Sunday, July 29, 2007

Beans and Tofu

Another week of busy cooking and baking in the kitchen! For much of the week, our dinners consisted of tofu or beans.

Tofu is very versatile and tasty. We cooked tofu wedges (with soy sauce, garlic powder, and dried basil) and served as is with asparagus. The next day we had the tofu wedges in a sandwich with creamy avocado and fresh spinach. Later in the week, we incorporated it into the "Thai Turkey" recipe that we loved before going vegetarian. In replace of turkey, we added tofu cubes. The marinade in this recipe gave the tofu a great flavor. We served this with whole grain couscous. It made lots of leftovers, and the leftovers seemed to taste even better!
Thai Tofu Saute
2 cups water
3 Tb honey
6 Tb soy sauce
6 tsp sesame oil
6 tsp curry powder
2 tsp cornstarch
3/4 tsp crushed red pepper (or fresh chili pepper, diced)
Mix the sauce ingredients and set aside. Can make ahead if desired. (We didn't seem to have on hand cornstarch or sesame oil, so we omitted it this time.)
1 1/2 cup red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1/2 cup sweet/yellow onion, cut into thin strips
1 clove garlic, minced
1 packet of firm tofu (16 oz)
1 packet frozen brocolli ( ~1 1/2 cup)
whole unsalted cashews
2/3 cup whole grain couscous (makes four servings) (read directions on box for cooking)

Saute first two ingredients in a large saucepan and cook until slightly tender. Add garlic, tofu, brocolli, and the sauce and cook until brocolli is tender. Add cashews within the last 5 or so minutes. While sauting, we cooked the couscous (took only 5 minutes).

In addition to tofu wedges, we had Tofurkey deli slices - in sandwiches and wraps, with creamy avocado! Tofurkey is the best alternative to turkey!

Beans are filling, versatile, and flavorful with various spices. We had one of our favorite foods - bean burritoes with avocado, tomatoes, lettuce, and salsa. Love spicy salsa (and Guiltless Gourmet Baked Blue Corn Chips)! For leftovers, we spread the refried black beans in a tortilla, topped with sauted mushrooms and bell pepper, sealed it, then baked it for 10 minutes or so - made a tasty bean-filled enchilada! Later in the week we made white bean cakes. We used the same recipe as the Black Bean Burgers from last week, but we used white beans, red bell pepper, and ground red pepper instead of black beans, green bell pepper, and jalepeno powder.

White Bean "Burgers" with Wheat Burger Buns:

The buns that we made (used VegWeb recipe) had whole wheat flour and white whole wheat flour. We recently have started using the white whole wheat, and we like it alot because it's still whole grain/whole wheat, but less dense if it was all whole wheat.

We also served the bean burgers with Roasted Cauliflower, which is one of the best cauliflower recipes!

Other "non Tofu or Bean" foods that we enjoyed:
Tomato-Mushroom-Zucchini-Garlic Pasta
We just sauted some fresh diced tomatoes, lots of diced mushrooms, one large zucchini, and 2 cloves of garlic. Then we served it over Hodgson Mill Whole Wheat Spinach Spaghetti and loved it! We really like Hodgson Mill whole wheat pastas, and the spinach variety turned out great as well.

We made 24 mini muffins that were soft and flavorful. Not too sweet or rich. Love anything carrot!

So, another week lies ahead, and may we all enjoy the time we have with family and friends. Take time out of your busy schedules, and reflect on the joy in your life. Take some time to relax and enjoy the good in life!

Kind regards,

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Home and Tradition

We always love to try something new, but at the same time incorporate our favorites. This week we went back to try to "recreate" the childhood homemade foods we used to make when we lived back home. Our traditional meals updated to be vegetarian included "burgers" with sweet potato fries, fresh tomato soup with whole wheat buttery crescent rolls, "tuna melts" with cucumber dill salad, and miscellanous leftover creations.

Before we chat about our homemade foods, last Saturday evening we made a new dish and enjoyed delicious tofu scramble, adapted from "Passionate Vegetarian" cookbook by Crescent Dragonwagon. It was a feast of vegetables and tofu! The scramble had onions, mushrooms, green bell pepper, frozen green peas, spinach, garlic powder, tumeric, nutritional yeast, olive oil, and crushed red pepper. We served it with fresh tomato wedges and a slice of whole grain pumpernickle bread. This was our first time to use tumeric, and it was really quite good! A subtle flavor with a bold color enhancement!

Last Sunday we had time to make homemade tomato soup. This soup is so delicious with a little bread and olive oil, or over pasta as fresh spaghetti sauce. The flavors are so fresh tasting and well-blended. Tastes like the soup came straight from Italy! We served it with leftover Crescent Dragonwagon's "Whole Wheat Butterhorns".
Later on in the week for leftovers we served the soup over whole wheat orzo pasta and sauteed herbed mushrooms for a variation. Here is our special soup recipe, great when tomatoes are especially in season!:
Fresh Tomato Basil Soup
1 cup finely chopped carrots
2-3 stalks celery (1 cup), finely chopped (OR 2 Tbsp dried celery flakes)
1/2 - 1 cup white onion, finely chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 lb (6 cups) tomatoes, chopped, with seeds (about 11 Romas)
1 can low sodium diced tomatoes, reserved till later
1 whole red bell pepper plus 1/4 of another red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil, OR 2 Tbsp dried basil
dried Italian seasoning, sprinkled plentifully
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp salt (OR to taste)
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Chop all vegetables. Place the fresh tomatoes and red bell pepper on cookie sheet, and place the carrots, celery (if using fresh), and onion on a skillet.
Drizzle 1 Tbsp olive oil evenly over the tomatoes and red bell peppers. Sprinkle heavily with Italian seasoning, and lightly sprinkle some ground black pepper and salt. Roast the vegetables for about 30 minutes, or until veggies tender and edges lightly browned.
While red bell peppers and tomatoes are roasting in the oven, saute onions, carrots, and celery at medium high heat, till slightly tender, stirring occasionally.
Transfer vegetables to a food processor. Add the can of diced tomatoes to the processor. Depending on your desires, process until the texture is either mostly smooth, semi-smooth, or still fairly chunky. (We like it semi-smooth for texture). Return processed vegetables to a large pot.
Turn the heat onto to medium low to heat the soup in the pot. Add the basil (fresh or dried) as well as the balsamic vinegar. If soup to thick, add a little water. Simmer till ready to eat!

Last Monday we enjoyed black bean burgers with all of the works - avocado, tomato, lettuce, spicy mustard, and whole wheat bread! The burgers are so tasty and will become a weekly recipe!
We made some modifications and used 4 tsp dried onion flakes, a green bell pepper instead of red, 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper and 1/2 tsp ground jalepeno pepper, 1/4 cup flax seed with water instead of egg substitute, 1/4 cup cornmeal and 2 TB nutritional yeast instead of bread crumbs, 2 Tb dried oregano instead of fresh cilantro, and no oil. We cooked them in the oven the first time, and then on the skillet (no oil) the second.
The jalapeno pepper, green bell pepper, and oregano add a great flavor! It wasn't too cornmealy, but just enough for texture. It is a simple and versatile recipe - could try kidney beans, pinto beans, or white beans with various bell peppers and spices, and could use these for burritoes or baked enchiladas filling. We also loved the heat - and could use more! (Hey, were from Texas, we like spice). When we had them again for leftovers, the flavors really came out the next day.

We served the burgers with spicy sweet potato fries.
Some modifications: We doubled the recipe (had 4 large sweet potatoes). At first it seemed like too much spices, but at the end after it was cooked, we ended up using all the spice mix. We dribbled olive oil over the sweet potatoes to coat. We used 1 tsp chili powder, 1/2 tsp salt, 3/4 tsp pepper, 2 tsp dried oregano, 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, 1/2 tsp garlic poder, and dribbled all over spicy mustard to coat.

Overall, we love sweet potatoes, and the oregano was a nice touch, but it isn't as good as our own "sweet potato fries" recipe (which has cumin, cayenne pepper, and garlic powder). It was spicy, but it could use more (we are Texans who like our heat!) Also, we didn't care for as much for the mustard, and the recipe didn't enhance the sweet carmelization flavor of sweet potatoes. If we were to use this again for sweet potatoes, we would add cumin, a tad more heat, and omit mustard. Like the burgers, leftover sweet potatoes are even better. The flavors and spice really comes out the next day.

This past Wednesday we experimented and adapted our childhood "tuna melt" recipe, which consists of tuna, mayo, mustard, celery, and onion mixture placed on a burger bun or English muffin, topped with a slice of tomato and cheese, and then broiled in the oven. Instead, we made "un-tuna melts" and used garbonzo beans (mashed), added diced mushrooms and green bell peppers, and placed Rice American "Cheese" slice on top.

The results - it was ok after we took off the cheese. We aren't big fonds of melted cheese, and it tasted gross with the cheese. Cheese-lovers may enjoy it though. The recipe was a good start, but more flavor needs to be added. We actually had some extra filling that we save for another day. When we had the leftovers, we ate the filling chilled, added dill, and served with herbed crackers. It was alot

So that is the food for last week. Hope you enjoyed our week of old fashioned food revised vegetarian! We will leave you with a saying about hope and optimism....Always count your blessings and view your life with a positive view! Life is something to cherish and not take advantage of. We are so grateful to live in a free nation with alot of opportunies. We are also so blessed to have our friends and family to love! If we see life from a positive light, we can live better, healthier lives full of hope!


Saturday, July 14, 2007

Ethnic Diversity

This week we ended up cooking a variety of ethnic foods - Asian, Italian, Southwestern, and Middle Eastern.

Our "Asian" meal was somewhat modernized - we used leftovers from the Spring Rolls with Peanut sauce dinner, and made Tofu Peanut sauce sandwiches. We cooked slices of tofu on the skillet until golden and wedged that between two pieces of bread with the extra spicy peanut sauce we had made. We also added shredded carrots on top. Overall a great tasty and easy meal that we will definitely make again! Love anything with carrots and peanut butter.
The "Italian" meal was homemade pizza with onion, garlic, tomatoes, mushrooms, pineapple, veggie soy cheese, and tomato sauce with italian seasonings added. We bought spelt pizza crusts at our local health food store which made it easy. Great with pineapple and tomatoes! We had leftovers the next day without cheese, and we prefer without.
Being Texans, we usually incorporate a "Southwestern"/Tex-Mex meal into the week; this week it was Pinto Bean Brown Rice Bowl. We first cooked short grain brown rice and added chili pepper. We sauted green squash, jalapeno, green bell pepper, and onion and then added 1 1/2 cans of pinto beans. We added more chili pepper and some oregano too. Next time we might add cauliflower, cumin, or other spices.

For our "Middle Eastern" dinner we made Falafel - well, falafel patties in a sandwich. We used Fantastic foods Falafel mix, and it was quite tasty. This was our first time making Falafel, and it was pretty easy. We just put it on med-high to high heat on the skillet without oil and it cooked just fine. Alot healthier that way. Tasty with cucumbers! Next time we might add a honey mustard dressing to it.
Another "Middle Eastern"-type food that we love to have weekly is hummus! Love hummus with cucumbers, carrots, and crackers.

For breakfast today we made Whole Wheat Crescent Rolls. They are more time-consuming than we thought, and didn't rise as much as we would like. Next time we'll stick to the recipe and roll them out thinner. Anyhow, it was tasty and filling.

Other miscellaneous foods that we enjoyed this week include:
- Pumpernickle bread! - good plain, toasted, or with cheese
- Amy's No Chicken Noodle Soup - good alternative to the real thing
- Barbara's Bakery Whole Wheat Fig Bars - great everyday snack
- Odwalla Banana Nut Bar - tastes homemade with lot's of walnuts!
- Naked Juice, Mango - love Naked Juices, especially Mango and Strawberry Banana!
- Nutritional Yeast - we add it to everything!
- Peanut butter and crackers, using Maranatha No Stir Creamy Peanut Butter and Barbara's Bakery Wheatines - so good!

Anyways, for the thought of the week:
Respect others and their opinions. Open up to different cultures and beliefs. Appreciate diversity and all individuals. Form your own values and beliefs by learning more about others and their beliefs. View life optimistically. Peace with you all!
- LK

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Leftovers, Leftovers

Howdy! (As we say here at Texas A&M University)

So, we have already jumped into summer school again, and this time it seems less stressful.....that means more time to enjoy cooking and reading online at recipes and blogs!

This week, we happened to make alot of meals and food, so we had tons of extra leftovers that we were re-eating for many days. Our fridge was consequently stocked full for a week! We made homemade tomato vegetable soup and whole grain baguettes, squash cakes and corn, spring rolls and tofu, and a garbanzo onion dish with bulgur.

First-the soup and bread! We just mixed in a bunch of vegetables and didn't really use any recipe. We added 2 large cans of diced tomatoes, chopped celery, chopped carrots, broccoli, chopped red bell peppers, dried basil and oregano, crushed red pepper, and alot of fresh kale. We let it cook in the crockpot, then we added some whole grain spiral pasta and let it cook on high in the crockpot. Hearty, filling, and healthy! The bread was very filling and healthy, too, with some graham flour, buckwheat flour, cornmeal, soy flour, and flaxseed meal! Nutty, and tasty with olive oil!

Our next homemade dish was bulgur, broccoli, and sauteed garbanzos! It was our first time to use bulgur, and it was really quiet good! It is high in fiber, similar to brown rice/wild rice texture and taste, and cooks quickly like couscous. It could really add a nice nutty flavor to breads, too. We used vegweb recipe "Chickpeas and Onions" for the garbonzo dish. It was fantastic! The red wine flavor and herbs paired very well with the creamy garbonzos and red bell peppers!
Other meals that we made the rest of the week (besides leftovers) were squash potato cakes, which were ok, brownies, and simple dishes, such as grilled soy cheese sandwiches and corn-on-the cob. Today, we made delicious spring rolls (rice paper, lettuce, avocado, cucumbers, bell peppers, celery, carrots) with devine peanut sauce and sauteed firm tofu!

Hope you find inspiration in our cooking experiences and continue to enjoy reading/seeing the meals that we cook!

Our message for today is to enjoy every moment in life with the people (or animals) that you love! Life is short, and we need to express our love for each other and for life in general. Each moment in life, whether good or bad, happens for a reason, and we should continue to persevere with hope, faith, optimism, and patience. Even when they are bad experiences, they teach us and make us grow in wisdom. Share your love with everyone you meet!

Peace, LK

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Comfort in Food

Happy Early Fourth of July!

This last week in June was the most stressful time ever for us - sooo busy with our Food Management summer class! A relief to get it done with, and a hope for a lighter load for the next summer session. We found comfort in our food this busy week from favorites such as veggie burgers, bean burritoes, and corn on the cob and from new recipes such as chickpea salad sandwiches, "Chicken" lemon orzo, kidney bean salad, and vegan italian tofu pasta bake.

First of all, we had alot of quick-and-easy foods. We enjoyed Morningstar Black Bean Burger and Amy's Texas Burger with lots of avocado. We never tried the Texas Burger before, and we probably will stick to Amy's California Burger or other veggie burgers (like Morningstar), as the Texas one didn't wow us. For another quick bite we made Chickpea salad sandwiches from vegweb (we didn't use mayo; just mustard, celery, red bell pepper, lettuce, tomato, cucumber). Being Texans we love having burritoes quite regularly, with fresh tomatoes, lettuce, lots of avocado, wheat tortillas, black bean refried beans, and lots of spicy salsa! We also loved fresh local yellow and white corn. Another fresh idea - kidney bean salad with spinach and greens, celery, green bell pepper, shredded carrots, tomatoes, avocado, and balsalmic vineagrette:
For more elegant meals, we tried "Chicken" lemon orzo and vegan italian tofu pasta bake. With the pasta bake, we used whole wheat bowtime pasta and swirly pasta instead of shells. We also used mushrooms and yellow squash, no spinach or nutmeg, and some fresh basil and nutritional yeast. The tofu mixture seemed like mild ricotta cheese - perfect substitute in lasagna or stuffed shells. Next time we will try it with lasagna noodles or large shells. For the orzo, here is the recipe we used (serves two):
1 1/2 cups whole wheat orzo
1/3 cup onion, diced
handful of spinach leaves
1/2 asparagus bunch (about 24 asparagus sprigs)
1 lemon, zested (more than 1 tsp lemon zest)
Gardenburger "Chicken" cutlets -2
black pepper to taste
For lemon sauce:
1/4 cup + 2 Tb vegetable broth
1 1/2 lemon, squeezed (juice)
Prepare orzo according to package directions. Simmer on medium low vegetable broth and lemon juice in a small saucepan. While simmered, saute onion until carmelized. Also, steam asparagus for about five minutes in the microwave. When orzo is done, drain well, then add onion, spinach, and lemon zest, and mix well. Heat up "Chicken" cutlets in the microwave for about 3 minutes or until warm. Serve orzo mix with asparagus and "Chicken" cutlet, with lemon sauce. It tasted refreshing and healthy! Could add cherry tomatoes, green beans, or bell pepper to the orzo.

For a reward for all of our hard work in school, we made Peach Cobbler with fresh local in-season peaches! Yumm. The cobbler had lemon juice and zest, and we used spelt flour. Very flavorful!

Hope you find comfort in food as much as we do,