Archive for dinner

Monday, July 8th, 2013

Mexican Pasta Salad

Here is another summer salad that I have been making for years. It was originally inspired by a Moosewood recipe. My kids eat the first bowl alone and then they start using corn chips to eat along the side. They LOVE it! It is quite easy to put together and can be made gluten free by using the pasta of your choice.

Mexican Pasta Salad

1/2 pd. chunky pasta of choice, cooked al dente

1 c. fresh of frozen corn

1 c. bell pepper, chopped ( I like red peppers best)

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1 c. tomatoes, I love garden fresh tomatoes if possible, but any sweet cherry tomato works well too

1 c. black olives, chopped coarsely

2 tsp. olive oil

3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1 tsp. chipotle pepper from adobo sauce, chopped ( these come in a can, found in most grocery stores)

2 tsp. fresh ground cumin

1 tsp. fresh ground coriander

1/4 c. fresh cilantro, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

Combine the pasta, corn, peppers, beans, tomatoes, and olives in a large bowl. In a small bowl, combine the olive, oil, lemon juice, chipotle pepper, cumin, and coriander and mix well for the dressing. Pour this over the pasta and vegetables and keep stirring until well coated. Add salt and pepper to taste. Top with the chopped cilantro. You can put this in the refrigerator to chill everything or just eat it right away!

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

Strawberry Sweet Potato Basil Barley Salad

strawberry sweet potato basil barley

The temperatures here in Utah have been above 100 degrees for about five days now. It feels like a furnace outside because the air is so dry. Our poor air conditioner is trying its best to keep up, but the kitchen is not a really cool place in the late afternoon when I usually feel like creating something delicious for dinner. It has really changed my attitude about cooking lately. Of course I still have the desire to make something yummy, but just not cooking anything. So at this time of year I start making salads for dinner almost every night. I love salads so it is fun to see what I can come up with. I made this salad last night and it felt a little like dessert because of the sweet strawberries and sweet potatoes. The barley was delicious and chewy and fresh basil is good in anything. The dressing was so simple that if you make the barley ahead of time, this whole salad was super easy and fast to make.

Strawberry Sweet Potato Basil Barley Salad

4 c. cooked pearl barley

2 sweet potatoes, cooked, peeled,  and cut into cubes ( I microwaved them)

2 c. cut strawberries

2 tbsp. lemon juice

1 tbsp. olive oil

10 leaves basil, chopped

In a large bowl combine the barley, sweet potatoes, and strawberries. In a small bowl combine the lemon juice and olive oil and then pour over the salad ingredients. Add the chopped basil and stir to combine. Refrigerate for 30 minutes and enjoy. This salad is best eaten on the day that it is made.


Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

Coconut Curried Purple Cabbage and Rice with Mint

curried purple cabbage and rice with mintj2

I love all the members of the cabbage family. They are so delicious and nutritious and easy to find at the grocery store. Purple cabbage is loaded with vitamin C and K and has lots of fiber and folate too. The color of purple cabbage is so beautiful and grows even deeper and richer when it is cooked. And today, I combine it with fresh mint in a recipe that looks absolutely stunning when it is done. If you have rice that is already cooked, this dish is super fast and easy to make.

Coconut Curried Purple Cabbage and Rice with Mint

Coconut Curry Sauce

2 large cloves garlic, crushed, peeled and minced

1 1/2 tsp. red chili paste ( I like the brand Thai Kitchen)

1/4 c. sucanat

2/3 c. hot water

1/4 c. fish sauce ( if someone knows a good vegan substitute, let me know)

2 tbsp. fresh lime juice

1 can lite coconut milk


1 tsp. grapeseed oil

1 tbsp. Earth Balance

1/2 head purple cabbage, slice 1/4 inch thick

4-5 c.  cooked brown rice (I think other cooked grains would be great as well)

1/4 c. chopped mint leaves (reserve a little bit to garnish the top)

1/4 c. toasted pepitas

Begin by making the sauce. Combine the red chili paste and the sucanat with the hot water and stir until everything is dissolved. Add the garlic, fish sauce, and lime juice. Stir well and add the can of coconut milk. Stir and set aside.

I recommend a cast iron skillet to cook this dish. Turn the heat up to medium high and add the grapeseed oil and Earth Balance. When they are melted together, add the purple cabbage and saute til it is softened. This takes about 10 minutes. Turn the heat down to medium and add the cooked brown rice. Stir to combine. Add the coconut curry sauce and the mint and mix well. It may seem that there is too much sauce, but don’t despair, the sauce gets absorbed by the rice. Keep cooking and stir frequently, and when this dish turns a little bit creamy, kind of like a risotto, it is done. This takes about 10 more minutes. Garnish with the reserved mint leaves and toasted pepitas. Enjoy!


Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

Cilantro Pesto Veggie Bowl

cilantro veggie bowl small

Cilantro Pesto goes well with so many different foods. It is obviously great on a bowl of pasta and it is great as a sandwich condiment (just think of a roasted veggie cilantro pesto sandwich, YUM!). A spoonful of it on a veggie burrito or enchilada is divine. And it is super good as a dressing for a noodle bowl, or on a bowl of veggies and millet. One cup of millet has 6 grams of protein and 6% of your daily iron needs, as well as a little calcium. It has a lightly chewy texture without a heavy flavor when cooked. I love this stuff. This recipe has lots of steps to cook the veggies, but it does not take long and is not hard so don’t be discouraged. I posted the recipe for Cilantro Pesto here. It makes this recipe complete. The pesto recipe makes enough to have some left over after using it for this combination.

1 c. millet

2 c. water

1 tsp. grapeseed oil

2 large carrots, cut into sticks about 2 inches long

1/4 c. water

4 c. kale, baby leaves or big leaves chopped

1 pd. tofu, sliced into 3 slabs

1 recipe cilantro pesto

handful of cherry tomatoes, cut in half

Add the millet and water together in a 2 qt. pan and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and keep at a low simmer until the water is absorbed into the millet and turn off the heat. This takes about 25-30 minutes. While the millet is cooking, start cooking the veggies. Add the oil to a heavy bottom pan, preferably cast iron, and heat to medium high. Add the carrots, stir and saute til lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the 1/4 c. water, cover with a lid, and turn down the heat a little. This obviously steams the carrots. It does not take long to cook til they are tender, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, put the carrots in a bowl, and set aside. Use the same pan and add the 1 tsp. grapeseed oil to saute the kale. Use medium heat and stir frequently because the kale cooks very quickly, about 3 minutes. Put kale into a bowl and set aside. Now just use pan spray on the same pan and heat to medium high again and add the tofu slabs. Remember to be patient while cooking tofu and wait for the edges to turn brown before turning it over so it won’t stick to the pan. Cook both sides until it is lightly browned. Remove from heat and cut the cherry tomatoes in half if you didn’t do it already. Cut the tofu slabs into 1 inch cubes. Now, finally, assemble the veggie bowls! Put 1 c. of millet into a bowl, add a spoonful of carrots, kale, tofu, and cherry tomatoes. Top with about 1 tsp. of cilantro pesto. Stir and eat warm or cold. It is a delicious mix!

cilantro pesto veggie bowl ingredients

cilantro pesto veggie bowl ingredients

pressing tofu

pressing tofu

browned tofu

browned tofu

Sunday, June 2nd, 2013

Vegan Cilantro Pesto

One of the best things about summer is fresh basil from the garden. I look forward to it all year. Late summer dinners are filled with the yumminess of basil pesto in lots of different dishes, which I will post about later. However, while waiting for the basil to grow enough to harvest and to have enough to make pesto, I have found a great substitute. Where I live, cilantro is sold year round and is often on sale for ridiculously cheap prices. It just screams at me to buy it and create something great and this is just the perfect recipe for it. I found the original recipe for this in Robin Robertson’s Vegan Planet. I  made minor changes, mostly just cutting down on the oil, which I can do without, but if you find this too dry, feel free to add in more. This is super easy and fast to make so I always double this recipe because it keeps really well in the refrigerator and then I can use it for so many dishes. I will post about one of those tomorrow.

Vegan Cilantro Pesto

4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

1/2 c. raw almonds

1/2-3/4 tsp. salt

2 c. packed cilantro, washed

1/4-1/3 c. olive oil

Put the garlic in a food processor and pulse til it is well chopped. Add the raw almonds and turn on and process til it looks like almond meal. Scrape down the sides of the processor. Add the cilantro and while it is being processed, add the olive oil. I use less because I want less oil, but add more if that is not an issue. Add the salt to taste. Make sure you keep scraping down the sides so you don’t lose any of that goodness.  Add 1 tsp. to your favorite bowl of pasta and enjoy!


Thursday, May 30th, 2013

Vegan Vegetable Fried Rice

When I was in college, I went to one of those restaurants where the chef comes to your table to cook whatever you ordered and to throw sharp knives around. It was very impressive. But the best thing about it for me was that it was such a great cooking demonstration. The fried rice was so delicious and it looked easy to make if you didn’t have to throw any knives. I started making a version of that fried rice soon after and have been making vegan versions of it ever since then. Lately, the emphasis has been a little less on the fried part to make it more healthy. So today I will post the basic vegan version of my fried rice and soon I will post a few variations. This is a pretty big recipe for my big eaters. You can scale it back, or save the leftovers in the refrigerator for another meal.

Vegan Vegetable Fried Rice

2 tsp. grapeseed oil

4-5 large cloves garlic, crushed and minced

1 large onion, chopped medium

2 large carrots, chopped

4 c. broccoli chopped into small florets

1 pd. extra firm tofu, pressed

4-5 c. cooked rice, cooled (I use short grain brown, but others would work just fine)

1/3-1/2 c. soy sauce

Cut the tofu into two pieces, making  two slabs. Use non stick spray on a heavy bottomed or non-stick pan. Heat to medium and cook the slabs of tofu, browning each side lightly. Careful not to turn over too soon or it will stick. Remove from pan and put on a cutting board and let cool while preparing the vegetables.

I also use a large cast iron pan to cook the vegetables because they won’t stick, but any non-stick cookware or wok is great. Heat oil to medium high and add onion. Cook til softened and add the garlic. Stir and cook one more minute and add the broccoli and carrots and cook and stir frequently until these are softened and lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Turn off the heat. Now cut up the cooled tofu into one inch cubes and add to the vegetables. Heat up til the pan is hot again and add the rice and the soy sauce. Stir until well mixed and heated through. I use a thin metal spatula to keep the bottom from sticking because it will want to. Enjoy hot!

Monday, May 27th, 2013

Cauliflower Garlic Mashed Potatoes

This is a great recipe for those times when you want to do something different with a head of cauliflower, or when you are trying to get your kids to eat cauliflower, or just when you feel like the comfort of mashed potatoes but want something more healthy. This is super easy to make so this recipe is great for something in a pinch too. Cauliflower is very low in calories and it is super high in vitamin C, and it also has a high fiber content. Red potatoes are a good source of vitamin B6, potassium, and vitamin C as well. And the last main ingredient in this recipe is garlic, which has so many health benefits, I will just let you find out more about that here. My family loves this and so do I.

Cauliflower Garlic Mashed Potatoes

4-5 red potatoes, washed and cut into 1 inch cubes (I always leave the skins on)

1 head cauliflower, washed and cut into medium small florets

1-2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed, optional (I use the back of a chef knife to smash it)

2 tsp. grapeseed or garlic oil

2-3 tbsp. vegetable broth

salt and pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add in a little salt and the potatoes and garlic. After the pot comes back to a boil, add the cauliflower and turn down the heat to simmer and cook until the cauliflower is very tender. This takes about 10-12 minutes. Drain the vegetables into a colander and put them back into the empty pan and mash them with a potato masher. Add the oil and broth and continue to mash until they are the consistency of mashed potatoes. In fact, they will look like mashed potatoes, which is a fun secret to have if you don’t want your kids to know they are eating cauliflower. Add salt and pepper to taste. This is such a flavorful dish because of the garlic that I don’t even make gravy to serve along with them, but you can if you want to anyway.


Monday, May 20th, 2013

Stuffed Shells

When I was in college, I had a vegetarian boyfriend for a while and he had the original Moosewood Cookbook. He taught me how to make vegetarian lasagna which I loved! We made it together frequently and I used variations of that recipe for years. However, once I decided on a vegan diet I started to try other ways to create the creamy goodness of ricotta cheese and eggs as a filling with all of the great vegetables in between. Tofu was a natural choice and mixed with garlic and fresh herbs, especially fresh basil, this filling makes for a delicious substitute. It is even better because it is not so heavy. It tastes a little pesto like if you use enough basil. Yum! So I will post about making  vegan lasagna too, but today, Stuffed Shells are on my mind since we made them last night for dinner. This is super easy to make if you have a food processor and if you don’t have one, it is still easy. We ate this with a mix of greens and my family could not eat them fast enough.

Stuffed Shells

1 box of giant pasta shells, cooked al dente.

4 cloves garlic

10-15 big leaves basil, washed and dried

2 pkg. or 2 pds. extra-firm tofu, pressed

juice from 1/2 lemon (about 4-5 tsp.)

1/2 tsp. salt

2 tsp. grapeseed oil

1  c. soy cheese, (I used Daiya mozzarella)

4 cups red sauce

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Start by putting the tofu blocks on top of each other and put a small pan or something kind of heavy on top of it to press the water out. This can sit while you  start the shells and filling. Add the shells to a pot of boiling water. Cook al dente and no longer. Cooking the shells less is better for this recipe because the pasta will turn too soft in the oven. Put the garlic in a food processor and pulse til minced. Add the basil and pulse til it too is chopped. Drain the water from the tofu and add it, lemon juice, salt, and oil to the processor and puree til smooth. This might take a little while. I stopped it a few times to break up some big chunks and also to scrape down the sides to keep the garlic and basil included. Scoop mixture into a bowl and stir in the cheese til well blended.  If you don’t have a food processor, you can mince the garlic and chop the basil and then add them to a bowl with mashed tofu. You can do this with a big fork or with your hands. Put 1/4 c. red sauce in a 9 x 13 glass pan and spread it around to coat the bottom. Once all the ingredients are well blended and smooth, spoon about 2 tbsp. into each shell and put the shell into the pan. Keep going til all the shells are filled. Pour the rest of the red sauce into the pan to surround and cover the shells. If they are not completely submerged in the sauce, don’t worry, they will cook fine, but these are tasty with a little extra sauce on them. Cover the pan with foil and place in the hot oven to cook for about 40 minutes. Take the foil off the top and cook for 10 more minutes. Let the pan cool for about 10 more minutes before eating. This is a big recipe so if you are not feeding a big group, or a few teenagers, cover the leftovers and enjoy them later because they stay great in the refrigerator for a few days.


Thursday, May 9th, 2013

Avocado Cream Sauce

I lived in upstate NY for nine years and while we lived there, we went to the best farmers market every week. It was in Rochester, and the fresh farm produce was amazing. We lived in a neighborhood where the deer ruled anything that was green, so trying to garden vegetables was very frustrating. So the farmers became our friends as we went every week. We miss that place and the cast of characters that we came to know, and now we are looking for a new way to find fresh local produce since we once again have moved to a neighborhood where the deer practically live in our back yard. In the meantime, the local grocery stores are quite competitive and for the past few weeks they have been offering the best deals on avocados! We rarely bought avocados in NY because they didn’t really sell them at the farmers market, duh, and the local grocery stores charged a fortune for them. Plus, they had traveled so far and long to get to the store there, that they were usually terrible once you got them home. So imagine our delight at five avocados for one dollar! And, they are amazing! So we have been eating them as much as we can.  This recipe is heaven. It is straight from Angela, on this page, with only a few changes, and that I list it doubled to feed my crew. It is amazing stuff that even my husband that does not like avocados loves. It is such a creamy sauce that you kind of forget that it is avocado. The beautiful thing about this sauce, is that it is so rich and creamy that a little bit goes a long way. Which is good since we all know the fat content of these little darlings. We eat it as a topping on whole grain pasta, as well as on baked potatoes, and anything else we can think of. It is super fast and easy to make too. Put the leftovers in the refrigerator and enjoy later, because it lasts for a while.

Avocado Cream Sauce

2 medium ripe avocados, pitted

juice from 1 lemon, and zest for garnish if you wish

3-6 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

1 tsp. salt ( I only use 1/2 this amount)

1/2 c. fresh basil, optional  ( I only had about 5 basil leaves and it was great)

4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil ( I used 3 tbsp.)

freshly ground pepper to taste

Place the garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil in a food processor and puree til smooth. Add the avocado flesh, basil, and salt and process til smooth and creamy. Adjust the lemon and add pepper to taste. Use right away or put in a sealed container to keep in the refrigerator until ready to use. Enjoy!




Sunday, May 5th, 2013

Seitan Stroganoff

My last post was the recipe for making seitan and today I get to share my very favorite way to use it. This recipe may be one of my favorites because it brings back childhood memories of eating my moms stroganoff, except it was different because it was made with ground beef and what seemed like lots of dairy products. This was inspired by Robin Robertson, Vegan Planet. This takes a little longer to make the first time, just because its hard to know what it is supposed to look like, but it is hard to mess up so don’t despair because you will enjoy the result.

Seitan Stroganoff

3 tbsp. olive oil

3 c. seitan, cut into small pieces

3 tbsp. tomato paste

3 c. vegetable stock

1 large onion, chopped

2 red peppers, chopped

2 c. mushrooms, sliced ( white are fine, bellas are deluxe)

3 tbsp. all-purpose flour

1 tbsp. sweet hungarian paprika

salt and pepper to taste

3/4 cup vegan sour cream (recipe to follow)

Heat up 2 tbsp. of the oil in a cast iron pan over medium heat. Once hot, but not smoking, add the seitan and brown on all sides. This takes a little while, maybe 10 minutes,  and you have to use a metal spatula because it will want to stick. Let it brown before trying to turn it and it will stick less. Set this aside. In a small bowl, mix the tomato paste and 1/4 c. of the broth. Make sure it is well combined and then set it aside. Use the rest of the olive oil and heat it in a large cast iron pan over medium heat. Add the onion and red pepper and cover and cook until they are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook, uncovered, until the liquid evaporates, about 5 minutes. Stir in the flour and paprika and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute. Add the tomato paste mixture, stirring until smooth. Stir in the remaining vegetable broth and bring to a boil, then turn down the heat to low and simmer. Add salt and pepper to taste and cook until it is a little thick, about 25-30 minutes. Slowly add in the vegan sour cream (recipe to follow) and stir until it is well blended. Add the cooked seitan and cook til heated through. Serve over brown rice.

Tofu Sour Cream (from Vegan Planet) I doubled these amounts to add to the recipe above

6 oz. soft silken tofu, drained

1 1/2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1 tbsp. sunflower oil or other neutral-tasting oil ( I used grapeseed)

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. sugar or natural sweetener (optional) I used sucanat

Put all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until smooth and creamy. Put in a container with a tight- fitting lid and store in the refrigerator until ready to use. Keeps for 3-4 days.