Monday, April 20, 2015

Happy Vegan Monday!

I'm taking the USVegWeek2015 challenge so it's all vegan, all the time for me this week.  I stocked up on all my vegan favourites on the weekend, so I have plenty of tofu, Daiya cheese, soy & cashew milk, and vanilla almond yogurt. The rest should be easy.

I threw together some awesome pancakes yesterday morning, similar to Jamie's one cup pancakes with grated pear. They were so good I thought I should write the method down.  Note: they're not vegan, unless you omit or replace the egg. (I guess I'll be freezing my left overs for another time :p)

Dairy-free spelt & apple pancakes

1/2 cup whole grain spelt flour
1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup cashew milk
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 apple, cored and grated

Combine all ingredients until fairly smooth. Melt dairy free margarine in a frying pan over medium heat. Ladle pancake batter into six equal pancakes (I did three at a time). Flip when bubbles stop breaking the surface.

Dollop with coconut yogurt, add fruit (I used chopped cantaloupe) and drizzle with maple syrup.

On to the meal plan for the week!  

Breakfasts will be oatmeal, cereal with banana or almond yogurt with fruit and nuts. Lunches can be left over roasted sweet potato veggie chili, or fennel/apple least until other left overs present themselves. ;). I would really love to make more of those vegan cheesecakes with tofu for desserts.  Lots of fruit, fig or protein bars, rice crackers etc for snacks. I might even try my hand at kale chips finally!

Tuesday: rice and dahl
Wednesday: left overs
Thursday: quick tortilla pizza with Daiya cheese and veggies
Friday: veggie burgers

Friday, April 17, 2015

Pick purple!

Jamie has a new slogan on the Sobey's website called Pick Purple!   Lots of great hints and tips on how to eat beets, plums, figs and grapes, and a PDF that you can download with recipes.  This morning before work I had precious little energy and time, but managed to follow the tip he gives about cutting up plums, sprinking them with pumpkin pie spice (in my case, I used cinnamon, nutmeg & cloves) and drizzling them with honey.  I packed them into a container, with a side of coconut yogurt, for a healthy snack today.

Next week is USVegWeek and Esther The Wonder Pig is asking everyone to take the pledge to go vegan for the week of April 20 - 26.  I had a bit of trouble taking it because it wants a US zip code, but I just entered 90210 and it was fine.  ;)   I don't think I'll have a lot of trouble doing this as I'm off dairy and red meat anyways.  I'll miss my fish & seafood, but it's only for a week.  The only thing that kind of irks me is honey.  How does honey production hurt bees?  Maybe it does and I just don't know. 

I've not had a great couple of weeks, food-wise, so I'm hoping this will get me back on track!  Why don't you take the pledge too?

Monday, April 13, 2015

1 patient + 2 cats + 4 dogs = no meal plan

I spent most of last week with my mom in the hospital in Toronto, for her second knee replacement surgery.  She came through like a trooper, and I brought her (and her cat) home to London to recuperate.  The same week, my son's fiancee moved out of their house, so their German shepherd has taken up temporary residence at my place, along with three pugs and two cats.  I think we can officially call it a zoo now.  Thank God for a sturdy steel baby gate that separates the upstairs from the downstairs, minimizing the dog and cat interaction!

My meals lately have consisted of Kashi 7 grain cereal bars, Starbucks chai tea lattes, fresh fruit and a variety of take out meals.  I really need to get back on track this week, as I'm back to work.  Today I had take out baba ganouj with a pita for breakfast along with my Starbucks and Kashi bar!   I managed to piece together a healthy, homemade soup for lunch, with veggie broth, diced onion, fresh chile & ginger, soy sauce, frozen edamame, bagged chard & kale, and the remnants of a package of tofu.  The other night I made three vegan mini cheesecakes in 4 oz mason jars, so I had one of those for dessert.

The picky son has requested some form of "healthy" dinner tonight, but I'm afraid it might be something from the freezer.  I went grocery shopping on the weekend and got lots of fresh veggies and fruit, so there are options if I apply myself, but he really can't live without meat.  I don't have a real plan, but here's a rough guide.  It's better than nothing!

- red leaf lettuce with cucumber and tomatoes for salads (can add nuts, seeds, tofu, etc)
- roasted turkey breast slices/canned tuna for sandwiches or wraps

- frozen beef lasagna for the kid
- rice and dahl
- sauteed shrimp with chard/kale mix, baked sweet potato
- veggie chilli

Monday, April 6, 2015

Easter Veggie Pie

My son flew home for Easter this weekend.  He requested that I do a traditional spread, because he's sick of dorm food at his training base.  He was craving turkey, gravy, carrots, mashed potatoes, broccoli cheese casserole, and stuffing.  I agreed, added mashed turnip for my mom, but wanted another substantial veggie dish for our vegetarian guest.  I decided to try this new one of Jamie's, but make it dairy-free for me!

473.  Puffy Pea 'n Potato Pie (Save With Jamie, page 30)

I had a hard time reading through this recipe, because I'm so used to having a video to guide me.  I assumed that I'd be making a bottomless pie, and covering it with the pastry.  Wrong!  The first step was to roll out the defrosted puff pastry, score it, egg wash it, and bake it.  Once it was cooled, I cut partway through the pastry and removed the centre section.

INGREDIENTS (with my modifications)

2 tbsp plain flour, plus extra for dusting
1 package Tenderflake frozen puff pastry, defrosted
1 large egg – beaten in a bowl
1 onion – finely chopped
Olive oil
1 large potato – peeled & diced
500g frozen peas
1 large knob of Earth Balance dairy-free margarine
½ ice berg lettuce – finely shredded
1 organic vegetable stock cube
1 tsp whole grain mustard
1 tsp dried mint
4 heaped teaspoons Daiya cream "cheese"

The filling was created in a pot on the stovetop.  I sautéed the onion in olive oil, then added the diced potato, frozen peas, margarine, flour, and lettuce.  I added some dried mint (from last year's garden), and let it cook for about 10 minutes.  I crumbled in the veggie stock cube, added 300 ml of boiling water, and simmered it for 10 minutes or so until the potatoes were getting soft.  I added the mustard, and then marbled through the cream "cheese".

Now, normally you would just scoop the hot filling into the shell, cover it with the pastry "lid" and serve it.  However, I made this a day in advance, so I kept the filling separate from the pastry and covered each overnight in the fridge.  Then, just prior to serving, I heated the pastry quickly in a hot oven, warmed the filling, and combined them.  Unfortunately, people were queuing up in my kitchen at this point, so I never got to snap a photo of the finished product!
I didn't tell anyone about the cooked lettuce, because it usually weirds them out. I also didn't mention that this was dairy-free, but those who know me know I wouldn't eat it otherwise.  I was surprised to have non-vegetarians tell me how much they loved it!  I thought it was kind of a cool and fancy way to serve frozen peas.  It was creamy and delicious, and I'd definitely make it again.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Off-The-Cuff Cooking and Jamie's Italian Toronto

I'm back!  I had an off-the-cuff cooking week, with nothing really planned.  I just made whatever I felt like.  On Wednesday for our weekly Survivor party, I adapted my an old butter tart square recipe to be dairy free.  It's just a quick shortbread base (margarine, flour, sugar) covered by an ooey-gooey topping (eggs, margarine, brown sugar, maple syrup, vinegar, vanilla, walnuts), and baked in the oven for about an hour.  It's was a hit all around.

Another night, I was seriously craving a bowl of pho from my favourite Viet-Thai restaurant, but I knew if I went there I'd end up spending more money than I wanted to.  I decided to make my own using an organic vegetable stock cube, some green onions, fresh cilantro and rice noodles.  I wanted tofu  - I know a lot of people don't like it, but I love the stuff - but I wanted it to be crispy!  I looked through Oh She Glows and discovered that I needed to press my extra firm tofu for a while to extract some of the moisture.  So I wrapped it in paper towels and a few tea towels, piled some cookbooks on top, and after a few crashes (heh) it was ready to pan fry, with a bit of garlic powder, salt & pepper for seasoning.  Delicous!

On Saturday I needed to use up some green beans and a head of cauliflower from my crisper.  Since I already had the oven on for a Ground Beef Wellington (the kid's dinner), Michael Smith's Roasted Sweet Potato Aloo Gobi recipe looked like it would work.  I swapped out the can of chick peas for some quickly boiled green beans.  I added the remainder of my fresh cilantro for colour (and flavour) and served it with some plain coconut yogurt.  Next time I think I'd make some soured cashew cream instead (less sweet). But what a quick and easy way to make this dish!

On my way to Toronto yesterday, I couldn't resist making a stop at Yorkdale Mall to check on the progress of the new Jamie's Italian store that's supposed to be opening.  I asked at the information counter, and was advised that it was taking the space recently vacated by TD Bank.  I wandered over and discovered this:


Wheeeee!  It's really happening!  I am so excited.  Doesn't look like it's going to be ready for a spring launch, but that's ok, I can wait.  It's a great location, right at a front entrance to the mall.  It's the space on the left in the picture below.  The construction on the right is not related.  I'll have to check back often to watch it's progress.  It's going to be the first Jamie's Italian in North America!

This week, I have to be a bit more organized.  We are picking my son up from the airport Friday, and then I will have Saturday to prepare for an Easter feast for 9 or 10 people.  I managed to get a frozen turkey the other day, but I still have a few things to buy at the last minute.  It's going to be the traditional meal, nothing funky this time.  I am hoping to be able to adapt a typical pumpkin pie recipe to use almond milk and eggs, that way making it safe for everyone to eat (including me!)
Monday - I'm in Toronto for mom's medical appointment.  She bought me some veggie burger patties, a salad and fresh fruit for lunch, but I will have to find something to eat for dinner on the way home.
Tuesday - left over Roasted Sweet Potato Aloo Gobi with JO fish fingers
Wednesday - Pasta Arrabbiata with mushrooms
Thursday - quick tortilla pizza with roasted tomato basil pesto, Daiya cheese and veggies
Friday - dinner out with the family (after the airport)
Saturday - prep day, snack while I cook (although I may sneak away to have some Nepalese breakfast at the famer's market first)
Sunday - Easter feast!  Turkey, gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, candied carrots, broccoli casserole, turnip, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie

Friday, March 20, 2015

Go Vegan For A Day - Meat Out 2015

I couldn't let today pass without posting a vegan recipe.  Happy first day of spring!  Happy #InternationalDayOfHappiness!  Happy #Meatout2015!
Last night I was still in leftover mode.  I needed to use up the second roasted squash and the remainder of the roasted garlic.  I remember a squash pasta recipe that I'd done not too long ago, and took inspiration from it to create a lovely vegan dish for myself for dinner.  Who doesn't love mac 'n cheese?
Lisa's Asparagus Mac 'n "Cheese"
1 small roasted acorn squash
1 head of roasted garlic
1 bag of GoGoQuinoa penne pasta
1/4 tub of Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese
1 sprig of rosemary
1/2 fresh or frozen red chile
I put a bit of olive oil in a pan, and fried my rosemary and chile for a couple of minutes, while I got a pot of boiling water on to boil.  I scooped the squash out of it's skin with a spoon, and added it to the pan.  I squeezed the garlic out of it's paper and added it as well.  I broke the squash up a bit and thinned this mixture out with water until it became the right consistency for a pasta sauce.  I threw in a couple of small handfuls of nutritional yeast for added cheesiness, then added the Tofutti cream "cheese" and seasoned to taste.
In the meantime, I washed and chopped my asparaus, leaving the tips off to one side.  I briefly boiled the asparagus in the water and removed it when it was just a touch under done, then added the pasta until al dente.  I threw the asparagus tips into the sauce for about a minute, just to soften.  Then I removed the sauce from the heat, and I drained the pasta (reserving a cup of pasta water for later).  I combined the pasta with the sauce and voila, dinner was served.

Just the perfect combination of sauce, pasta and veggies in my opinion.  Creamy and cheesy....I doubt anyone would realize that it was dairy-free if they didn't know different.  However, it was just me, so lots of left overs for tonight!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Roasted Vegetable Recipes

Last night I decided to put my oven to good use, and roast up some veggies!  I had a bunch of basil that was starting to wilt, so that was my first priority.  I discovered a great Roasted Tomato Basil Pesto recipe on Oh She Glows that I figured I could use over my roasted spaghetti squash.  I also found a decadent looking Roasted Tomato, Onion, Garlic & Coconut Soup recipe that I couldn't live without for one more second.  LOL.  Some things just jump off the page at me!

I had three trays of veggies to roast:  onions, two different squash, garlic bulbs wrapped in foil, and of course the tomatoes (that I got for $1.50 on clearance).  Everything except the garlic was seasoned with salt and pepper, the onions, garlic and squash were drizzled with olive oil, and it all went into a 400 F oven.  The onions came out first, once golden, then the squash, then the garlic, and finally the tomatoes.  I did another, quick tray of almonds and the washed squash seeds, and put these into a reduced temperature oven (325 F) for another 10 minutes.  I love to snack on squash/pumpkin seeds.

For the pesto, I added a large clove of raw garlic to the processor for a minute, then the bunch of washed & dried basil, some EVOO, the roasted almonds, nutritional yeast, roasted tomatoes, salt & pepper.  My spaghetti squash was soooo tiny, I decided to also use my speed peeler on a zucchini that I had kicking around in the fridge.  Honestly, I wasn't sure how great this was going to taste, but it was amazing.  Really, really good.  I didn't miss the cheese (or pasta) at all!

I froze the remaining pesto in an ice cube tray.  Apparently it also works well as pizza sauce!

Next up, the decadent tomato soup.  I combined the remaining roasted tomatoes, all the roasted onions and half of the roasted garlic in a large pot.  I added some veggie stock, a frozen cube of tomato paste, and some shelf-stable creamed coconut (in place of a can of coconut milk).  I brought this to the boil and let it simmer for a few minutes, then pureed it with a hand blender.  I added a couple of spoonfuls of my homemade cashew cream to my bowl and dug right in.

I can't tell you how much I love creamy tomato soup.  It's one of the things I really miss since going dairy-free.  No more!  This is fantastic and not lacking in flavour, let me tell you.  Totally indulgent.  I added some stale buckwheat rye bread and let it soak up the goodness for a few minutes.  Afterwards, I was stuffed!  What a fantastic vegan night of cooking.  I still lots of left overs!