12 September 2014

Maggie's Vegan Chicken and Noodles

Last Sunday I woke up really early (just before 6) and couldn't get back to sleep. After tossing and turning for a while, I decided to get up and be productive. For the record, productive on Sunday morning means reading the paper while sipping a single cup of French pressed coffee. After I finished the paper, it still wasn't late enough to wake up Shana, so I decided to do some work. For some low-level background noise, I turned on the TV. I'm not sure how much Sunday morning TV you watch, but there is not a lot on that interests me. I decided on the Food Network.

At this point, I'm not even sure what show I was watching, but I assure you that it was not a vegan-friendly cooking show. Somehow or another, I came away with two new recipes I wanted to veganize. When I mentioned the idea of a vegan "chicken" and noodles dinner to Shana, she seemed cautiously interested. We put it on the meal plan for this week. As the week progressed, Shana got more and more excited and kept saying that she wanted something like the "just boil water" pasta sides of her college days (read: weekend late nights).

Veganized chicken and noodles was on the menu for tonight. I'd come home late after an outing with some colleagues and hadn't had enough time to look up a variety of recipes to get some ideas, which is my general plan when I'm making something new. Instead, I came home, grabbed ingredients, and got to work. The resulting dish ended up being a delicious (and less chemically-laden) version of a comfort food. Shana was in heaven.



05 September 2014

Hot and Creamy Vegan Artichoke Dip

I am in charge of a loosely-organized mostly-social group on my campus that consists of new(ish) faculty. We had a ton of new people arrive this year, so I've planned some events where people can get to know one another. As it turned out, many of the new folks to arrive on campus have small children, so I decided that a late afternoon weekend potluck might be just the thing for those new folk for whom an after-work happy hour would be a scheduling nightmare. (For the record, it was a great success and there were many small people happily running around.)

While talking with Shana about what we should bring to the potluck, she mentioned an old recipe of mine that I hadn't pulled out in a while - a hot artichoke dip. I used to make this all the time while in grad school; it was my go to recipe for bringing to football game viewing parties, someone-did-something-so-let's-celebrate parties, or really any time a group of people gathered together. It was quite popular and always devoured. In fact, I would bring it to a party, set it down, and people would descend upon it, barely talking until it was gone. When we moved to western NY, I ended up making it for a party, but it didn't go as fast. I started making other things, and we just kind of forgot about this recipe. Upon bringing it to this potluck, it was devoured!


Now, this is NOT a good for you recipe. It's high in fat, although because it is vegan, the corresponding non-vegan version would be very high in fat and cholesterol. Anyway, I just thought I would give you fair warning that this is definitely a once in a while type of treat. But wow, what a delicious treat.

23 August 2014

Roasted Garlic Oil Pasta

Once again I'm sorry for the long delay between posts, dear readers. This delay was due to two primary forces. First, my computer was moving so slowly that I honestly couldn't have more than one program open at a time or type quickly because it was generally about a sentence behind me. Ugh. Second, at the end of July I left to go to Spain with some faculty colleagues. Together, the 9 of us walked part of the Camino de Santiago, publicized recently by the movie The Way. We were gone for 12 days, and when we got back, it was directly into retreats and workshops and meetings for the start of the semester.

Now, I'm mostly ready for the semester to start and we have a couple of days without full-day meetings planned. Thus, it's a perfect time to update you on some of the light and easy things we've been eating throughout this past summer. First up is a ridiculously easy dinner that requires just a tiny bit of planning: roasted garlic oil pasta.


I'd been wanting a pasta dish with something on it, but didn't want something creamy and just wasn't feeling like making my red sauce. As I was looking around my kitchen, I realized we had a ton of garlic, and that's when this dish came together. It was a perfect dinner for a summer night because it didn't heat up my kitchen and didn't sit heavily in my stomach. Plus, I'm sure you could put in any number of fresh summer veggies and it would be delicious!

26 July 2014

Vegan Blueberry Tart

Earlier this week I asked Shana to go to the store to pick up an ingredient we'd forgotten for that night's dinner. While she was there, I called and asked if she would bring home some blueberries (I planned to make some overnight oats). Shortly thereafter, Shana walks into the kitchen carrying a giant 5 pound box of blueberries! Since 5 pounds was just a bit more than I'd been anticipating. I had to figure out how to use all of those blueberries.

As I thought, I kept popping blueberries into my mouth. As ideas began to form, I looked down, certain I'd eaten at least a pound of them already. HA - not even close. Here's what I've done so far. We gave some to our neighbors. We ate some. I made a blueberry buckle. Then I decided I wanted to make a tart. I've never made a tart before, so I was nervous. However, I invited some friends over and the seven of us polished it off. It was delicious!


This recipe wasn't particularly hard, but it has multiple steps and is a production. You need to plan ahead, as many of the steps take multiple hours (or overnight). But don't let the steps and planning deter you! The result was awesome. My friends literally licked their plates clean!



18 July 2014

Pasta Della California

I am sorry for my absence, dear blog readers. After my May Term ended, I had about a week to finalize grades (and sleep!) before Shana and I embarked on our summer travels. Since we both teach, we've got 5-6 weeks in the summer when we are both free of scheduled commitments and head off to visit family and friends in various parts of the country. It's a lot of driving, but the laughter and hugs and good memories more than make up for the long drives.

Because we've been traveling, we've been relying on staple recipes (e.g., grilled foil packets, risotto, etc.), convenience items like store-bought vegan burgers/hot-dogs, or restaurants. We're now back from our travels. Shana's school starts up in about two weeks. I've got about a month, but in about two weeks I'm heading off on a trip with some other faculty members. While I'm home, however, I plan to cook up a storm! I've got a couple of few other posts in the works, but I'd really like to focus on some great warm-weather recipes. The recipe below is a great warm-weather recipe. It's not too heavy and it includes a great blend of textures and flavors.



04 June 2014

Vegan Viands #17: Caramel Puffcorn

This morning was the last day for my May Term; it's bittersweet for me. During class today, my students gave presentations about the memoirs they chose to read. In related news, I've got my summer reading all planned out! Anyway, since I wasn't preparing for class, I told them I would bring them snacks. I tried to make things that were good but not overly decadent (e.g., Ambrosia Grapes, Grape Nut Bars, and cut up pineapple), but I couldn't resist something a little decadent. This puffcorn is decadent. It's not even a little bit healthy and it's addictive like whoa. However, it's delicious and a fun, occasional treat.

Wait, you don't know what puffcorn is?! Remember back when you would eat those kind of crunchy cheeseballs as a kid? Or, maybe you didn't like cheetos, but you like cheese puffs? Essentially, puffcorn is like that stuff - fluffy corn something - but without the cheese. It's billed as popcorn without hulls, but it's not even close to that. Whatever it is, it's awesome.

The big problem with this recipe is that it can be hard to find puffcorn in a grocery store. When we were out eat (PA and NY), there was no puffcorn to be found. We would bring some back with us from the Midwest. For those of you in the Midwest, look for the following brands: Old Dutch (used when I'm in Minnesota) or Mike-Sell's (used when I'm in Indiana). In both cases, grab the "original" flavor. After you've secured the puffcorn, the rest of this recipe is super easy and uses easily found ingredients. Pretty soon, you won't be able to tear yourself away from the bowl of puffy, caramely, decadent goodness. Here's closeup.



28 May 2014

Lazy Dinner "Turkey" Club

I'm teaching a May Term class for the first time right now (May Terms are a single class taught over 16 days). Since I've never taught a class like this, I had no idea how much work it would be. Don't get me wrong, I'm loving the class and my students (they are such a great bunch!), I'm just more busy and tired than I anticipated I would be after the semester ended. In addition, my busyness is overlapping with an increase in temperatures, which always makes me not want to eat any of the things we've been eating over the winter. Hot weather foods are hard.

Tonight, we opted to deviate from our meal plan, as neither one of us was interested in cooking or eating our planned dinner. Instead, we had Shana's all time favorite food from her college dining hall: "turkey" clubs. We actually started eating these sandwiches a while ago when Shana suddenly realized that we had all the vegan ingredients to make this sandwich. Most likely, it was Shana's discovery that vegan mayonnaise is delicious. In fact, I was admonished to tell you all that Shana has "very strong feelings" about vegan mayo. Actually, most people who try it think it's as good (or better) than non-vegan mayo. I don't feel as strongly as she does, but then again, I never really ate mayo in my pre-vegan days.

This is the ultimate in Lazy Dinners because the only cooking you need to do is the "bacon" and toasting the bread. Other than that, you just slap stuff together. Anyway, since I said I was busy, enough blabbering, here's the food!