Sunday, September 21, 2008

The B's - Bowls, Blueberries, Bread, and BUSYINESS

Long work days (9-10 on average, but this week will be ~13 hours) limit our cooking creativity and cooking time... Our cookbooks, like Veganomicon and Soy of Cooking books are starting to collect dust! Hopefully work will get better and we'll have more time to try some of those good looking recipes! While we are cherishing each minute of relaxation and free time we do have, we've been only cooking quick meals or planning ahead. What kinds of nutritious meals do you all prepare during BUSY times?

Our recent favorite meal has been rice BOWLS - they're versatile and chock full of good veggies. Simple, yet elegant. We've been loving red rice with it! The first rice bowl this week was with edamames, carrots, scallions, mushrooms, bell pepper, garlic, and Bragg's. The next day we enjoyed the rice bowl with an addition of orange sesame dressing, crunchy water chestnuts, and a gold nugget squash (creamy, like a cross between a summer squash and an acorn squash). Just mix all the veggies and goodies you want with rice in a bowl and dig in with a big spoon! :)

More "bowls" ahead, only this is a sweet treat - Coconut Bliss Vanilla Bean ice cream with fresh local peaches and cranberry orange granola!

For breakfast, we soaked extra thick oats overnight with hazelnut nut butter and some milk. Then we added frozen banana slices and fresh local blueberries and heated it for a heart-warming healthy breakfast! The BLUEBERRIES here are to die for; we've been buying 1/2 flats for really cheap and freezing them to stock up for the winter.

It's really convenient and cheaper to bake homemade BREAD/rolls and freeze them for the week. We made wheat rye garlic rolls (some wheat flour, rye flour, garlic, and herbs), which olive oil always goes well with. (By the way, we've been chugging our current olive oil - from Italy! It is to die for.)
Other baked goods we made this weekend were guava jam biscuits and ginger spice biscuits. Our grocery store had all natural, no sugar-added guava jam -it tastes so tropical and delicious on bread, we might as well put some jam in the bread!

We recently enjoyed Fat Free Vegan Kitchen's paprika potatoes with local red potatoes. We added more tomato paste, omitted the saffron, and cut down the oregano. We, of course, drizzled olive oil and nutritional yeast on it. It was good served warm with steamed broccoli, as well as eaten chilled like a potato salad. Thanks Susan!

Lastly, here is a pic of our grocery finds, including the guava jam, red rice, and gold nugget squash. There are two new chocolates we've discovered - mango chili and cacao nibs with nutmeg. They're both sweeter than we like (we like extra dark chocolate), but the nutmeg one reminds us of eggnog spice, and the mango chili has subtle notes of tropical coconut sweetness with some heat.
Hope that your lives aren't as busy as ours....we need your encouragement and energy to get through this upcoming week! We're thankful for Farmer's Markets and a vegan's favorite B's - Blueberries, easy meal Bowls, and Bread.

Best wishes, LK

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Mid September Eats

It's already September, and even though we've been cooking up some great eats, we've been very bad bloggers. It's in part because we are still trying to settle in as well as keep up with 8-10 hour work days! We've just been too exhausted. But this weekend we've managed to squeeze in time to blog about our exciting September eats!

Rice Bowls - with baked tofu, yellow bell pepper, broccoli, red onion, sunflower seeds, red rice, and an orange sesame dressing. It was delicious and we love having rice bowls quite frequently.

We made spinach hummus and added red onion and cucumber in a flatbread to make a "panini-style" sandwich. Would be good with agave-mustard dressing!

Using Bob's Red Mill Millet Grits, we made Homemade Millet Cornbread. It was a spontaneous creation, so it may need some work (like reduce the sweetness), but it turned out delicious.

Homemade Millet Cornbread
1/4 cup flax
3/4 cup hemp milk

3/4 cup oat flour (or other flour)
1 cup cooked millet grits
1 cup cornmeal
1 Tb baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup agave
1/4-1/3 cup chopped red bell pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Mix flax and some milk and let sit. Combine the remaining ingredients in a large bowl, except for the bell pepper, then add the flax mixture. Stir until combined, add bell peppers and stir until just blended, then bake in a round pie pan or make muffins in a muffin pan. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden.

Purple cauliflower - roasted with olive oil, garlic, and nutrional yeast!

Had a Bell Pepper with Tofu and Walnuts recipe in our recipe book, and we are so glad we finally made it. The filling you could make into a casserole with broccoli and more tofu and mushrooms. We changed the recipe slightly - for the filling we used Bob's Red Mill Grains and Nuts Hot Cereal (instead of rice), added crumbled tofu, chopped mushrooms, onion, Braggs, curry powder, black pepper, garlic, oregano, and celery seed. Served with nutritional yeast.

One of our favorite cuisines is Thai - and this Thai Coconut Stir Fry was so elegant and full of flavor. Another recipe in our recipe stash, and we don't know where we got it from, but we will definetely make this again.

The dish had coconut milk, garlic, snap peas, mushrooms, bell pepper, bok choy, crushed red pepper, lime and lemon zest and juice, onion, some spinach, and soy sauce. We served with long grain brown rice. Love that it was saucy to serve over the rice. Next time we'll try it with broccoli and chinese cabbage!

Finally after many months, we made pizza again! Homemade pizza crust, with local fresh tomatoes, eggplant, bell pepper, onion, and basil, and with lots of garlic and olive oil. This pizza crust is a keeper - soft but chewy, just great flavor and texture.
LK's Homemade Pizza Crust

1 1/2 cup warm water
1 tsp sugar
1 pack dry active yeast
1 Tb olive oil
3/4 tsp salt
2 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cup hard white wheat flour
1 tsp basil
1/2 tsp oregano
fresh rosemary leaves, chopped

Add all ingredients according to your bread machine's directions. Set on dough cycle. When done with dough cycle, flattened into a pizza crust. Place stone in oven to preheat, then add crust to stone and bake at 500 degrees F for only 5 min. Can freeze crusts for easy pizza dinners for the week. To finish the pizza, add toppings, then bake at 425 degrees F for 8-15 min.

Finally, this morning we enjoyed warm tasty Carrot Trail Mix Muffins. We adapted this recipe quite a lot, so here is our version.
LK's Carrot Trail Mix Muffins

1 1/2 Tb ground flaxseed
1/3 cup pineapple juice
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup wheat germ
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
1/4 cup date pieces
2 Tb sunflower seeds
1/2 cup + 1 Tb pineapple, crushed
1 Tb safflower oil
3 Tb agave
1/2 tsp coconut extract (or just vanilla)
1/8 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup carrots, finely grated

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Combine pineapple juice and flax in a small bowl and set aside. Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl and wet ingredients in another bowl. Stir in flax mixture to wet ingredients, then add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Bake in a mini muffin pan for 15-20 minutes (check for doneness and golden color). Sprinkle cinnamon on top. Makes 12 mini muffins.

We especially like the pineapple as a sweetener. Sunflower seeds added a nice crunch, but we may try walnuts next time. Other ideas: apple butter and currant muffins and pumpkin pineapple muffins.

We are praying for all you Texans who may be affected by Hurricane Ike. We hope you are all safe and well.

God bless, LK