnut milk in the near future and I'm going to try my hand at oat milk as well.

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