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Category Archives: dinner

It’s Been So Long….

Wow, I really haven’t posted in a while! I’m afraid life has really gotten in the way over the past 6 months or so, with some family illness, a crazy school schedule and some computer issues (still not sure about putting photos in this post because of this). The ironic thing is that I have actually been cooking and creating more than ever! I have been really inspired (like many of us) by the cookbook Jerusalem and lately by their older book, Plenty. I have many cookbooks but I have to admit that I don’t use them very often, I occasionally look at the pictures but mostly come up with my own stuff. What I love about Plenty is that not only do the recipes look amazing but I usually have most of the ingredients already. I have tried several recipes (or recipes closely inspired by the book) and they are all winners! Plenty really lends itself to tweaking and experimentation and I have been loving the bold flavours and all the different grains and spices!

Although last summer was stressful, we still managed to have some good times. I made some animal pals at the Pacific National Exhibition that I thought I would share with you!

Llama Pal!

Llama Pal!

 

"I love Moo!"

“I love Moo!”

 

Friend not Food!

Friend not Food!

I have been making a lot of different types of food lately and recently discovered a way to make homemade seitan! This was very exciting but the recipe needs a bit of tweaking before I post about it. It will come though! Seitan is a meat substitute made out of a high gluten flour (the definition of not being gluten free, unfortunately) and I have always wondered about it but thought it would be a big pain to make. It’s actually really easy and you can use it in many ways. If you purchase a lot of fake meat stuff, it can be an interesting and cheap alternative to the super processed fake hot dogs and deli slice stuff. I am excited to keep experimenting with it. I have been pretty stressed with recent life events so cooking has been a great way to de-stress and relax, I may not be able to control stuff outside the kitchen but in it I am fully in charge! I also found myself with graham crackers, cool whip and blueberries and channeled the 1950’s to do a refrigerator dessert. It didn’t look pretty but I have to admit it tasted great! I may post it if I can get the photos to look a little better.

The middle eastern flavours in Plenty and Jerusalem are still intriguing me and I’ve been thinking about one of my favourite foods, Falafel! I love falafel but the deep frying can make it kind of unhealthy. I decided to try my hand at a falafel inspired burger instead so I hope it works out! You can make these into little patties for a wrap or big ones for burgers.

Falafel Inspired Burgers (Vegan)

Yield: 12 little patties or 4 big ones

Ingredients

1 can chickpeas (540 ml), rinsed and drained

1 C. cooked brown rice

1/2 bunch cilantro

1/3 onion

3 garlic cloves

1 t garlic powder

1 t onion powder

1 t za’atar

1 t cumin

1/2 t chili flakes

2 T chopped parsley (more if you like a stronger parsley flavour)

salt and pepper

1-2 T hot sauce (optional)

-combine all ingredients in food processor and pulse until well combined

-place into bowl and form into patties of desired size with your hands (get right in there!)

-saute on each side until browned and heated through or (although this takes out the healthy aspect) you could shallow fry the little patties

-don’t over process or it will be mushy

-place in pita or bun with plain yogurt, lettuce, cherry tomatoes and pickled peppers and enjoy!

 

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Spring Will Soon Be Sprung

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Snow Formations on the Hike

Snow Formations on the Hike

As a super rainy day winds down I am feeling pretty good! I got a bunch of school stuff done today and got a new umbrella. Pretty productive day. I can feel the weather changing though, day light savings is the first step! We also were able to get out for our first hike of the year, at least until the snow forced us to turn back. I’m looking forward to finishing that hike in a month or two when the white stuff has completely melted. The mountain air felt so good, my brain was slightly loose for the rest of the day! In a good way.

Deep in the Woods!

Deep in the Woods!

I’ve been thinking about making a hearty version of miso soup for awhile now and today seemed as good a day as any. It also borrows a bit from the Japanese dish Agedashi Tofu which I am a huge fan of. If you haven’t tried it/heard of it, check it out here. It’s delicious addition to a night out with  veggie sushi! I am a big fan of Japanese food and flavours. I especially love their food presentation.

I’ve had a half pack of soba (buckwheat) noodles in the cupboard for awhile now and I’ve been meaning to use them up. I had miso paste and tofu in the fridge so I decided to start cooking! Here’s the result:

Hearty Miso Mushroom Soup with Soba Noodles and 5 Spice Tofu

The Soup

The Soup

Yield: 4 big servings or six smaller

Ingredients

For the Soup

4 garlic cloves minced

10 button mushrooms, diced

1 med. onion diced

4-6 handfuls fresh spinach leaves

1 t sesame oil

5 c. water

100 g soba noodle (dried)

hot sauce (optional, to taste)

1/4 c. miso paste

1 t soy sauce

For the tofu

1 lb firm tofu cut into 25-30 cubes

1/4 fine bread crumbs

1 t  ground cumin

1 t chili flakes

1 t 5 spice powder

salt and papper to taste

1/3 c. canola oil

-saute the mushrooms, onion and garlic for 5-10 minutes in the sesame oil

-add water, miso paste and soy (hot sauce)

-bring to a boil and add noodles , cook 6-7 minutes (you could cook the noodles first as they do get a bit gluey, the soup will reduce quickly if you let it boil too long)

-meanwhile heat the canola in heavy bottomed wide pan

-combine the spices and bread crumbs and toss with the tofu until they are coated

-shallow fry the tofu 6-8 cubes at a time (you can keep them hot in a low oven on a tray if needed)

=get out 4-6 bowls and place a handful of spinach in each, add 2-3 ladles of soup over the spinach and top with 5-6 crispy tofu cubes!

-top with sesame seeds if desired

Close Up with the Kitchen  in the Background! Here's Where the Magic Happens! Well, Sometimes.

Close Up with the Kitchen in the Background! Here’s Where the Magic Happens! Well, Sometimes.

This soup is very quick so you get the fun of a homemade soup with out being glued to the stove for 2-3 hours. Soba noodles are not only tasty, they are also good for you and are full of amino acids, antioxidants and some protein too, of course the tofu int his recipe also contains protein! You could also add the spinach directly to the soup 2-3 minutes before serving. This recipe is vegan also! Enjoy.

Rain Rain Every Day!

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It’s definitely almost Spring in Raincouver. It’s been raining pretty much nonstop for the last three or four days but at least February is over. I spotted cherry blossoms near my house and there are crocuses and snow drops dotting local lawns. I won’t really know change is coming until I see a robin; that  is the true sign of Spring for me.

Soon...

Soon…

I used to be the kitchen manager at a popular bar/hostel downtown and there was a little cafe attached as well. I used to do a sort of tortilla pie there as a lunch special sometimes and I suddenly remembered it a couple of weeks ago. I don’t remember quite how I used to  do it so this recipe is a variation there of. It’s an easy recipe but some assembly is required. Don’t be intimidated by the steps, once the fillings are prepared it is quite simple.

Me and the man have been on a real hot sauce/spice kick lately so this is one spicy meatball (say with bad Italian accent)(except it’s not a meatball or Italian). But I digress. Feel free to eliminate or use only a quarter or half of the habenaro in the filling to tone down the heat a little. We can’t get enough of different hot sauces lately and are starting quite a collection. If anyone has good hot sauce suggestions please let me know in the comments!

This recipe will become vegan very easily as there is only a little bit of cheese and that could be switched for non dairy or left out all together.

Spicy Tex-Mex Tortilla Pie

The Results

The Results

Yield 8 Servings

Equipment: 8″ or 9″ spring form pan, parchment paper

Ingredients

3 clove garlic minced

1 red pepper julienned

1 med onion julienned

1 habenaro*  minced (can be optional or use less than a whole habenaro)

1 lb firm tofu crumbled

2 t cumin

1/2 t tandoori masala spice

1 t chile powder

1/4 t chili flakes

1/2 can black beans (19 oz can)

3/4 can diced tomato (24 oz can)

1/2 bunch cilantro

4 oz shredded mozzarella (optional or substitute non-dairy shredded cheese)

4 large flour tortillas

 

Preheat oven to 375

*do not touch your face or skin after handling habenaros, wash hands after handling!!!

-saute the onion, pepper, garlic, habenaro and 1 t cumin. Make sure you put the fan on when sauteing with the habenaro! Don’t forget like I did and spend the next forty minutes choking and coughing on the the hot pepper fumes!

-set aside sauteed veg

-combine tofu with remaining spices, 1/4 can of the tomatoes and a bit of salt and pepper in a bowl, set aside

-combine  1/2 can tomato, beans and cilantro with a bit of salt and pepper (you can make the leftover canned stuff  and cilantro into a salsa by giving it a little buzz in a processor and adding some lime juice and hot sauce!) set aside

-spray the springform with cooking spray and line with parchment

-press a tortilla into the bottom of the pan, it should be big enough to come up the sides of the pan a little

-place 3/4 of the tofu mixture and the cheese on the tortilla

-top with another tortilla, get your hands in there and press it down and tuck it in a little

-add the bean, tomato and cilantro mix

-add another tortilla, press and tuck

-top with the sauteed veg and remaining tofu

-finish with the last tortilla and cover with foil

-bake for 45 minutes

-rest for 10 minutes and invert onto a plate, gently release the springform

-cut into pieces with a serrated knife. Top with sour cream or greek style yogurt and salsa if you like. Add a salad and there’s dinner!

All you need is a pinata, margaritas and cha cha music and it’s easy to pretend it’s not raining and miserable outside! Ole!

 

The Cruellest Month

I am not sure if January or now February is the cruellest month but it feels like it here in Vancity. Actually the weather hasn’t been that bad but it’s raining right now so I can complain. If you’re like me you might have a few items in your fridge and/or cupboards left over from special holiday dishes. I’ve been staring at the half package of phyllo in the freezer for a few weeks now and decided to do something about it yesterday. I like working with phyllo and it’s not that bad for you as long as you don’t go too crazy with the butter or olive oil. I decided to a kind of phyllo pie thing and it turned out pretty well.

Phyllo Pie with Zucchini and Feta

Preheat oven to 400

Yield 8-10 portions (depends how you slice it)

2 T minced garlic

1 large zucchini (about 1 lb) sliced thinly lengthwise

1/4 c. melted butter or olive oil

2 c. tomato sauce (whatever type you prefer)

8-10 sheets phyllo

1 package of veggie ground beef (I like Yves brand)

3 oz crumbled or sliced feta

it kind of looks like a paper bag but it tastes good!

it kind of looks like a paper bag but it tastes good!

-spray a deep baking dish with cooking spray

-layer 2 sheets of phyllo and brush with a little of the butter or oil

-repeat

-place the zucchini slices  over the phyllo

-season with salt and pepper, you could add some oregano too if you like or basil

-spoon the tomato sauce over top and sprinkle the garlic over

-add the “beef”

-finally add the feta

-top with 2 more sheets of phyllo brushed with oil or butter and do it twice

-don’t worry if the phyllo rips or crumbles just stick it on

-place in the oven for 35 minutes

It gets a nice golden brown on top and slices up easily, you could also double this recipe and do another layer of everything to make a phyllo lasagne. This is nice and light with just a bit of cheese, the strong flavour of the feta lets you get away with only using a little bit. You could also add more veggies like spinach or peppers and change the cheese or leave it out if you want. You could add a quick salad and boom, dinner!

A little slice.

A little slice.

I just got my copy of Jerusalem, the cookbook that’s everywhere these days (finally, it’s been sold out everywhere since Christmas) and am super excited about it. It will definitely be inspiring some future posts. I am making something from it tonight and am just trying to work up the courage to venture out in the rain. I can feel Spring just around the corner though and am just generally a happy camper today!  Hence all the exclamation points!!!

Happy Belated New Year!

Well, Christmas kicked my butt and now I’m back to school and it’s getting crazy again! So, I’m going to get right to the recipe. I made this pie at my harvest dinner with gravy and without the gravy at Christmas. (I used the powdered stuff, oh the shame!)

Mushroom Pie with Roasted Vegetable Gravy

The Christmas Spread

The Christmas Spread

The Gravy (can be made ahead or in tandem with the pie)

3 mushrooms, halved

1 onion, rough chopped

2 carrots, cut into big pieces

2 celery ribs, chopped large

1/2 bunch parsley

2 bay leaves

1/4 c. red wine (optional)

1/2 c. flour

1/2 c. butter or vegan margarine

oil

salt and pepper

-preheat oven to 375

-toss veggies with oil and roast until tender and beginning to caramelize about 25-30 minutes

-scrape veggies and caramelized bits into a medium sauce pan (this would be the time to deglaze the roasting pan with a little wine if you like)

-cover with water and add the parsley and bay leaves

-simmer 2-3 hours (you can make the pie during this time)

-strain the stock into something that’s easy to pour out of (I used a big measuring cup)

-use the flour and butter to make a roux (a roux is a traditional sauce thickener, melt the butter and whisk the flour in over low heat, stir fairly constantly to avoid burning until the roux is caramel colour)

-pour the stock into the roux slowly, whisking while you do so until the stock is gone and/or you achieve the thickness you are looking for in a gravy

-add salt and pepper to taste

DSCN0877

The Pie

1 ib assorted mushrooms (I used button, oyster, portabello and shittake but you can use whatever you like) sliced

2 potatoes, peeled, large diced and parboiled

1 small onion, diced

1-2 T minced garlic

1 c frozen peas

1 t sage

1 t  fresh thyme, chopped

1 t parley, chopped

salt and pepper

hot sauce (optional)

1 pie crust (top and bottom)

-prepare pie crust (i used the recipe on the veggie shortening package and it turned out awesome, but use whatever recipe you like for a nice flaky crust or buy ready made dough, whatevs!)

-saute the garlic, onion and herbs

-add the mushrooms and saute

-add the potatoes and peas and season to taste with salt and pepper

-if you have already made the gravy you can add a little to the mushroom mixture

-place the unbaked crust in a pie pan fill with the filling, heaping it up a bit if you need to. Cover with the top crust and decorate with the extra dough if there is any

-bake at 400 for 45 min or until the crust is golden brown

-slice and top with the roasted veg gravy

Enjoy! Hopefully, I will be posting more often soon! Maybe Valentine’s Day?

Autumn Flavours Must Be Obeyed

orange sesame dressing

I had big plans a couple of weeks  ago to post some fruity dressings and light summery salads. Unfortunately, the new school year has interfered a bit. After tromping across campus a few times, doing my readings and attempting to go to the gym, work and have a social life, my blogging has fallen a bit low on the priority scale. But I’m ready to dive back in. I finally had two days in a row off this week and am getting a chance to do  a little pleasure reading and writing.

I knew I wanted to do a salad for my next post but was feeling a little uninspired. I headed down to Whole Foods to fire up my brain and creative juices. I left empty-handed because everything was too expensive. I also noticed that it’s Fall! Berry prices have skyrocketed (duh) because they’re out of season. I journeyed across the street to a less esthetically pleasing but better priced grocery store and suddenly my idea of light, juicy flavours became one of robust, mellow and savoury ingredients. Pears, squash, yam, dark greens and grains but a little citrus to brighten it up and maybe some sesame to lend it an earthiness. Although sesame is often associated with Asian flavours I think it syncs well with orange veggies and starchy foods too. We have had an amazing August and September here in Vancity with lovely sunny weather almost every day. With risk of setting off the rain gods, I have to  say that it hasn’t rained in almost three weeks! That being said, I was getting a little tired of wearing shorts and skirts with bare legs every day. I was able to snug out in my new soft hoodie and jeans on my shopping trip and had a nice walk to boot.

I ended up grabbing some yams, garlic, spinach, quinoa, oranges and dried pears. Hopefully you will like the results. There are a few more steps than your average salad but I think it will be worth it.

Hearty Yam, Spnach and Quinoa Salad with Sesame Orange Dressing

Yield : 4 servings

Step 1 the yams

2 yams or 1 thanksgiving size big one, peeled, cut in to med chunks

2 oranges (just 1/4 for this step)  1/4 juiced

1 T orange zest

1 T sesame oil

1 T sesame seeds

salt and pepper

-preheat oven to 375

-toss ingredients together, lay in single layer on baking sheet

-bake 35 min

-small dice when cool

-this can be done the day before if you want just bring back to almost room temp when tossing the salad

Step 2 : the dressing

1 1/2 oranges, juiced

2 T sesame oil

1 t sesame seeds, toasted

1 t sugar

1 T orange zest, minced

1-2 dashes hot sauce

-whisk ingredients together

Step 3: the salad

the salad

1 C cooked quinoa

2-3 C washed spinach, cut if leaves are large

diced yams

4 slices dried pear, fine diced

-combine with dressing, toss and serve!

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the annotated zoetrope

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