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:

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
olive oil
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
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
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)

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.


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


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.

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.

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)