Monday, June 28, 2010

Taquitos with Chorizo and Potatoes

We had a huge birthday party today at the house for my boyfriend's niece. There were probably close to 100 people here today..I think she invited all her classmates, their parents and family friends. There was so much food but it was funny how my boyfriend and I couldn't eat any of it. I've never really noticed what an important part food plays in gatherings until I went vegan. I did promise myself that I would never bother anyone with having to make a separate dish for me and that I would always bring my own food.

So for the event today I made about 20 taquitos that were served with guacamole and salad. These were so good and the Soyrizo tasted just like the real thing. Not something that I would make on a daily basis because I do hate the fact that you have to fry them. But they do work out great for family gatherings or whenever you just need a comforting meal.

Printer Friendly Recipe Here

* 1 pound potatoes
* 4 cloves garlic, chopped
* 1 Tb peanut or vegetable oil
* 1 small onion, diced
* 2 tsp dried Mexican or ordinary oregano
* 1/2 tsp ground cumin
* 2 links Soyrizo sausages
* 2 Tb lime juice
* 1/2 tsp salt or to taste
* Freshly ground black pepper
* 2 Tb finely chopped fresh cilantro
* 12 to 14 corn tortillas
* Vegetable oil, for frying

1. Clean and scrape any eyes or discoloration from skin of the potatoes, then chop into bite-size chunks. In a large soup pot, combine the chopped potatoes and enough cold water to cover by 3". Cover and bring to a boil over high heat, lower the heat to low, and simmer for 25-30 minute, until the potatoes are extremely tender and easy to mash when pressed with a fork. Turn off the heat, reserve about 1/4 of the potato cooking liquid, and drain the potatoes.

2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, fry the garlic in the peanut oil until the garlic starts to sizzle, about 30 seconds. Stir in the onion and cook for 6-8 minutes, until tender and translucent; stir in the oregano, cumin and Soyrizo, and fry for 5 minutes. Add the drained potatoes, lime juice, salt, and ground pepper, and use a potato masher to mash the potatoes with the vegetables and Soyrizo to completely mix them together. Turn off the heat and stir in 2 Tb of the potato-cooking water and the cilantro. Stir the ingredients well and taste the mixture; adjust the seasoning with more lime juice and salt, if necessary. The potatoes should be very firm but a little moist; if too dry, stir in additional potato cooking water to moisten. Let the potato filling cool just enough to handle but use while still warm.

3. Create a taquito assembly line by first heating a corn tortilla, then filling and rolling it, and finally frying it. First, preheat a cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Take a corn tortilla, place it on the heated griddle for 30 seconds, then flip it over and heat until the tortilla is hot, soft and pliable. It's important to keep the tortillas warm and moist, as they may crack if cooled while rolling the taquitos.

4. To shape a taquito, place about 2 heaping Tb of filling in a line down the center of the hot tortilla, patting the filling all the way to the edges. Over medium heat, fry the taquito in 2 Tb of vegetable oil in a large preheated cast-iron skillet. Place the taquito seam side down in the hot pan; it's important to fry the seam side first, as this will help hold the taquito together as it cooks. Cook on the seam side for about 2 minutes, or until golden and firm, then gently roll over the taquito and cook on the other sides for 1 to 2 minutes each, or until golden. Assemble and repeat with all the taquitos, frying up to 4 at a time. Add another Tb of oil to the pan whenever the taquitos need more browning. Transfer the taquitos to serving plates and eat immediately or to a pan in a 300 F oven and keep warm until ready to serve.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Potato Skin Tacos

I got the idea to make these from a great little restaurant in Eagle Rock, called Fatty's Cafe. Their potato tacos were to die for and I just had to try and make my own version. I included all the same ingredients that was served in theirs, except that I seasoned my black beans according to a Viva Vegan recipe. These tacos did take awhile to make, so I would save it for special occasions only. They are very versatile and can work great as a little appetizer or as main dish.

Makes 16 tacos

* 8 russet potatoes
* 1 package of vegan cheddar cheese, shredded finely
* 1 15 oz of black beans, drained and rinsed
* 4 cloves garlic, minced
* 1/2 lb yellow onion, diced
* 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced, plus 1 Tb of sauce, or more to taste
* 1/4 cup vegetable broth or white wine
* 1 corn, roasted over the stove
* 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
* 1/2 yellow bell pepper, diced
* 1/2 pasilla pepper, diced ( or any other type of medium heat pepper, such as Jalapeño or Anaheim )

1. Rinse and scrub the potatoes really well until no more dirt remains on its skin.

2. Pierce the potatoes several times with a fork, wrap in foil, and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 35 minutes, until they are soft enough to be easily pierced with a knife.

3. Meanwhile, start preparing the beans. In a large non-stick skillet over medium heat, combine the olive oil and garlic. Allow the garlic to sizzle for 30 seconds, stirring occasionally. Add the onion and fry until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the chipotles and their sauce and the vegetable broth, stir and simmer for 1 minute. Add the black beans, bring the mixture to a simmer, and cook until most of the liquid is absorbed but beans are still moist, about 4 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow beans to cool.

4. When your potatoes are finished baking, remove them from the oven, unwrap, slice the potatoes in half lengthwise, and let cool.

5. When potatoes are cool enough to touch, start scooping the flesh out of baked potatoes. Be careful not to break the skin. ( The extra potato flesh that you just scooped out will not be needed for this recipe and can be kept aside )

6. You can either start loading the potatoes now or return them to the oven for a slightly crispier texture. To bake again, spray a little olive oil on the outer skin of the potatoes. Return them back to the oven, skin side up, at 375 F for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the skin is at your desired level of crispy-ness.

7. To serve the potato tacos, spoon a little of each filling into the potato ( black beans, corn, bell pepper and pasilla pepper ) and top with vegan cheddar cheese.

Optional - Top each potato taco with your favorite salsa.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Mango Custard

Hey guys, just wanted to share this quick recipe with you before I go off and make lunch. I noticed this recipe last week while looking through the current issue of VegNews. It sounded so good that I knew I just had to try it. It took me under 20 minutes to make and the custard was ready to eat within an hour. If you like coconut and mango as much as I do, I know you'll love this.

Serves 4-5

* 2 mangos, peeled and chopped
* 1/2 cup ice
* 12 ounces of coconut milk
* 2 tsp agave nectar
* 2 tsp agar agar powder

1. In a blender, purée mangoes and ice until smooth. In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, bring coconut milk and agave nectar to a boil. Lower heat to medium. Add agar agar and whisk for about 5 minutes, until powder has dissolved.

2. Add mango purée to coconut-milk mixture. Remove from heat, pour into serving dishes, and refrigerate about one hour before serving.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Black Bean-Sweet Potato Tamales

I've never made tamales before and honestly never cared to because the ones I've eaten were always dry and didn't appeal to me. But my boyfriend loves them and my Viva Vegan cookbook has several recipes for tamales. I figured I'd try to make them, even if I didn't like them, just to gain more experience in the kitchen. But to my surprise, these tamales were nothing like the ones I've eaten in the past! They were moist, a little spicy and sweet.

The only bad thing about them was that they are a lot of work to make. I wouldn't suggest making these alone and if you can, make the beans and potatoes ahead of time. I couldn't imagine doing it all at once but then again, I was only working with a two person team. Maybe if you have a bigger family, it will go a lot smoother.

Another problem that I had was with the steaming. I couldn't find a pot big enough to hold the steamer and tamales and be able to put the lid on. I watched a video on Youtube and found that you can put a wet towel in the center on a large pot, pour about 2 to 3 inches of water in and put your tamales in there to steam, without the steamer. Make sure to lean all your tamales against each other, making a sort of spiral. The tamales that I made, standing straight up didn't cook as well as the ones I had leaning a little to the side. I learned a lot from making these and I can't wait to make them again, ( but not anytime soon haha ) because I know they will turn out a lot better the second time around.

Printer Friendly Recipe Here

Makes 2 dozen tamales

* 24 large dried husks, plus 6 to 8 more for tying the tamales and lining the steamer basket
* 1 pound sweet potatoes ( 2 small to medium-size are better than a large one )
* 1/2 tsp ground cumin
* 1/4 tsp salt
* Freshly ground pepper
* 2 Tb olive or peanut oil
* 4 cloves garlic, minced
* 1/2 pound yellow onion, diced
* 2 chipotle peppers in adobe sauce, minced, plus 2 Tb sauce or more to taste
* 1/4 cup vegetable broth or white wine
* 2 cups cooked black beans
* 1 recipe Savory Vegan Masa Dough ( See Below )

1. Soak the corn husks in warm water. When you're ready to assemble the tamales, tear two or three long husks into 1/4 inch wide strips. Keep the strips in water until ready to use.

2. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Pierce the sweet potatoes several times with a fork, wrap in foil, and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the sweet potatoes are soft enough to be easily pierced with a knife. Remove from the oven, unwrap, slice the sweet potatoes in half lengthwise, and let cool.
When cool enough to handle, remove the skins, place the sweet potatoes in a large bowl, add the ground cumin, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Use a fork, or potato masher to mash the potatoes to a chunky puree.

3. Prepare the black beans; In a large non-stick skillet over medium heat, combine the olive oil and garlic. Allow the garlic to sizzle for 30 seconds, stirring occasionally. Add the onion and fry until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the chipotles and their sauce and the vegetable broth , stir and simmer for 1 minute. Add the black beans, bring the mixture to a simmer, and cook until most of the liquid is absorbed but beans are still moist, about 4 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow beans to cool.

4. For each tamale; Spread a generous 1/4 cup of dough down the center of a pliable soaked corn husk, leaving at least 1 1/2 inches on either end. This will form an oblong shape 4 to 5 inches wide and 3/8 to 1/2 inch thick. Spoon 1 generous Tb of sweet potato down the center of the tamale dough, then top with 1 Tb of black beans.

5. Now grab both edges of the corn husk that are not covered with dough. Bring the edges toward each other and push the sides of the masa dough together to encase the filling. Gently press the tamale to form a firm, solid tube shape. Tightly twist each end of the tamale wrapper ( so it looks a little like a wrapped piece of candy ) and tightly tie each end with a soaked corn-husk strip. Some sauce may leak out of the dough into the interior of the corn husk wrap, but it will not have any effect on the steamed tamales. Repeat with the remaining dough, filling, and husks. When you're finally tired of making tamales, it's time to get the steamer basket ready.

6. To steam the tamales; Remove the steamer basket from the pot. Fill the pot with 2 to 3 inches of water, or whatever level will stay below the steamer basket. Cover and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, line the bottom of the steamer basket with some soaked corn husks. Set the tamales, unwrapped end upright, into the steamer basket, first layering them around the sides of the basket and working inward. Top the tamales with any leftover soaked husks, if you have them, place the steamer basket in the pot, and cover.

7. Steam the tamales for at least 55 minutes, up to 1 hour 5 minutes. Check the pot occasionally to make sure the water has not evaporated; add more hot water as needed. Test to see if the tamales are ready by removing a tamale and peeling back some corn husk. Fully cooked tamale dough will be tender but solid, not wet. Remove the entire basket from the pot, place in a dinner plate, and let stand, covered, for at least 15 minutes to cool. Handle the tamales carefully ( tongs are handy ) as they will be hot and steaming.

** Serve these tamales hot with any chile sauce plus beans, rice, or salad, if desired. To serve tamales, you can unwrap them for your guests or let them do the honors.

Savory Vegan Masa Dough

Makes 2 dozen tamales

* 1/2 cup non-hydrogenated vegetable shorting
* 1/2 cup non-hydrogenated vegan margarine
* 3 1/2 cups Mexican masa harina
* 2 tsp baking powder
* 1 tsp garlic powder
* 1/2 tsp salt
* 3 cups warm light-colored vegetable stock or "chicken" flavored vegetable stock

1. In a large bowl, use a handheld mixer to cream together the shortening and margarine until creamy and light. If using a stand mixer, be sure to frequently scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Sift in the masa harina, baking powder, garlic powder, and salt then continue to beat for about 3 minutes, until a sandy-looking mixture forms. Pour the vegetable stock into the masa mixture and continue to beat until all the liquid is absorbed and a fluffy dough forms, about 5 minutes.

2. The tamale dough should have a moist but not overly wet consistency, similar to mashed potatoes, and be easily spread with a rubber spatula. If the mixture seems too wet, sprinkle in another Tb or two of masa harina. If too dry, drizzle a Tb of vegetable broth until the desired consistency is reached. Use this dough right away for making tamales.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Spinach Linguine with Basil Cilantro Pesto and Artichokes

There's something about basil that I just love. I don't know if its the unique peppery taste or that fact that its so healthy for you. Basil is loaded in vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and phosphorus. This will help in improving the health of the cardiovascular system, eyesight and help maintain healthy skin and hair. If you can find it, I suggest purchasing hydroponic basil, meaning that it was grown in water. I noticed that hydroponic basil tastes so much fresher and lasts a lot longer than basil that is grown in the soil. This is probably because it comes with its roots still in tack, allowing the plant to stay alive longer.

My favorite ways to eat basil is to add it directly to pizza with fresh slices of tomatoes or to create yummy pesto out of it. I never thought of adding cilantro to a pesto until I read this recipe from Veganomicon. The cilantro and the basil goes very well together and the sliced almonds help to give the pesto a little crunch. I would say that it took me 30 minutes to make this, not including the clean up time. So worth it, considering this dish looks and tastes like I spent much more time on it. I hope you all have a chance to try this recipe out. Its well worth it!

Serves 4
( Consider making the pesto while you wait for the noodle water to boil to help cut down on time needed )

* 1/2 lb spinach linguine
* 2 Tb olive oil
* 1 medium-size red onion, sliced into thin half moons
* 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
* 2 Tb white cooking wine, vegetable broth, or water
* 1/2 tsp salt
* Several pinches of freshly ground black pepper
* 1 recipe Basil-Cilantro Pesto ( see below )
* 1 ( 15 oz ) can artichoke hearts, drained and sliced in half ( don't use the jarred kind in oil, it's expensive and too oily for this; get the kind that comes in brine )

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the linguine according to the package directions, usually about 10 minutes. Once you've added the pasta to the water, proceed with the recipe.
2. Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat and saute the onion in olive oil until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for a minute more. Add the white wine, salt, and pepper and cook for another minute or two. Lower the heat to low. At this point, the linguine should be done.
3. When the linguine is ready, don't drain it. Use a pasta spoon to transfer it to the pan in batches. This is a good method because you can use the pasta water to thin out the pesto and make sure that everything gets evenly coated. When you add one batch, add a bit of the pesto, too, and using the pasta spoon, saute to coat. Proceed with the rest of the pasta and pesto until you've added all of it. If it seems dry, add extra splashes of pasta water.
4. Add the artichoke hearts and toss to coat. Cook gently over low heat just until the artichokes are heated through, about 3 minutes. Serve immediately!

Basil Cilantro Pesto


* 2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
* 1 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro
* 1/3 cup slivered or sliced almonds
* 2 cloves garlic, crushed
* 2 Tb fresh lemon juice ( from about 1/2 lemon )
* 1/2 tsp salt
* 1/4 cup olive oil

1. Place the basil, cilantro, almonds, garlic, lemon juice, and salt in a food processor and blend until pasty, scraping down the sides occasionally.
2. With the food processor on, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Blend until relatively smooth and no large chunks of almonds are left. If you don't have a food processor and are using a blender, then just add the olive oil at the end, since many blenders aren't equipped with an opening to drizzle into.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Chickpea Cutlets with Mashed Potatoes and Broccoli

Sunday always seems to be the day that I run out of ingredients to make a decent meal. This is probably because I go grocery shopping every Sunday. I tend to just grab a quick bite at In-n-Out, veggie burger with no spread in case you were wondering. I didn't feel like having that today and decided to make something with the chickpeas I had on hand. By searching more in my fridge, I found some potatoes and broccoli and turned what would have been an okay lunch, to something great! I got the recipe for the chickpea cutlets from Veganomicon.

Serves 4

Chickpea Cutlets
* 1 cup cooked chickpeas
* 2 Tb olive oil
* 1/2 cup vital wheat gluten
* 1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
* 1/4 cup vegetable broth or water
* 2 Tb soy sauce
* 2 cloves garlic, pressed or grated with a microplane grater
* 1/2 tsp lemon zest
* 1/2 tsp dried thyme
* 1/2 tsp Hungarian paprika
* 1/4 tsp dried rubbed sage
* Olive oil for panfrying

1. In a mixing bowl, mash the chickpeas together with the oil until no whole chickpeas are left. Add the remaining ingredients and knead for about 3 minutes until strings of gluten have formed.

2. Preheat a large heavy-bottomed nonstick or cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Meanwhile, divide the cutlet dough into four pieces. To form the cutlets, knead each piece in your hand for a few moments and then flatten and stretch each one into a roughly 6 x 4 inch rectangular cutlet shape. The easiest way to do this is to first form a rectangular shape in your hands and then place the cutlets on a clean surface to flatten and stretch them.

3. Add a moderately thin layer of olive oil to the bottom of the pan. Place the cutlets in the pan and cook on each side for 6 to 7 minutes. Add more oil, if needed, when you flip the cutlets. They're ready when lightly browned and firm to the touch.

4. Just in case you were wondering, you can also bake these too! Baking these patties gives them a tooth-some chewy texture and firm bite. Preheat oven to 375 F, lightly oil baking sheet. Brush both sides of each patty with olive oil, place on the baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Flip patties and bake another 8 to 10 minutes until firm and golden brown.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Seasonal Soup with Vegetables

I needed a quick starter meal to go with my sandwiches yesterday and this soup worked out great. This wasn't a planned meal, just something that I realized I could make with the produce I had in my fridge. If I had actually planned it, I would have added more greens. I found the soup to taste a lot like the cabbage rolls I made last week, mainly because of the boiled cabbage and tomatoes. It might look like a light soup but trust me, it is very filling.

Recipe from Emeril Green
Serves 6 to 8

* 3 Tb extra virgin oil
* 1 cup sliced red onion
* 4 cloves minced garlic
* 3 pounds shredded mixed greens ( any mixture of spinach, collard greens, turnip greens, red and green cabbage leaves and Brussels sprouts )
* 8 cups vegetable stock
* 2 15 oz cans of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
* 2 15 oz cans garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
* 1 15-ounce can chopped tomatoes
* 1 bay leaf
* 1 tsp salt
* Pinch of cayenne
* Pinch of ground thyme

1. Heat olive oil in a large soup pot. Add sliced onions and garlic and cook until tender, about 3 minutes.

2. Add greens, a handful at a time. Stir until wilted before adding next bunch.

3. Add the stock, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, chopped tomatoes, bay leaf, salt, cayenne and thyme. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes.

4. Taste for seasoning. Greens should be tender and slightly spicy. Add just enough salt to enhance flavors.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Coleslaw with Shaved Fennel

I made sandwiches today for lunch, along with a side of cabbage/spinach soup ( recipe and picture soon to follow ). Whenever I make sandwiches, I always feel like reaching for a bag of chips, Kettle Chips "Backyard Barbeque" to be exact. Sometimes it's so easy to just grab a bag instead of making your own side. But then when I do, I always feel guilty that I shouldn't be snacking so much on processed food but instead be eating fresh veggies. So for today's meal I went with a coleslaw recipe from my "The 30 Minute Vegan" cookbook. This recipe has no mayo but instead extra virgin olive oil, giving it a lighter taste. I prefer this one to the many versions of coleslaw I've eaten in the past.

* 1 cup shaved fennel bulb
* 2 cups shredded green cabbage
* 1 1/2 cups shredded red cabbage
* 3/4 cup grated carrot
* 1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro
* 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onion
* 2 Tb freshly squeezed lemon juice
* 1/4 cup olive oil
* 1 tsp red wine vinegar
* 2 tsp nutritional yeast
* 1/2 tsp sea salt or to taste

1. First, cut off any of the stem and herb that may still be attached to the fennel bulb, leaving a flat surface exposing the white concentric layers. You may wish to remove the outside layers if they look dirty. You can use a sharp knife to cut very thin shavings of the fennel bulb or you can use a vegetable peeler.

2. Mix together the fennel, green cabbage, red cabbage, carrot, cilantro, and green onion in a medium-size bowl. In a measuring cup, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, red wine vinegar, nutritional yeast, and salt, and pour it over the vegetables. Mix well and serve, or refrigerate immediately.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Lemon Bars

While looking through my Veganomicon cookbook last week, I stumbled across a recipe for lemon bars. I've never tried one before but it sounded like the perfect summer dessert. I had all the ingredients already ( don't you just love when that happens ) so I just had to make it. I would describe it as having a shortbread crust, with a tangy lemon filling. Very yummy! They can be served at room temperature or chilled, although I prefer them chilled.

Makes 12 bars or 24 cubes

Ingredients - Crust
* 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
* 2/3 cup confectioners' sugar, plus additional to decorate the finished bars
* 1/4 cup cornstarch
* 1 cup non-hydrogenated vegan margarine ( I use Earth Balance )

Ingredients - Filling

* 1 1/3 cups water
* 3 Tb agar powder
* 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
* 1/8 tsp turmeric
* 2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
* 3 Tb arrowroot powder
* 1 Tb finely grated lemon zest
* 1/4 cup soy milk

Lightly grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan

Directions - Prepare the crust

1. Pulse the flour, confectioners' sugar, and corn starch in a food processor. Add the margarine in spoonfuls and blend 8 to 10 seconds, and then pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse meal.
2. Sprinkle the mixture into the prepared baking pan and press firmly into an even layer with slightly raised sides, so that it can hold in the filling.
3. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes and preheat the oven to 350 F.
4. Bake the unfilled crust for 25 minutes, remove from oven, and let cool.

Directions - Filling

1. Mix the arrowroot into the lemon juice to dissolve. Set aside.
2. In a saucepan add the water and agar powder. Turn on the heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Boil for about 10 minutes, or until the agar is completely dissolved.
3. Add the granulated sugar and turmeric, and boil until they have dissolved, about 3 minutes.
4. Turn down the heat to medium and add the arrowroot mixture, then add the lemon zest and soy milk. Whisk constantly until the mixture thickens, about 5 minutes. It should not be rapidly boiling, but low bubbling is okay.
5. Pour the mixture into the prepared crust. Let cool for 20 minutes and then refrigerate for at least 3 hours, until the filling is only slightly jiggly and has set. Use a sifter or a fine-mesh strainer to sprinkle the bars with confectioners' sugar. Slice into squares and serve.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Vegetable Quesadillas

The signs of summer approaching has been gradually increasing. Lately the temperature has been in the mid to high 80's and when that happens, I never feel like spending too much time in the kitchen. Cooking over a boiling pot is the last thing I want to do during those hot summer months. This recipe is really fast to make, considering all your really have to do is saute a few vegetables and throw it in the oven. It was also incredibly filling and very scrumptious.

Serves 5 to 6 ( Shows 2 servings in picture above )

* 1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped
* 1/2 cup green bell pepper, chopped
* 1/2 cup yellow bell pepper, chopped
* 1/2 cup zucchini, chopped
* 1/2 cup red onion, chopped
* 1/2 cup mushrooms, chopped
* 2 cloves of garlic, minced
* 1 Tb olive oil
* Cooking Spray
* 6 ( 9 inch ) whole wheat tortillas
* 1 1/4 cup shredded vegan mozzarella cheese ( I like Daiya or Follow Your Heart )
* Optional : Vegan Sour Cream ( I use Follow Your Heart ) and Pico De Gallo Salsa

1. Over medium-high heat, in a large non-stick pan, add olive oil and allow to warm. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add bell peppers, zucchini, onion, and mushrooms. Cook for about 7 minutes, or until tender.

2. To assemble quesadillas: Warm up the tortillas on the stove top or microwave, that way they are softer and easier to work with.

3. Get one tortilla and lightly coat one side of it with cooking spray. Place the coated side down on a baking sheet. Sprinkle a little cheese evenly over half of the tortilla and layer the vegetable mixture over the cheese, fold in half. Continue the same procedure with the remaining tortillas.

4. Bake for 10 minutes at 400 F, or until cheese has melted.

5. Cut into wedges and serve with vegan sour cream and pico de gallo salsa if desired.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Cabbage Rolls with Brown Basmati Rice

Last week I randomly thought of one of my favorite comfort foods from my childhood. My mom used to make the best cabbage rolls, but sadly not as often as I would have liked her to. I decided I had to try to recreate the cabbage rolls I remembered as a kid, in a vegan form. I searched online, combined two different recipes, made some changes here and there and ended up with this recipe. When I took the cabbage rolls out of the oven, I immedietly was bought back to the good old days, sitting around the dinner table and enjoying her food. I hope this will become one of your favorite meals as well.

Makes 8 cabbage rolls


* 1-1/2 cups chopped fresh mushrooms
* 1 cup diced zucchini
* 3/4 cup chopped green pepper
* 3/4 cup chopped sweet red pepper
* 3/4 cup vegetable broth
* 1/2 cup bulgur
* 1 teaspoon dried basil
* 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
* 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
* 1/4 teaspoon pepper
* 1 large head cabbage
* 6 tablespoons Soy Parmesan cheese, divided
* 2 teaspoons lemon juice
* 1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
* 1 tablespoon brown sugar
* 1 teaspoon Vegan Worcestershire sauce ( I use The Wizard's Organic Vegan Worcestershire )
* 1 cup Brown Basmati Rice, cooked as directed on package ( I use Village Harvest Brown Basmati )

1. In a large saucepan, combine the first 10 ingredients. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 20 minutes, or unless most of the water has evaporated. Remove from the heat; let stand for 5 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, cook cabbage in boiling water just until leaves fall off head. Set aside eight large leaves for rolls (refrigerate remaining cabbage for another use). Cut about 1 inch across the bottom of each leaf to remove its thick vein.
3. Stir 4 tablespoons Parmesan cheese and lemon juice into vegetable mixture.
4. Place about 3 to 4 Tablespoons of the vegetable mixture on each cabbage leaf; fold in sides. Starting at an unfolded edge, roll to completely enclose filling. Start placing each roll in a large cassarole dish.
5. In a small bowl, mix together tomato sauce, brown sugar, and vegan Worcestershire sauce. Pour over cabbage rolls.
6. Cover and bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until heated through. Sprinkle with remaining Soy Parmesan cheese.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Eggplant Rollatini

I got this recipe from Veganomicon, although I did add spaghetti noodles to it. But if you would like to serve the rollatini alone, that would work just as well. I love how fancy this dish looks and it would be great to serve when you have people to impress. It did take a little while to make though, so it's best to save for a day that you have 2 hours to spend in the kitchen. I would also suggest making the Tofu Ricotta a day ahead to help cut down on the time needed.

Makes 12 rollatini, Serves 4 to 6

* 3 large eggplants ( a little over 3 lbs )
* 4 cups Marinara Sauce
* 1 recipe Tofu Ricotta ( see bottom of the page )
* 12 large spinach leaves, washed very well and stemmed

Dipping mixture
* 1 cup cold water
* 1/4 cup cornstarch

Breading Mixture
* 2 cups bread crumbs
* 1 tsp dried thyme
* 1/2 tsp dried oregano
* 1/2 tsp dried basil
* Optional 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
* 1/3 cup Soy Parmesan

1. Cut the eggplant lengthwise into twelve slices about 1/2" thick.
2. Generously sprinkle salt on both sides of eggplant and rub it in. Set in a colander to drain for 30 minutes.

Making the dipping and breading mixtures
1. Mix the cornstarch with the water in a bowl that is large enough to fit your eggplant slices. Mix together all the breading ingredients on a large dinner plate.
2. Rinse the eggplant with cold water and set aside. Whether you are baking or frying the eggplant, have a 9x13 inch baking pan at the ready. Preheat the oven to 350 F if you are baking.

1. Preheat a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Let it heat for at least 3 minutes. Pour in and heat about 1/8 inch of oil. Let it get hot but not smoky; if it smokes, lower the heat just a bit. To test the oil for the correct temperature, sprinkle in a small amount of bread crumbs. If bubbles form rapidly around the crumbs, the oil is ready.
2. Dredge an eggplant slice in the dipping mixture. Sometimes the starch settles at the bottom of the bowl, so mix it with a fork if need be. Gently press the eggplant into the breading mixture on both sides so that the crumbs are firmly in place.
3. Prep the second slice the same way, then place both slices in the pan and cook on each side for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Use tongs to flip the slices. The eggplant should be tender and golden brown on both sides. When done, transfer to paper towels to drain the oil and proceed with remaining eggplant slices.

1. Follow the same directions for breading as above. Grease two baking sheets with olive oil, place all the eggplant slices on the sheets, and spray the breaded slices with olive oil. Bake at 350 F for 20 to 25 minutes; no need to flip them. When ready, they should be tender and flexible. If you can't fit both sheets on one rack in your oven, then rotate them halfway through the baking process.

To Assemble
1. Let the slices cool enough that you can handle them, usually 10 minutes. Pour 1 1/2 cups of sauce into a 9x13 inch casserole dish.
2. With the narrower end pointed towards you, place a leaf of spinach on the lower third of the eggplant slice. Place 2 heaping tablespoons of ricotta on the spinach, sprinkle a few pine nuts on top of that ( if using ), and then roll up.
3. Place the rolled eggplant slices, seam side down, in the baking pan. When everything is rolled, pour another cup or so of sauce over the rollatini. Bake for about 20 minutes.

To serve, sprinkle a little Parmesan on top of each rollatini and enjoy.

Tofu Ricotta Recipe

* 1 lb extra firm tofu
* 2 tsp lemon juice
* 1 clove garlic, minced
* 1/2 tsp salt
* Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
* Handful of fresh basil leaves, chopped finely ( 10 leaves or so, optional )
* 2 tsp olive oil
* 1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes

1. In a large bowl, mush the tofu up with your hands, until its crumbly.
2. Add the lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper and basil. Mush with hands again; this time you want it to get very mushy, so squeeze through your fingers and mush until it reaches a consistency of ricotta cheese, 2 to 5 minutes.
3. Add the olive oil, stir with a fork. Add the nutritional yeast and mix all ingredients well. Use a fork now, because the olive oil will make it sticky. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.