Tag Archives: recipes

Good Morning, Tamale Casserole!

A while back, I made an argument for taking back the microwave, and I stand by that argument. While not appropriate for cooking most dishes, it can be really effective in the throwing together of a meal in under thirty minutes. I’m not necessarily one of those 30-minute-meal types: I like to languish in the kitchen, relax, chop and slice and cook at leisure. This is, understandably, why most of my meals clock in around 45 minutes to an hour, and also why, reasonably, I don’t tend to do a lot of cooking mid-week. Unless eating out or being cooked for, I tend to subsist on whatever is readily available in the kitchen.

Thankfully for my appetite, The Garden of Vegan not only contains wonderful vegan recipes, it features an entire chapter on microwaveable meals. Coming across a recipe for “Tamale Pie” I was immediately entranced – all the goodness of a cornmeal-crusted casserole in exactly half the time I would usually make something like this. Despite a minor error with the cornmeal topping, this came out delicious, hearty, and very, very quickly.

Best of all, this dish is perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner time. It’s so fast, make two and save the other one for later in the week.

Tamale Casserole

Ingredients
- 3/4 cup cornmeal
– 1 tsp salt
– 2 cups water
– 2 cans beans, your choice, drained and rinsed (I used black and pinto)
– 1 cup corn
– 1 small onion, chopped
– 1 small green pepper, chopped
– 1 cup tomato sauce
– 1/2 tsp cayenne
– 1 tsp cumin
– 1 tsp chili powder
– 1 tsp dried basil
– 1/2 tsp Cajun seasoning (optional)
– 1/4 cup jalapeno, sliced (optional)

- In a bowl, stir together the cornmeal, salt, and water. Microwave for 6 minutes. The cornmeal should be a firm mush.
– In a microwaveable casserole dish, add the beans, corn, onion, and pepper. Cover with sauce and spices. Cover the whole dish with the cornmeal mixture and add the jalapeno on top, if using. Microwave for 8 – 12 minutes, until the cornmeal is crisp on top and the entire dish is heated through.

(Recipe adapted from “Tamale Pie” in The Garden of Vegan by Sarah Kramer and Tanya Barnard)

Good Morning, Monday Morning Muffins!

I will make a confession: I have never had a really good muffin from a bakery or grocery store. I’ve had good ones. I’ve had decent ones. And I’ve had ones that were downright awful (and really, is there anything worse than trying to get through a chalky, crumbly, mess of a failed muffin?). But I’ve never one that was to die for, and that’s a shame. I’ve been to a lot of good bakeries, had muffins in many cosmopolitan cities, dined in fine establishments worldwide… but I’ve yet to have a decent muffin that wasn’t directly out of someone’s personal kitchen.

Not sure why this is, really. Maybe it’s a muffin preference. I like mine to be a tad crumbly, not overwhelmingly large, moist, and not super sweet. I don’t want icing on the top or even sugared crumbs (good in theory, not so great when they’re dotting the front of your jacket and pants). Also, the window of time for muffin perfection from the time they come out of the oven to the time they go into your mouth is perilously tight. Maybe I like my homemade muffins better because they come out of the oven and as soon as they are cool enough to swallow, they get eaten. (I really have a patience problem when it comes to sweets…)

Get your Monday morning and burgeoning muffin top started off right with these banana nut muffins. They’re extra nutty, cause I’m just feeling that way these days.

Monday Morning Banana Nut Muffins

Ingredients
- 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
– 1 tsp baking powder
– 1 tsp baking soda
– 1/2 tsp salt
– 4 ripe bananas, mashed
– 3/4 cup sugar
– 1/4 cup applesauce
– 3 tbsp vegetable oil
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– 1/4 cup walnuts
– 1/4 cup pecans
– 1/4 cup shaved almonds

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 12 count muffin pan.

Mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With a mixer blend together bananas, sugar, oil, extract, and applesauce. Once completely blended, gradually fold the dry into the wet ingredients. Add nuts and stir until just mixed.

Fill each muffin cup to about halfway. Bake in the oven for 18 – 20 minutes.

(Recipe adapted from “Crazy Good Banana Muffins” on VegWeb.com)

Good Morning, Citrus!

It is time that I added more citrus to my recipe book. Sure, I have the odd lemon-infused muffin here, orange juice makes a few appearances there, but I haven’t really dedicated myself to assembling recipes that best use the fruits that this season has to offer.

Why not, you might ask? There’s many, many reasons to. The mighty orange offers nutrients that have been said to prevent everything from high blood pressure to arthritis to cancer. Grapefruits, also rich in Vitamin C, can reduce cholesterol and slow atherosclerosis. Lemons are a top-notch antioxidant and can, among other helpful uses, sooth stomach aches and indigestion. Limes are rich with dietary fiber and Vitamin K.

Blood Oranges with Star Anise Syrup from Sifting and Sowing

Whoa. Those are something freaking nutrient powerhouses. And did I mention that they’re all delicious? No, cause I didn’t have to, right? You all know that already. So what am I wasting your time for? Here are some recipes that won’t waste your time and will get you a good citrus fix:

- Oh, Sifting and Sowing… I could stare at your picture for Blood Oranges with Star Anise Syrup all day. So bright, so cheery, so unbelievably delicious looking. With a little yogurt on the side, this could actually make me look forward to the morning. (As long as that morning starts at 10 am…)

- Cupcakes Ate My Soul is cooking up a Christmas-y cake of Cloves, Oranges and Cinnamon. So, I just found this blog, and I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but… I love this blogger. Her recipes are little nuggets of genius in an adorable scattershot package. I’m making this cake before the next big snowfall, and hopefully, I will have a nice big mug of mulled wine to go with it.

Agave-Lime Grilled Tofu from Krule in the Kitchen

- It’s equally important to get your protein this time of year, but don’t worry, Krule in the Kitchen has you covered with this excellent recipe for Agave-Lime Grilled Tofu. This is the recipe I will have in mind next time I’m at Lotus Foods in the Strip, weighing down my bag with pound after pound of tofu. I just need to remember the limes…

Lemon Curd from TasteFood

- Lemony recipes? TasteFood had a hundred lemons on their hands, so they practically did all the work for me! I love Lemon Curd, although I have yet to have anything close to resembling a vegan version, so I’ll probably be keeping this all to myself. Accompanying this recipe is a handy rundown of various lemon-featured recipes culled from other food bloggers.

Ruby Grapefruit Marmalade from Subatomicbetty

- It comes off a little old-fashioned, but I love marmalade. I’m used to getting my marma-fix in orange form, but I love this recipe for Ruby Grapefruit Marmalade from Subatomicbetty. This is also a really nice recipe for preserves-lovers who don’t want to make a whole ton of the stuff (she doesn’t give the exact quantity the recipe provides, but it doesn’t looking overwhelming). It also has lemons! A perfect citrus spread for people who really need to jazz up their morning toast.

Good Morning, Mini Almond Tarts!

My boss loves burnt almond tortes, so for her birthday, I thought I would whip up something similar, but a little different. I was hoping to get the essence of the almond torte without the overwhelming amounts of sugar and cream. Also, because the treat was going to serve as a sort of birthday gift, I was hoping that the recipe would be fairy simple to make. After a busy Tuesday, the last thing I wanted to be doing at ten pm was attempting a second batch of tarts.

I used a regular metal cupcake dish for my tarts, which resulted in some rather substantial “mini” treats. For true bite-sized confections, definitely pick up a dedicated mini tart or mini muffin pan. I know I will be doing so as soon as possible, because I have a weird fondness for small, dainty sweets.

Mini Almond Tarts

Ingredients
For the crust
– 1 stick (1/2 cup) of unsalted butter, melted
– 1 cup all purpose flour
– 1 tbsp sugar
– Pinch of salt
– 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

For the Filling
– 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
– 1 cup sliced almonds
– 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
– 3/4 cup sugar
– 1 large egg
– 1 tsp almond extract
– 1 tsp Grand Marnier (You can do it without the liquor, but I’d recommend using it)
– Pinch of salt

To assemble the crust: Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a cupcake tin (or if you have a mini tart pan). You should fill about seven cups in a regular sized cupcake tin.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt. In a separate glass bowl, stir together the melted butter, vanilla, and a 1/2 tbsp of water. Pour the wet into the dry and combine until dough is formed. Knead for about 30 seconds.

Section off the dough into seven even-sized balls. Press each ball into the prepared tin, pressing it into the bottom and sides of the tin. You’ll want a little bit of the crust to come up from the top, but make sure the bottom is thick enough to hold. Put the tray of crusts into the oven for 7 minutes.

Turn oven down to 350 degrees.

Make the filling: Whip together all filling ingredients until well combined. Pour filling into each of the tart cups, just beneath the top of the crust.

Bake for 22 – 25 minutes. Let stand and cool before removing from cups.

(Recipe adapted MarthaStewart.com)

Good Morning, Sunday Seitan Hash!

Don’t you love Sundays?

The best feeling on coming home from the Strip District loaded down with groceries is knowing that for at least a week straight, I’m going to have nearly everything I need to make some really decent breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. Sunday mornings are particularly pleasant, as I can wake up when I want and leisurely go about fixing a big brunch. And more often that not, by the time I get out of bed, my mind is already fixated on exactly what it is that I want to make.

This Sunday morning, I was focused on a lentil-based faux sausage. But after a look on the internet and through a few of my vegan cookbooks, I couldn’t find a decent base to start from, so I shelved the idea as a project to work on this week, and opted instead to work off of a tasty vegan seitan sausage recipe from Sarah Kramer’s La Dolce Vegan (top notch in offering good starter recipes), and to accompany my planned hash, I added a spinach salad with an adapted dressing recipe from The Garden of Vegan.

Simple Seitan Sausage

Ingredients
Seitan
- 1/2 cup vital wheat gluten
– 1/2 cup water
– 2 tsp sage
– 1 tsp cayenne pepper
– 1 tsp turmeric

- In a mixing bowl, combine vital wheat gluten and spices. Stir in water, then knead dough for about five minutes. Cut seitan into bite-size chunks and set aside.

Ingredients
Sausage Stock
– 2 cups water
– 2 tbsp soy sauce
– 1 1/2 tsp sugar
– 1 tsp sage
– 1 tsp onion salt
– 1 tsp salt
– 1/2 tsp black pepper
– 1/2 tsp basil
– 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
– 1 1/2 tsp liquid smoke
– Fennel (optional)

Bring all ingredients to a boil, then add gluten chunks. Reduce the heat and cover with a lid, simmering for 50 – 60 minutes. Stir about every 10 minutes, until stock has mostly reduced.

Sunday Seitan Sausage Hash

Ingredients
- Seitan sausage
– 2 tbsp olive oil
– 1 green bell pepper, chopped
– 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
– 1 sweet potato, diced
– 2 tsp black pepper
– 2 tsp Cajun seasoning
– 1 tsp onion salt

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Add the 2 tbsp olive oil to an 8×8 casserole dish. Add the vegetables and seitan, then the spices, and toss until everything is evenly coated. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.

Vegan A to Z: Double Chocolate Blueberry Brownies

 I admit, it’s been far too long between Vegan A to Z posts, and it seems like every time I do one, I’m kinda, sorta, maybe cheating a little. I mean, the D in this post is for “double,” not exactly a daring choice.

My original intent was to make a vegan version of the junk food classic Ding Dongs, which sounds so appealing, I may do it regardless. But the recipe for “Fudgy Wudgy Blueberry Brownies” in Veganomicon caught my eye.  Due to shortage of supplies, I had to make a few alterations to the recipe, which probably is to blame for the good, but not great outcome.

Don’t get me wrong, they tasted great. Actually, they were just my kind of brownie – sweet with a little added sour from the fruit. But the texture was off. What should have been a big, fudgy block of brownie was thin, chewy, and instantly hardened when cooled. Hence the shortened cooking time. If I were to try this again, I’d either do the 40 minutes in the 13×9 pan, or the full 45 minutes in a 9×9, or some smaller variation.

Double Chocolate Blueberry Brownies

Ingredients
- 2/3 cup plus 1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips
– 10 ounces blueberry preserves
– 1/4 almond milk
– 3/4 cup sugar
– 1/2 cup canola oil
– 2 tsp vanilla extract
– 1/2 tsp almond extract
– 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
– 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
– 1/4 tsp baking powder
– 1/2 tsp baking soda
– 1/4 tsp salt
– 1 cup fresh blueberries (optional – I did not have the blueberries, but I do recommend using them.)

- Pre-heat over to 325 degrees, then grease a 9×13 baking pan.

- Combine the blueberry preserves, soy milk, sugar, canola oil, and extracts and mix on high speed. Sift in the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir until well mixed using a fork.

- Melt the 2/3 cup chocolate chips and add the melted chocolate to the brownie batter.

- Fold in the 1/2 cup of chocolate chips and blueberries (if using), then spread the batter in the baking pan.

- Bake for 40 minutes. As noted in the original recipe, a toothpick inserted will just come out kind of fudgy, so it’s hard to test the doneness of the brownies. They say 45 minutes, I say 40 minutes, it just depends on how gooey you like your brownies.

- Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Good Morning, Casserole!

Formerly sneered at as the mediocre output of 50’s housewives, casseroles have come back in style. Any devoted potlucker will tell you that casseroles work great for group dinners, as they are portable, sizable, and play well with other foods.

And yummy, did I mention yummy? For a little taste of the retro and a big taste of delicious, check out these five casserole recipes picked fresh from blogging kitchens. (Where’s my floral apron…)

- A little on the stew side, a little on the casserole side, Rachael over at Cupcakes and Carrot Sticks shares with us a Hungarian Casserole perfect for those of us suffering through freeze and snow. This veggie casserole seems to be made up of things that most people have on hand in their stocked fridge and kitchen cupboards, but in case you don’t have caraway seeds, definitely get some before making the recipe. Their presence is missed when they’re left out.

- Okay, I used to be a green bean hater when I was a kid, but don’t tell Cuisine by Eileen, cause I think she might bury me up to the neck in green beans. I’ve reformed, Eileen! And I would have even earlier if I had been privy to all the delicious green bean recipes that you have in your cooking arsenal, especially the grilled eggplant and green bean salad and the barbecue green beans.

- Is there any casserole more retro seeming than a Tuna Veggie Casserole? I didn’t think so. Tammy @ Palm Trees and Manatees offers up a good version. A little canned and frozen food heavy, but I don’t think she’ll mind if you guys substitute the fresh stuff.

- Still one of my recent favorite casseroles to come by, Midnight Maniac Rebecca shakes up the ol’ chicken casserole with her “Chicken” Lattice Casserole. It’s every bit as old timey and adorable as Rebecca is, and the photographs alone are worth checking out.

- Holy Christmas, Hungry Face! That is one stellar looking Breakfast Casserole. But cutting down the brown sugar by half? I don’t know if I can abide by that, even if it would help me get rid of my big fat dupa.

Good Morning, Baked Corn Casserole!

Some late brunch for a hung over New Year’s Day

Despite drinking my fair share on New Year’s Eve, I woke up surprisingly early. The extra hours late in the morning/early in the afternoon afforded me the chance to finally try out a recipe from the Isa Chandra Moskowitz/ Terry Hope Romero vegan-bible Veganomicon.

My partner’s mother makes the very best baked corn casserole in the entire world. This is the kind of dish that rarely sees the light of a new day. When he goes home to visit his parents, he has one and only one responsibility: he must bring back some creamed corn casserole for me. And to his credit, without fail, he comes back with a little Tupperware container of the stuff.

Anyway, the dish is so good that I am wary of trying it myself, for fear of failing to capture its strange alchemy. But when I came across the recipe for “Southwestern Corn Pudding” in Veganomicon, I thought maybe this was a variation I could attempt. So, with a few alterations due to both taste and supplies limitations, I tried it out.

Then I threw together the world’s easiest tofu scramble to go along with the casserole. I’ve included the recipe – if you can call it a recipe – below the casserole recipe.

Baked Corn Casserole

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Take Back the Microwave!

A friend of mine informed me that her brother doesn’t have a microwave because “he eats healthy” (his terms, not hers). And for a moment, I thought, “Yeah, that makes sense.” But I was having a dull moment. Cause that is a ridiculous restriction to make in the name of healthy eating.

Microwaves are not, by their inherent traits, unhealthy. True, they are used in innumerably unhealthy ways. You could even say that microwaves were designed to help people eat less healthy, although that seems a tad reactionary. The microwave can encourage unhealthy eating, because so many things are designed to be cooked in the microwave, and more of than not, these items are the kind of processed food junk that devotedly healthy eaters shun and sneer at. Between the speedy cooking process and the low price point of a lot of the worst stuff – I saw a commercial over the holiday weekend for a grocery store selling Banquet TV dinners for .69 cents each, because apparently that’s what food-flavored cardboard goes for these days – microwaves have gotten a bad reputation.

I am a proud owner of a microwave, same as I am a proud owner of a stove or a coffee maker or a 12-cup Kitchen Aid food processor (okay, I’m especially fond of that one). I believe that we need not shun the microwave, but reclaim it for all those who like to eat healthy AND fast. For those of you unconvinced, I’ve compiled a little list:

Five Reasons to Take Back the Microwave

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Good Morning… Uh, er… Good Afternoon!


My Sunday afternoon laziness delivers rewards once again!

It was a withdrawal weekend for me and my partner. While the pro football season is still going strong, it’s just about over for college football (except for the bowl games, but we have to wait for those). Luckily, nice weather on Saturday gave us a good excuse to enjoy a few hours outdoors, including some backyard time spent tossing the football back and forth. (I’m getting better, really! I can almost throw a consistent spiral.)

Something I didn’t do this weekend was make it to the Strip for my bi-weekly produce shopping. (After a Friday night out late, celebrating a friend’s birthday, I needed a morning in.) My fridge was stocked with tofu from DeWalt’s World of Health on Potomac (selling extra firm 1lb water-packed tofu for $1.20 each) and I had a few remnants from my post-Thanksgiving Strip trip, but otherwise, not much to work with.

Luckily for our Sunday afternoon late brunch, I had just enough to make us a decent round of vegan “huevos rancheros,” this time with the added novelty of tomatilloes. Note to self: as long as there are cans of beans in the cupboard, you will eat like a king. Good thing to remember when I’m a broke student next fall.


Sunday Afternoon Lazy Man’s Tofu’n’Beans

Ingredients
- 1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
– 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
– 1 pound extra tofu
- 5-7 small tomatilloes, sliced
– 1 large sweet potato, sliced
– 1 avocado, sliced
– 1/2 tbsp liquid smoke
– 1 tbsp turmeric
– 1/2 tbsp Arizona Dreaming spice from Penzey’s (you can use any Tex-Mex style spice blend, or better yet, make your own!)
– 1 tsp onion salt
– 1 tsp cayenne pepper
– Ground black pepper (to taste)
– 1 tbsp salsa (I used an extra hot jalapeno salsa)
– 4 corn tortillas (optional)
– Olive oil (as needed)

- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Pour about two tablespoons of olive oil on a baking sheet. Peel and slice the sweet potato, then toss on the oiled baking sheet. Lightly season with onion salt and pepper. Toss again to evenly distribute seasoning, then place in oven. About ten minutes later, flip the potatoes. You want them tender, but a little crunchy on the exterior.

- While the potatoes are baking, drain the tofu and squeeze out excess water (if you’re gentle, you can do this by hand just by squeezing the tofu like a sponge, but gentleness is key). Add a few tablespoons of olive oil to a non-stick pot – again, amount is really up to how oily you like your dish – and set at medium heat. Add tofu, tomatilloes, liquid smoke, and turmeric. Cook for about five minutes, then add the beans and the rest of the seasoning (including the salsa). Cover and turn heat to low. Let this cook for about ten to fifteen minutes (the longer the better).

- Suggested plating: Two corn tortillas on the plate, a layer of the roasted sweet potatoes, then the tofu’n’beans. Top with avocado slices.