Saturday, May 31, 2008

Good Eats from The PPK

When I transitioned to a vegan diet over two years ago, one of the first web sites I encountered on my quest for delicious, yet uncomplicated vegan recipes, was The PPK. What I love about Isa and Terry's recipes is that they make amazing vegan food accessible to people like me with limited cooking skills, a small kitchen with appliances circa 1976, and no Whole Foods Market or gourmet grocery for over a hundred miles. Taking a look through my food photos the other day, I realized that in recent weeks I have made quite a few PPK recipes so decided to do a post showcasing them all. Enjoy!

Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Cookies - without the walnuts, from Veganomicon. A staple food in our household!

tlT - tempeh, lettuce, and Tomato sandwich made with Tempeh Bacon from Vegan with a Vengeance, served on Ezekiel sprouted grain bread. I capitalize the T in Tomato because that beautiful Tomato is the star here. This is the only time of year that I make tlT's as I despise those pale, grainy tomatoes that one finds in the market the rest of the year, and I'm certainly not going to insult my tempeh bacon by having it share a sandwich with anything inferior!

Almond-Quinoa Muffins - from Veganomicon. The subtle hint of cardamom combined with the delicate crunch of quinoa make my mouth sing with joy! I was out of dried fruit, so simply omitted it from the recipe. See the quinoa peeking through the roof of the muffin?

Broccoli Polenta - from Veganomicon. I have made polenta plain, with spinach, with carrot juice, in my slow cooker, in my microwave, and on my stovetop, but not of my prior efforts come close to comparing with this recipe. If you've never liked polenta before, give it a second chance with this recipe. I don't like to spend a lot of time in the kitchen most days so I simply poured it into an 8x8 glass dish then cut it into rectangles once it set, then served it with Southwest Beans from Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker by Robin Robertson. I reduced the oil in the polenta by 1 Tbs with no ill effects. Hiding in back are some fire roasted tomatoes and Sour Cilantro Cream, (made without the oil), also from Veganomicon.

Spicy Pinto Sausages - click here for the recipe from the PPK blog. I shaped these into patties before steaming then served them breaded and pan fried, per Julie Hasson's recipe for Spicy Italian Cutlets, along with Julie's sauce from the same recipe, over spinach linguine. Absolutely delicious! No need for spending the big bucks at a fancy Italian restaurant when you have this!!

French Lentil Soup with Tarragon and Thyme - from Veganomicon. The recipe can be found here on the PPK website. I love lentil soup but had never made it with French lentils before trying this recipe. The texture of those tiny little lentils combined with the tarragon, makes this no ordinary soup. A must try!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Comfort Food - My Way

Sloppy Lentils and Balsamic Brussel Sprouts

For most people the term "comfort food" conjures up the idea of gravy laden mashed potatoes or a creamy soup, but for me the term brings to mind anything with lentils and greens. Oh, how I love lentils and greens. If you have read some of my previous posts, you may have picked that up by now.

One of my favorite combinations when I'm short on time is Sloppy Lentils from Fresh from the Vegetarian Cooker by Robin Robertson, and Balsamic Brussel Sprouts. For the lentils I simply throw everything into the slow cooker in the morning, (or the night before if I plan on having them for lunch) and set the timer so they're done when I want to eat. I love them served over a hearty bun such as an Ezekiel sesame seed sprouted grain bun.

The brussel sprouts are ready in 9-10 minutes, mostly hands-off time, and actually taste best the next day, chilled, so can easily be made in advance. Fair warning - these sprouts are addictive even if you don't usually like brussel sprouts!

Balsamic Brussel Sprouts
1 pound bag of frozen brussel sprouts
1 Tbs water
1 Tbs dijon mustard
1 Tbs balsamic vinegar
Combine brussel sprouts and water in a glass, covered casserole dish. Microwave on high for 5 minutes. Stir. Microwave on high for another 4-5 minutes until done. Drain water and toss with mustard and vinegar. Serve warm or chill for later enjoyment.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Don't Know How to Boil Water?

Spicy Chickpea and Spinach Curry
Even if you don't know how to boil water you can still make this amazing slow cooker Spicy Chickpea and Spinach Curry from Epicurious. This is a no-brainer recipe that I love to make when I'm having a crazy-busy week. I use Penzey's garam masala which makes this dish taste out of this world. Served over brown basmati rice, cooked in my Zoji rice cooker - I don't even feel like I'm cooking when I make this!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Hummus, Some New Twists

I can never have enough hummus recipes on hand. Now that the weather is warming up, I find myself already craving food that's served at room temperature or chilled. A recent trip over to the Everyday Dish cooking show led me to find a couple of new twists on my old favorite:

Smoky Pumpkin Hummus
adapted from Everyday Dish TV

The original recipe may be found by clicking here. I modified this recipe quite a bit to give it more flavor. I also reduced the amount of tahini by 3 Tbs and added toasted pumpkin seeds. I served this on assorted vegan mini toasts from a local bakery.

2 cups cooked garbanzo beans
1/2 can pumpkin
1 Tbs tahini
2 cloves minced garlic
2 Tbs fresh lemon juice (juice of one lemon)
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp Chipotle Tabasco
1 Tbs Braggs liquid aminos
5 sundried tomatoes, rehydrated
handful of pumpkin seeds, toasted

Process first eight ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds.

Chipotle Lime Two-Bean Hummus
adapated from Everyday Dish TV
I found this recipe on a food blog search that began when I realized I had 1/2 cup fresh squeezed lime juice in my fridge with no place to call home. Since I also had some garbonzo beans and pinto beans, I thought I would give this recipe a try. The combination of chipotle, lime, and cilantro, with the added hint of the allspice, bump this up to a gourmet hummus in my book. I omitted the 2 Tbs olive oil called for in the original recipe and substituted pinto beans for the kidney beans called for.

Since I'm not a fan of all the preservatives found in store bought tortilla chips, I simply toasted some Food for Life sprouted corn tortillas and then cut them with a pizza cutter to make my own healthy chips.

1 cup cooked pinto beans
1 cup cooked garbanzo beans
1 tsp lime zest
1/8 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
1 1/2 Tbs tahini
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp chipotle Tabasco
1 tsp agave nectar
1/8 tsp allspice
1-2 Tbs water (to thin dip as desired)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves

Combine all ingredients except lime zest, water, and cilantro in a food processor. Puree until smooth adding water until desired consistency is reached. Add lime zest and cilantro and puree briefly.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Citrus Salads

Citrus fruit is an everyday staple for me during the winter. Living in Florida, it's easy to get delicious, fresh citrus very inexpensively, or even for free if you have a citrus tree in your yard. With citrus season coming to an end, I thought I would post two of my favorite citrus salad combinations along with my quick method of "chunking" oranges and grapefruit.

Chunking Citrus

If you are like me and don't like to take the time to "section" your citrus, here is a safe, fool proof method for chunking oranges and grapefruit. I usually "chunk" about a dozen oranges or grapefruit at a time, using an assembly line method. It makes it easier to pack citrus with my lunch for work. (Nothing is grosser than trying to peel and eat an orange at one's desk. No more sticky keyboards!)

Cut the fruit in half, across the center, not navel to stem. Remove any seeds.

Cut each half in half to make 4 quarters.

Using a grapefruit knife, make a U-shaped cut to remove the white center.

Make one more cut to remove the rind and create two chunks.

Orange and Fig Spinach Salad with Walnuts

This salad is a nutritional powerhouse. Vitamin C, iron, potassium, and essential fatty acids are all featured in this tasty combination.

2 oranges
3-4 dried organic Turkish figs
3-4 ounces organic baby spinach
handful of walnut halves/pieces

Chunk oranges. Chop dried figs. Serve on a bed of spinach with walnut pieces. Dress with my balsamic flax dressing, (the saltiness of the dressing will bring out the sweetness of the fruit), or simply dress with a fig or blood orange vinegar if you're watching your fat intake. Serves 2.

Alessi and Cuisine Perel are two of my favorite brands of flavored vinegars.

Grapefruit Salad with Goji Berries and Toasted Coconut

The tartness of the grapefruit is complemented by the sweetness of the goji berries and toasted coconut. Goji berries, also known as wolfberries, are believed to have many health benefits in Traditional Chinese Medicine, which include boosting of the immune system, improved eyesight, and improved circulation.

1 grapefruit, cut into chunks
handful of dried goji berries
2 TBS dried, shredded, unsweetened coconut (I used Bob's Red Mill brand)

Rehydrate goji berries in water or grapefruit juice while chunking grapefruit. Sprinkle grapefruit chunks with rehydrated goji berries. Toast coconut in a toaster oven or oven in a pan at 350 degrees for 1-3 minutes until golden then sprinkle on fruit. Serves 2.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Brownies and Chocolate Chip Cookies

These are two staples in my house as my husband has a major sweet tooth. After trying various vegan brownie and chocolate chip cookie recipes, we have voted these to be the best, hands down. Even our omnivore co-workers gobble them down and ask for the recipes time and time again.

Rusty's Chocolate Vegan Brownies

I found these on Recipe Zaar a few years ago and they are the best brownies that I have ever had, vegan or not. The secret is in the chips and the applesauce. I use Sunspire's Tropical Source non-dairy chocolate chips, organic applesauce (unsweetened), and Edensoy Chocolate Soy Milk.

Click here for the recipe.

Dreena Burton's Homestyle Chocolate Chip Cookies

Featured on Everyday Dish TV, these cookies come together in a snap. I use Sunspire's Tropical Source non-dairy chocolate chips in these as well.

Click here for the recipe.