Friday, December 31, 2010

Kung Pao Veggies and Tofu

I made this recipe from Andrew Weil a few months ago. I really liked it, but I forgot about it somehow. I was looking through my food photos on Facebook a few days ago and saw the picture I took of it. I was reminded of how delicious it was, so I ran into the kitchen to make it again. I changed the recipe to suit the contents of my fridge. If you don't have all of the ingredients, you can adjust accordingly. 

Kung Pao Vegetables and Tofu
1 container of tofu, drained and cut into small pieces
1 bunch of broccoli, cut into small pieces
1 cup red onion, chopped
1 cup crimini mushrooms, chopped
1 cup unsalted peanuts
4 tablespoons peanut oil
1 teaspoon garlic chili paste

Sauce Ingredients:
1 cup vegetable broth
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons mirin (sweet rice wine)
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon vegan Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch

Stir the sauce ingredients together in a bowl and set aside.
Cook the tofu pieces in two tablespoons of peanut oil on high heat. Flip occasionally and cook until they are golden brown. Remove from pan and set aside.
In the same pan, heat the remaining oil and add the onions. Cook for about 5 minutes, until they are translucent. Add the broccoli, mushrooms and peanuts and cook for a few more minutes. Then add the garlic chili paste, tofu and sauce. Stir continuously until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Serve with brown rice or rice noodles. 

This dish is so delicious that you will completely forget how good for you it is. Broccoli, mushrooms and onions all contain powerful anti-cancer properties. Tofu is known to fight high cholesterol and heart disease, and peanuts are known to prevent hypertension. 

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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Snowday Stew

In case you didn't hear the news, had a big snowstorm here on the east coast Sunday into Monday. We had lots of food in the house, so I wasn't one of those crazy people who ran out to the store to buy soy milk and bread. I didn't have any plans for meals though, so I took inventory of the fridge and decided to make eggplant and peanut stew. Like I said yesterday, I'm a huge fan of spicy peanut sauce, so I've made this dish a few times since my original post.  I didn't have all of the ingredients called for in the recipe, so I improvised. Never be afraid to improvise if you don't have all of the ingredients a recipe calls for. It's pretty impossible to "break" something like this. Here's what I did:

Eggplant Peanut Stew
2 tablespoon peanut oil
1 cup red onion, diced
Small piece of fresh ginger, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large eggplant, diced
2 tomatoes, diced
1/2 bag frozen okra
1/3 cup natural peanut butter
1 cup vegetable broth
1 cup coconut oil
2 tablespoons maple syrup
sea salt
cayenne pepper
red pepper flakes
dried basil

In a large pot over medium heat, saute the onions, garlic and ginger in 1 tablespoon of peanut oil for a few minutes, until the onion turns translucent. Add the eggplant and tomatoes and cook for about 5 more minutes. While that's cooking fry the okra on high in the other tablespoon of oil until the okra slime dissipates. Add the okra to the pot along with the broth, coconut milk, peanut butter and maple syrup. Add a pinch of salt, a little basil and the cayenne pepper and red pepper flakes to taste. Let simmer for about 15 minutes, until the eggplant is soft. Enjoy!

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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Pad Thai

Pad Thai is a favorite of mine. You could really cover just about anything with spicy peanut sauce and I would gobble it down, but the mixed veggies and rice noodles in this dish are what make it really delicious.

First I cubed a block of drained tofu, and I cooked it in a little peanut oil, soy sauce and  rice wine vinegar until it was crispy on all sides. I removed it from the pan and set it aside. Then I added a little more peanut oil to the pan and sautéed shittake mushrooms, broccoli, a chopped bell pepper and snow peas. I added some dried spicy Thai peppers mainly to add a little flavor to the vegetables - they're too hot to eat! After they veggies were tender, I added chopped bok choy and returned the tofu to the pan and let it all cook together for another minute or two. I then added peanut sauce and mung bean sprouts and stirred everything together until it was heated throughout. I served the dish over rice noodles and topped it with chopped peanuts and scallions.

This dish is so versatile that you can use any veggies you like. The spicy peanut sauce will work with just about any vegetable, and it has such a great flavor that you don't need to use anything else to season the veggies.

Spicy Peanut Sauce
1/2 cup natural smooth peanut butter
2 tablespoons tamari sauce or Braggs Liquid Aminos
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled
2 garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
4 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil or peanut oil
1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce (less if you're sensitive to spicy foods, more if you like your food really spicy)
1 cup coconut milk

Mix all ingredients together in a food processor or blender. Easy peasy!

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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Dinner in Denville

For Dennis's birthday last week, we went to Veggie Heaven in Denville. Yes, there is a Veggie Heaven two miles from us, but dinner at Veggie Heaven has been a birthday tradition since before the Montclair restaurant opened. And the Denville location has different items on the menu, so it was nice to try some new dishes. The people there are really sweet, and they know that we always eat there for Dennis's birthday, so they had a gift waiting for him. We loved our dinner, and as we left, we made a vow to eat there more often.

 Japanese pan fried dumplings.

Crispy chicken wraps with spicy sauce

Roast pork spring rolls and drumsticks 

Gold cup chicken

Empire veggie chicken steak

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Monday, December 27, 2010

New Year's Resolution Group Program

Is your New Year's resolution to lose weight? Eat healthier? Take better care of yourself? Did you know that New Year's resolutions tend to last just a few weeks? Sometimes all we need is a little assistance to keep us on track. My New Year's Resolution Group Program will give you the support you need to keep your resolution going all year long!

In this program you will learn how to develop a new relationship with food and your body for the rest of your life. I will support you while you work through emotional blocks in your personal relationship with food, as well as provide you with practical tips to optimize your health. You will benefit from the group setting by getting extra support from other members.

In This Program You Will:
Set and accomplish goals
Understand and reduce cravings
Increase energy
Feel better in your body
Learn how to effectively deal with stress
Improve your overall well being

The Program Includes:
One 90-minute session every other week for six months (12 sessions in total)
A one-on-one health consultation with me
Handouts that cover the meeting’s topics
On-line group support
Email support with Dianne between sessions

The group will meet every other Wednesday evening, beginning January 12, from 7:00 to 8:30. The group will meet in my home in Montclair, NJ. The address will be sent to you after enrollment.

The cost of this group program is just $600! That's just $50 a session! (Individual programs can cost as much as $200 a session, so this is great deal!) Contact me today to sign up!

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Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Very Vegan Christmas

This year for Christmas, we had our friends Jen, Rachel and Brett over for a mini potluck. I love having potluck style holidays because it takes the pressure off of one person having to make lots of food, and we get to try things we might not normally make for our selves. It was a wonderful day, full of good food, amazing friends, great conversation and delicious food!

 Dennis and I started out the day with a super yummy zucchini mushroom frittata.

Before our guests arrived, I popped a fire onto the tellie...

and set the table.

For pre-dinner snacking, I made spinach artichoke dip. I found this recipe simply by Googling "vegan spinach artichoke dip". I was quite pleased with the results - this dip is delicious! 

We also had some gluten-free pretzel sticks and a veggie mix. Isn't the dish cute? My friend Vanessa gave it to me for Christmas. 

Field Roast en cruet, cranberry sauce and Tofurky gravy 

Maple roasted brussels sprouts with slivered almonds 

 Roasted green beans and carrots

 Purple and white potatoes

 Asparagus with hollandaise sauce

My very full plate! 

 I made a key lime cheesecake for dessert. Key lime is one of Dennis's favorite things, so this was mainly made as a birthday cake for him. The strawberry sauce got messy, but it was delicious! The cake plate was a Christmas gift from my friend Liz.

My dessert plate! We also had Clementines with chocolate sauce and lemon cookies, courtesy of Veggie Heaven.

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Friday, December 24, 2010

Birthday Brunch

Today is Dennis's birthday! I know what you're thinking, and yes, it does suck to be born on Christmas Eve. It also kind of sucks to the partner of someone born on Christmas Eve, because people born on Christmas Eve tend to hate both their birthday and Christmas. Dennis and I have created our own birthday and Christmas traditions, and he has slightly warmed to both occasions. For his birthday, I always make a big brunchy breakfast, we go to the movies, and then we have dinner at Veggie Heaven. The people at Veggie Heaven have grown accustomed to our tradition, and they usually have a gift waiting for him when we arrive.

This year my plan was to make Puttanesca Scramble and Potato Spinach Squares from Vegan Brunch.  I woke up early to start cooking so that breakfast would be ready when he got up. I starting prepping ingredients and was ready to start cooking when I realized that we didn't have any potatoes. No potatoes! And I really didn't feel like running out to the store with bedhead in my pajamas to get some. What to do, what to do? I ended up making the puttanesca tofu scramble anyway, and I dumbed the frozen spinach that I had defrosted for the squares into it. I also added some nutritional yeast and a little lemon juice, and I melted a little Daiya over the top of it all when I was done. Dennis said the smell of the food woke him up. He had no idea what I had planned for breakfast, so he wasn't disappointed that it wasn't what I had planned. He really, really liked it, and when I told him about the mess-up, he said my mess-ups are always delicious.

And speaking of mess-ups, instead of making a cake, I decided to make Dennis birthday cookies. My friend Deana brought cookies that I knew would be perfect for Dennis to my cookie swap so I asked her for the recipe. I either used the wrong shortening or let the cookies sit out too long before putting them in the oven (or both), because they came out as a big flat mess. I was able to salvage a few bits that resembled cookies from the disaster, and miraculously, they tasted really good.

So the moral of today's story is that even when you mess up a dish or don't have the correct ingredients, just use what you have and make something anyway. Don't be afraid to get into the kitchen and experiment!

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Happy Holidays!

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Tostada Potato

I would like to use Christmas as my excuse for not posting very often this week, but I like to do things in advance, so my Christmas chores have all been done for well over a week. The truth is that I've been  depressed about the loss of my sweet little Schroeder and I haven't been cooking very much. We've been getting lots of takeout and watching too much tv. (I'll let you in on a little secret here - being a person who does things in advance, I do a lot of my blog posting ahead of time, so the posts about the cookie swap, tempeh piccata and curry were all done last weekend before Schroeder passed away.) But someone said something about baked potatoes on a show we were watched a few days ago, and Dennis and I immediately started craving potatoes. There's just something so warm and comforting about them. It was time to go into the kitchen and cook something.

Of course, I couldn't make just a plain ol' baked potato. I had to load it with stuff. Once I was done cooking it, I realized it was a tostada of sorts, but on a potato instead of a tortilla. A potada, if you will. First the potatoes were baked. While it was baking, I chopped red and green bell peppers, mushrooms and onions and sautéed them until everything was soft. Once the potatoes were baked, I cut them open and put a little Earth Balance on them. I topped them with the veggie mixture and Daiya cheese, and put them in the oven to let the cheese melt. I then topped dolloped on vegan sour cream and diced avocado. This was amazingly delicious, warm and comforting and it was very, very filling. I couldn't finish the whole thing!

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Monday, December 20, 2010

Quick Curry

Curry is perfect winter weather food. It's warming and hearty and easy to make. This is from the 101 Cookbooks recipe that I make everyone once in a while. The recipe calls for cauliflower, but strangely Whole Foods didn't have any when I went shopping, so I substituted broccoli. the really great thing about recipes like this is that you can swap out ingredients and not have to worry about "breaking" the dish. I also swapped out the curry powder for curry paste. Here's what I did:

1 cup whole coconut milk
2 teaspoons red curry paste (use more or less to taste)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 large red onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/3 cup vegetable broth
1/2 block of tofu, drained and diced
1 cup green beans, cut into 1 or 2-inch segments
1 bunch broccoli, cut into tiny florets
1/2 cup cashews
1 tablespoon peanut oil

Heat the oil in a large sauce pan, and cook the onion until it's soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a few more minutes. Add the tofu, green beans, broccoli and cashews and cook for a few minutes, until broccoli turns bright green. Add the coconut milk, curry paste and vegetable broth and stir until the curry paste is thoroughly mixed in. Let simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Serve with brown rice.

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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Tempeh Piccata

A few weeks ago, my friend Jenna was talking about the chickpea cutlets piccata that she had made, and I realized that I have never had anything piccata. So it was time to piccata something! Instead of chickpea cutlets, I opted to make tempeh. I Googled "tempeh piccata" and the first thing that came up was a recipe from Vegetarian Times, so I used it. It was easy to make and extremely delicious. It left me wondering "how have I lived without piccata for so long?" I served it with quinoa and kale to make the meal super delicious and nutritious. 

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Holiday Cookie Swap

On Sunday I had a holiday cookie swap with Montclair Vegans. Sarah Gross joined us and brought lots of Rescue Chocolate for us to purchase for Christmas gifts. It was so much fun!!

 I made candy cane chocolate chip cookies from The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur.

 Elsa made gingerbread cookies with white chocolate.

 Christine made mocha chip oatmeal cookies from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar.

Emily is new the group and decided to join us an hour before the cookie swap, so she stopped at Whole Foods and picked up some Uncle Eddies cookies.

Jenna made delicious chocolate chip sunflower seed cookies.

 Deana made sesame seed thumbprint cookies. These are perfect "Dennis cookies".

Jen C and Prairie made maple sandwich cookies.

 Lori just moved in to her apartment and her kitchen isn't set up yet, so she picked cookies up at Whole Foods.

 Jen G made chocolate raspberry cookies.

 Amanda made two kinds of macaroons.

Sarah brought lots of Rescue Chocolate!

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Goodbye Schroeder

I spoke too soon yesterday when I said my little Schroeder was doing pretty well. He took a turn for the worse and we had to say goodbye to him this morning. Schroeder had been with me since he was just two months old and we had a really special bond. He loved belly rubs more than any other cat I've know, he gave kisses and nuzzles on demand and he was an excellent snuggler. He was the best cat ever and he will always be greatly missed. Thank you to everyone who has been sending well wishes and kind thoughts. It's greatly appreciated.

As a tiny two pound kitten, Schroeder loved sitting on top of this scratching post.

Schroeder with his best friend Lucy

Schroeder and Lucy at Christmas time in their favorite spots on the sofa

Schroeder and baby Archie

Schroeder keeping a safe distance from kittens Archie and Clementine

Schroeder and I in 2008