A Little Bit of ODD (but Delicious!) Soup

Odd Soup_sm

I was scraping the bottom of the barrel (the veggie barrel) in my fridge the other day, trying to use up all the things I had in the fridge so I didn’t have to go to the grocery store that night, and I came up with this soup, which I have affectionately called Odd Soup. It was very good in the end, but I guess it seemed odd because I’m usually pretty careful about the ingredients I put together, especially when I’m inventing. However, this was a good exercise in remembering that stepping out of the usual can bring rewarding results…in this case a very comforting bowl of soup! Here’s (roughly) what I did:

1 chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, chopped small
1 large beet, chopped small
2 stalks celery, chopped small

saute these (adding one at a time, in the order listed) in water or a dash of olive oil over medium heat. Add a generous amount of dried oregano (I probably used about 1.5 tbsp) and a similar amount of dried basil, or other Italian spices and cook until everything starts to brown and soften.

Add vegetable stock so that vegetables are covered with about 2 inches of liquid. Add

1 cup of cooked black beans
1/2 cup barley

Bring everything to a boil, and then turn down and simmer for another 20 minutes, or until barley is cooked and vegetables are completely soft. Adjust seasonings and serve with a big green salad/crusty bread – or, as I did, cabbage rolls!

Yummy Sweet Potato Salad

I love colours. It’s one of the major deciding factors when I am creating a recipe, and one of the things I love about changing recipes for the seasons are the natural shifts in the colour panels that our food takes. I had a REALLY big sweet potato to use up last week, so I chopped it up, roasted it, and this salad came to be.

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad wtih Tricolours_dm

ingredients:

  • 3 c roasted sweet potato
  • 1 1/2 c edamame, steamed
  • 1 1/2 c corn, lightly steamed
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 3/4 c pumpkin seeds, lightly toasted

dressing:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp spicy mustard (I used a homemade dijon)
  • pepper to garnish and sliced avocado for serving

directions:

  • chop sweet potato into bite-sized chunks, toss with a dash of olive oil and s&p and roast at 375F for about 30 minutes, or until soft then set aside to cool
  • steam edamame and corn lightly and chop the red pepper
  • mix all dressing ingredients
  • toss everything together and enjoy!

Brothy Lentil Soup…Easy Vegan Comfort Food For Fall

There are two kinds of people in this world…no, this isn’t the start of a bad joke. It’s something I realized a couple years back when I started at cooking school and I was immersed in soups. There are creamy soup people and brothy soup people. And in my house we have one of each. Luckily I’m the cook so we usually have creamy soups… haha! No, seriously, I have learned to make a pretty mean brothy soup too, so I don’t mind having them once in a while too – and it makes my husband SOO happy.

Last night was one of those nights. Inspired by a friend who gave us fresh parsnips from her garden – and then sent me a recipe she uses with her fresh parsnips – I got to work. I started with her basic recipe, but had fun making it my own. And I have to admit, even though green lentils are not normally my favourite legume, and I don’t normally get that excited about brothy soups, this one was pretty delicious. With a couple of pieces of whole grain toast it made for dinner on the table within 1/2 an hour…not bad for a Scratch Sunday meal (well, besides the bread). Here’s how it went:

Brothy Lentil Soup_sm

ingredients:

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 medium thumb ginger, minced
  • one carrot, diced small
  • one parsnip, diced small
  • 3 tsp curry powder
  • 1 cup green lentils
  • 4 cups veggie broth
  • 2 cups water
  • Braggs liquid aminos, to taste (I used 1/2-1 tbsp)
  • fresh cracked pepper & parsley to garnish

directions

  • cut up all your veg in preparation, then water-saute your onions and garlic over medium heat til softened. Add ginger and do the same, then carrot, parsnip and curry powder. Cook until things are starting to get fragrant and carmelized
  • Add dry lentils and mix well. Add veggie broth and water and bring the whole thing to a boil. Let cook for 20-25 minutes, or until lentils have softened. Season to taste with Braggs and garnish. That’s it!

A Compassionate Vegan Thanksgiving

I absolutely love holidays…well, to be fair, most people love holidays, so that’s not really much of an opening line. But what I have come to love about the holidays more than anything else is the fun of preparing and enjoying delicious, healthy vegan food for (and often with) my loved ones. I didn’t really appreciate the ritual of this until a few years back when I REALLY started to enjoy cooking. Now these meals are license to pull out all the plans and get creative. This Thanksgiving was no different.

I always have to chuckle a little when people ask me – usually either incredulous or sympathetic – “but what do you DO for holiday meals?” They can’t imagine how a feast can happen without an animal at the centrepiece. And perhaps that’s why I love these meals so much. Because it’s a reminder to me that our meals throughout the year have become something different. They’re a celebration of delicious, healthy food that harms no one. Even our amazing holiday meals are respectful not only of our own health and bodies, but also of other animals and the earth as well. Every Vegan Thanksgiving, I feel grateful for the awareness of the fact that we are here to share the earth with all its inhabitants, not to dominate or exploit. And so, on to the food!

I often build our holiday feasts around some kind of festive tart, pot pie or maybe even a nut loaf, but this year I wanted to try something different. I came across a recipe for breaded tempeh, and thought, I could do that! But the recipe I found basically just breaded and pan fried it, and I didn’t think that would be flavourful enough, so I decided to braise it first (in a maple-tamari-orange sauce), then coated it in pumpkin seed-breaded mix, and pan fried it. It was delicious. Light and tasty, with a delicate maple-orange flavour.

BreadedTempeh_sm

Next, I decided to include a couple of colourful roasted vegetable salads. A friend volunteered to bring this lovely Brussels Sprout Salad with Apples, Cranberries and Maple-Cayenne Dressing:

BrusselsSproutsSalad_sm

so I decided on something orange, and I knew just the thing – this Roasted Sweet Potato Salad recipe that I had seen the previous week. I used yams instead of sweet potatoes, and this salad has been put on my holiday favourites list!

RoastedYamSalad_sm

Some pull-apart rolls were a special treat. I made them from this easy recipe from Oh She Glows – thanks Angela! These rolls were light, fluffy – melt in your mouth!

PullApartRolls_smAnd what is a holiday dinner without cranberry sauce? Our friends brought some (and I forgot to take a photo) – with cranberries grown in their own garden – simple and delicious! Just enough of a flavour and colour contrast that, with some fresh greens to round out the plate, it was perfect.

For dessert we had not one, but TWO kinds of pie. Friends brought a vegan pumpkin pie, and I made this vegan pecan pie. There truly was no chance of anyone going home hungry.

Pecan Pie_sm

So there you have it! Our Vegan Thanksgiving meal for this year. If you are looking forward to a vegan holiday meal for the first time, I hope this provides encouragement and maybe some ideas. Two sites I often draw inspiration and ideas from are Dreena Burton’s Plant-Powered Kitchen and Angela Liddon’s Oh She Glows. Here are their Thanksgiving lineups, just to give you even more options:

Plant-Powered Kitchen: http://plantpoweredkitchen.com/healthy-vegan-thanksgiving-recipes/

Oh She Glows: http://ohsheglows.com/2010/10/03/project-food-blog-challenge-3-luxury-dinner-party/

Happy Thanksgiving!

Maple-Coconut Granola…does breakfast get any better?

It’s What I’m Eating Wednesday on the Vegan Mainstream Cookbook Club, and this is my share for today:

granola_yogurt

This recipe was adapted from one my favorites to include less sugar and more healthy ingredients – but it’s the BEST granola ever!

To make the granola:
1/4 cup coconut sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup coconut oil
2/3 cup raisins
3 cups oats
1 cup brown rice puffs
1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup pecans 1/4 cup wheat germ
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice
(vary the nuts/seeds, spices if you like)

1) soak raisins in hot water until plump; set aside
2) in a small saucepan heat sugars and oil gently until dissolved
3) mix remaining ingredients together and toss with sugar mixture, mix well
4) place into an ungreased 9×13 pan and bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in raisins and cool completely. Store in airtight container.

I serve this with this LOVELY Vanilla Cashew Yogurt from Dreena Burton http://plantpoweredkitchen.com/vanilla-cashew-yogurt-vegan/ Delicious!

Vegan Stuffed Jalapenos – A Whirlwind Creation – FAST and DELICIOUS!

I made something fun last night! I picked up some local jalapenos and wasn’t quite sure what I was going to do with them. I decided to stuff them and serve them as an appy, and my husband LOVED them, so thought I`d take a pic and share them. 🙂 Here`s what I did:

stuffed jalapenos - vegan

1) Cut peppers in half and removed the seeds. Tossed in a bit of oil and salt and roasted for about 10-15 minutes (375F).
2) Meanwhile, in a food processor, made some breadcrumbs from some left-over garlic focaccia bread (about ½  cup), added 1 date and a small handful of walnuts, a sprinkle of Braggs aminos and processed until everything was just slightly sticky.
3) Took peppers out of the oven and stuffed with breadcrumb mixture, topped with Daiya cheese and put back in oven for a few minutes, until cheese had melted.

Presto! Vegan Stuffed Jalapenos! SO Yummy, and super fast too!

Red Devil Vegan Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Coconut Icing

A few weeks back I made this cake for a friend’s birthday – what fun! I love making cakes, but I don’t do get many opportunities since – well, who’s going to eat them?! This is a slightly tweaked version of an amazing cake recipe that I came across many years ago in The Vegan Sourcebook by Joanne Stepaniak. I have been making it ever since, always with good results. It’s delicious, not heavy or overly sweet, and has a LUSCIOUS colour because of the beets (which you can’t taste). It doubles well (which is what I did for the cake below, to make it 2-tiered). This time I paired the cake with a chocolate coconut icing that I learned how to make during my Plant-Based Chef Training at the School of Natural Cookery, and it was the perfect match!

PLANNING NOTE: You need to make the icing the DAY BEFORE the cake as it needs to sit in the fridge overnight to completely cool.

red devil chocolate cake_sm

For the Red Devil Cake:

  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup organic cane sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp double-acting non-aluminum baking powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp (ground) flaxseeds* (OR you can use unground chia seeds)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 cup cooked, diced beets
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup canola/coconut oil
  • 2 tsp apple-cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

*Note, you MUST grind the flaxseeds if you are using them, but don’t buy ground flaxseeds as they go rancid quickly – buy them in seed form and grind what you need as you go.

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare an 8-inch cake pan (or 2 if you’re doubling the recipe for a layer cake, as pictured above).
  2. Place flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a mixing bowl and whisk together well.
  3. Place the flaxseeds in a coffee or spice grinder and grind to a find powder. Add them (or the whole chia seeds) to the 1/3 cup water in a blender and blend until the mixture is gummy and egg-like. Now add the cooked beets, water, oil, vinegar and vanilla and process until frothy and well blended (1-2 minutes).
  4. Pour liquid into the flour mixture and mix until everything is evenly moistened.
  5. Quickly spoon the batter into the prepared pan(s). Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 35-40 minutes. Cool completely before icing.

To make a double-layered cherry chocolate version, as pictured above:

Double the recipe above so you end up with 2 round cakes.

6. When the cakes are cool, place one layer of organic cherries (or other jam) on top of cake 1 and place cake two on top of that (if you need to trim the sides to make the cakes lay flat do that first, and then brush the trimmed spots so you don’t get crumbs in your icing). Reserve some of the cherries for the top of the cake.

For the Chocolate Coconut Icing:

(this recipe makes enough to ice the double cake above, so if you are making a single you can half the recipe. If you make too much cashew cream, you can freeze it.)

Part 1: cashew cream

  • 1/2 cup cashews – soaked 2-4 hours
  • 1 cup water
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of sugar
  • drizzle of vanilla

7. Blend water and soaked cashews in a blender until perfectly smooth. Transfer to a saucepan and heat over medium-high until the mixture thickens and you can see a ribbon, almost like a meringue, when you drag a spoon through it (make sure you watch this part carefully, and stir frequently because it’s easy to burn if you don’t).

8. When it is thick, add a pinch of salt, then sugar, then vanilla, tasting as you go. The idea is to make the flavour as neutral as possible.

Part 2: the icing

  • 1 cup cashew cream
  • 1 cup coconut oil
  • 1 cup good quality maple syrup
  • 1 part cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp vegetable lecithin

9. Mix everything together very well, until smooth. Then refrigerate overnight, covered, to cool completely. When you are ready to ice your cake, stir it up again and you’re good to go! Note that this recipe is somewhat sensitive to heat so make sure your cake is completely cool when icing.

10. If you are putting cherries/jam on top, as picture above, don’t ice the part where the cherries go. Ice first, leaving a spot for the cherries, then put them on top. If you want, sprinkled grated chocolate around the top of the cake as I did to get an extra special look.