Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Chipotle Bourbon Sweet Potato Quesadillas and Thanksgiving Tips for Vegans

As promised, Thanksgiving quesadillas! While sweet potato casserole is nice, making spicy quesadillas out of it is even better.

What are your plans for Thanksgiving? We're getting ready for our cross country trip to visit family, and I can't help but recall my trip home from college for Thanksgiving, ahem, a while back, when I first became vegetarian. (Which is probably why I had Fettucine Alfredo on the brain earlier, reflecting on our college days! So weird how the brain works.) I became vegetarian about a week before Thanksgiving that year, and read excerpts from Animal Liberation to MD during the drive home for the holiday. Once again, I'm faced with a significant first at Thanksgiving, this year being my first vegan Thanksgiving. Luckily, my family is supportive and doesn't make my diet a source of debate.

However, holidays can be stressful for vegans for a variety of reasons. The links below offer recipes, support, and advice for a happy vegan Thanksgiving or eating with non-vegans. Thanks to The Vegan Treehouse for a couple of these links, a blog I visit regularly for vegan news, humor, and Austin dining info. (You gotta check out Stella's post with the Erykah Badu video!)

A Recipe for a Family Fight

A Vegetarian Thanksgiving

10 Survival Tips and Tactics for Eating Veg in a Non-Veg World

Guide to a Vegan Vanguard Thanksgiving, Part 1

Chipotle Bourbon Sweet Potato Quesadillas

1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup corn kernels
2 teaspoons chipotle chile powder (or 1 tsp if you prefer milder)
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups sweet potatoes with Wild Turkey
1/4 teaspoon salt
whole wheat tortillas
olive oil in a mister or cooking spray

Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Saute onion for about 4 minutes. Add garlic, corn, and chipotle powder. Saute about 1 minute. Add beans, broth, sweet potato mixture, and salt. Combine, mashing the beans a little to mix well. Cook until heated through.

Take a tortilla and spritz both sides with olive oil or cooking spray. Spread enough sweet potato mixture to your liking on half of the tortilla and place in skillet over medium heat. Warm until tortilla is soft enough to fold over in half. Continue cooking, flipping periodically, until heated through and browned on both sides.

Now that's how to enjoy Wild Turkey at Thanksgiving! If you celebrate the holiday, hope you have a great one. Spend some time with positive people and your dogs and cats. See you back here after December 1st.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Sweet Potatoes and (Wild) Turkey

I challenged myself to try a typical Thanksgiving recipe. For some reason, I'm usually out of sync with holiday foods. I find myself blogging about Jamaican food on July 4th. Cinco de Mayo burgers in June. So I decided to try to cook something in tune with this holiday. I like sweet potatoes, don't I? But, um, how about with Wild Turkey. This dish will not satisfy the person looking for the more dessert-like casserole. But if you like sweet potatoes and whiskey, I don't think you'll have any complaints. Especially if you eat these the next day, after the flavors really have a chance to get friendly.

I couldn't stop there, of course, and liked this dish even more in quesadillas. Okay, maybe not so "typical," but who can argue with Wild Turkey and chipotle quesadillas? I'll be back tomorrow with the quesadilla recipe, and some tips for having a happy vegan Thanksgiving.

Sweet Potatoes and (Wild) Turkey
adapted from Sunset

2 shots (3 ounces) Wild Turkey bourbon, divided
1/4 cup dried apricots, chopped
2 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes
1 Tablespoon maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
2 Tablespoons softened Earth Balance buttery sticks, divided, plus extra to coat casserole dish
pinch of salt
chopped pecans to garnish

Pour 1 shot of bourbon over chopped apricots in a bowl and allow to soak about 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Microwave sweet potatoes for about 15 minutes according to A Veggie Venture's instructions. Peel when cool enough to handle. Place in a bowl and add maple syrup, cloves, remaining shot of Wild Turkey, 1 Tablespoon of Earth Balance, and salt. Mash with potato masher. Stir in apricots with Wild Turkey. Lightly coat a casserole dish with Earth Balance. Spread sweet potato mixture in dish, top with pecans, and dot with remaining tablespoon of Earth Balance. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until heated through.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Hummingbird Cake from SweetArt

This vegan Hummingbird Cake from SweetArt was the star of our Thai One On Supper Club Saturday night! When I host non-vegans, not only do I want everyone to have a good time, but I want the vegan food to be accessible (meaning not too "weird") and delicious. Thanks to this cake, vegan cooking scored a lot of points with our guests! The beautifully decorated cream cheese frosting covered five layers of moist, flavorful cake with banana, nuts, and pineapple. Our guests couldn't believe it was vegan, and some even went back for seconds.

SweetArt will open very soon in the Shaw neighborhood. The website indicates that many items can be ordered vegan, and based on the Hummingbird Cake, Reine really knows what she's doing in the vegan baking department. For those of us who don't, there's no need to skip dessert any longer.

By the way, thanks to everyone for your comments on my earlier post about our Thai meal. I did end up adding red bell peppers to the curry for color and cilantro throughout. The meal was exotic, flavorful, and genuinely seemed to be a hit. As I mentioned previously, our guests contributed many of the dishes, and most of them chose to make vegan versions of Thai dishes! Here's how the menu turned out.

Thai Mango Passion Cocktail
Spicy Thai Pineapple Lettuce Wraps
Veggie Potstickers
Thai Green Salad
Spinach and Mushrooms with Coconut Milk
Evil Jungle Prince
Noodle Salad with Spicy Peanut Sauce
Red Curry with Winter Vegetables and Cashews
Jasmine Rice
Hummingbird Cake

Here's a final shot of the cake, for breakfast with coffee. Mmm.

Photo at the top of the post taken by MD.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Vegan Linguine Alfredo with Broccoli

Pasta with Alfredo Sauce brings back memories of college and a restaurant in Clemson, SC, where we celebrated special occasions with this dish. It was one of the only vegetarian options on the menu. I even made it a few times in my little apartment for MD's birthday (we were vegetarians then). By the time I hit grad school, I was more of a spicy red sauce kind of pasta eater, so I'm not sure why this recipe caught my eye last week. Maybe I was out of sorts from being confronted with cold and dark at 5pm (5pm???). Maybe I wondered, does it really taste like Alfredo sauce? The recipe is from Vegetarian Times, except I didn't have portabellos so I added steamed broccoli. This was very good. Creamy, garlicky, and comforting. It doesn't taste like Alfredo to me, so if you give it a try, be ready to enjoy it for its own thing. The World's Best Tomato Pesto is still my favorite pasta sauce, but this was a fun and tasty change of pace!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Mexican Soup with Vegan Meatballs

MD: When are you blogging that soup?

Me: That soup is un-photographable. I can't blog it. I did the curry instead.

MD: But it tastes so good! You have to blog it. (Proceeds to make several photography suggestions I've tried already.)

Me: The only way that soup can be photographed is if I put a paper bag over it.

And so I did.

Mexican Soup with Vegan Meatballs
Adapted from Food and Wine

1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 large onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 chipotle chile in adobo, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 bunch kale, stems discarded, leaves chopped
4 cups vegetable broth
3 cups water
1 14.5 ounce can fire roasted tomatoes
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
pepper to taste
about 24 vegan meatballs (such as Whole Foods brand)
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1/3 cup salsa
hot sauce to taste

Heat oil over medium heat in a large pot. Saute onion, bell pepper, and chipotle for about 4 minutes. Add garlic, cumin, and coriander and saute about 1 minute. Add kale, broth, water, tomatoes, salt, and pepper. Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes.

Add vegan meatballs, corn, and salsa. Simmer for about 10 minutes. Serve with hot sauce to taste.

Monday, November 17, 2008

7 Random Things

River of Wing-It Vegan tagged me to list 7 random things about myself. Have you checked out her 7 yet? What an impressive pie she made back when she first became vegan! Here we go with mine:

1. My first vegetarian cookbook, Vegetariana, was a gift during college from a wonderful friend since grade school. It became pretty tattered after getting me through holiday family dinners, potlucks, and just weeknights at home.

2. My most recent cookbook purchase was Vegetable Love, found on sale. Basic info about tons of vegetables. Looks like a great reference book.

3. I tend to get obsessed with a hobby for a while, then move on to something new. I've been through motorcycling, music collecting/playlist making, embroidery, glass etching, and jewelry making. Here's some stuff I made before vegan cooking took over.

4. I kept my name when I got married. An unintended benefit is that I immediately detect telemarketers who address me as "Mrs. (insert husband's surname)".

5. I get extremely anxious about blood, wounds, etc. Just the thought of IV therapy and I'm nearly sent into fainting goat mode.

6. I've been listening to Lucinda Williams' "Honey Bee" every time I turn my iPod on.

7. We decorate more for Halloween than any other holiday.

Hope everyone had a relaxing weekend. I did some cooking, dog walking, dog bathing, and eating great food at Everest. I'll be back Wednesday with the Mexican Meatball Soup that almost wasn't. And if you want to play along with this meme, consider yourself tagged!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Thai One On Supper Club

We're hosting our neighborhood Supper Club next week, and the theme is Thai One On. We're expecting about 12 for dinner. Sometimes our group is as large as 16. We get together about once a month, and the couple who hosts chooses a theme. Everyone brings a dish. Oh, and there's always plenty of wine and cocktails. Past themes have included French, Italian, Wrong Side of the Tracks, 70's (in honor of someone's birthday- no she didn't turn 70, she was born in the 70's!), Latin, Hawaiian, and Breakfast for Dinner (everyone wore pajamas for this one). I'm the only vegan in the group, so I always bring a substantial dish to share rather than something like dessert. Several of our friends have talked to me about what vegan means and are very considerate about bringing vegan dishes. In fact, last time my plate was full of tasty food.

For Thai One On, we plan to make this Red Curry with Winter Vegetables and Cashews from Real Vegetarian Thai. I'm still trying to figure out how to make and serve jasmine rice for 12. A friend at work says he'll loan me his rice maker, so that might be the easiest strategy. Anyway, this curry tastes great, but my choice of vegetables (sweet potatoes and carrots) resulted in a monochromatic orange. I think I'll change the vegetables for Supper Club to include red and green bell peppers for contrast. Any other suggestions? The curry also includes seitan, which I think is a good choice for non-vegans, who might be less open to tofu or tempeh.

The other dish we'll make is Vegan Planet's Noodle Salad with Spicy Peanut Sauce. Guests are rounding out the menu with a Thai Green Salad with Ginger Dressing, Spring Rolls, and an appetizer to be determined. We're covering dessert, which will be a vegan cake with bananas and pineapple from SweetArt! I am so excited for their shop to open, and you can also place orders beforehand over the internet.

I'm eyeing this Thai Mango Passion Cocktail for the occasion. What do you think? The sparkling white wine should provide a festive touch.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Garam Masala Spiced Tomatoes, Green Peas, and Tofu

Does anything smell better than cooking with garam masala? I can't imagine what it might be. Nupur, of One Hot Stove, was so kind to give me some garam masala a while back when we got together, and it is wonderfully aromatic. (Check out her blog for beautifully photographed Indian vegetarian/vegan dishes and even some foodie knitting.)

This dish also features chewy tofu, tomatoes, carrots, green peas, and some habanero for a kick. Omit the habanero if you prefer a milder version. We ate this with whole wheat couscous for a quick meal, but rice would be good with it as well. Tasty, spicy, and smells so good too!

Garam Masala Spiced Tomatoes, Green Peas, and Tofu
Adapted from Whole Foods

14 ounces organic extra firm tofu, pressed for about 25 minutes, then cut into small cubes
canola oil for pan frying
3 Tablespoons corn starch
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup carrots, sliced thinly into coins
1/2 habanero pepper, minced
1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
1 Tablespoon garam masala
14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
10 ounce can Rotel diced tomatoes with green chiles
1/4 cup water
10 ounces frozen green peas, defrosted
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup whole wheat couscous

After pressing, toss tofu cubes with corn starch in a medium bowl.
In a large skillet, heat about 1/4-inch canola oil until a little corn starch dropped into it sizzles. Add the tofu cubes in a single layer. Fry until one side becomes golden brown, then turn with tongs to fry the other side. Remove tofu from skillet to drain on a clean kitchen towel. Pour off oil (into heat proof container, or let it cool first) so that you have 1/4 cup oil remaining in the skillet.
Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Saute onions and carrots for 5 minutes. Add habanero and ginger to saute about 1 minute. Add garam masala and tomatoes. Simmer about 5 minutes. Add peas, water, tofu, and cover. Simmer on low heat for 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve over couscous.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Kale with Soyrizo and Great Northern Beans

It got to be Sunday afternoon (where does the weekend go?) and I realized I hadn't had my soyrizo fix for the weekend. Hence, this delicious kale, soyrizo, and white bean dish. The kale is simmered in a garlicky vegetable broth, and the slightly sweet, fresh grape tomatoes add a colorful note. You can sprinkle on some lemon juice or vinegar to finish if you like.

Kale with Soyrizo and Great Northern Beans

Adapted from Epicurious

4 ounces soyrizo
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, sliced
3 cloved garlic, chopped
1 bunch kale, washed, stems discarded, and cut into strips
1 cup vegetable broth
1 can Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
grape tomatoes, halved
salt and pepper to taste

In a large skillet, brown soyrizo over medium heat. Add olive oil to skillet, and when warmed, add onion and garlic. Saute about 1 minute. Add kale and use tongs to combine with olive oil. You can add a little at a time until wilted enough to fit it all in the skillet. Add vegetable broth, cover, and simmer for about 8 minutes, or until kale is tender. Add beans and simmer uncovered until warmed, a couple of minutes. Top each serving with halved grape tomatoes. Add salt and pepper if desired.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Sun-dried Tomato Tapenade with Kalamata and Green Olives

This tapenade makes a flavorful, light spread for crostini or crackers. It's a nice option when you want an appetizer that isn't based on beans for variety's sake. We also combined this with bowtie pasta, steamed broccoli, additional olive oil, and vegan parm for a simple dinner.

Sun-dried Tomato Tapenade with Kalamata and Green Olives
Adapted from Cooking Light

2 cups boiling water
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes (not packed in oil)
1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted
several shakes crushed red pepper
2 Tablespoons dried basil
juice from 1/2 lemon (add a little at a time until desired tartness)
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
toasted pinenuts and sliced green olives to garnish

Pour boiling water over tomatoes and cover for about 15 minutes, until soft. Drain, reserving 3/4 cup of the tomato water. Combine tomatoes, water, kalamata olives, crushed red pepper, basil, lemon juice, and garlic in food processor until coarsely chopped. Stir in oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper, if necessary. Sprinkle with toasted pinenuts and green olives. Spread on crostini.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Tortilla Soup with Seitan and Fire Roasted Tomatoes

So much excitement with Election Day in the US! We've all been abuzz about voting and our future. How in the world to segue to food on this historic day? How about this quote from Orson Welles: "Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what's for lunch." Today we have soup!

This soup's appearance is a little deceptive. Simmering in the pot, it doesn't look remarkable. A mostly red shade, with black flecks from the fire roasted tomatoes and some browned seitan chunks. But after taking a bite, we were hooked. Garlic, habanero, cumin, and cilantro combine for amazing flavor. I added seitan because I had some on hand, but it's optional. And a few cubes of diced avocado on top wouldn't hurt if you have one on the counter.

Tortilla Soup with Seitan and Fire Roasted Tomatoes
Adapted from Whole Foods
about 4 servings

1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
8 ounce package seitan, sliced into bite-sized pieces
1/2 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 habanero pepper, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
2 14.5 ounce cans organic fire roasted diced tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups water
juice from 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
tortilla chips to crumble on top of each serving

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Saute onion and seitan for about 5 minutes, until seitan browns a little. Add garlic, habanero, and cumin, and cook about 1 minute. Add tomatoes, salt and pepper, and water. Cover the pot and simmer for about 15 minutes. Add lemon juice and cilantro. Top each serving with tortilla chips.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Curried Chickpea Salad

VeganMoFo is no mo' for this year. Ah well, it was great while it lasted. As my fellow bloggers have noted, it was fun to find new blogs and delicious vegan recipes. And the sense of camaraderie really blossomed amidst the frenetic pace of blogging and visiting other blogs. Congrats to everyone who participated!

With temperatures in the 70's all week, I made this curried chickpea salad for lunches. It can be stuffed in a sandwich, served atop salad greens, or eaten on its own. The taste is savory and sweet, and the toasted cumin seeds and almonds add a little crunch. This dish is easy to prepare, with just some chopping and a little toasting of the cumin seeds and almonds.

Curried Chickpea Salad
Adapted from Whole Foods

2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1/4 cup (heaping) almonds
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
juice from 1 lime
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons curry powder
2 teaspoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup seedless raisins
2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 orange bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup chopped carrots
4 scallions, chopped
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

Toast the cumin seeds and almonds in a small skillet over medium-low heat for a few minutes, until fragrant.

In a medium bowl, whisk vinegar, lime juice, olive oil, curry powder, maple syrup, and salt. Add raisins, almonds, and cumin seeds and stir. Add remaining ingredients and combine.


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