07 November 2018

Winter Lentil Soup

It's soup season. I love soup season so much. Soup is versatile, filling, and (usually) healthy. More importantly, soup is warm in my tummy and my soul. Many folks, myself included, need warmth in both of those places right now. Sometimes life is stressful and hard, but good food can nourish in multiple ways.

Enter this lentil soup. This soup has such an amazing taste and blend of textures. It's rich and velvety and round. Plus, it's full of good-for-you lentils and veggies. After a big bowl of this soup (plus some crusty bread), I'm comforted.

16 October 2018

Maggie's Vegan Enchilasagna

The weather has finally turned into a chilly fall here in Indiana. It was a stark change, with plenty of memes going around. For me, the chilly weather means I'm excited to have the oven on and want to eat all the warm, cozy foods I can imagine.

Tonight, we had some new friends over for dinner and I made this enchilasagna recipe. One of them asked how the recipe emerged, which made me realize that dish was actually due to a series of kitchen misadventures. A while ago, I decided to bring my enchilada recipe to vegan potluck. All set to cook, I when I get home that I'm out of the rice I need for the recipe. I had other rice, but not enough time to cook it. In a pinch, I figured I would use quinoa instead, as inside the enchilada, no one would really notice. I had also planned ahead and planned to swap corn tortillas for the flour tortillas in order to make the dish gluten-free. I fill my first corn tortilla, being to wrap it up, and it breaks - it doesn't roll at all. I figure I just need to be gentle for the next one and gingerly try to roll a second corn tortilla. It broke, too. Short on time if we were going to get to dinner on time, I figured I'd just try a layered dish and call it a vegan enchilasagna. It was a hit! I'm sure it will be a hit for you and yours, too!

Yup, melting faux cheese! Plus, a bit of enchilasaga deconstruction in the back. 

02 September 2018

Richa's Peanut Lentil Sauce

As I do periodically, a few weeks ago I went digging through old recipes I'd saved or tagged or noted in some way or another. I came across one from a blog I've been following for a while, leaned over to show it to Shana, who responded with "why aren't we eating that right now?!" I got her subtle message and we had it later that week.

While we both loved it, I realized I needed to make it again to make sure that the notes I'd jotted down about adjustments while cooking were actually correct (more than one note was a I-think-that's-what-I-remember-doing note). I'm thrilled to say it's still amazing. In the time it takes to cook rice in the instant pot and lentils on the stove (aka, less than 30 minutes), you can make a hearty, beautiful, flavorful meal that tastes like it belongs at a fancy dinner party.

14 August 2018

Maggie's Savory Vegan Kugel

A few years ago, I was so excited to have successfully made a vegan version of Shana's Mommom's sweet kugel. Here's the problem: as delicious as it is, Shana kept saying that she didn't want to eat it for dinner because of its sweetness. But the comforting casserole texture kept coming to mind, until I finally decided I wanted to attempt a savory version.

Keeping the basic idea (tofu & noodles in a casserole), I played around with flavors and veggies until I found something amazing. The thin strips of veggies provide some subtle textural contrast, but it's the blend of spices - most notably the roasted garlic - that provide warmth and depth to this version of kugel. Hearty, savory, and comforting all at once, this kugel is a clear winner.

Having this tonight, before the whirlwind of our semesters starts in earnest, was just the comfort we both needed.

16 July 2018

NYT Chinese Sesame Cucumbers

It's been quite the whirlwind of a summer, folks. Already we're more than halfway through and I'm wishing I'd been more productive. To be fair, I've been working, but I've also been doing things for me, like reading, visiting family/friends, gardening, and cooking.

Speaking of those last two, this year I decided to grow cucumbers for the first time. Shana loves cucumbers. Our CSA was selling garden plants, so I picked one variety of cucumber to try. The variety I picked, Diva, is amazing! I don't love cucumber, but even I like these ones. I wasn't prepared to like the cucumbers, but I was even less prepared for how well they seem to be doing. I think the vines grew multiple inches per day and I'm pretty sure the cucumbers just magically appear.

Before I started growing them, we'd often receive a cucumber a week in our CSA box, which was just enough to put on a salad or Shana to eat as a snack. However, with the rate that they grow, I needed a recipe that used a lot of cucumber. Shana reminded me of one we'd had at a potluck years ago and it fit the bill perfectly.

This cool summer cucumber salad is a great side dish, snack, or appetizer that doesn't heat up the kitchen when summer temperatures soar. Plus, it's delicious and will keep you coming back for more.

That's part of my garden in the background! 

07 June 2018

Red Lentil Curry in the Instant Pot

Most home cooks I know have stacks of recipes they've been meaning to try. I have a couple of tangible stacks, but I also have a couple of virtual "stacks" - emails with links and a category of posts in my feedly account. A while ago I was perusing one of my email collections and came across a recipe that I remembered our friends Max and Sara feeding us ages ago.

In looking over the recipe, I thought that I could make it in our Instant Pot. Plus, I've been really enjoying foods with flavors from the Middle East recently and this fits in very well.

After making slight adaptations to the original recipe, I ended up with something that Shana and I both absolutely LOVE! This easy, high-protein, high-fiber, low-fat meal has been on regular rotation.

28 May 2018

Rainbow Quinoa Salad

At the beginning of this year, a high school aged friend of ours decided to go vegan. We invited her and her mom, whom we know from an organization in town, over for vegan dinner. Her mom was very supportive of her daughter's plan to be vegan, but didn't quite know what to cook for her when she was also cooking for her 11 year old son, 4 year old daughter, herself, and her husband. We figured that we could invite them over and answer vegan food questions while also providing an example of a delicious vegan meal.

In asking what they'd like to eat, they said they were pretty open to flavors, so we chose to serve one of Shana's favorites - broccoli, tofu, and garlic sauce. They asked what to bring and we suggested "something that goes with dinner?" In other words, we were super unhelpful. However, our friends rose the challenge and brought a delicious Asian quinoa salad! Overall, dinner was a giant success. We answered all sorts of vegan-related questions, laughed a ton, and ate amazing food.

Since our dinner, we've eaten this salad a few times. I tweaked the original recipe, found at Two Peas & Their Pod, to make it more our style - doubling some veggies, removing some ingredients, and adjusting the dressing. It's SO delicious! It's also great for the unseasonably hot temps we've been experiencing - when I just don't want to eat anything. This salad has tons of protein and fiber and is a feast for your eyes as well.

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 my stacks 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" stacks of recipes 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 creative, but ultimately fruitless, 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)!