Saturday, April 26, 2008

Lentils and Quinoa

Officially out of beans (except for dried garbanzos, bt i keep forgetting to soak them) I thought I was SOL for lunch today, but... TA DA! Lentils were hiding in my cabinet. So I made this simple, subtly flavorful and very satisfying dish that I just have to share.

Lentils and Quinoa
Serves 2-3

  • 1 c. dried quinoa
  • 1/2 c. dried brown lentils
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp. dried coriander*
  • 1/2 tsp. Tandoori blend*
  • 3 c. water*
  • 1 c. spinach, chopped
  • 2 white mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Optional: 1/2 c. chopped mango

*If you have a vegetable broth you like, omit the spices and water and add 3 c. broth instead.

Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a medium saucepan and add the quinoa and spices. Cook for 3-5 minutes, then add lentils. Give a good stirring. Add the water or broth, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the water is all absorbed.

In a skillet, heat the remaining oil over medium heat and add the spinach, mushrooms and garlic. Saute for 5 minutes (until tender and wilted) and add the quinoa and lentil mixture and the mango, if you're using that (which i recommend). Mix well, salt and pepper to taste, and serve!

I had seconds. Enjoy! Oh, and if you have carrots, make roasted carrots. I would link to the recipe but I have to go to work!

Friday, April 25, 2008

the real day 1

At this point, I'm starting to doubt that I really have a food allergy, but I'm doing this elimination diet anyway. I just want the rash and stomach aches to go away w/out going to a doctor. Plus it makes for some creative eating and really fresh ingredients. Here is yesterday:


Creamed millet!
1/2 c. dry millet cooked with 2 c. water for 20 minutes. Stir in 1/4 c. sugar after 15 minutes. Serve with ground cinnamon and nutmeg, and a little (vegan) maple syrup.


Black beans and kale served with a potato salad. The potato salad was my favorite thing of the day, marinated in red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt, rubbed sage and dried dill.


Brown rice and bean patties, fresh spinach and radicchio. A good idea but poorly executed. Phil liked it but I couldn't finish mine.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Food Allergy!

I've had a rash everywhere for the past week or two, and it's just getting worse. After eliminating other possibilities-- i.e. soap, detergent, etc.-- I have to take into consideration that it could be a food allergy! I haven't added anything new to my diet, but apparently I could be allergic to something that I eat all the time and it's just manifesting now.

So today starts a detox. I'm eliminating wheat and anything with gluten (so no oats or spelt yet), berries, yeast, soy, tomatoes, nuts, peas and citrus fruit. My guess would be that if it is a food sensitivity or allergy, it's to wheat, soy or yeast. Yeast or wheat seems the most likely.

To kick it off, Phil made some yummy stir-fried veggies over quinoa for dinner! He forgot about the soy in soy sauce and used some-- oh well. Can't get everything right on day 1.

The veggies are: broccoli, red pepper, radicchio, onion, shiitake mushrooms, and carrots. The sauce was a brown sauce made from tamari, liquid smoke, water, crushed red pepper, garlic, shiitake mushroom stems, sugar, and then thickened with cornstarch.

I'm also detoxing with psyllium seed husks and burdock root tea! I thought burdock was cool looking (in a gross, fascinating way) so I took a picture. Now half an inch of it is steeping in some boiling water!

If anyone has any insight, please don't hesitate to leave some advice. I have no idea what I'm doing. I know that there are many other food allergens but I've decided to eliminate only the ones I eat regularly, since it must be something I've bee consistently eating these past 2 weeks.
Wish me luck!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Chickpea Tacos

My excuse for the lack of posts is as follows:

This past weekend my family held a memorial for my step-grandmother down in Virginia, and in order to take of the weekend for it, I had to work 8 days in a row. This didn't leave much time for blogging, although I did cook as much as I could. But now I'm back, so I have some food that hasn't been posted to post.

The great thing about Vegetarian Times is that they archive old issues on their website and post the recipes. March 2008 is already up there, so I thought I would share their Chickpea Tacos and mexican rice. Unfortunately the rice recipe isn't online yet, but I'll share the basics.

When I went grocery shopping for the week, I bought dried chickpeas for this dish, thinking I'd remember to soak and cook them before attempting this. Wrong. I totally forgot, and ended up having to use a can of small red beans, which are pretty bland in comparison with the garbanzos. But whatever. Phil made a pico de gallo to go with this instead of us using jarred salsa. Overall the avocado/bean mash was good but a little bland-- something I've found often with VT's recipes. I realize they're trying to appeal to all of their reader's palates, so it doesn't hurt to add a little more seasonings if you know you like salt or spicy flavors.

I do love VT, though. Even if I need to tweak some things to my taste, the recipes offer a lot of inspiration!

Oh, and for the mexican rice. I actually made quinoa, and it went something like this:

Mexican Quinoa
Serves 4 (or 2 pigs, i.e. Phil and me)

  • 1 c. dry quinoa
  • 2 c. water
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp. chili powder (this amount can be tweaked to your taste!)
  • 1 c. frozen peas
  • 1 c. frozen corn
Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan. Add the quinoa and stir until slightly browned, 2-3 minutes. Add cumin and chili powder and stir for another 2-3 minutes or until the spices are fragrant.

Add the water and tomato paste and stir well until the paste had dissolved (mashing it against the sides of the pot helps me!). Then, stir in the corn, peas, and salt. Lower the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 15-20 minutes.

As usual, enjoy!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Finally! A run! And some more muffins.

Now that the weather is finally nice out, I had no more excuses. I had to start running today, and last night, as I shoveled chips and homemade guacamole into my mouth (at 11pm, no less), I swore to Phil that today would be the day.

Cut to this morning, and I really didn't want to. I started to make the same old excuses, but none of them cut it. It was now or never, and I'm sick of playing this game.

And you know what? It wasn't that bad. Sure, it wasn't as nice as my runs last summer, but it was a start. I mapped out a run, first, using MapRunner and I planned a 1.63 mile run, thinking I'd barely be able to do that. I mean, my only exercise is 3 miles to work and 3 miles back on bike, which really isn't much. When Phil's older brother, Sean, was here visiting, I had told him that everytime I started running again, no matter how long it's been between runs, I can do 2 miles. But as I started this run I suddenly felt so heavy, so out of shape, and so hopeless, that I immediately regretted announcing that out loud.

Gradually, however, I began to feel moe in my element, and I added 4 blocks to my run to push it to 2 miles. I definitely could have done more, but I do still have to bike to work, so I decided to go easy on myself on the first day. Whew! This winter I am getting a gym membership-- I can't let myself get so out of shape again!

Anyways, muffins. I made these last week and I wasn't going to share them because at first I thought they were a little bland. But as I've been eating them, I've still enjoyed them (heated up in the oven more five minutes or so) so I thought I'd share the idea of them, and not the recipe. And that idea is having a little surprise inside. So take your favorite, basic muffin recipe and try doing this with a little sweet treat, be it fresh fruit (some tart cherries would be great), chocolate chips, or carob chips, which is what I used.

Start by filling your muffin cups up 3/4 of the way. Then sprinkle your treat into the middle.

Cover with more batter to fill to the top!

I like to finish my muffins off with a little yummy, decorative touch:


Monday, April 14, 2008

Crispy Sweet and Sour Tofu

I know I've posted a picture of this before, but today for lunch I made Vegan YumYum's Crispy Sweet and Sour Tofu again. So good! It's a very easy dish to prepare-- most of the time spent preparing it is draining/pressing the tofu.

This time we served it over quinoa, and since I had a can of unsweetened pineapple rings, I threw those in with the last of our 3 lb. bag of almonds (thanks to Nancy, Phil's mom! we got a lot of use from those). If you make this (and you should), throw in whatever you are adding near of the end of a tofu's frying time. If that makes sense. You might also want to drain everything of the copious amounts of oil used by laying it on a paper grocery bag. This helps a lot.

In other news, Lauren Graham is filming in Philly again, and this time I saw her! Last time my friend and co-worker Jeni helped her when she came to Whole Foods, and I think I spent about 2 hours grilling her about the experience (sorry Jeni!). Today, Phil and I saw her by the movie set (2 blocks from our apartment!) and I spilled coffee all over myself, I was so excited. He made fun of me a lot. I don't know why, but I really like Lauren Graham. Or, I do know why, cause she's awesome.

Then we got a whole lot of produce (really, a lot) from the Italian Market for only $7. Ah, Philadelphia.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Whole Wheat Crackers

I'm always looking for healthy snacks to keep around the house, because, well, I'm a snacker. Phil is too, but I am big time. Now that I fought off my potato chip addiction (when I walk past them, I cringe! it's awesome!) I figure snacking is OK as long as I'm eating good things.

Which leads me to crackers. I like crackers. They taste good, they're fun to dip into things. But they're not usually very good for you, and the ones that are can be pretty expensive. Since I'm trying to make as much stuff from scratch as possible, I decided to get some extra use from my pasta maker and make my own damn crackers. That way I know exactly what's going into them, and plus you can use cookie cutters to make them even better. As whole wheat bread flour is only 69¢/lb where I buy it (sure to be raised soon), these end up being so inexpensive, and so much more fun to eat then anything else that comes in a box.

That being said, I also made these with the intention of eating them with a spread, i.e. hummus. If crackers are too flavorful, I just shovel them in my mouth. These aren't bland, per say, but I kept them plain so I'd couple them with something tasty and nutritious. You can do whatever you want-- microplane some garlic, sprinkle with sea salt and cracked pepper, etc. Go nuts if you want.

I used a recipe by Heidi Swanson from 101 Cookbooks and modified it very slightly. Instead of white whole wheat flour, I used whole wheat bread flour because my neighborhood health food store doesn't have white whole wheat. You can also use all whole wheat instead of half semolina if you want. I also used canola oil instead of olive because the only olive oil we have is super expensive high quality stuff that we try to use sparingly for flavor. I haven't tried making them without the oil-- I'd imagine it would be fine and would just bake a little more quickly. Finally, I sprinkled my baking sheets with cornmeal and did not oil them at all. I really liked the flavor the little bit of cornmeal provided.

I hope you try making these! Have fun with any cookie cutters you have on hand or simply cut into triangles or squares. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Homemade Ravioli And A Light Marinara

I love making fresh pasta. I don't always have time, but when I do I will gladly spend an hour preparing the pasta. And believe me, I have tried and failed many times-- a lot of dough has ended up in the trash-- but a good end result always makes me want to keep trying. Obviously I had time today, and I decided to make ravioli to change things up.

I have a hand-crank pasta maker. Here's a crappy/blurry picture of it:

If you don't and you still want to make pasta, you can use a rolling pin. It's just more difficult.
Also, today was the first time I used an egg replacer. If you don't want to use it, just use water. I tried it today because I thought it might firm it up a little, but I honestly am not sure. It was the best batch I've made, but every batch has been better than the last, so it could have been that.

I cut the pasta by hand but you can buy all sorts of fun pasta cutters. I live by a great cookware/bakeware/coffee place called Fante's. They carry pasta cutters and pasta makers, and they have pretty decent prices. Plus it comes in handy for other things, too (like the whole wheat crackers I also made today).

Okay, enough babble! I have a pasta recipe and a filling recipe for you, and a very basic and light marinara.

Basic Pasta (adapted from Bob's Red Mill's pasta recipe)

  • 1 1/2 c. semolina flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. Ener-G egg replacer powder beaten into 4 Tbsp. warm water
  • 2 Tbsp. water
  • 2 Tbsp. oil (you can use more water instead)
Combine the semolina flour and salt in a medium sized bowl. Add all the wet ingredients and stir with a fork until combined. Dump onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes. Semolina is a very firm flour, so this won't get stretchy and soft the way all-purpose flour does. It should not be sticky at all, butt you may need to add another tsp. or two of water if it seems really dry.

After kneading, roll the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and let it rest for 20 minutes. Use this time to make your ravioli filling and/or sauce.

Remove the plastic and cut into four pieces. As you roll out each piece, keep the unrolled ones covered loosely to prevent them from drying out. If you have a pasta maker, I usually roll them through the fifth setting. Start at 1, roll it through, fold in half and repeat; work your way up to five. It should be a rectangular strip. Place it on a floured surface and flour the top generously, then do the same to the other three pieces.

You can cut these into fettuccine, spaghetti, etc., or you can cut them into even square pieces to make ravioli. Or you can do circles to make tortellini, but it helps if you've watched someone make tortellini as it's sort of hard to explain.

Ravioli, on the other hand, is mostly self-explanatory. Take a square of the dough, put a bit of filling in the middle, and place another square on top. Press down the edges and use a fork's prongs to seal the edges. Drop into a pot of boiling water and cook for about 2 minutes, if that-- it overcooks really easily. Mine looked like this before cooking:

For the filling:
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 1/2 c. sliced portabello mushrooms
  • 1 package firm tofu, drained and cubed
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh parsley, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. dried, rubbed sage
  • 1/4 tsp. dried rosemary
  • 1/4 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
Heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the mushrooms and garlic and saute until soft. Add the tofu, spices and lemon juice. Mash using a potato masher or fork. Cook for 5-10 minutes more, stirring often.

Charlotte's Light Marinara
  • 1 28 oz. can tomato puree
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp. oregano
Combine ingredients in a medium sauce pan. Heat over medium low heat, covered, for 10-15 minutes.

Now, after all that, enjoy.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Dublin Coddle

I think this would have been better if I had spent more time planning it, but I didn't think of some obvious things until it was almost done: i.e. cooking sausage and bacon in ham stock makes a very flavorful and fatty broth. Since I cooked some storebought beer brats and tempeh in a mild veggie broth, this ended up being pretty bland. Next time I would probably add some more flavor to the broth, like garlic, maybe some lemon zest, etc.

This recipe isn't anything special, but I think it's a good base for others to go off from. I didn't use homemade sausages because I was in a hurry, and I forgot to make tempeh bacon so I just used tempeh and liquid smoke. This added to the blandness. If you make fakin' bacon yourself, I recommend cooking it before starting the dish because this locks in the smoke flavor. I also added cabbage because I'm so sick of 'meat and potatoes' it's ridiculous.

So, here's the recipe.

Dublin Coddle
Serves 4

  • 1 1b. faux sausages, homemade or storebought
  • 8 oz. fakin' bacon
  • 1 c. stock
  • 6 med. potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 in. thick slices
  • 1 med. onions, chopped
  • 2 c. cabbage, chopped
  • salt and pepper

Begin to heat the vegetable stock over medium heat. Cut the tempeh and sausages into bite size pieces and simmer in the stock for five minutes or so. Reserve the stock and remove the "meat."
In a larger pot, begin to layer everything. I recommend sprinkling a little salt and pepper over each layer of potatoes. It should go like this:


Pour the reserved stock over top, cover with a lid, and simmer for an hour.
And serve! This is a good cold midnight snack, too.

One more Irish meal, and then it's on to something else...

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Irish Parsnip and Apple Soup

I'm back! You didn't even know I was gone, but I've been in NYC for the last few days visiting my sister. So much for Irish week-- we didn't cook once. It was a nice treat, though, as she lives near my favorite bagel place ever. It's called Absolute Bagels and they have great bagels and flavored Tofutti. So Thursday afternoon I got to wolf down a bagel with olive Tofutti-- you can't beat it!

Before I left I made some soup. It was totally different and delicious. I am a little skeptical that it's a traditional Irish soup, but it may be a modern interpretation of a traditional soup (the curry makes me a little suspicious). It sure was tasty, though, and it didn't involve any potatoes! I also hardly had to change anything, so it wasn't very creative. But it was a nice way to eat some apples.

I didn't have cardamom, so I subbed 1/4 tsp. mace and 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon. They aren't the same (obviosuly) but do similar things.

Irish Parsnip and Apple Soup

  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 lb parnsips, thinly sliced
  • 1 lb apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons of curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cardamom seeds
  • 1-2 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 4 1/2 c. vegetable broth
  • 2/3 c. soymilk
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Chopped chives or parsley

Heat the oil over medium heat. Add the parnsips, apples and onions and cook until soft, but do not brown. Add the spices and continue to cook for a few more minutes, stirring well.
Add the broth, stir well, and cover. Lower the heat and simmer for half an hour.
Blend with an immersion blender (you can also strain it but thats not fun), food processor, or blender. Add the soymilk and cook on low heat for a few more minutes. Thin with water if desired.
Garnish with parsley or chives and enjoy!

I also made that whole wheat bread again, and this time I used leftover potato water. It was definitely lighter this time. Yum! Phil and Sean loved it. I will keep making this bread, for sure.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Bangers and Mash

Ugh. That's a good 'ugh', not a bad one. Day two of Irish week and I'm stuffed! Phil's brother Sean just arrived from San Diego this morning, so I got to include him in tonights feast. I'm not sure if I could take potatoes another day in a row, but I think we're going to have soup tomorrow, so hopefully I won't have to.

For the bangers I used tempeh, and it worked really well. Phil and Sean are both omni's and seemed to like it. The gravy I used wasn't anything special, so if you have a favorite gravy recipe, use that. However, I will include mine if you don't have one!

I already had the bangers steaming before I realized I hadn't planned a 'vegetable dish'. I like vegetables. But a salad wasn't very exciting, so I made use of the ginormous bag of carrots we have and made some roasted carrots in lemon-butter. The recipe is at the very bottom!

One more note. We recently received an awesome spice rack from Phil's dad and stepmom, and it's chock full of spices I never would have known existed. Because of this, for the first time I can actually accurately use the spices a recipe calls for. Before this, however, I got spices from the bulk section in my local health food store (Whole Foods sells some spices at bulk prices, but the selection is pretty lame). All I can say is that the spices used in most Irish cuisine are generally the same from dish to dish and are really important! So invest in a little mace in you can. You'll probably find other uses for it, too.

Bangers and Mash
Serves 3-4


  • 1 8-0z. packpage tempeh, grated
  • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1 c. vital wheat gluten
  • 1/4 c. bread crumbs
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp. mace
  • 1/8 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/8 tsp. dried marjoram
  • 1 tsp. dried, rubbed sage
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 c. soymilk
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika

Mashed Potatoes:
  • 5 medium potatoes, washed and cubed
  • 3/4 c. soymilk
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • black pepper to taste

To make bangers:
In a large bowl, combine grated tempeh, soy sauce and lemon zest until well mixed. In a medium bowl, combine vital wheat gluten, breadcrumbs, sugar, salt and remaining herbs and spices. Mix the dry mix into the tempeh mixture so that the tempeh is mixed in evenly amongst everything else. Stir in the soymilk with a fork, then knead once it's too stiff to stir. You may need to add another Tbsp. or two of vital wheat gluten if the mixture is too moist. Knead for about five minutes or until it begins to draw in to itself.
Around now you can begin to heat the water in your steamer. Divide the dough into six parts and roll them into sausage shapes. Then tightly roll each sausage in tin foil and twist the ends shut, like a tootsie roll. Once they are all wrapped, place them in the steamer and steam for 30-40 minutes.
Let cool a bit before handling-- they hold that hot water for a while. Unwrap and brown in a skillet for a few minutes. Serve with mashed potatoes and gravy!

For mashed potatoes:
Plop the taters in some cold water and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer, cover, and cook for 15-20 minutes. Drain. Mash with soymilk and salt. Pepper to taste. Add more soymilk or water to make it more creamy!

Want gravy? Okay.

Basic Gravy

  • 1 Tbsp. oil or margarine
  • 3 Tbsp. whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 c. soymilk
  • 1/8 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp. dried rosemary
  • 1/4 tsp. poultry seasoning (i have something called 'seasoning for meat' that works for this stuff)
  • 1/4 tsp. onion powder
  • 2 Tbsp. soy sauce

IF you need it: 1 tsp. cornstarch dissolved in 1 tsp. water

Note: I've found that, when making a roux, it's best to add the flour to the oil before it gets too hot. So keep an eye on it.

Heat the oil over medium heat. Add the flour and cook for a minute or so, stirring constantly. Add the soymilk slowly, still stirring, and stir some more, and a little more, until it thickens. (Now you can stop stirring, but you still have to every now and then to keep the bottom from burning). Lower the heat and stir in the spices and the soy sauce. Add water in you want to thin it. Once it reaches your desired consistency, remove from heat.

Finally, the carrots. This was a nice little contrast of flavors, being slightly sweet but still very savory. Here's a slightly better picture of them:

Roasted Carrots in Lemon Butter
Serves 2-3
  • 5 carrots, quartered long-ways
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. margarine, melted
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp. rosemary
  • 1/8 tsp. thyme
  • black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Combine margarine, lemon juice, and spices. Spread carrots on a baking dish so that they are all touching the bottom and pour margarine over top. Use your hands to coat the carrots evenly. Place in the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes. Yum!