Saturday, December 3, 2011

tamale party

first of all, have we shared the joy that is our new kitchen?  i think with all the catch-up posting we forgot to mention the fact that we are now cohabitational.  one of the greatest parts about this new arrangement is the kitchen.  to begin with, the kitchen itself is wonderful - lots of counter space, good work flow arrangement (we can chop side-by-side without elbowing each other).  additionally, the spices, oils, and random ingredients that used to be divided between two different kitchens can now live together in OUR kitchen cabinets.  it is truly an amazing thing.
we also like living together because, well, it means we can see each other all the time.
moving right along.  we had another couple over for dinner to show off our lovely new home.
we opted for a mexican theme but we wanted to be adventurous and try some recipes we've never made before.
we decided upon black bean and corn tamales (based on a recipe from two blue lemons) and tortilla soup
here's the info.
*before you begin, if you've never made tamales before i'm going to tell you now that they take a lot longer to cook than i had originally anticipated - like over an hour.  not sure why i thought this was like a simple, quick steaming procedure*
tamale ingredients:
2 ears of fresh corn  - remove husks carefully as these will serve as the wrapper for the tamales
2 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cups masa harina - it's corn flour and can easily be found at the local grocery store in the "latino" aisle
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tomato, diced
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 serrano chili, minced
handful of fresh chopped cilantro

alright so you start by making the masa: boil the water with salt and olive oil, remove from heat and add the cumin and masa.  once it's cool, form the masa into 1-2 inch balls and set aside while you prepare the filling.
remove the corn husks - remember, be careful! and save the husks.
slice the kernels off the cob.
saute the onion and garlic in olive oil.
add tomatoes and spices and cook until the tomato breaks down.
add beans, corn and cilantro.
once the beans are warm, you're ready to begin tamale assembly.
make an X with two corn husks and place a ball of masa in the middle.
spoon the filling on top of the masa
carefully wrap the corn husks around the masa and filling.  don't make this more complicated than it has to be - just make sure everything is contained in the corn husk.
once you've wrapped up all your little tamale packages, prepare a bamboo steamer over a pan with some water.
place your beautiful packages into the steamer and cook for about an hour.
basically you're looking for a soft, almost cake-like texture in the masa.

adventure dish number 2: tortilla soup (don't let the long list of ingredients frighten you - it's a simple recipe)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 cups onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 peppers (red/green/yellow/orange), chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
kernels from 2 ears of corn
1/2 cup green onion
3 tbsp cumin
1 14oz can diced tomatoes
1 jalapeno, diced
4 cups vegetable broth
sat and pepper
chili powder
cayenne pepper
cilantro
lime juice

use a large soup pot to saute the onion, garlic, peppers, zucchini and corn in olive oil
add the tomatoes, spices, cilantro, lime juice and vegetable broth
cover and simmer
see, it's easy.
serve with tortilla strips for some extra crunch
please excuse the fact that there are no pictures of the soup...i made it while the photographer was at work.

grilled pizza

so there is a classy vegan restaurant in the west loop neighborhood called karyn's on green.  this karyn woman also has a few other vegan and raw restaurants in Chicago but we have yet to frequent those establishments.  anyways...we got all gussied up and made the trek in the chilly Chicago wind and went to karyn's on green to see what "fancy" vegan food would look like.  we split an appetizer: chorizo sliders and our main courses were chicken legs and an arugula pizza.  the food was pretty good.  the chicken legs had an excellent texture.  the pizza was inspired.  or should I say inspiring?
cut to the middle of the summer and we're wondering what to make for dinner.  arugula pizza!  this pizza from karyn's used thinly sliced yukon gold potatoes to replicate the texture of cheese.  it was topped with caramelized onions, garlic oil and arugula.  since we're only classy sometimes, we didn't get quite as fancy as karyn.
grilled arugula pizza:
pizza crust - we bought ours pre-made but we have subsequently been graced with the recipe for a delicious pizza crust which we will definitely use in the future.
3-4 yukon gold potatoes
small red onion
a whole bunch of arugula
goat cheese - yeah, yeah, totally not vegan but totally delicious and can be eliminated if you're going vegan

first you must prepare your toppings.
heat up the grill.
boil a pot of water.
thinly cut the potatoes into rounds - a mandolin is an extremely helpful tool for this procedure.
place the potatoes into the boiling water for a few minutes.  you want the potatoes to be tender.  we boiled the potatoes in batches and used a delicate hand so as to preserve the shape of the potato rounds (because who doesn't like beautiful food?)
thinly slice the red onion - mandolin not necessary
brush some oil onto the grill and onto the bottom of the pizza crust.
arrange the cooked potato rounds on the crust so that it is covered.
place the onion slices on top of the potatoes.
put the pizza on the grill and close the lid.
once the crust is warm and crispy, place handfuls of arugula on top and close the lid of the grill for just a minute or two.
once the arugula is wilted, remove the pizza from the grill and top with goat cheese if so desired.

the potatoes give the pizza a heartiness that you wouldn't expect to find in a grilled pizza.  once it's time to bust out the grill again, we'll have to try some topping variations.

grilled vegetable pasta and spicy bok choy

summer time is grilling time and we love us some grilled vegetables.
essentially we got a whole bunch of vegetables, cut them up and grilled them.  we cut the veggies into bite-sized pieces and added some to a jar of pasta sauce as it heated on the stove and served the remainder of the veggies over the pasta. this is simple stuff.
we used red onion, red pepper, green pepper, baby eggplant, zucchini and yellow summer squash.
we used a jar of pasta sauce - something with some spice and good herb-y flavor.
we got a tad bit adventurous with regard to our side dish: spicy grilled bok choy.
so we wanted to try bok choy and that martha stewart just happened to have a lovely grilled bok choy recipe.
here's what you need:

4-6 heads of baby bok choy - cut in half length-wise
1/4 cup white-wine vinegar
2 tablespoons tomato-based chili sauce (we used sriracha)
2 teaspoons light-brown sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
salt and pepper
here's what you do:
clean the bok choy well and trim off any outer leaves that look less than ideal.
mix the vinegar, chili sauce, brown sugar, oil and salt and pepper.
toss the bok choy in the sauce mixture.
grill bok choy but do not disgard the sauce.
once the bok choy is tender - after about ten minutes - remove from the grill and drizzle with the remaining sauce.
easy peasy, beautiful, and delicious.

Monday, November 14, 2011

the grilling continues

vegetarians eat bean burgers.  that's what we do.  we've made mexican black bean burgers in the past.  they were delicious.  this is an italian variation to a bean burger recipe that has served us well for quite some time.
italian kidney bean burgers:
1 can dark red kidney beans
1 green pepper, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 small onion, diced
some garlic, minced
1 tsp olive oil
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup oats
1/4 cornflake crumbs/bread crumbs (if you can find any vegan options...or be super chef and make your own from old bread)
handful of chopped basil
oregano, thyme, rosemary, basil, any other italian-ish spices
this is pretty simple stuff.
you mash the beans (generally a potato masher works well but a fork can also be a useful tool)
you saute the peppers, onion, and garlic in some olive oil until they are soft.
you throw everything into a bowl and mix it
the consistency of the burgers is something that takes some time to master.
as someone who used to eat meat, i urge you to keep this fact in mind: bean burgers will not shrink or solidify the way ground beef burgers do.  with that being said, adjust the wet and dry ingredients so that the mixture is slightly dry.
form patties.
heat the grill.
apply olive oil to the grates of the grill.
grill burgers about 4-5 minutes on each side.  you're looking for a brown crunchy crust.
to get all the "italian" flavor, we whipped up some basil cream spread.
this, too, is simple stuff.
we bought some vegan cream cheese.  don't let the mention of some "special" vegan product scare you.  we bought ours at jewel in the case next to the fake meat and fake cheese.  we used classic plain cream cheese from galaxy nutrional foods.  it's our favorite of the brands we've tried.
alright, so you buy vegan cream cheese, you chiffonade some basil.
*insert fancy (but totally simple) cooking technique here*
chiffonade = herbs cut into fine strips; method = place basil leaves on top of one another and roll into a little cigar.  start chopping where you would light the cigar.  it makes lovely little ribbons.  now you're fancy.
mix the basil into the cream cheese.  add lemon juice to taste.
burger, basil cream spread, toasted bun, lettuce, tomato, red onion.  delicious.
we served our burgers with some grilled leeks:
cut the ends off the leeks.
wash them really well - when the leeks grow, dirt collects between the layers.
toss the leeks in a little bit of olive oil.

fashion yourself a little leek boat out of tin foil ("leek"y boat - haha)
place your tin foil leek boat on the grill and allow the leeks to cook until tender.
serve with a little salt and pepper.


Lazy Summer Meal

In the summer, there is nothing better than food cooked on a grill.  Yes, it's November.  It's fine.  The cold weather has pushed us inside and we need a task...hence posting blogs about food we made 5 months ago.  Think about sunshine and warm breezes and the smell of vegetables kissed by flames.
This meal was basically the result of craving grilled food but not really wanting to put forth a great deal of effort.

Grilled Green Beans:
1 lb. fresh green beans (ends removed) - get these from a farmer's market, your taste buds will appreciate the fresh, crisp flavor
wooden skewers (soak these in water to avoid any little fire incidents)
all you've got to do is heat the grill and put a little olive oil on the grates.
put the green beans on the skewers
grill until delicious
side dish = done.
as for our lazy main course, we went with tofu dogs.  super simple.  super tasty.  enough said.
i believe we rounded out our meal with some left over bean salad of sorts.

Beet Burgers and BBQ Broccoli

Confession: I love the Food Network - Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives; Chopped; Iron Chef America; etc.  There are rarely any recipes that I can enjoy (even vegetable side dishes involve bacon, a pound of butter, or prosciutto).  Over the summer, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives featured a recipe called Beet Sliders.  I had to try it.
To prep the beets - this can get messy so be prepared:
Boil whole beets in a pot with water and about 3 tablespoons pickling spice (I used McCormick's pickling spice mixture but I would imagine you could whip up your own if you were so inclined).
This will take about an hour but it's low maintenance.  You want the beets to be tender.
Allow the beets to cool.
Peel and slice the beets into about 1/2 inch rounds.
Warm up the grill and apply a thin coat of olive oil.
Place the beet rounds on the grill.  All you're trying to do here is make the outside of the beet slices kind of crispy.
Once the beets have been grilled, serve each round on a toasted bun topped with green goddess dressing (we opted for the ease of store-bought..yeah, I know, lame. but the beets alone were a serious endeavor), and shredded cabbage.

I served the beet burgers with BBQ broccoli.  Alicia saw the recipe in a cooking magazine and wanted to try it out.
This was ridiculously simple.
Toss broccoli florets in olive oil and arrange on the grill.  You'll want to keep the florets fairly large so that they don't fall through the grates.
Grill the broccoli until it becomes tender.
Remove broccoli from the grill and toss it in your favorite BBQ sauce.  I'm a fan of Sweet Baby Rays.

Don't go crazy with the BBQ sauce here because you want to taste the freshness of the broccoli and the smokiness from the grill.


Sunday, July 3, 2011

Camping Adventures

Over the past 2 years we've done a lot of camping. Our food choices have differed with each trip but we are usually too busy hiking, canoeing and enjoying nature to take pictures of our meals. We do have a few from different trips that are shared here. We do have lots of nature pictures from those trips though and here a few of those too.



Roasted Root Vegetables:

parsnip
rutabaga
carrot
turnip
onion
garlic
olive oil

chop vegetables
toss in olive oil and garlic
wrap in tin foil. (serious wrapping so it doesn't rip open...which sucks)
place over fire until all veggies are done - about 40 minutes.

baked beans are beside them. open can. place in dish. heat till warm. easy peasy.

tofu dogs: heat as you choose. on a stick, in specially made grilling utensils, on the grates.

beets. we have yet to successfully cook these in a campfire. we tried to wrap them in foil and place them in the fire. we got purple centered charcoal. oops.


Tofu Scramble:
we prepare this prior to leaving so that all you need to do is wake up and throw it in a pan
1 green pepper
1 red pepper
1 onion
1 package of extra firm tofu
garlic
olive oil
salt
pepper
1 tbsp nutritional yeast


chop peppers and onion
press all the water out of the tofu
crumble tofu with a fork
mix veggies and tofu together
this keeps in a container in the cooler pretty well.
morning of:
add tofu mixture to pan with olive oil and garlic
saute
add salt, pepper and nutritional yeast to taste
heat until sufficiently scrambled

we love asparagus in case you haven't noticed

so we tossed some in olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper
make a little basket out of tin foil
place over fire

camping food is pretty basic
even this wrap we made to bring in a cooler on a canoe trip worked out well. marinate some shitake mushrooms in sesame oil and soy sauce. add fresh veggies day of and wrap in a tortilla with a smear of hummus. wrap in tin foil. seal tightly and you have a ready to go lunch in between activities :)


from chicago to dc in a chevy aveo hatchback

so our road trip. my tiny car aka the roller skate got us to dc. barely. the 10% grade hills were a little much for it, but it pulled through. we managed to eat out only 3 times on our 10 day vacation which we were very proud of and one of the restaurant choices was cafe green in dc. it is an all vegan restaurant but very different from the chicago diner we are used to. their food is much more health conscious and less home goodness. our other restaurant choices if you're curious were a sorry excuse for a mexican restaurant in dc (it made me sad for the people of that neighborhood if that is what they call mexican food) and a vegan cheese and veggie pizza delivered from Duccini's to our hotel room (nothing special but impressive none the less that it was even a menu option).


To start we split the Caesar Deluxe. Your basic caesar salad using Gardein Chicken. A house made caesar dressing that tasted as though nori was used to give it the anchovy type flavor. It was good. Especially if you miss a delicious caesar salad from time to time and know you can't get that flavor without the tiny little animals that are anchovies.


Laurin opted for the Home Mac and Cheese Platter. It consisted of gluten free pasta with their "famous" cheese sauce, candied yams, sauteed kale and cornbread. aka fatty plate deluxe because we can make a salad at home, bitches. (Laurin's exact words)

I ordered the Seoul Food Platter. Which was jobche noodles, sauteed green beans, spicy kimchi, mung bean pancakes, brown rice, nori seaweed and a tamari dipping sauce. Because I'm fancy like that. It was good.

Cocktails. (see caesar salad above for pictures) They are necessary for any evening out while on vacation and Cafe Green did not disappoint.
Laurin ordered an organic, vegan, gluten free, awesome all around, fancy pants beer. It was a beer. She drank it. Two actually.
I got the most amazing drink ever. It seriously was the highlight of my meal. Apparently they take all their healthy, antioxidant rich, cleansing, whole, raw, refreshing juices and add booze. Right on.
I got the Spicy Green Organic Live Juice with a shot a vodka. It was delicious and healthy.
the spicy green juice consisted of kale, spinach, apple, banana, lemon juice with ginger and cayenne pepper

Overall, the experience at Cafe Green was enjoyable. It was vegan. The service was friendly and helpful. They had outdoor seating. They served booze. What more can you ask for?

ramps! ramps! ramps!

on our road trip through west virginia this spring, we noticed an interesting phenomenon: pickup trucks parked on the side of the road with bearded gentlemen standing next to handmade signs that said "ramps: 3 bunches for $5". we had no idea what a ramp was.  we got home from our road trip and googled.  apparently it's an onion-like vegetable.  we love onions. how did we not know about this?
our adventures with ramps begin:

Pasta with Ramps
Ingredients:
RAMPS (one bunch or about 8)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
red chili flakes to taste
salt and pepper to taste
pasta of your choosing (we used whole wheat rotini)

Procedure:
This newly discovered vegetable is apparently a dirty one. So clean your ramps and chop off the root end.
Slice off the green tops, roughly chop them, and set aside.
Thinly slice the white/pinkish ends.
Saute the white/pinkish part in olive oil and garlic until soft.
Add red chili flakes, salt and pepper.
Add the green portion of the ramps.
Saute until wilted.
Toss in your cooked pasta.

Serve with roasted asparagus to accentuate fresh, spring flavors.

Coconut Lime Cupcakes

Because who doesn't love cupcakes, coconut and lime.
This recipe takes a hot minute. About 90 of them to be precise.

Cupcakes:


1/3 cup coconut oil
3/4 cup granulated vegan sugar
1 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup soy milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp coconut extract
1 tbsp lightly packed, finely grated lime zest
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup unsweetened coconut

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a cupcake pan with liners.

Melt the coconut oil in a small saucepan over very low heat.
Once melted, turn the heat off but leave it in the pan on the stove so that it stays warm and does not solidify.
Mix together the melted coconut oil and sugar.
Add the coconut milk, soy milk, vanilla, coconut extract, and lime zest. Mix to combine.
Add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
Mix until smooth.
Add the coconut and mix
Bake for 23 to 25 minutes, until the cupcake top springs back when touched and a toothpick inserted through the center comes out clean.
Let cool completely before icing.

Lime Buttercream Frosting:


1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup vegan margarine
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 tsp finely grated lime zest
Beat the shortening and margarine together until combined well and fluffy.
Add the sugar and beat for about 3 more minutes.
Add the vanilla and lime juice.
Beat for another 5 to 7 minutes or so until fluffy.
Add the zest and mix
Chill until ready to use

Frost cupcakes
Top with lime wheels to be fancy

Chickpea Parmesan with Pioneer Green Beans

While we may not always be posting our food we are always thinking about food. Case in point: during the Ethiopian cooking adventure these words were spoken in reference to the chickpea fish, "Ohhhh you know what this could work for... Chicken Parmesan!" "Totally" and this recipe was born.

For the chicken

3 cups chickpea flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
3/4-1 cup water
2 tablespoons finely grated onion
Dried Italian herbs of your choosing
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
vegetable oil, for frying

Procedure:

Sift the flour, Italian herbs, 2 teaspoons of salt and the pepper into a deep bowl.
Make a well in the center and combine 3/4 cup water, the onions and garlic in the well.
Gradually stir the dry ingredients into the water and onions and, when blended, beat vigorously with a spoon or knead with your hands until the dough is smooth and can be gathered into a ball.
If the dough crumbles, add up to 1/4 cup water, 1 teaspoon at a time, until the dough comes together.
On a lightly floured surface, press dough into single serving patties
Pour oil into a deep fryer or a large, heavy saucepan to a depth of 2-3 inches.

Heat the oil and fry the “chicken” for 3-4 minutes, turning them frequently until they puff slightly and are golden brown.

As they brown, transfer them to paper towels to drain.

Sauce:
 
store bought spaghetti sauce of your choosing
vegetables of your choosing (we used mushrooms, red peppers and onions)
 
saute vegetables in oil and garlic
add sauce to vegetables and simmer
add chicken
 
Serve over pasta of your choice (we went with bucatini because it is Alicia's favorite!:)
 
We chose to put some mozzarella flavor rice cheese on top and melt it under the broiler for a few minutes to add some cheesy goodness
 
Side dish:
 
Veganized Pioneer Woman Green Beans:
 
You may or may not be familiar with Pioneer Woman. Most of her cooking involves beef, bacon, bacon fat, heavy cream, butter, you get the point. She does do lots of other neat stuff though and Laurin was super excited to find a recipe on her website that she could veganize and looked delicious. So we tried it out.
(Seriously go check out her blog her home improvement stuff is cool especially her kitchens)
 
1 lb green beans

1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup veggie broth
1 teaspoon salt
Ground black pepper

Snap the stems off the green beans.
Saute garlic and onions in olive oil.
Add green beans and cook for a minute.
Add veggie broth, red pepper, salt and pepper
Cook on low heat and cover with a lid. Leaving a little opening for steam to escape
Cook for 20-30 minutes until liquor is gone and beans are soft.


Serve on the side of "chicken" Parmesan and call it a delicious meal

Fatty Day Twice Baked Potatoes

Let's face it, sometimes you just have a "fatty day" when you want to eat delicious goodness filled with pretend ingredients and no nutritional value.  we had that day, we satisfied our need with twice baked potatoes because nothing fills your "fatty day" desires like Bacos and Daiya cheese.

Ingredients:
4 baking potatoes
1/2 cup daiya cheddar cheese
1/2 cup vegenaise
splash of soy milk
4 green onions, chopped
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
bacos to taste
salt and pepper to taste

bake the potatoes until tender.
once baked, slice the potatoes lengthwise and scoop out most of the center (leave a tiny bit attached to the skin to provide greater stability). set the little potato boats aside.
combine the scooped out potato, daiya cheese, vegenaise, soy milk, green onions, bacos, salt and pepper. this mixture should be slightly thicker than mashed potatoes.
spoon the mixture into your little potato boats.
bake 20 minutes @ 350 degrees.
remove from the oven, top with nutritional yeast and bake for another 5 minutes or until tops start to brown.

enjoy. with a beer. on the couch. in front of the tv. watching mindless blather.

Polenta Lasagna with Portabellas and Kale

this recipe was found at Fat Free Vegan Kitchen (check her out, she has great stuff)

I (Alicia) made this dish to welcome Laurin home from her long day at work with the small friends. It was delicious though not exactly pretty looking. I only used one package of polenta in the future 2 might be a better choice to soak up more of the sauce.

Polenta Lasagna

1 18-ounce package prepared polenta

1/2 large onion, chopped
2 cups chopped baby portabella mushrooms
4 cloves garlic minced
1/2 bunch kale, center rib removed and chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 teaspoon dried basil
salt and pepper to taste
Cheese sauce (below)
1 1/4 cups marinara sauce (I used Newmans Sockarooni sauce)
vegan soy parmesan --- i did not use this!! the stuff at whole foods listed nutritional yeast, seasonings and love as the ingredients. for $7.99. we got enough love.
**recipe called for 1/4 cup of kalamata olives I skipped this because Laurin hates olives**
“Cheese” sauce:

1/2 cup extra-firm silken tofu
1/2 cup unsweetened soy milk
1/2 cup vegetable broth
2 tbsp. cashew butter or tahini
1 tsp. onion powder
1 1/2 tbsp. nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp. salt (optional)
1/8 tsp. white pepper
2 tsp. corn starch



Preheat oven to 375° F. Spray the bottom and sides of a 8×8-inch baking dish with non-stick spray and set aside.
Place the cheese sauce ingredients into a food processor and puree until completely smooth. Set aside.
Sauté the onions and portabellas in a non-stick skillet until the mushrooms begin to exude their juices. Add the garlic and sauté for one more minute.
Add the kale, basil, and 1/4 cup water. Sauté until the kale is wilted and tender and the water has evaporated. Add the cheese sauce and cook, stirring, until thickened. Check seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed. Remove from the heat.

Cut the polenta into 1/4-inch thick slices. Line the bottom of the baking dish with half of the slices, overlapping slightly if possible. Spread 1/2 cup of the marinara sauce over the polenta, and then spread the kale mixture over the sauce. Top with the remaining polenta. Spread the remaining marinara sauce over the top.
Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 or 10 minutes before serving.

Add a bottle of red wine, some good music and your own love. Enjoy.

we are determined...

to post all of our pictures and recipes today! we have bloody marys, music and a nice outdoor patio to sit on. so here comes a whole lot of posts.
:)

our bloody marys are in classy solo cups so there is no need to take a picture but if you are curious here is what we use in our bloodies

vodka (usually absolut) amount determined by need
ditka's thick and spicy bloody mary mix
some horseradish
rib of celery
dill pickle spear
(and occasionally a splash of A1 sauce)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

HAPPY ST. PATRICK'S DAY!

According to a certain someone, March means Birthdays (important, milestone birthdays), Reuben Sandwiches and Shamrock Shakes. Instead of making the trip to Chicago Diner, home of the award-winning Radical Reuben Sandwich, we decided to tackle this recipe on our own.
Vegan Reuben Sandwiches

1 lb. seitan, thinly sliced (we made our own seitan as the store bought version leaves something to be desired - see recipe below)
1 cup pickle juice
1/2 cup beet juice
1 tsp. pickling spice
3/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
(we doubled this recipe in order to cover the enormous amount of seitan we made)
Reuben Sauce
1/4 cup soy mayonnaise
3 Tbs. ketchup
2 Tbs. finely chopped pickles
(we just kind of added ingredients to the bowl until we found something that tasted good)
Sandwiches
rye bread
mozzarella style rice cheese
sauerkraut, for garnish

To make seitan: Place seitan in baking dish. Bring pickle juice, beet juice, pickling spice, garlic powder, pepper, and 1 cup water to a boil in saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 15 minutes. Pour over sliced seitan. Cover and cool. Chill overnight.

To make reuben sauce: Combine all ingredients in bowl.
To make sandwiches: Preheat oven to broil. Butter one side of each slice of rye bread and place on baking sheet. Place in broiler for 2 minutes or until bread is crispy. Remove two slices of bread and set aside. Top the remaining two bread slices with drained seitan and cheese. Broil 5 to 7 minutes, or until seitan is hot and cheese is melted/slightly brown. Transfer seitan-topped bread slices to serving plates, and garnish with sauerkraut. Spread remaining 2 bread slices with reuben sauce, and place on top of sandwiches.

We served our sandwiches with boiled cabbage.
Pretty simple: cut cabbage and place in a pot with water. Cover and boil until tender. Add salt, pepper, and vegan margarine to taste.

Easy Do-It-Yourself Seitan
1 1/2 cups vital wheat gluten
1/4 cups nutritional yeast
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cumin
1-2 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
3/4 - 1 cup cold water
1 tbsp. ketchup
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp garlic powder

Truth be told, we kind of just added spices at random.  This recipe acted more like a loose template for important ingredients like water, wheat gluten, etc.

Preheat oven to 325.
Mix dry ingredients.
Mix wet ingredients.
Combine and knead for several minutes.
Roll into a log and wrap tightly with tin foil.
Place on a baking sheet and bake for 90 minutes.
The loaf will expand and possibly break the foil. Continue to bake for full 90 minutes.

Vegan Shamrock Shake

soy ice cream (we used SO delicious vanilla)
soy milk (vanilla flavored)
mint extract
green food dye

basically scoop some ice cream in a blender, add a little soy milk, a splash of mint extract to taste, and 5 drops food coloring.  blend.  add more soy milk as needed for consistency. Serve.
Take that McDonald's!

Ethiopian Dinner Adventure

Last winter, about this time, we went to Ethiopian Diamond in Chicago for dinner. It was amazing. The food, the dinner, the experience, amazing. We both had a craving for Ethiopian food again and decided this time we were going to attempt to make it ourselves. It went surprisingly well.
During our visit to Ethiopian Diamond, we had the vegetarian version of a combination platter called "Taste of Ethiopia". We were served an enormous platter covered with spongy injera bread and small servings of six Ethiopian dishes. Our favorites were the chick pea fish, the gomen wat (collard greens), and a cabbage dish with potatoes and carrots. So that's what we decided upon for our menu.

Side note, the injera bread takes days to make. There is fermentation involved.  We bought this delicious and integral portion of our meal from a local Ethiopian restaurant.  The berbere spice mixture was also purchased from a local African market. Both of these were inexpensive, about $10 total.

On to the cooking.
Number One:
Yeshimbra Assa aka Chick Pea Fish
For the fritters

3 cups chickpea flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
3/4-1 cup water
2 tablespoons finely grated onion
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
vegetable oil, for frying

For the sauce
2 cups finely chopped onion
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup berbere
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
1 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt

Procedure:
Sift the flour, 2 teaspoons of salt and the pepper into a deep bowl.
Make a well in the center and combine 3/4 cup water, the onions and garlic in the well.
Gradually stir the dry ingredients into the water and onions and, when blended, beat vigorously with a spoon or knead with your hands until the dough is smooth and can be gathered into a ball.
If the dough crumbles, add up to 1/4 cup water, 1 teaspoon at a time, until the dough comes together.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough until it is about 1/4 inch thick.
With a small sharp knife, cut the dough into fish shapes about 3 inches long and 1 inch wide.
Pour oil into a deep fryer or a large, heavy saucepan to a depth of 2-3 inches.
Heat until it reaches 350 F and fry the “fish” for 3-4 minutes, turning them frequently until they puff slightly and are golden brown.
As they brown, transfer them to paper towels to drain.
Once you are done the fish you can make the sauce.
In a heavy 10-12 inch wide pan (it’s best if it’s non-stick), cook the chopped onions for 5-6 minutes until they are soft and dry.
Pour in the 1/4 cup oil and when it’s hot add the berbere and garlic and stir for a minute.
Pour in the 1 1/2 cups water and cook until the sauce is slightly thickened.
Season with salt and then place the “fish” in the skillet and baste them with the sauce.
Lower the heat, cover the pan and simmer for 30 minutes.
To serve, arrange the “fish” on a platter and pour the sauce over them.

These have quite a kick so be prepared. Also the berbere spice smell is STRONG. It will linger on clothes, bags, coats, hats, etc for days. I would suggest not wearing dry clean only sweaters during this process otherwise your sweater will forever remind you of that time you cooked Ethiopian food.

Number two:
Gomen Wat aka Collard Green Dish

1  pound collard greens - rinsed, trimmed and chopped
2 cups water
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 cup chopped onions
8 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups diced green bell pepper
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger root

Place chopped collard greens in a pot with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover, and simmer until collards are tender, about 20 minutes. Drain, but reserve the cooking water. Set aside.


Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Stir in onions and cook until just beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the cooked collards, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and the reserved cooking water. Simmer, uncovered, over medium-high heat until liquid is nearly evaporated, 10 to 15 minutes.

Add the green pepper, lemon juice, salt, turmeric, paprika, allspice, and ginger root. Cook until peppers are soft, about 5 minutes.

This dish and the following cabbage one are both very mild, making for nice companion dishes for the spicy chickpea fish.

Number Three:
Tikel Gomen aka Cabbage, Potatoes and Carrots
1 onion chopped
5 carrots sliced into coins
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 large head of cabbage cut into 1 inch pieces
4 potatoes, chopped into 1 inch cubes
1 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 to 1 teaspoon cumin, to taste
1/2 to 1 teaspoon turmeric, to taste

Saute onion and carrot in olive oil.  Add potatoes, cabbage, water and spices. Cover, stirring occasionally until vegetables are tender.

Place injera on a platter, spoon dishes onto injera, and enjoy. Ethiopian food is traditionally eaten without utensils. Rip off pieces of the injera and use it to scoop the food. (It is also traditional to only eat with the right hand)

All three of these turned out delicious and I highly recommend the chickpea fish. It is a great source of protein and easy to make. We will be using the fritter portion of the recipe for future adventures. Possibly a chicken parmesan?

Vegan Borscht

Apparently this Russian beet soup is a helpful hangover cure. It's a little labor intensive to prepare while hungover, but the end result is delicious.

Disclaimer: This requires a great deal of chopping, mixing, stirring, blending, waiting, but it not only makes a whole bunch of soup, it also tastes pretty darn good. In the words of Dwight K. Schrute "Bears. Beets. Battlestar Galactica".

Here we go:
1 tbsp. olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
3 tbsp. olive oil
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
3 beets (including greens), diced
1 16oz can whole, peeled tomatoes
1/2 cup canned peeled, diced tomatoes
2 potatoes, quartered
1 cup shredded white cabbage
2 cups vegetable broth
4 cups water
2 tbsp. chopped dill
salt and pepper to taste
1 16oz package silken tofu

Labor intensive preparation:
1. Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil and stir in garlic and onion. Cook and stir until onion has softened and turned translucent.
2. Heat 3 tbsp. olive oil in a large pot over medium heat and stir in celery, carrots, pepper, beets and beet greens, whole tomatoes, diced tomatoes, potatoes, cabbage, and sauteed onions/garlic. Cook until cabbage begins to wilt (4-8 minutes).
3. Stir in vegetable broth, water, dill and salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low.
4. Simmer for 1 hour.
5. Strain half the beets from the broth and place in food processor or blender. Add tofu and puree until smooth.
6. Add tofu and beet mixture back into the pot and simmer for another hour.
Serve chilled or warm. We topped ours with shredded cabbage and used fresh dill as a garnish.

Vegan Beer Bread

An excellent recipe to utilize my new KitchenAid Stand Mixer (in pistachio green of course)
*Another shout-out here.  This time to my mama for an incredible Christmas gift - she has really upgraded my kitchen.*

3 cups flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 12oz bottle of beer (we opted for a Fat Tire)
1/8-1/4 cup melted vegan margarine

Preheat oven to 375.
Mix flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar.
Add margarine and beer.
Mix well, but not too much.
Pour into a greased and floured loaf pan.
Bake 50 minutes.
Brush top with margarine and bake an additional 3-5 minutes.
Cool 5-10 minutes, remove from pan.
Allow bread to cool another 15 minutes before cutting.