Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Sloppy Joe Dip and Favorite Songs of 2008

With all the parties going on this time of year, here's another appetizer recipe to consider. Going to a party where someone is sure to have one of those hell-veeta cheese product dips? Take this Sloppy Joe Dip along as a delicious and less scary alternative. Scroll down for recipe.

Not only is this the time of year for party food, but plenty of people are reflecting on 2008 and making various "Best of" lists. We like to spend New Year's Eve with friends sharing our favorite songs of the year. Below is my list, with commentary, in no particular order.

1. Sour Cherry by The Kills - Best running song I found this year.

2. I See You Baby (Fatboy Slim Remix) by Groove Armada - Yes I'm a feminist. Yes this video is objectifying. I can only say this song is my guilty pleasure this year.

3. Worrisome Heart by Melody Gardot- cool and hot all at once.

4. Top Yourself by The Raconteurs - If I could listen to only one cd from this year, this would be the one, over and over.

5. She's Gone by Langhorne Slim - NPR says folk singer with a punk rock sensibility. I have fond memories of this rockin' concert accompanied by the Dyno Family.

6. Overdue by Bitter:Sweet - this entire cd will get you through happy hour quite happily.

7. Honey Bee by Lucinda Williams - I've been waiting for this song since seeing her on Austin City Limits. Lucinda just keeps on rockin'.

8. Creepy Crawl by Be Your Own Pet- another favorite running song.

9. Something is Not Right with Me by Cold War Kids - reminds me of Talking Heads. Caught this song at the end of True Blood I think. HBO has good soundtracks, if not shows.

10. Let It Rock by Chatham County Line - we've seen these guys at Pickathon and Wood House Concerts. They bring down the house. Why aren't they famous yet?

Hope you all bring in the New Year with some good tunes and vegan food. See you in 2009!

Sloppy Joe Dip
Adapted from Food and Wine

1 1/2 Tablespoons canola oil
1 pound vegan burger crumbles
1 small red onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 roasted, peeled and diced poblano pepper
1 can diced tomatoes with juice
1/4 cup ketchup
1 Tablespoon vegan Worcestershire sauce
1 Tablespoon wet yellow mustard
1 Tablespoon chili powder
salt and pepper to taste
Tofutti vegan sour cream

Heat oil over medium heat in large skillet. Saute crumbles until they begin to brown. Add onion, garlic, and poblano and saute until they soften. Add remaining ingredients except sour cream and cover with a lid. Cook over low heat about 15 minutes. Serve with chips or fritos and a dollop of vegan sour cream.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Pumpkin Sage Balls

Looking for an appetizer for New Year's Eve? Check out this Vegetarian Times recipe for Pumpkin Sage Balls. The flavors are seasonal and the crispy fried sage leaves add a special touch. The balls are meant to be dipped in a little hot sauce. They remained quite soft after baking, but were so tasty we gobbled them right up anyway. Next time I'll reduce the oil, which might help them firm up a bit. It might also help to turn the balls during baking and increase the time in the oven. Regardless, they are a pretty color and delicious too.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Eve Dinner

Christmas Eve dinner found us with old friends and a few new recipes. Our friends A & J brought a stunning cheeze ball appetizer.

We also started with a salad of blood oranges and scallions.

To complement our Mexican menu, the cocktail of the night was a margarita with a splash of pomegranate juice for a red hue.

The meal included arroz verde, refried black beans, and the roasted root vegetable enchiladas with chipotle cashew cream from VegNews magazine, December 2008. I've had my eye on this enchilada recipe since Thanksgiving, and it did not disappoint. Our version featured Yukon Gold and sweet potatoes with locally made blue corn tortillas. After a little wine, J's home brewed beer, and time for dinner to settle, we finished with an assortment of ice "cream" flavors topped with crumbled peanut butter Newman-O's and kahlua.

What a pleasure to celebrate with a mellow evening at home. I hope you all are enjoying the holiday season as well!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Spicy Tomatoes, White Beans and Spinach on Garlic Bread

This meal might be my new favorite super quick recipe that tastes like you spent all day in the kitchen. It's a spicy stew served over garlicky toast, with sage, white beans, fire roasted tomatoes, and wilted spinach. We could even call it a Christmas recipe with the pretty red and green colors. With merely a brief break on Christmas Day from perusing your new vegan cookbooks and trying on your new sassy vegan t-shirts, you can whip up a filling lunch or supper that should be a crowd pleaser. (You might double the recipe if you do actually have a crowd.)

However you spend the holidays, I hope you find them relaxing and full of good food. Happy Holidays and I'll see you back here, and on your blogs, after Christmas!

Spicy Tomatoes, White Beans and Spinach on Garlic Bread
Adapted from Epicurious
Serves about 4

4 slices rustic bread
extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
1 garlic clove, peeled and left whole
fresh sage leaves, about 1 packed Tablespoon
3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 14 1/2 ounce cans diced tomatoes (fire roasted if possible)
1 15 ounce can white beans, rinsed and drained
2 handfuls baby spinach
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper

Brush bread slices with a little olive oil. Set aside on a baking sheet to toast later.

Heat 2 Tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the 2 sliced garlic cloves, sage, and crushed red pepper. Cook for about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, beans, spinach, salt, and pepper. Increase heat and cover skillet to wilt the spinach. Remove cover after a few minutes and continue cooking for a few more minutes to thicken sauce to desired consistency.

While the sauce thickens, toast the bread under the broiler. When done, rub whole garlic clove across the bread slices. (Skip this step if you don't like a very garlicky flavor.)

Place each bread slice in a bowl and top with stew.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Split Pea Soup

A cold weekend like ours definitely called for soup. My choice of recipes was easy since we had ingredients on hand for split pea soup. This is a standard version using Liquid Smoke for the smoky flavor (tempeh bacon would do as well) and garnished with Sriracha for a little heat. There are so many possible variations with flavors such as curry powder or coconut milk that I can see returning to this soup again and again over the winter.

Split Pea Soup
Adapted from Oxmoor House
Makes about 8 servings

1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 large red onion, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
2 carrots, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 cups vegetable broth
16 ounces dried green split peas, checked for debris, rinsed and drained
1 Tablespoon Liquid Smoke
1 teaspoon dried basil
salt and pepper, to taste
2 bay leaves
Sriracha or other hot sauce

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Saute onion, pepper, and carrots for about 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute about 30 seconds. Add broth, peas, Liquid Smoke, basil, salt and pepper, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for about 1 hour or until peas are done. Remove bay leaves and puree with an immersion blender to desired consistency. Add hot sauce to individual servings if desired.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Soft Tacos with Mushrooms, Spinach, and Soyrizo

These soft tacos are quick to make for those weeknights when you want a good dinner without much fuss. You can add your favorite vegetables to individualize the filling. This version has baby portobellas, spinach, corn, and soyrizo, and is topped with avocado dressing to add a creamy touch. I think making a big batch of soup will be on the agenda for this weekend. The forecast for Sunday is a high of 15 degrees and windchill of zero! Brrr. Stay warm everybody and have a great weekend.

Soft Tacos with Mushrooms, Spinach, and Soyrizo
Makes about 3-4 tacos

1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 large red onion, sliced
5 ounces soyrizo
10 ounces baby portobellas, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup frozen corn kernels
approximately 2 ounces baby spinach
freshly ground pepper
whole wheat tortillas

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Saute onion, soyrizo, and mushrooms for about 10 minutes. Add garlic and saute about 30 seconds. Add corn and spinach and cook until the spinach is wilted and everything is heated through. Season with salt and pepper. Heat the tortillas in another skillet. Make tacos and top with avocado dressing or salsa.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Chewy Chocolate Raspberry Cookies

This time of year, there's usually at least one event where you'd like to take a dish. For vegans, this also means you have the opportunity to showcase tasty vegan food to a non-vegan audience. While I enjoy exploring unfamiliar ingredients and techniques, my philosophy is not to get too adventurous with non-vegans, but keep it mainstream. You know those stereotypes about vegan food being weird, inferior, and perplexing. Let your food make the counter-arguments for you.

Which brings us to these Chewy Chocolate Raspberry Cookies from Veganomicon. Thank you Isa and Terry! These cookies taste great and are so easy to make even I cooked up a batch with success and minimal cursing. (What is it about baking ingredients and me? I must have Baking Clutz Syndrome, as all those flours, powders, and sugars end up covering me and my kitchen.)

This recipe is such a nice introduction to vegan baking. Someone asks for the recipe? Cool. All the ingredients are familiar ones- raspberry preserves, cocoa powder, canola oil, etc. Nothing scary or bland around here.

Any favorite vegan desserts you like to wow them with? Share your secret weapons in a comment if you like.

Thanks to my co-worker, L., for bringing me a batch of these cookies a while back. Her vegan niece baked them and sent them to work for me!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Roasted Garbanzos and Spanky is Home for the Howlidays

I thought this recipe for roasted garbanzos sounded interesting so I gave it a try using savory seasonings rather than sweet. Frankly, it turned out fine, but it's not at the top of my list to make again. I think if you want a snack for munching and are avoiding nuts, this is a reasonable substitute. Not bad at all, just not a "wow" recipe for me. Skip to the recipe below if you're here for the food, and let me know if you come up with a variation that you really like! And how about that crazy tiki shot glass my friends A & J brought back from Hawaii? I love it.

Now for the Home for the Howlidays Adopt-a-thon update. Saturday was a wonderful day. We placed 25 pets from the Macklind Humane Society location, with a total of 52 animals from all HSMO locations! I was so happy to meet Spanky's new family. Spanky is a pitbull mix who'd been at the shelter for a while. He was one of my favorites to walk. So well-mannered and full of love. A little on the skinny side, the shelter was working on fattening him up. Not everyone was taken with Spanky. In fact, some potential adopters found him homely. But there's a family for every dog! This nice couple approached me at the Adopt-a-thon and with certainty said, "we're interested in adopting Spanky. We saw him on the internet." After I briefly gushed about how wonderful Spanky is, and refrained from hugging them, I set them up with our Adoption Counselors to get things moving. While they were waiting for an available counselor, they went back to Spanky's kennel to visit. Sweet talk and all. And Spanky? He turned on the charm. Curled on his bed, chewing his toy with gusto, looking cute as all get out. That's my boy! Spanky found his family on Saturday. Later that night as memories of the day fluttered in my mind, I realized my heart was full. Thanks everyone for your interest in the great pets at the Humane Society!

Roasted Garbanzos
Adapted from Epicurious

1 cup dried garbanzo beans
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala
salt, freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Place the beans in a container and cover with cool water. Cover container with a lid and place in refrigerator overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Drain beans and pat dry on a towel. In a bowl, combine beans with olive oil, garam masala, pepper, and 1 teaspoon salt. Place in one layer on a cookie sheet and roast in oven for about 45 minutes, stirring several times. Add cinnamon and extra salt if needed after baking.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Jessy's Tofu 'n Broccoli with Spicy Peanut Sauce and Adopt-a-thon

When I saw Jessy's recipe for Tofu 'n Broccoli with Spicy Peanut Sauce, I knew I had to give it a try. All the recipes on her blog happyveganface look so good, but this one with tofu particularly caught my eye because I'm still learning various ways to cook it. This time she coated tofu cubes in a little cornstarch and pan fried them in peanut oil. I made a few changes to incorporate some ingredients I needed to use up, such as some added mushrooms and light coconut milk. We loved Jessy's recipe! It was gone in no time and totally dee-licious.

If you're local to St. Louis, spread the word that the Humane Society of Missouri is having an Adopt-a-thon this Saturday, 12/13/08. I'll be there bright and early to walk the dogs so they're ready to meet their potential new families! If you've been thinking of adding a dog or cat to your family, and who hasn't, stop by one of the adoption locations and I'm sure you'll find a new companion full of personality and affection. You can even get a preview by exploring photos of adoptable pets here. Whatever your weekend holds in store, have a great one and I'll see you back here Monday!

Home for the Howlidays image from Humane Society of Missouri

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Brazilian Stew, this Bud's for you

I've been discussing this stew with MD for two days. (He's quite tolerant of me, obviously.) How to describe the flavors that make it so tasty? It reminds me of a pasta sauce I made as a vegetarian that included tomatoes, heavy cream, and white wine. Obviously I haven't made that recipe for a while, so I was so surprised to detect the familiar flavor and aroma in this dish!! I suppose it must be the stew's combination of tomatoes, coconut milk, and Budweiser. We're still stumped to put the flavor into words, but I can say it is fragrant, creamy, and we loved it over rice to soak up every juicy drop.

Brazilian Stew
Adapted from Cooking Light
6-8 Servings

1 teaspoon peanut oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1/2 habanero pepper, minced
1 cup water
2 14.5 ounce cans organic diced tomatoes, with liquid
1 12 ounce can Budweiser
1/4 cup natural peanut butter
2 cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup light coconut milk
1/2 cup tightly packed cilantro, chopped
juice from 1/2 lime
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper

Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Saute onion and garlic about 2 minutes. Add ginger and habanero and saute about 30 seconds. Add water, tomatoes with liquid, and beer. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 20 minutes. Add peanut butter, chickpeas, and coconut milk. Increase heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Add cilantro, lime juice, salt, and pepper. Check for seasonings.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Sunny Rice Salad with Black Beans

The teeth rattling, bone chilling St. Louis temperature last weekend had me thinking of Mexico. Weighing obligations, counting accrued vacation hours, and dreaming of lunch under a palapa. I think I can see a peek of ocean through the fuschia bougainvillea.

Am I still in St. Louis? Sigh. Well, I don't have to eat like it's below freezing out. How about a vibrant salad? The colors of this salad are a delight. Tasty as is, it would also make a delicious wrap filling. Slather a warmed whole wheat tortilla with some bean dip or vegan cream cheese sprinkled with chili powder, add some salad, wrap, and eat. I'd rather eat it under a palapa, but for now this will have to do.

Sunny Rice Salad with Black Beans
Adapted from Food and Wine

2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups jasmine rice
2 3/4 cups water
1 bay leaf
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 orange bell pepper, chopped
1 carrot, sliced
about 28 grape tomatoes, halved
1 cup baby spinach, chopped
1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar
2 handfuls cilantro, chopped
sliced scallions and lime wedges as condiments

In a medium saucepan, heat oil over low heat. Add the onion and cook about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, turmeric, cumin, 1 teaspoon of salt, pepper, and rice. Cook for two minutes, stirring occasionally. Add water and bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for about 18 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Remove bay leaf.

Combine rice with remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Garnish each serving with scallions and a lime wedge for spritzing some fresh juice.

Friday, December 5, 2008

St. Louis Vegan Birthday!

What does a vegan in St. Louis do for her birthday? Well, she might eat lunch at Local Harvest Cafe, where she can order the vegan soup of the day (Creamy Roasted Vegetable) and the special sandwich which happens to be a vegan wrap.

Then she might be greeted after work with a vegan chocolate birthday cake from SweetArt!

But wait, there's more. (I do know how to get mileage out of a birthday.)

With my birthday falling on a Thursday, we planned to celebrate Friday night by going out, which also allowed MD to make his Thursday night mandolin class. But of course we were able to squeeze in a quick dinner Thursday at Atomic Cowboy, including margaritas and fries.

It's not officially my birthday until fries are involved.

Tonight for the continuing celebration, we'll hit Terrene for cocktails and Shangri-La for dinner, two of the vegan friendliest spots in town.

A very wonderful first vegan birthday indeed, thanks to my sweetie and birthday wishes from friends and family! I'll be back to recipes on Monday. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Hearty Vegetable Soup

If you're a vegetable soup lover, you probably have a "necessary ingredient" that has got to be included. For us, it's potatoes. And tomatoes. Cabbage used to be on the list too, but more recently has been replaced by kale. This version is so hearty it's really a meal in a bowl. Outside right now, there's a dusting of snow on the car and the wind chill makes it "feel like" 19 degrees. I'm looking forward to soup leftovers for tomorrow!

Hearty Vegetable Soup
Adapted from Cooking Light

1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
6 cups vegetable broth
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
2 carrots, thinly sliced
4 cups roughly chopped (and peeled) Yukon Gold potatoes
salt and pepper
1 bunch kale, stems removed and chopped
1 cup orzo (I'd reduce to 1/2 cup next time for a "soupier" version)
1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Saute onion for a couple of minutes. Add garlic and saute about a minute. Add cumin and saute 30 seconds longer. Add broth through salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add kale, orzo, and beans. Simmer about 8 more minutes, or until orzo and vegetables are done. Check for seasoning.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Sweet Tahini Miso Dip with Steamed Broccoli

I hope everyone had a restful holiday. We are settling back in after our visit to family in SC. While many people hit the malls on Friday, I convinced my family to go to Earth Fare instead! I don't think we have any Earth Fare stores in the St. Louis area, but this one seemed very similar to Whole Foods. It had all the vegan essentials- tempeh, seitan, Vegenaise, Silk, Earth Balance, and even a few deli and bakery vegan selections! This totally blew me away for a small town. It will be one of my first stops next time I visit!

Okay, has anyone else had enough sweet potatoes and green beans for now? This dip is a change of pace from the typical Thanksgiving flavors. The recipe is adapted from one on the Westbrae Organic Mellow Brown Rice Miso container. I haven't used miso much before. This paste contains brown rice, soybeans, water and salt. It can be used the way you would use soy sauce or vegetable broth, for a subtle, complex flavor. The dip is both sweet and tangy, and downright addictive. It would make a good spread for toast, but we enjoyed it with crackers and steamed broccoli. It went quickly, so I'll probably double the portion next time.

Sweet Tahini Miso Dip
makes between 1/4-1/2 cup

1/4 cup tahini (stir before measuring)
2 Tablespoons maple syrup
2 teaspoons miso

Combine with a spoon. Refrigerate unused portion.

Super Easy Steamed Broccoli

Wash broccoli and chop into bite-sized spears. Place in a casserole dish and fill with a little water (1/4 to 1/2 inch). Cover casserole with a lid. Microwave 4-5 minutes. Pour broccoli into a strainer to drain water. Careful! The water will be very hot.


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