10 April 2014

Crockpot Drunken Beans

This recipe was the first of three new dinners I had planned after I got bored with everything we have been eating. We started out with a winner! There are two reasons that I'm glad this meal was successful. First, YAY a new recipe! Second, given that three new meals planned for one week is a stretch for Shana, since the first one went well, that make her more open to other new meals. In retrospect, I think I get bored with our food options every spring after a winter of heavy flavors and warming meals. Whatever the reason, I'm glad I felt like that because it made me look beyond our normal fare.

This bean dish was simply amazing. I made some slight modifications to a recipe by one of the pillars of vegan food and cooking, Bryanna Clark Grogan. And although it does take a bit more effort than your standard crockpot meal, it's all worth it in the end! The pinto beans are so creamy and the subtle heat and smokiness of the broth/sauce is a perfect complement. What's more, the leftovers the next day are even better! The flavors matured overnight (even more than after a day full of cooking) and a small dish of beans was great as part of my lunch.

06 April 2014

Vegan Viands #16: Garlicky Garbanzo Gobblers

This week while meal planning, I decided that I was bored with everything we've been eating. Subsequently, 50% of the meals we're eating this week will be new. I also made a new dinner last night, though it's not quite blog-worthy. I'm hoping that at least one of the three new meals will show up here, as I've been a blogging slacker. (Seriously, this semester has been rough.)

Unfortunately, our first new meal isn't until Wednesday (then Thursday and Saturday, too), which didn't really help my food boredom. So, I went digging through the stacks of recipes I have sitting around just waiting to be tried and found a simple snack food that I could serve as an appetizer while a friend came over to watch some basketball with us.

These crispy chickpeas* are easy and delicious, and can be seasoned any way you'd like (a simple google search will lead you to a crazy number of flavoring ideas). Plus, using canned chickpeas makes the prep time practically non-existent.

19 March 2014

Maggie's Caesar-esque Salad with Garlic Croutons

Tonight we had a friend and her super cute 8 month old over for dinner while her husband was out of town. When making our meal plan for the week, we'd planned on lasagna for tonight. Often, when we make our meal plan and need to supplement a main dish with a veggie or two, we simply write "veggie" on the meal plan and the grocery list. Then, while at the store, we see which veggies are in season, look delicious, and/or tempt our taste buds. This past Sunday, while shopping, I saw some beautiful organic romaine lettuce and something clicked in my brain. I was going to make a vegan Caesar salad!

There are actually quite a few recipes for vegan Caesar salad out there. I combed through my cookbooks at home and found one in three of the first four books I checked! However, none of them were quite what I had in mind, all for some reason or another. For example, one included capers. I've tried to cook with capers before, but it was a disaster (which makes sense as neither of us like briney foods). Another didn't have anything in it that seemed like it would be creamy enough for what I wanted. Thus, I improvised and made something delicious!

Now, to be honest, I'm not sure I ever ate Caesar salad in my pre-vegan days. I know that my dad has a recipe that other people love, but since I've not eaten his Caesar recipe - nor anyone else's, for that matter - I can't even begin to guess if this approximates the taste of a non-vegan Caesar dressing. In thinking about a clever name, I tried to ask my colleague who teaches in Ancient & Classical Studies if Caesar had an assistant or anything, but he was very upset* that I would be referencing the wrong Caesar. But whatever I call this, we all (including the 8 month old) enjoyed our salads! The dressing is a cinch to prepare and the homemade croutons are just as easy but 10 times as good as store-bought.

12 March 2014

Vegan Crockpot Tortilla Soup

This semester is insane. Aside from my mom dying, I've been feeling all semester that I may have finally bitten off more than I can chew (food joke partially intentional). I'm finally feeling slightly less like that today, which could be due to the fact that spring break is next week, or that I got a massage last week, or maybe I've just finally habituated to being as far behind as I am currently. Who knows. Regardless, the feeling of partial relief and a recipe success means I'm finally posting something new here! I'm also hoping to cook a few more things during spring break.

Remember the friends who cooked for us before we went to Minnesota? They rock. Mike, the one who went to culinary school, also stocked our freezer with two meals while we were gone (two other friends did the same). One of the dishes he put in our freezer was a tortilla soup to cook in the crockpot. I cooked it last week while Shana was gone and thought it was delicious. However, I knew she wouldn't eat it because it had too many "chunks" (read: pieces of tomato). Despite the chunks, I thought she would really like soup, so I decided to make it again this week with a few tweaks to make it Shana-friendly. It worked - a super delicious Shana-friendly new meal! It's SO easy and relies on convenience ingredients, which makes it a snap to put together in the morning. Plus, dinner's ready when you get home and you can throw any leftovers in the freezer (we didn't have any to freeze, though). This soup is a winner any way you look at it!

13 February 2014

Vegan Fruit Cobbler/Buckle

When we were headed to Minnesota to say goodbye to my mother, some dear friends offered to make us dinner before we drove so that we didn't have to worry about cooking and cleaning. Luckily, these friends are well-versed in Shana's food idiosyncrasies; they are one of the few places she will go without knowing what's being served in advance. Plus, one of them went to culinary school, so he is an amazing cook!

For dessert, we ate something our friends called a cobbler. Actually, we ate two. There was a non-vegan black raspberry cobbler (perhaps Shana's favorite fruit ever) and a vegan black cherry cobbler. I can't vouch for the non-vegan version (though Shana gobbled it up), but the vegan version was freaking amazing. He gave me the recipe, so I had to make it at home.

When I get a new recipe, I generally do a bit of "creative googling" to see what else is out there in the vegan and non-vegan interwebs. In my investigation before writing up this post, I learned that there's a lot of variation in dishes labeled "cobbler." The wiki (I know, I know) article about cobblers lists a whole variety of dishes with somewhat similar ingredients but often wildly different preparations. The recipe below could be a cobbler (given the variability inherent in what that means), but it could also be a buckle. Whatever you call it, it's delicious!

Fresh from the oven.

Ready for my face!

06 February 2014

Vegan Roasted Vegetable Shepherd's Pie

I've been absent from here for over a month. As I indicated, we visited my family over the holidays and shared in wonderful traditions. When we came back, the semester started up for me, which is always a busy time. Then my mother died. We were there with her when she died, peacefully and painlessly, for which I will be forever grateful.

Needless to say, the rest of my life was put on hold. Our wonderful colleagues covered for our duties at both our schools. Family and friends near and far made/sent meals to keep us going. Meanwhile, we planned a beautiful burial and memorial. Her burial was attended by 19 of her family members and her memorial was attended by 400+ of her family and friends, and streamed online by more than 50 others.

We've been back from Minnesota now for not quite a week; I am playing catch-up as best I can and we are living life as normally as possible. Most of the time it's very possible; some times it's not. One of my normal life events is cooking, so we've cooked every night since we've been back. I've even cooked a couple new things, including this roasted vegetable shepherd's pie.

This is comfort food to the core. It uses the oven, is soft and creamy, and has a subtle blend of savory flavors. It also uses a fun new product (though see Helpful Hints) called Soy Curls. Soy Curls are nothing more than whole soybeans, so they are a great protein source. Speaking of products, there are a lot of ingredients in this recipe, but nothing is particularly difficult. Finally, as a "casserole" dish, shepherd's pie is not the prettiest of all the foods I make, but the taste more than makes up for the appearance.

05 January 2014

Maggie's Tofu Scramble

We're back from our lovely holiday travels and enjoying that last weekend of break before everything starts up again. When talking about having a fun weekend breakfast, I mentioned tofu scramble to Shana, who was enthusiastic. Having a tofu scramble for breakfast is noteworthy for two reasons. First, it's a departure from our regular fun weekend breakfasts of waffles or pancakes (though we couldn't resist). Second, I'm not sure that anyone who has known Shana would have ever expected her to think a tofu scramble sounds like a delicious food, no matter when it's served. On the other hand, I order them almost everywhere I can find them served.

I've made tofu scrambles a few times at home, but I'd never quite gotten the spices and moisture content quite right. I'd make one that was too wet (per Shana's standards), too bland, too spicy, or just not quite right. This morning, after looking over my notes from my most recent attempt, cross-referencing with a recipe from one of the figureheads of vegan cooking (Isa Chandra Moskowitz over at the PPK), and doing a little mental recalculation, I arrived at a winner of a tofu scramble! We devoured all of it, along with some mini pancakes and a couple of slices of vegan bacon.