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Category Archives: Meals at Home

Recipes, inspirations and other vegetarian delights we have thrown together at home

Roasted Garlic Seitan Roll

DSC02750_smInspired by a recipe I saw on Cook’s County, I decided to adapt the Stuffed Seitan Roast I made for A Taste of Thanksgiving.

DSC02744_smSince it was only for the two of us, I halved the roast recipe, swapped lentils for pinto beans and dried mustard for the paprika. In the center, instead of stuffing, I put about a dozen cloves of peeled roasted garlic before rolling it and crimping the seam together.

I baked it the same length of time (90 minutes @ 350°) but before wrapping it in the foil, I sprayed the foil with olive oil because I decided to brush a little mustard glaze on it.

Mustard Glaze:
1 Tbl brown mustardDSC02746_sm
1 Tbl brown sugar
1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
1/2 tsp crushed rosemary
a pinch of powdered cloves

It turned out very nicely, did not need any gravy for seasoning nor moisture and went well with beets and steamed broccoli.DSC02753_sm

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Jimbo’s Cormsbread

cormsbreadAs was evident in my Expectations, Culinary and Otherwise post, I am a little picky about cornbread. Yesterday was one of those days when hot soup and a wedge of cornbread sounded just right. Jimbo rose to the challenge and, with the inspiration of a Skillet Cornbread recipe from Veganomicon, veganized an old recipe we had for Aunt Dorothy’s Cornbread.

Jimbo’s Cormsbread

Ingredients
2 Cups plain soy milk
2 teaspoons chili infused vinegar
2 Cups yellow cornmeal
1 Cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 Cup diced banana pepper rings
8.25 oz can of cream-style corn (most are vegan)

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350°. Lightly grease cast iron skillet and place in oven to pre-heat. Combine the soy milk and vinegar and set aside to curdle. Sift together dry ingredients. Create a well in the center and add the wet ingredients. Mix together until just combined, fold in any additional ingredients. Pour the batter into the prepared skillet. Bake for about 50 minutes, until a toothpick or knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Optional broil to add golden color on top. Remove from oven, let cool a bit before serving.

Refreshed Spice Jars

Old Spices - Old Labels

Old Spices – Old Labels

When a reminder about replacing your old spices (about every 6 months or so) came out on the Post Punk Kitchen Facebook page on December 28th, Jim had a good chuckle. We were already in the midst of discarding old spices, washing our spice jars and totally renaming all of the spices.

That’s right, renaming our spices. Because the old McCormick spice jar labels are paper based, we decided to design new water-proof ones to encourage regular cleaning. I decided if we were redesigning them, it was a great time to keep our lives full of fun and rename them all too!

It became a project over the holidays and enlisted Arron and Amy’s help in coming up with creative names. I didn’t want to have the traditional “snips and snails and puppy dog tails” nor “eye of newt” magical ingredients. The idea was to have crazy names but none that would every infer harm, even to mythical beasts.

Between the 4 of us, we came up with over 60 names for our almost 50 herbs and spices that we regularly use. Terrific ideas like Spiced Mojo, Seeds of Truth and Sowbug Jokes took the place of Whole Cloves, Anise Seed and Cumin Seed.

Cutting out the new waterproof labels.

Cutting out the new waterproof labels.


We washed all of the jars and lids, peeled off the old labels then replaced any old herbs and spices with new. We decided to get rid of the Marjoram because we rarely used it. The same went for Lemon Peel since we zest and freeze what we use rather than nasty dried stuff. That and the double jars we had of Fennel Seed allowed us to swap in a few spices that we had in an overflow drawer.

After the new labels were designed, names chosen to represent specific herbs, labels printed, cut out and applied, difference in overall appearance is wonderful. I am so excited to have jars that I can wash off easily without being afraid of ruining the labels.

Detail of some new names.

Detail of some new names.

If you think it will be confusing as to remembering what spice is what new name, I have to admit that it is a bit. We did, however, print the name of the contents in a smaller font to make clear what was inside. At first glance it looks as if the names are in no order at all but we have kept them in alphabetical order of contents Agar-Agar being first and White Pepper being last even though it looks like Ice Feathers leads the list and The Twitch is the last of the spices.

Even with those precautions, the spices have shifted a bit from what I was used to. Yesterday I sprinkled some Ground Cloves on some corn chips I was baking, thinking it was Chili Powder. It keeps life fresh and makes us smile. I am thinking it will be no time at all until I will be able to tell the Cuddled Imaginaries from the Dragon Sighs.

New spices, new labels.

New spices, new labels.

A Taste of Thanksgiving

There are so many vegan recipes, Websites and resources available that my mother offered to undertake a fully vegan Thanksgiving this year. It was very generous of her to give up what is typically an omnivore’s table of delights to try a full spread of vegan goodness. I pitched in with a few recipes that I wanted to try and I will give brief reviews of how they went.

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Savory Vegan Corn Pudding
by Vegan Feast Kitchen

The Corn Pudding was to take the place of Mom’s classics Copes baked corn. It was warm, corn based and kind of smooth but just didn’t hit the mark. Partially because I opted to add the red and green peppers. It was a Mexicalli flavor for a Thanksgiving dish, probably because the seasoning I chose was basil and accidentally dumped in too much. I did fish a bunch out but the flavors I stupidly chose just didn’t go we’ll with all of the other traditional Thanksgiving foods. I did use fresh corn and a bit of rehydrated Copes but I think I will chose try to veganize the Mom’s recipe for the winter holidays next time.

Macadamia Nut Brie en Croute by Vedged Out

I didn’t change one ingredient nor instruction of this recipe. Instead of the Spooky Hallowe’en decorations, I chose an autumn leaf pattern for the puff pastry.

This was one of the few Virtual Vegan Potluck recipes that I treated our family to. I wouldn’t change anything about the recipe nor instructions but I would clearly note that it serves a lot of people. We had 7 healthy eaters but maybe only ate about 1/3 of it and it was out all day. Another thing to note, don’t emphasize the “Brie” aspect without mentioning the macadamia nut. When I tasted the pâte, I realized it was very nutty and almost added in another teaspoon of mustard. Like I said, I made no alterations and it was well received.


Stuffed Seitan Roast
based on a recipe by Post Punk Kitchen

Making my own “Tofurky” roll seemed like an overwhelming yet exciting undertaking. When I saw PPK’s recipe for Seitan Roast with Shiitakes and Leeks, I thought it looked amazing. Mom really doesn’t like mushrooms at all. She was being such a good sport about making the meal all vegan, I wanted to go out of my way to make the filling a bit more friendly to her. I adapted the stuffing to be much more like her southern-styled cornbread stuffing but kept the tips that PPK shared about making sure it had enough moisture and salt in it. In honor of Mom, let me call it:

Rita’s Vegan Stuffing:
2 Tablespoons Earth Balance buttery stick
1 Cup roasted chestnuts
1/2 Cup chopped celery
1 medium onion minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
fresh black pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 Cup cornmeal and cracker crumb mixture (browned a bit in the skillet)
1/4 Cup vegetable broth
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar

I added it to the seitan roll as in the original recipe. The baking time seems to be spot on and it was fine when drenched in vegetarian gravy. Unfortunately I heard Mom mention to someone that she found it to be “tough.” I thought it was just right but I forgot that some folks (well, the ones who decided it was worth trying) might be comparing it to turkey. In all fairness, Arron and Amy eat turkey and know what to expect from seitan and they thought it was pretty good. I loved it!!

Maple Syrup Pecan Pie
based on a recipe by Gazing In

This turned out to be a most attractive pie and I was so excited to use Georgia-grown, paper-shelled pecans that were hand shelled by my Aunt Pat.

I only made a small tweak to the recipe that I don’t think had anything to do with how it was a bit runny at room temperature. I watched America’s Test Kitchen when the station was focusing on Thanksgiving, they had a Pecan Pie featured that day and suggested a maple/ brown sugar filling. Instead of 1 1/4 Cup pure maple syrup, I used:
1 Cup pure maple syrup
1 Tablespoon molasses
1 Cup brown sugar

It wasn’t at its best when served room temperature, it was much better chilled.

Pumpkin Pie based on recipes by Post Punk Kitchen and Moosewood Cookbook

This recipe lead me to my happiest victory of the Thanksgiving meal, a custard pie that had a perfect texture tasted like it should! Leave it to Jim to bake up a pie that tasted so much like we have enjoyed for years just by giving a boost by doubling the spices and adding but a tablespoon of molasses to the mixture. It was the Moosewood Cookbook’s No-Fault Pumpkin Pie recipe that we had been making for year. This was to mark one year of no eggs nor dairy in our diet so, instead of veganizing the whole recipe, we opted for trying PPK’S. The crux of it was that it also need a bit more agave as sweetener and to balance the added moisture, we upped the starch and agar agar by again a 1/3.

Of all holidays, this one has a focus around food. It was very moving that my own mom would put aside the butter, eggs and animal products to make me and Jim feel welcome and honored. If my mother-in-law or father felt anything was missing from the meal, I am sure the warmth of visiting family helped to overshadow it. It was surely a day of splendor, sentiment and celebration.

Tuscany Stew from VVP2

Yesterday was such an exciting day, being the 2nd Virtual Vegan Potluck. I made my way from Appetizers to second helpings of the Desserts and loved every blog along the way. Today felt kind of dull, kind of a let down. Then I thought, “Why should it end?” Silly me, all of those recipes were waiting to be made. I shopped for a few recipes and, for our lunch, made the very first one that came to mind, Tuscany Stew.

Do go out Cheerfully Vegan‘s blog for the whole recipe. I will note that I added a couple of small potatoes since Mom shared that the soup she enjoys at Olive Garden has those in it. I also chose to use 4 cups of veggie broth.

I love kale like it is a member of my family and it got nice and tender after I simmered the soup for about an hour. It’s mellow flavors felt so wholesome on this chilly and gray day. I have to say that it was only gray outside and life was no longer dull as I cooked and listened to my Marathon Training Academy podcast. I could then slurp my soup and look through even more Virtual Vegan Potluck recipes to brighten the days ahead.

Hearty Seitan Pie

This recipe is another of those I have veganized from an old cookbook, just for fun. I really like taking some old or traditional styled recipes and making it into something edible for Jim and myself.

Part of the attraction is getting the finished product to look just like the original recipe. Having a photo to compare is a lot of fun and I chose to adapt a recipe from an old Ladies’ Home Journal cookbook. It is a 1970 copy of their Handbook of Holiday Cuisine.

Having a nice meal is an even better result of my veganizing escapades. I adapted then split this Steak and Kidney Pie with Oysters recipe into 2 smaller pies so that we could take one to Amy & Arron in NYC. I chose to use 3 different kinds of seitan. You could use homemade but I mixed it up with two different kinds of Lightlife Smart Strips, a couple of packets of Gardein BBQ Skewers and some Upton’s Naturals.

Hearty Seitan Pie

Ingredients:

3 Tablespoons canola oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 gloves garlic, chopped
3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped into 5/8″ pieces
2 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped into 5/8″ pieces
16 oz. mushroom quartered
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
16 oz. vegan gravy
24 oz. mixed seitan in about 1″ pieces (see note above)
16 oz. package of puff pastry, thawed
2 Tablespoons Coconut Milk

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 425° F

Saute seitan in 2 tablespoons of the oil until the exterior starts to brown slightly. Remove from pan and set aside.

In the same pan, add remaining oil and lightly saute onions and garlic in oil until onion is just translucent. Add in carrots and potatoes and cook over medium-hugh heat for about 3 minutes. The vegetables will just begin to get tender but centers are still quite firm. Add mushrooms and reduce heat to medium, stirring for another couple of minutes. Remove from heat.

Stir the tomato paste and gravy into the vegetable mixture. Add in the browned seitan and stir until all pieces are well coated. Pour mixture into a large shallow casserole and set aside.

Press together the puff pastry sheets and roll it into a 1/4″ thick piece that will be 1″ larger than the top of the casserole dish (or for 2 smaller casserole as I did). Moisten the edge of the casserole dish and press the pastry to cover the dish. Trim off the excess and set aside (you may use the excess to decorate the top with designs). Crimp edges of pastry top to thecasserole and cut 2 or 3 slits in the top to allow steam to escape. Decorate with extra dough if you like and brush entire top with the coconut milk. Bake for 30 minutes, crust will be a golden brown.

Season’s Splendor

Autumn is such a beautiful time of year. Nature’s colors and annual harvest of produce are a feast for the eyes. It was so gratifying to be able to take an afternoon last week to hike Nittany Mountain. It has been a couple of years since I was able to and that made it a very special outing for me. I biked to the trail head, hiked to the top and committed to the entire white loop of trails that treated me to a couple of vistas. The leaves were close to peak but because it was a weekday I ran in to very few other hikers. The solitude on Nittany was an added bonus before I biked home.

Although artichokes are not a vegetable of autumn, I got a couple on sale at our local grocery outlet. I quickly steamed them and served them with a Creamy Vegan Dipping Sauce that doubled as a salad dressing. This was delightful recipe I found for one of the warmer days last week.

Jim and I ran a local race last weekend called the Clearfield Pumpkin Run 5k. It started early on a super chilly morning. but we both had a really enjoyable time. We didn’t run together and I saw Jim speeding ahead before I settled into the groove. This was my first race since my full marathon last month. The course had a mile loop through downtown Clearfield where they were also having a fall festival. Then we ran along the river and cut across a bridge. The next couple of miles were in very pretty residential areas. Finally we cut back across the bridge to the finish line and I met up with Jim to walk a bit and “cool down.”

We always like to try to stay and cheer the award winners but it was still quite chilly. I saw that I had won first place in my age group so I found a place to stand in the sun and happily waited to receive my cute medal. They also gave some awards to people who ran carrying pumpkins for the whole race, that was a lot of fun.

The day before had also been chilly and our lunch was full of colors of the season and a pumpkin-like squash was one of them. I steamed some butternut squash and brussels sprouts and blended a little hoisin sauce in with them. That and a side of rice warmed our bellies and tickled our taste buds.

Autumn frequently makes me feel nostalgic for some reason. On our return trip from Clearfield we stopped at a cute diner in Philipsburg that was like trip down memory lane. We made a stop at the Retro Eatery specifically for their veggie burger, the Ritchie Valen Burger. As far as I know, Ritchie Valens wasn’t a vegetarian but all of the menu items are named after famous icons of the 1950’s. This burger was a homemade, super thick, black bean cake grilled on both sides, nestled in a thick soft bun and topped with lettuce, tomato, and guacamole. We got ours without the cheese it normally comes with but it was a quite a hearty sandwich without it. Clearly a front runner in the race for the Pennsyltucky Veggie Awards – Best Veggie Burger of 2012.

We also ordered some extra appetizers to go along with them. We got the sample Somewhere Over the Rainbow Platter (choice of 3 apps) and tried the French Fried Zucchini Sticks, Fried Green Beans and Rocky Graziano deep-fried cauliflower. Each of these normally comes with ranch or cheese dips but we opted for good ol’ ketchup for ours.

The Retro Eatery opened spring of 2011 and seems to have a steady clientel. It doesn’t have that greasy diner smell that you might expect. The interior of the dining and public areas are all bright and very clean. We enjoyed the free Wifi, loved the pinball machine and jukebox and thought it was cute they had Loony Tunes on one of the 4 tvs.

The service was prompt, appropriately friendly and most helpful. When we ordered the sample platter, we had originally chosen fries as one of the choices. She let us know that, just in case we were thinking of getting burgers that they all came with fries. Thank you very much, we WERE getting burgers and changed our order to include the cauliflower instead. She also checked back and asked if we were enjoying the platter and we assured her that it was fun to try a few of 3 different things instead of full orders of all three. She agreed and shared that she felt a full order of the green beans is sometimes a but “waxy” for her. Like I said, appropriate comments and very helpful.

So much to enjoy this autumn, we hope you are enjoying the beauty and bounty of this season too.
Retro Eatery on Urbanspoon

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