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Spicy Grilled Cheese with Tomato Soup

March 31, 2010

Today for dinner instead of having just regular grilled cheese, I added pico de gallo. I wanted to add a little kick to it and what better way than to add some hot sauce? I made tomato soup to accompany the grilled cheese. I used Daiya cheddar flavor cheese in the sandwich. I have made tomato soup in the past and posted the recipe. This time I added a little more flavor by throwing in some dried basil, oregano and thyme.

Tomorrow, we took the day off from work so that we could drive to Fredericksburg to see if there are any wildflowers blooming yet. I love taking pictures of flowers, but the winds are supposed to be gusty tomorrow. So it is unlikely that I will get any good pictures, unless I can snap a few between gusts of wind.
I am not sure what I will be creating in the kitchen tomorrow, but more than likely it will be something quick and easy. Since my husband usually has meat when we go out to eat, I am sure that he will make a day of it and want meat for dinner too. So I will probably throw something on the grill.

Tuesday-King Ranch Chicken Leftovers

March 30, 2010

My blog is back. I apologize, but for a few hours my blog was not available. I was changing to a hosting account and I was having some “issues”.
Today for dinner we had leftovers, but for breakfast I make tacos. I made Cream Gravy with Sausage. The sausage I used was Gimme Lean sausage. I cooked potatoes and mashed them. I put the mashed potatoes on a whole wheat tortilla and topped the taters with the gravy. It was very good and hearty.

Breakfast Tacos with Potatoes and Cream Gravy

2 medium sized potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 tbs Earth Balance
¼ cup rice milk
1/4th of the roll of Gimme Lean
1 tbs canola oil
¼ cup onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ cup unbleached flour
1/3 cup rice milk
salt and pepper to taste

In a medium sized sauce pan, boil potatoes in water for approximately 10 minutes. Drain and add Earth Balance. Stir until Earth Balance is melted. Mash and add rice milk. Add salt and pepper to taste.
In a skillet, add oil and sausage. Cook sausage until browned. Add onion and sauté until soft. Add garlic and cook until fragrant. Add flour and stir until combined. Gradually add rice milk slowly while stirring. Add more milk if you like a thinner gravy. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Place mashed potatoes on a tortilla and top with gravy.

Monday-Dog Treats

March 30, 2010

Do you have a four legged friend that you love to spoil? Try making dog treats. They will love them. We have two dogs, and one of them has an allergy to wheat. From time to time I make homemade dog treats. I have found a few different types of treats that do not contain wheat, but the majority of them contain wheat. So I made our pups vegan dog treats. I have made dog treats in the past, but they were not vegan. Our dogs are not vegan, but I did make treats that they love which are vegan. I figured they would like vegan treats since they do sample some of the vegan dinners that I create. If you have dogs, give these a try.

Vegan Dog Treats

1 cup white rice flour
1 cup of brown rice flour
½ cup oat flour
1 jar 4 oz sweet potato baby food
¼ cup creamy peanut butter
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp Better Than Boullion No Beef
½ cup water
1 tbs brown sugar

Combine all ingredients. Sprinkle a surface with flour so that the dough will not stick. Divide dough in fourths since this will make it easy to work with. The dough is delicate. Place a fourth of the dough on floured surface. Roll with a rolling pin until approximately a ¼ of an inch thick. Use cookie cutters to cut different shapes. Place on a non stick cookie sheet. Bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes or until lightly browned on the edges. Cool and store in air tight container.

For dinner, I made a southern dish. I made King Ranch Chicken. This casserole is popular in the South. Since I have only been a vegetarian for a couple of years, I remember the taste of this dish so I made a vegan version. It is rich and creamy, just like I remember it. If you have never had it before, you are in for a real treat. But it is definitely not a dish to try if you are on a diet. Although the vegan version is healthier because you are not using “condensed soup” as the original recipe calls for, it still packs quite a few calories. Just run a few extra miles or stay at the gym a little longer to make up for it. It is definitely worth the extra workout time.

Vegan King Ranch Chicken

4 Tbs Earth Balance
3 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1 ½ cups cremini mushrooms, finely chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp tarragon
1/3 cup flour
2 tsp of Better Than Boullion No Chicken
1 cup water
1 cup cashew cream (1 cup raw cashews; 1 cup water)
1 can Rotel 15 oz (chopped tomatoes and green chilis)
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp ground black pepper
2 pkgs Gardein Chick ‘n Filets, finely chopped
10 corn tortillas, cut into 2 inch wide strips
½ cup Daiya Cheddar

In a large heavy bottomed pot, melt Earth Balance. Add onion, celery and green pepper. Cook until softened. Add mushrooms and cook for a couple of minutes. Add garlic and cook for a couple of minutes. Add thyme and tarragon.
Then add flour. Stir and cook until lightly browned. Add Better Than Boullion and slowly add water, stirring while adding. Add chili powder, salt and pepper. Set aside.
In a 13X9 inch pan, layer the tortilla strips in the bottom of the pan. Next add the chopped Gardein. Then add the mixture from the pot. Top with Daiya cheese. I cover the top with cheese. It is approximately ½ cup. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for one hour or until bubbly. Remove foil during last 15 minutes of baking so that the cheese browns slightly.

Sunday-Migas, Gardein and Panelle

March 29, 2010

This morning I made the most wonderful Migas! I was so pleased with how they turned out. Migas is a dish popular in the south and consists of eggs, corn tortillas, tomatoes and cheese. Once I became vegan, that is one of the things that I missed. So I made Migas using tofu. If you have had Migas before and miss them or even if you want to try Migas, you will definitely want to try my recipe. You will not miss the eggs.

Vegan Migas
½ of a 16 oz extra firm tofu
a pinch of tumeric
¼ tsp garlic powder
1 tbs canola oil
¼ cup onion, chopped
¼ cup green pepper, chopped
¼ cup tomato, chopped
1 serrano chili, chopped
2 tbs cilantro, chopped
3 corn tortillas, cut into strips
¼ cup Daiya cheddar
pico de gallo

In a small bowl, mash the tofu with a pinch of tumeric and ¼ tsp garlic powder. I do not like the taste of the tumeric to flavor the tofu so I only add enough tumeric to make the tofu the color of eggs. Set aside.
In a non stick skillet, heat oil. Add tortilla strips and fry until slightly crispy. Add the peppers and the onions. Saute until soft. Add tomatoes, cilantro and tofu. Cook until heated through. Add Daiya and stir until cheese is melted.
To serve, top with pico de gallo or salsa. Makes 2 servings.

Today at Whole Foods I came across a new Gardein product. It is called Thai Trio. It is perfect for me because Sundays are the day that my husband eats meat. The Thai Trio is a single serving. It is very good, but I especially love the sauce.
To go along with the Gardein and my husband’s meat, I made green beans and Panelle. I have not made Panelle before, but have always wanted to try it. I love chickpeas or garbanzos. I love hummus, falafel and now Panelle. Just by researching on the internet, there are so many different ways to make this. There are sweet or savory recipes, as well as different shapes. But no matter what shape you make, the Panelle is fried.
As there are different shapes, there are many different recipes as well. The basic ratio of water to garbanzo flour is about 2:1. Then you add whatever flavorings you like. It could even be just salt and pepper.

Panelle

2 cups water
1 cup garbanzo or chickpea flour
1 clove garlic
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1 tsp dried basil

In a saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add the salt. Slowly whisk in the garbanzo flour trying to avoid lumps. Once the flour is incorporated, add the rest of the ingredients. Once the mixture starts pulling away from the sids of the pan, it is ready to spread into a pan to cool. You can use any type of pan you have, but oil the pan. I just used a cookie sheet. I spread the mixture out in an even layer approximately ¼ inch thick.
Let the mixture cool until set. I made the mixture in the morning and placed the pan in the refrigerator all day. It should only take about an hour to for them to set.
Since my husband likes fries, I cut these into the shape of fries. But you can cut them into rectangles as well.

Saturday-Date Night

March 27, 2010

Tonight we went to watch a band at our favorite local pub. So when we got home, I wanted to make something quick for our late dinner. I decided to make Boca burgers. I made them the way we love by topping them with lettuce, red onion, avocado and Smart Bacon. We like the flame grilled Boca burgers the best.
The lettuce I used is from our vegetable garden. We planted it in January and now we are reaping its harvest. The other seedlings in our garden are doing well. I am hoping that our tomatoes and cucumbers do well because those are my favorites. I will include pictures soon even though this does not have anything to do with recipes.
Tomorrow is my husband’s meat eating night so I am sure I will come up with something new and interesting for my dinner. Plus, tomorrow I am taking a trip to Whole Foods so who knows what I will find.

Friday-Carrot Cake

March 26, 2010

Tonight we had dinner at a local Vietnamese restaurant. I had Veggie Pho and it was very good, as usual. I made vegan carrot cake before we went out. I baked it before we left and iced it when we got home. It was a total experiment because I used a non-vegan recipe and made it vegan. Cakes are a little more difficult to convert than, say cookies. I was very pleased with how the cake turned out. The cake was moist and the icing was creamy. I made a tofu cream cheese icing. I was not sure if the icing would turn out because I did not use a recipe. I was trying to make tofu taste like cream cheese and it came out pretty close. For the cake, I adapted a recipe for carrot cake from the Food to Live By cookbook.

Carrot Cake adapted from Food to Live By Cookbook

2 cups unbleached flour
1 cup raw cane sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 tbs cinnamon
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
Ener G egg replacer equivalent to 4 eggs
1 ½ cups canola oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups of peeled and grated carrots
1 cup of chopped walnuts

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Oil and flour two 9” round cake pans. Set aside.
Place flour, sugars, cinnamon, salt, baking soda and baking powder in a large bowl and stir to combine.
Place egg replacer, oil and vanilla in a small bowl and whisk to combine.
Add mixture from small bowl to the flour mixture and stir to combine. Add the carrots and the walnuts. Stir to combine.
Distribute the batter evenly to both cake pans. Bake for approximately one hour or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Tofu Cream Cheese Icing

8 oz tofu cream cheese (made with a 13 oz tofu with 1/3 cup raw cashews, ground; 2 tbs lemon juice, 2 tsp of agave nectar and ½ tsp salt; mix in food processor until smooth)
1 stick of Earth Balance, softened
Approximately 4 cups powdered sugar
2 tbs vanilla extract

Place cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Slowly add 3 cups of the powdered sugar with the mixter running. Beat until incorporated. Add vanilla. If icing is too soft, add more powdered sugar. If the icing is too stiff, then add 1-2 tbs of soy, almond or rice milk.

Thursday-Pad Thai

March 25, 2010

This morning I made Healthy Morning Breakfast Muffins. The recipe is in last month’s issue of Everyday Food. This is the second time I have made these muffins. These muffins are healthier than most muffins. Most muffins contain a lot of calories, not to mention sugar. These are easy to make if you use a food processor to grate the carrots. I have had a food processor for a little over a week and I do not know how I lived without one. It is such a time saver.
For my afternoon snack, I had hummus on sliced cucumber. I wanted to eat the leftover hummus from a few days ago, but I wanted to try it with something other than pita chips. I usually always have hummus with pita chips and I knew that it had to be good with some kind of veggie. So I chose a cucumber to accompany the hummus. It was a good choice. I sliced a cucumber, sprinkled with a little salt and pepper, then smeared with a little hummus. This is a little healthier than pita chips and less calories.

For dinner I made Pad Thai from Skinny Bitch in the Kitch. When I first saw ketchup in the recipe, I was a little skeptical. It definitely works. I have not made every recipe this book, but all of the recipes that I have tried are great. All of the dishes are very flavorful. The only change that I made from the original recipe is that I fried the tofu until it got a crispy crust and then I marinaded it in a terriyaki sauce. I do not like tofu very much and making it like this helped add a little more flavor. I also used sprouted tofu. I just bought some for the first time last week and tried it in this dish. The only flavor difference between regular tofu and sprouted seems to be a fresher taste. It is difficult to describe, but it has a taste whereas regular tofu is bland. I also used shallots instead of red onion and I was out of Mirin so I used white wine. I like the taste of shallots in anything stir fried instead of red onion.

For dessert, I decided to try to make sticky rice. I figured that since we were having a Thai dish for dinner, I would make a Thai dessert to go along with it. Yesterday at the office, I overheard some people talking about a good Thai restaurant nearby. One of them had a savory sticky rice and the other a dessert sticky rice with mango.

Sticky Rice with Mango

2 cups sticky rice (glutanous rice or sweet rice, not jasmine)
1 can coconut milk, divided
1 tbs agave nectar
1 cup water
1 mango, sliced

Rinse rice until water runs clear. Put the rice in a bowl and cover the rice with water. Soak the rice for a couple of hours or overnight if possible. Drain rice.
In a medium size pot add water and 1 cup coconut milk. Bring to a boil and add rice. Stir well and cook covered for approximately 25 minutes. Stir often.
In the meantime, in a small pot add the remainder of the coconut milk and the agave nectar. Simmer for a few minutes.
Peel and slice mango. Arrange half of the mango slices on a serving plate. Once the rice is finished cooking, it is ready to serve. I put the rice in a small custard dish, just to make it an interesting shape. You can use a bowl or you can just pile the rice on a plate. I placed the rice in the middle of the plate and surrounded it with mango. Drizzle the rice with the sauce.

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