Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Polenta chickpea gravy

Tonight's recipe was supposed to be a roasted chickpea salad, but I baked all the sweet potatoes last night, and had them again for breakfast, so I ended up making up this dish, which was a big hit.

1.5 c. Chickpeas
3 heads broccoli, sliced
1 sweet potato, baked and mashed
1 c. Almond milk
1.5 T. Nutritional yeast
3 green onions
1 tube polenta, sliced
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the chickpeas in a large skillet for 15 minutes, and add the broccoli, sweet potato, onions, nutritional yeast, and milk. Cover and simmer on medium low heat while you fry the polenta.

To fry the polenta, fry in a bit of olive oil in a skillet until crispy.

Serve gravy over polenta, with fresh ground black pepper.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Philly seitanwiches and some sangria

Rob made sangria Friday night for us to enjoy today!

1 naval orange
1 lemon
1 apple
1 lime
1.5 c. Brandy
1.5 L. Red wine (we used Merlot)
1/4 c. Sugar
3/4 c. Orange Juice
2 T. Lime Juice
Sparkling water to taste

On the wine: whenever we make sangria or glühwein, we use an inexpensive wine. My rule is that any wine I make something with, whether to eat or drink, it has to be something I am willing to drink independently. If you cook with a crappy wine that you don't like, your food will turn out crappy, too. So, don't break the bank. It's okay to buy an inexpensive wine, but make sure it's one to your taste.

On that note, it's very important to sample all of your beverages independently prior to making the sangria. It allows you to make sure they're of good quality, and it makes the process a lot more fun!

First, slice the fruit, in thin slices,  and put in the bottom of your container and sprinkle the sugar over top. Add the orange and lime juices.  Some people like to soak their fruit in the brandy for a few days before making sangria, but we don't have that kind of patience!  Add the brandy and wine, and stir.

Refrigerate overnight, or at least 6 hours.

Serve with a splash or so (<1oz.) of sparkling water, with just a little bit of the fruit, preferably in a highball glass

For the Philly Seitan-wiches:

1 package Upton's traditional seitan
1 green pepper, sliced
1/2 onion, sliced
4 Vegan hoagie rolls
1 package cheddar Teese (or other vegan cheese)

I remember being in Philadelphia a number of years ago with a friend, and she ordered a cheese-steak sandwich.  I didn't understand that cheese-steak wasn't steak and cheese, until she asked for cheese on top.  The way she did it cracked me up, though.  She asked for it "Wid Wiz" and when I questioned her, she said the cheese was melty and gooey, kind of like cheese-wiz, so I thought Teese would be the optimum vegan choice here.

Sauteé the onions and peppers in a pan, and put the Teese in a small saucepan over low heat.
Add the seitan, and grind some pack pepper over the mixture, stirring, and cooking an additional 7-8 minutes.

Meanwhile, toast the buns. This would be great on some Hoagie buns, but we use some whole wheat ones from a local baker and they were great!

Top the buns with 1/4 the mixture, & some "wiz."


Saturday, October 26, 2013

Biscuits and gravy

This was a constant dinner in our house growing up, something so simple that I learned to take over preparation of this meal for my mom, who often found herself heading out of the house for rehearsals and concerts at dinnertime.  Being that I really knew how to make this for omnivores, this was one of the first meals I figured out how to vegetarian-ize and then vegan-ize as I got older.

As for the biscuits, if you are naturally inclined and so talented, please feel free to create these from scratch.  I am not innately a baker, I am more of a cook, so I turn to mom's recipe for this one- Bisquick and water.  Yep, I said it.  But Bisquick is vegan (while not the healthiest option for everyone), and I keep a small box of the low salt version on hand most of the time JUST FOR Biscuits.  My favorite part about having biscuits and gravy for dinner is to have dessert of another biscuit, but this time with jam or syrup.  I like Agave on mine!

Biscuits and Gravy
1 package Upton's ground seitan
1 c. chopped celery
1 c. chopped carrots
1/2 onion, chopped
soy milk
salt and pepper to taste

First, preheat the oven to 350.  Mix the Bisquick and water together and drop by tablespoon onto an oiled cookie sheet.  Bake for 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, saute the onion and carrot over medium heat for 5-10 minutes, until the carrots begin to soften and the onions start to clear.  Add the seitan and celery, and cook an additional 5 minutes.  Add remaining Bisquick, salt and pepper, and top with milk, stirring everything. Cook for 5 more minutes, paying attention to the density of the gravy, adding more milk if it seems dry, more flour if it seems too wet.

Stuffed peppers, a great run, and a scary story

Phew!  I am tired today!  It's been a very busy couple of weeks!

But I got a great 9.27 mile run in this morning with my best running pal, Copper.  That seemed to make everything a little better.

Of our three dogs, she's the only one who will tolerate a run longer than 4 miles, and I'm doing a challenge this weekend where I'm running a half-marathon, split into two days.  Tomorrow's run will only be 4 miles, so all three dogs will be invited.

I had initially planned to only do 8.5, but I was feeling so good I missed my planned turnaround point!  That's dangerous on these long runs- because then during the last mile I start to really feel it.  The part of me that gets sore on these long runs is my hips, so I actually stopped twice during the second half of today's run to stretch, and I really think that helped- I'm feeling great tonight.

This evening, Rob and I are going to stay in and watch a scary movie!  I like slightly scary movies, but not too scary, do you know what I mean? My problem is that I have a great imagination, and I've read too many books.

This morning, after my run, when I was taking a shower, the light bulb in the bathroom burned out, leaving me in total darkness with conditioner in my hair.  My first thought was to just continue showering- I was pretty much just down to the rinse cycle anyway.  But my second thought was- if I were the type of person to get scared, I would imagine really terrible things, and then freak myself out!  Of course then my brain went to thinking about what I could imagine...

I stayed sensible, and finished my shower without getting scared, though.  It came down to the fact that if something scary DID happen, I would just have to deal with it anyway, regardless of if I could anticipate that fluttering towel, or shadow across the room.  That didn't stop me from thinking thoughts like "oh, if I felt something touch my arm right now- that would be really terrible" or "huh- I wonder if I heard the floor creak right now if I would scream?"  Gah!

Silly, huh?  I wondered to myself if I would have thought such scary things were possible if I'd never read any scary books.  Sure, I think humans will naturally invent ideas to scare themselves; through media, though- movies and books and the like, we share our scary thoughts with each other- compounding our arsenal to think about when the lights go out.

This is not just a food blog, you see!

On that scary note- are you participating in All Hallows Read? #allhallowsread

All Hallows Read is a tradition invented by one of my favorite authors, Neil Gaiman, a few years back, in which you give scary books to people you love on Halloween.  This year, I'm sharing some scary ones with some of my favorite readers.  Not telling, though. It's a surprise.

You can check Mr. Gaiman explaining it at

Anyway.... On to tonight's recipe.

Rice, Mushroom, and Seitan Stuffed Peppers

1 c. brown rice
2.25 c. water
1 pkg. Upton's Italian Seitan
1 c. diced Crimini Mushrooms
0.25 c. Pine nuts
1 tomato, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 c. Kale, chopped
Cilantro to garnish
4 Green Peppers

Cook the rice first by placing the rice and water in a saucepan and bringing it to a boil, then giving it a quick stir, lowering the heat, and covering, cooking on low for 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350, and cut the tops off of the peppers, de-seeding them, and cutting out any of the weird inside white pieces.

Toast the pine nuts with garlic in a little olive oil over medium heat.  

As soon as the nuts start to turn the slightest shade of tan, add the seitan and mushrooms, and after 5 minutes, add the kale and tomatoes. Cook an additional 5 minutes over medium heat.

After the rice is done cooking, mix in the seitan, mushrooms, tomato, pine nuts and garlic, then spoon into the peppers in a baking dish.

Bake for 45 minutes, and top with cilantro just before serving.

Pair with a Merlot.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Spinach seitan quesadillas

Thursdays are a busy day in my typical week. I generally start my day with a walk or some yoga, teach, have extended office hours, tutor, run home and let the pups out, and then back again for choir rehearsal. Most Thursdays, I end up eating both lunch and dinner at my office. Therefore meals in our house on Thursdays are mostly very simple, and each of us eat when we can. These quesadillas are perfect for individual preparation. I made the filling during the day when I came home to let out the dogs, and each of us were able to assemble our own quesadillas.

1 package Upton's Chorizo Seitan
1 c. Spinach
1 c. Crimini Mushrooms
4 corn tortillas
2 T. Salsa
Hot sauce for flavoring
Vegan cheese (optional)
0.5 c. Diced tomato

Makes 4.

First, heat the seitan with salsa in a skillet. Add the mushrooms,

Then the spinach,

And cover for 5 minutes.

To assemble the quesadillas, in a lightly oiled skillet, place a corn tortilla, and top with 1/4 of the spinach mixture.

If desired, top with some vegan cheese, and heat over medium heat for about 5 minutes (pay attention, you want to crisp your tortilla, without burning!)

Top with diced tomatoes and hot sauce to your liking.

While this was cooking, I mixed up a little drink to go with it.  I had to go back to campus for rehearsal, so Sangria was out.  This little refresher was perfect with a spicy meal, and had as much potassium as a banana!

8 oz. coconut water
4 oz. seltzer water
0.5 oz. organic lime juice

Mix and serve over ice.  If I still had some cilantro left, I would have added a sprig to the glass for good measure.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Crispy Asian Setian Crunchies

This recipe started as a discussion with my daughter and I, when we were thinking about alternatives to a typical hamburger bun.

1 package rice or bean noodles (ramen noodles would also work here), cooked
2 tsp. Vegg + 0.5 c. water (or other egg replacer)
1 package Upton's Seitan (traditional)
1 green pepper, sliced
0.5 onion, sliced
3 carge carrots, cut in strips
2-3 jalapeno peppers, seeded and sliced
Sirachia for topping

Mix the cooked and drained noodles with the egg replacer thoroughly  Then set in a container for at least 30 minutes.  I made my noodles the night before, so they could set overnight.

Stir-fry the seitan and vegetables in a large skillet over medium heat.

Meanwhile, heat some olive oil in a large pan (1-2 inches) until it is near smoking. Your noodles should have set into a patty or loaf (taking the shape of your container.  I used a rectangular container, so I have a loaf).  Slice your loaf or patty into uniform pieces, and drop pieces into your pan, swirling them around over the heat.  When they turn a golden color, and look crispy, flip them over.  You will need less time on the second side than the first.


Plate the crunchies, and top with the seitan vegetable mixture.

Pair with a Chianti. Serve with steamed edamame, and share with friends!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Pumpkin broccoli seitan curry

Either you are a curry lover, or a curry hater. I happen to love curry. My mom used to make a curry dish when I was little, and I don't remember how it tasted, but I do remember how it smelled.

Ah, curry, yum!

When I became a vegetarian, I was responsible for much of my own cooking. The first vegetarian cookbook I owned had a number of curry recipes in it, which I made often, and often served to my family.

It was when I started cooking for myself that I realized that curry was not a spice, but a combination of spices! Knowing that opened all sorts of doors for me, because that meant that I didn't have to have the same curry flavor in each dish!

In this recipe, I call for curry powder, for simplicity sake, but please feel free to make your own mix! Also, check your labels, I've seen commercial curry powders in the stores that are NOT vegan.  Also, I used canned pumpkin here, but it would also benefit from cubed roasted pumpkin.  

Because it is fall, I wanted to incorporate some traditional fall favors, hence the pumpkin. You really can make a curry with any vegetables, and I will often make curry when I've got produce that needs to be used right away!

1 can Pumpkin (15 oz.)
2 Carrots sliced
1 head Broccoli, in spears
1 Green Pepper, chopped
0.5 Onion, chopped
4 cloves Garlic, minced
2 c. Coconut milk
2 c. Vegetable broth
2 T. Curry powder
1 t. Old Bay seasoning
Sirrachia to taste 
1pkg. Upton's traditional seitan
2 c. Brown rice, cooked
Cilantro as garnish

First saute the onion and garlic until translucent, then add the other vegetables and simmer with the vegetable broth for 5-10 minutes.

Add the spices, and seitan, and cook for an additional 5 minutes.  Then add the pumpkin and milk. Cover and simmer over medium heat for 10 more minutes, or until it smells so delicious you can't stand it anymore!

Serve curry over rice with a cilantro garnish. Makes 6 servings.

I paired this dish with a Märtzen style beer, but a glass of Malbec would also be appropriate. Something full and with a little spice to it.


By the way, don't you love my bowls?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Mini seitan shepard pies

Growing up overseas, we made frequent visits to Ireland. We're Irish by descent, so those trips were always very special. Although I was already a vegetarian when we started traveling, the idea of the Irish shepard's pie intrigued me. Mashed potatoes on top? Yes please! This recipe is a homage to my heritage.

I made both individual pies for dinner, and smaller muffin sized mini pies for each of us to take for lunch. The mini pies used a dough crust for portability, while I put the single servings in ramekins. This could also be used to make a single, large pie, just add a few minutes of baking time.

5-6 medium white potatoes, cubed
0.5 c. Non dairy milk
2 T. Vegan cream cheese
1-2 t. Each salt, pepper, and dill
2 T. Nutritional yeast
1 onion, diced
1 c. Brown crimini mushrooms, sliced
2 c. Frozen mixed vegetables
1 package Upton's traditional seitan
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tube refrigerated vegan dough 

Start by making the mashed potato topping. Place cubed potatoes in water to cover in a large pot, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat and continue cooking 10-15 minutes, until all potatoes are tender. Drain the water, and return the potatoes to the pot, mash in milk, cream cheese, nutritional yeast, salt, pepper, and dill. Set aside on warmer.

 Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 

In a skillet, sauté the onions until they start to clarify, then add the garlic, mushrooms, vegetables, and seitan. Stir together over medium heat for 5 minutes.

If making one large pie, or single serving pies in ramekins, layer in the seitan vegetable mixture, then top evenly with mashed potatoes.

If making mini pies, layer in a small bit of dough into the bottom of each muffin spot in your tin. You want just enough to cover the bottom and come a little way up the sides.

I had a little extra dough, so for three of my mini pies, I made little popovers, wherein the dough could fold over the top.

Bake at 350 for 15 minutes (20-25 for a large pie).

All three of us really enjoyed these! They were cute, and very tasty, and fun to eat!

Makes one large pie, 8-9 single serving pies, or 18 mini pies. Single servin pies are approximately 170 calories each, while the mini pies with crust calculate to be about 150 calories each.

Wine pairing suggestion: Cabernet Sauvignon.