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Sunday, March 13, 2016

Sweet and Sour BBQ Sauce

Because I was craving BBQ sauce tonight.  Don't judge.

Last month, I submitted a new recipe for Ocean Spray's "Surprisingly Versaitle Grapefruit Juice" contest.  I entered this contest last year, too, but didn't win.  But, ever the optimist, I decided to give it another shot.  This year's submission was Sweet and Sour BBQ Tofu with Asian Slaw.  I never got around to posting the recipe here because I'm lazy, and honestly, I wasn't really feeling it.  I mean, the tofu was good, real good, but the slaw- even after several trials- left much to be desired.  I submitted the recipe anyway because, why not?

But let's talk about that BBQ sauce.  It turned out way better than I ever expected!  It begs to be slathered on everything- tofu, tempeh, portobellas, anything your little heart desires.  Today I decided to put it on garbanzo beans, because that's what I had in the pantry.  And I paired it with my coconut creamed kale (except substituting spinach for the kale, because, again, that's what I had on hand), and this combo was just perfect!

So about the recipe: the contest required that grapefruit juice be used in the recipe, which I did originally.  But I didn't have any grapefruit juice today.  However, I did have diet Squirt (don't ask), so that's what I used.  You could skip the grapefruit flavored ingredient all together and use apple cider vinegar instead, and it should still turn out just lovely.  Making your own BBQ sauce is super easy and, especially in this case, totally worth it!

1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup grapefruit juice/apple cider vinegar/diet Squirt
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
Pinch red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp molasses
1/8 tsp Chinese 5 spice
Mix all ingredients in a small sauce pan.  Bring the sauce to a boil then turn heat down to allow sauce to simmer about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. 
For the garbonzo beans: Drain and rinse a 15 oz can garbonzo beans and add to the sauce.  Allow to simmer 5-10 minutes, until beans are heated through, stirring frequently.
For the tofu:  Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Press water out of a 14 oz package extra firm tofu.  Slice tofu into 8 slices.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray foil lightly with cooking spray.  Brush each slice of tofu with BBQ sauce on both sides.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, until corners of tofu are just brown.


Sunday, January 24, 2016

Savory Mushroom, Fennel, and Spinach Pie

Because it's never too late to start again!

Yeah, so it's been almost a year since my last blog post.  I've been busy, OK?  So sue me.  (No, don't really, I don't have any money.)

It's crazy how quickly life changes.  One moment, I'm living in my sister's basement, thriving on boxed soup and frozen dinners, and the next I'm in a fabulous apartment with a kick-ass roommate, and suddenly my culinary creative juices are flowing once again.  Weird, right???

With independence comes responsibility, though.  So many bills, from rent to car payment to student loans to insurance...  Who can keep up???  So I've decided it's time to throw recipes into contests again in an attempt to make some extra cash.  First up: the Farmer's Almanac annual recipe contest.  Theme: savory pies.  I knew I wanted to make a pot pie, and I knew immediately that I wanted to use mushrooms, fennel, and spinach.  But I wasn't so sure what to do about the crust.  Should I use just a top crust, or top and bottom?  Puff pastry?  Store-bought crusts?  Home-made crust?  (Yeah, no.  I don't have time for that nonsense.)

After much deliberation (and a very informal facebook poll), I decided top and bottom crust was the way to go (store-bought, because I'm all about convenience).  However, I was warned that I should take any and all precautions to prevent a soggy bottom crust (although not provided with any real advice how to do so...).  So, naturally, I googled "how to prevent soggy bottom crust" [true story], and came across a link for blind baking.  Basically, bake the bottom crust first.  Duh.  The rest of the assembly came together pretty smoothly, with the exception of the top crust, which I let thaw for too long and therefore became pretty fall-aparty.  And I had too much filling for the pie, but whatever.  The bottom crust was absolutely not soggy, and the filling was hearty and earthy and delicious.

This savory pie is good.  Damn good, if I do say so myself.  [Well, I had two taste-testers who agree, so you don't just have to rely on my biased opinion.]    Now, let's see if it fetches me $250!

2 9-inch frozen pie crusts (Marie Callender's frozen pie crusts are vegan)
3 Tbsp non-dairy stick butter
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 fennel bulb, trimmed and chopped (I saved a few sprigs from the top to garnish the pie)
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk
1 cup vegetable broth
1 Tbsp soy sauce
 8 oz mushrooms, sliced
5 cups fresh baby spinach
Salt and pepper
2 Tbsp non-dairy milk
1 Tbsp agave

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.  Line one pie crust with parchment paper and weigh down with dried beans or pie weights (click the link above for more specific instructions on blind baking).  Bake for 12-15 min, until crust is just golden.
Keep the other pie crust frozen until halfway through the filling preparation.  You only want to let it thaw about 10 min. 
Meanwhile, get started on the filling.  In a large saute pan, melt butter over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic and cook about 3 min.  Stir in fennel and cook about 3 min more.  Stir in the flour, poultry seasoning, paprika, and thyme until well combined.  Slowly whisk in the milk and vegetable broth until well combined.  Add mushrooms and cook for about 5 min, allowing gravy to thicken.  Toss in the spinach and stir to wilt the leaves.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
When the crust in the oven is done, take it out and remove the weights.  Fill with veggie mixture (I stuffed it as full as I could, but still had about a cup of filling left over.  It's whatever.).  Cover with the thawed pie crust, pinching the edges over the bottom pie crust.  (Careful!  It's hot!)  Cut a few slits in the top.  In a small bowl, whisk together 2 Tbsp milk and agave, and brush over top crust.  Sprinkle a few fennel sprigs to make it look fancy, if desired.
Get that bad boy in the oven, which should still be at 400 degrees.  I baked mine on a cookie sheet, just in case it over-flowed while cooking.  Bake for 15 min, or until crust is golden brown.  Remove from oven and let sit for 5 min.  Slice, serve, and enjoy!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Vegan Reuben Soup

Because anything you can do, I can do vegan.

In typical Deanna fashion, I present to you my St. Patrick's Day post for the year, 5 days after the holiday.  Better late than never, eh?  [I'm pretty sure I've posted holiday recipes after the actual holiday every single time.  At least I'm consistent.]

I actually had the idea to make a Reuben-style potato soup, but totally forgot to use the potatoes!  Ah well, I have some sauerkraut and onions leftover, so maybe I'll put those things together to create something awesome in the next couple of days.  I have had this recipe idea rolling around for a while, and I'm super glad I finally got around to making it!  I'll admit, it's a little saltier than I would normally prefer, but I think that's part of what makes the flavor so authentic.  All of the Reuben soup recipes I came across online used excessive amounts of Swiss cheese and heavy cream.  I, the culinary genius that I am, used silken tofu to get the creaminess of the soup.  I added miso to replicate the fermented taste of the cheese, but it also added to the saltiness, so feel free to omit it if you desire.  I would have loved to have topped the soup with rye croutons but I was entirely too lazy to make any, so I just dipped some rye bread in my soup.  And it was delicious.

8 oz tempeh, chopped
1 cup vegetable broth
1/2 tsp liquid smoke
1 1/2 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce

16 oz silken tofu
2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp thyme
Salt and pepper (I used LOTS of pepper)
2 Tbsp cornstarch

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 cup diced onion
1 1/2 cup diced green pepper
1 cup sauerkraut
1/2 Tbsp miso

Place tempeh in a shallow dish and pour in the veg broth, liquid smoke, and soy sauce, and stir to mix well.  Let sit for at least 15 min (or longer, if you have the time).  Meanwhile, in a high speed blender or food processor, combine the tofu, veg broth, nutritional yeast and thyme.  Blend until smooth.  Add salt and pepper, to taste (keep in mind that you're probably not going to need to add a lot of salt.  In fact, I may not have added any at this point.)  Add the cornstarch and blend again until smooth.
In a large pot, heat  oil over medium heat and add onion.  Cook for 3 min, then add the pepper.  Cook for another 5 min, stirring frequently.  Using a slotted spoon, remove tempeh from marinade and add to the pot.  Stir everything together and start adding the marinade, about a tablespoon at a time until it's all been added.  Stir in the sauerkraut.  Pour in the liquid from the blender and increase heat slightly to allow soup to bubble and thicken.  Return heat back to medium and continue to cook for another 5 min.  Add miso, stirring to fully incorporate.  Serve hot.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Vegetable Fried Quinoa

Because this is the last meal I'm gonna cook before leaving for MEXICO!!!!!

That's right, folks.  For the first time in 5 years I'm taking a real vacation.  [Disclaimer: My trip to Texas two summers ago for the Officer's wedding was supposed to be a vacation, but since I was dying of the black plague for the duration of it, it doesn't really count.]  But anyway, a real vacation, with plane tickets and a passport and a new bathing suit and everything.  I am so super pumped!

Since I'll be gone for about a week, I didn't want to have to buy any groceries at this point, certainly not anything that will spoil while I'm gone, and I figured I might as well use up some stuff I've had hanging out in the pantry for a while- frozen mixed veggies, quinoa, onions that were starting to sprout....  I did have to go out and buy the tofu for this (I was heading out anyway for last-minute toiletries and such), which proved to be a wise addition.  I would definitely tweak the spices in this the next time I make it.  It needs more something, I just don't know what.  But it's good.  Really really good.

Now, all that being said, about how I didn't want leftover food or anything that will spoil while I'm gone?  Yeah, well, I accidentally made enough food to feed a small army.  I wonder how well this will freeze...  I had intended to only use 1 1/2 cups quinoa, but got a little carried and used 2 cups, dry, which yielded 5 or 6 cups.  I'm thinking the flavors will be better suited to a smaller amount of quinoa, so I'm going to recommend 1 1/2 cups.

But you know what's the best part about this whole dish?  My old roomie stopped by for a visit shortly after I had finished cooking, so we got to share a home-cooked meal together, just like the good old days.  Love.

1 1/2 cups quinoa, rinsed
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 large cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp turmeric
14 oz firm tofu, water pressed out
1 lb frozen mixed veggies
3-4 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
Salt and pepper

In a large saucepan, cover quinoa with 3 cups of water and bring to a boil.  Turn heat to simmer and cover with a lid, cooking for 15-20 min, until water is absorbed.
In a large wok, heat oil over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic and saute for about 3 min.  Stir in ginger and turmeric and cook for another 2 min.  Add tofu, crumbling it with your hands.  Stir to completely cover with spices.  Add veggies and continue to cook for 5-10 min, or until quinoa is done.
Add the quinoa and soy sauce to the wok and stir to mix well.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and additional soy sauce if desired.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Fajita Lasagna

Because global fusion cuisine is so much fun!!!

I actually don't really know what to call this dish.  Enchilada casserole?  Taco lasagna?  Fajita bake?  No matter what you call it, it's absolutely freakin' fabulous!  Corn shells, refried beans, fajita veggies, enchilada sauce, and cheese, layered together kind of like a lasagna.  So magical!

I had a blast actually cooking at "home" again.  It's been forever!  [And I had the house to myself.  Bonus!]  Chopping veggies, jammin' to worldbeat radio on Pandora, and busting out some sweet dance moves is definitely the best way to spend a Monday evening (or any evening, for that matter).  But the anticipation of actually devouring this meal was agonizing.  It smelled heavenly and I was nearly starving to death.  Luckily, it's pretty quick and easy to throw together.  I dirtied more dishes than a one-pot meal, but whatever.  Totally worth it.  I'd still consider it a weeknight meal.  Or, in my case, an all-week meal, since it yields roughly eleventy-billion servings (rounding up) so I won't have to cook again all week.  So I've got that going for me.  Which is nice.

1 large onion, sliced
1 large red bell pepper, sliced
1 lb bag frozen broccoli and cauliflower
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp thyme
Salt and pepper
15 oz vegetarian refried beans
1/4 cup salsa
12 corn shells
10 oz enchilada sauce
8 oz Daiya pepperjack shreds (or non-dairy cheese of choice)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spray a large saute pan with cooking spray and heat on medium high.  Add onions and saute for 5 min or until soft.  Add pepper and cook for another 3-4 min.  Add broccoli and cauliflower and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 min.  Add cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, and thyme and stir well.  Turn heat to low and add salt and pepper to taste.
In a small sauce pan, heat refried beans on medium, stirring frequently.  After about 5-7 min, beans should be thinner and easy to spread.
Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray.  Drizzle salsa over bottom of pan and spread evenly.  Arrange 6 corn shells, overlapping, in bottom of pan.  Spread beans over the shells, making sure shells are completely covered.  Spread veggies evenly over the beans.  Arrange the remaining 6 shells over veggies.  Pour enchilada sauce over the shells, again making sure that all shells are covered.  Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the sauce.
Bake for 25 min, or until cheese is melty and sauce is bubbly.  Let sit for 5 min before digging in.  (This was quite literally the hardest part of the process for me!)

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

"Cheesy" Southwestern Pasta Salad

Because quitters never win.  Or whatever.

It's been almost two months since my last blog post.  What have I been doing the past two months, you ask?  Lying in bed, staring at the wall, wondering what I'm doing with my life.  Nothing.  A whole lot of nothing.  [Well, I take a lot of naps, actually.]  But mostly I've just been really lazy, uninspired, unmotivated, broke, tired, and basically ready to give up on this stupid thing.  I don't have a lot of time to cook, I don't have a lot of space to cook, I don't have a lot of good ideas coming to me lately, so what's the point?  But then I came up with a new recipe (for the first time since Christmas) and I figured, oh what the hell.  I'll share this because it's pretty damn tasty [not to mention cheap and easy, just the way you like it] and you'll all be thanking me for it later.  You're welcome.  Yay mood swings!

I actually bought the majority of these ingredients with the intention of making a leafy salad, but wouldn't you know, the store was all out of baby spinach.  [I'm not even making that up.]  Well, everyone knows that pasta salad is the next best thing, so that's what we've got.  This is actually good both hot and cold, so technically I'm giving you two recipes!  Yay overachieving!!!

12 oz pasta (You can use whatever shape makes your heart happy)
15 oz can petite diced tomatoes with onion
15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
11 oz can corn and pepper blend
8 oz can sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup reduced fat vegan mayo
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp chili powder
1/4-1/2 cup nutritional yeast (Start small and add more as you see fit)
Cayenne, to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste

Boil water in a large pot.  Cook pasta according to directions on package.  When pasta is done, drain and rinse with cold water.  Return pasta to the pan and add all other ingredients, stirring well to mix it all up.  Cover and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes or overnight.  Or, return the whole pot to the stove and heat over medium high until all ingredients are heated through, stirring frequently.   


Sunday, December 7, 2014

Lemon-Garlic Spaghetti Squash and Kale

Because I'm getting a head start on my new year's resolutions...

The cold weather and holiday season make me crave comfort food.  But my waistline is screaming "NO" and I swear to god, if I have to go out and buy fat pants, I'm going to be really upset with myself.  So now is the time to focus my energy on lightening up some old favorites.

I wanted pasta today, but instead turned to spaghetti squash.  I wanted a lemon-butter sauce, but kept it light by using wine and veg broth, although I could have made it creamier and more comforting- although still not so fattening- by using soy milk, but we were all out.

So what I got was a super lemony, light-yet satisfying, healthy-ish meal which [I hope] is setting me on the path to health, happiness, and skinny jeans.

1 large spaghetti squash (mine was 3 1/2 lbs), cut in half and seeded
2 Tbsp non-dairy butter
2 large shallots, chopped
8-10 cloves garlic, peeled and quartered
Juice of one lemon (I got 1/4 cup, use less if you don't want a super lemony flavor)
1/2 cup white wine (I used pinot grigio)
1 tsp agave nectar 
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 cup vegetable broth
15 oz can white beans, drained and rinsed
5 cups fresh kale (I got this from a half bunch, peeled off the stems and roughly chopped) 
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper

With the squash cut in half and seeded, poke holes in each half, several times, with a fork.  Place on a plate, cut side down, and microwave each half for 10-12 min, until soft. 
Meanwhile, heat butter in a large skillet on medium heat.  Add shallots and garlic, and saute for 8 min.  Add lemon juice and wine and agave, and cook for 5 min, stirring occasionally.  In a measuring cup, whisk together cornstarch and veg broth.  Add  to wine mixture and turn heat up to allow to boil until sauce thickens.  Add beans and kale.  Turn heat to low and allow kale to wilt.
When the squash is cooked, scrape out with a fork into a large bowl.  Add olive oil and salt and pepper and stir until well mixed.
Divide the squash among 4 plates, top with the kale mixture.  Serve hot.