07 May 2018

Seitan Nuggets

You know the videos that get shared on social media sites? The ones that show a pair of hands cooking a dish from start to finish in a minute or so? That's where I found this recipe.

Of course, for the life of me, I can't find that video any longer. If you find it, let me know so I can cite it, will you? Luckily, I watched the video a few times and wrote down the recipe/instructions. Then I put the paper in a pile of recipes and promptly forgot about it.

Sometime this winter I got sick of everything we were eating, went digging through one of my "you should try this" recipe piles and found my scribbled notes for these seitan nuggets. They went on the meal plan for that week, dipped in barbecue sauce, and then they were gone.

We ate all of them. We did it again a few days later, and the next time, and the next. So worth it.

25 March 2018

Smoky Quinoa and Vegetable Soup

Full of good-for-you and easy-to-find ingredients - such as sweet potato, quinoa, and peas - plus flavors that are out of this world delicious (smoked paprika for the win), this amazing soup has been on regular rotation at our house for a while. Plus, even though the calendar says it's late March, we've been dealing with below-normal temps and even snow days causing cancelled schools! With all of that, it's no wonder this soup has made regular occurrences in our meal plans. But let me explain how we even got to this recipe.

First, Shana figured out about a year ago that she looooooves quinoa. She wants to eat it all the time in any form she can. Second, we had a dinner a while ago with our friends the Thompsons. They cooked a version of this soup from America's Test Kitchen's vegetarian cookbook. You can even see a video of the original recipe here. It was their idea to use smoked paprika. Third, we had family stay with us a while ago on their drive from PA to WI. We figured this would be an easy dinner for everyone (minus the youngest, who doesn't really like dinners and had PB&J). It was at this meal that I subbed in the sweet potato, because when I went to grab the white potatoes I was *sure* we had, I found them curiously absent. But the sweet potatoes were a perfect substitution.

All of this adds up to a hearty and healthy deep red soup - due to the smoked paprika and tomato paste - filled with vibrant colors and textures. We've fed this soup to so many folks and everyone has loved it! In addition to everyone above, it's been a hit at our monthly vegan potluck and wowed our friend Max's parents when they were in town. It's a bowl of warming winter magic for your tired taste buds.

The red color is from both the smoked paprika and the tomato paste.

11 March 2018

Maggie's Vegan Beer Bread

A while ago I was craving some bread, but I didn't want to knead and wait for dough to rise. While I could have made a sweet bread, like zucchini or apple spice, that wasn't where my taste buds were leading. In other words, I wanted fresh, homemade bread in no longer than it took to bake in my oven. After some fruitless, creative googling, I acquiesced to my breadless state.

Fast forward a week or so, to just before the Super Bowl, when I remembered that beer bread is a thing! This "aha!" moment meant that, with a good recipe, I could have a quick and non-sweet bread PLUS something to bring to the Super Bowl party we were attending.

Turning my attention to a different set of google search results, I found all sorts of recipes. Following my usual tendency, I picked one as an idea to build on, added my own twist and elements of other recipes, then popped the dough in the oven and crossed my fingers. What emerged from my oven was nothing short of magic. It was devoured at the Super Bowl party. I made a loaf a week or so ago and it didn't last long with just Shana and I eating it. I no longer have to exist in a breadless state.

02 February 2018

Creamy Black Lentil Soup

Sometimes I go to grocery stores and buy something I've never cooked with before because it looks interesting. I did that a while ago with some black lentils. Then, of course, they sat in my pantry for a long time because I didn't have a recipe that called for them.

Finally, I decided they had existed, unused, in my pantry long enough, so I started in on some creative googling. I don't remember exactly what search term or random list I found this recipe, but I flagged it as a good option. I loved the idea of a creamy soup with the toothsome chew of lentils. I loved the idea of a subtle influence of Indian flavors. I was intrigued at the addition of tahini.

More importantly, this soup had an ingredient that would make Shana want it, too. See, this beautiful creamy soup calls for eggplant.Shana loooooves eggplant. Me? I feel strongly middling about eggplant. It's fine. I never crave it and will always pick another option over it, but I don't hate it, either. But here, in this recipe, it looked like we would both have something to love. I was right.

12 January 2018

Maggie's Vegan Cheesy Taco Mac

So... we went to a mac & cheese party this past weekend. No joke. Sounds like a weird place for a vegan to go. Nevertheless, go we did.

The mac & cheese party was hosted by Shana's former principal and her husband; it was their second annual mac & cheese party. They held their first event last year because getting tickets to the Indianapolis Return of the Mac festival was apparently really difficult. Our hosts planned very well! The party had 14 entries, which party goers tasted in small cups that rested perfectly in holes drilled into clipboards. This allowed you to take notes as you ate. After eating them all, you voted* (via google form) for your favorite entry in three categories: best overall, most innovative, and most gourmet.

After deciding to go, we debated just going for fun, but then Shana reminded me that she'd asked me to veganize a cheesy taco mac recipe she saw in one of those food videos. My first attempt to make this dish was a delicious success, but we hadn't had it in over a year! I was intrigued with the idea of adding a vegan entry to the mac & cheese party, but decided I needed to test it once more. A second successful result (with a few tweaks from the first) made me confident it would be okay as an entry.

As it turned out, we didn't win, but came in third in the best overall category and had the second most votes overall! Moreover, people didn't know it was vegan until Shana announced it after the votes were tallied. All in all, that makes this a winner in my book.

Filling a tasting cup to the brim (and then some)!