Seasons 52 Palm Beach Gardens

IMG_0145If you’re hungry for something different–whole foods, simply prepared in a high-end, fine dining atmosphere, you will love Seasons 52.

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We made a reservation for 8:30 p.m. and were seated promptly. The staff was friendly in a genuine way and we felt comfortable and welcome. Our table was near the window overlooking the waterway.

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Outdoor seating is available but on a first come basis, you can’t reserve an outdoor table. What a lovely view! It was such a treat to discover waterfront vegan dining in Palm Beach Gardens.

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The design is clean, warm and contemporary with a huge, cozy wine bar surrounded by deep circular booths. There was also a live piano player, performing 70s soft rock favorites, like Billy Joel and Elton John.

The menu is omnivore, but offers a decent vegan menu, although there are no vegan-friendly or organic wines on the menu (my only complaint).

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We started with one of several flatbread options, loaded with artichokes, balsamic onions and tomato. The umami flavors stimulated the palate without being too filling.

For dinner, I ordered the cedar-planked grilled tofu with broccolini and roasted red potatoes. The tofu was delicious–spicy and smoky with a sweet fruit chutney that was unnecessary but not a problem to move aside.  Steve ordered the vegetarian sampler plate that included the cedar plank tofu and veggies along with a soft taco and a cool citrus and mixed grain salad.

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All that whole food really filled us up, so, no room for dessert which is just as well. The one item on the vegan dessert menu is fresh fruit.

The dinner check was surprisingly affordable– not at all what we expected for the location, the quality of the food and level of service we received, which included complimentary valet.

Seasons 52 is a delightful change of pace and we will definitely return once in awhile for special occasions–to soak up the ambiance and enjoy a tasty, simply prepared vegan meal.

Savory Breakfast Bake

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I woke this morning dreaming of the perfect breakfast combination in one dish: Tasty tofu scramble, smoky tempeh bacon, sautéed mushrooms, spinach and melted cheez on top of a fresh layer of sweet, moist cornbread.

I think I nailed it with this recipe. Delicious and filling–this is a great dish for a lazy Sunday brunch and the leftovers freeze well for reheating on a busy weekday.

Savory Breakfast Bake

Ingredients

Tofu Scramble:

(recipe courtesy http://www.ppk.com)

14 ounce pkg. extra-firm tofu, drained and crumbled

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 tsp. Olive oil

2 tsp. Cumin

1 tsp. Dried thyme

1/2 tsp. Turmeric

1 tsp. Salt

3 tbsp. water

1/4 cup Nutritional yeast

Freshly ground black pepper

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Cornbread Layer

¾ cup Soy milk
1 cup Whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup Corn meal
2 tbsp. Masa Harina
½ cup Apple sauce
1/4 cup Maple Syrup
½ cup Earth Balance margarine, softened
¼ tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Baking powder
dash Baking soda
2 tbsp. Nutritional yeast

Topping

4 Slices Tempeh bacon, browned and chopped

8 ounces Cremini mushrooms, sliced

Large handful fresh Spinach

1/4 cup vegan cheese shreds

2 Scallions, thinly sliced

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Method:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly oil a 9 x 13 baking dish. Make the tofu scramble. Saute the garlic in olive oil until fragrant, but not browned. Add the crumbled tofu and sauté for about 7 minutes, stirring frequently, until lightly browned, if possible. Lower heat and combine the turmeric, cumin, thyme, salt and water in a small dish. Add to the pan and stir until well coated and water is absorbed. Off the heat, sprinkle nutritional yeast evenly over tofu and stir well, allowing to coat and be absorbed. Season with fresh ground black pepper.

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Saute mushrooms until tender and add spinach until slightly wilted.

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Meanwhile, set up the cornbread layer.

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Mix together dry ingredients in a large bowl. Incorporate softened margarine into dry ingredients until mixture is crumbly, as in making biscuits. Mix wet ingredients well in a separate bowl, then add to dry ingredients. Fold mixture together well but gently, careful not to over mix.

Spread cornbread layer evenly over bottom of prepared baking dish. Top with tofu scramble, mushrooms and spinach. Sprinkle with cheese and scallions. Bake about 25 minutes, until cornbread is puffy and lightly browned, edges pulling away slightly from dish.

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Cool in pan about 10 minutes and cut into squares.

Serves 8

Gluten-Free Carrot Cake with Vanilla Buttercream

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Yes, all you gluten-free vegans, you CAN have your cake and eat it too! They said it couldn’t be done, but here it is–a delicious, moist, sweet carrot cake, that tastes in my opinion, even better than conventional.

Here’s the secret–superfine brown rice flour. I know it’s pricey, but trust me it’s worth it. The texture is light, not the least bit grainy like regular brown rice flour. I purchased a 3 lb. bag through Amazon.com for about $15.

Gluten-Free Carrot Cake

from “Gluten-Free Vegan Cupcakes” by Audrey Snowe

1 cup plus 1 tbsp. Superfine brown rice flour

1/3 cup plus 2 tbsp. Potato starch

2 tbsp. Tapioca starch

1/2 tsp. Xanthan gum

2 tsp. Baking powder

1/4 tsp. Salt

2 tsp. Cinnamon

1/2 cup Almond milk

1 cup shredded Carrots

1/3 cup Orange juice

1/4 cup canned pureed Pumpkin

1/2 cup unsweetened shredded Coconut

1/2 cup chopped Walnuts

1/2 cup raisins (optional)

1 tbsp. Maple syrup

2 tbsp. Canola oil

1 cup sugar

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Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare 12 muffin cups. Whisk together dry ingredients except sugar and set aside. Combine all wet ingredients well then add the sugar and whisk until thoroughly combined. Gently fold the DRY into the WET ingredients careful not to over mix.

Fold in the nuts, coconut and raisins, if using.

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Scoop batter in muffin cups with an ice cream scoop. Bake in the middle oven rack for 20 minutes–using the toothpick test. It should have just a bit of crumb adhering to it. Be careful not to over bake.

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Meanwhile prepare the frosting.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

Recipe courtesy Isa Chandra Moskowitz

1/2 cup Non-dairy margarine

1/2 cup Shortening

1/2 cup Powdered sugar

1 1/2 tsp. Vanilla

1/4 cup Non-dairy milk

Pinch of salt

Method:

In a large electric mixer bowl with paddle attachment, cream the shortening and margarine together until smooth and well combined. Next, incorporate the powdered sugar about 1/2 cup at a time, until well blended. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl so there are no lumps hanging around later. Beat in the milk and vanilla with a pinch of salt until smooth and fluffy.

Makes plenty of frosting (about 4 cups) for 12 cupcakes with some leftover for next time. This frosting freezes very well in an airtight container. Just make sure it is completely thawed before using.

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Indian Potato Samosas

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I love Indian restaurant food, especially those tender, flaky pastry pockets filled with savory filling called Samosas. Most restaurants deep-fry these little treats, but I prefer them baked at home without that all that oil.

I do not enjoy fussing around with from-scratch pastry dough, so I thawed some frozen whole wheat piecrust I had hanging around from the holidays. It was easy to just cut out the circles, fill and bake.

This recipe is a tasty complement to a curry stew and the filling is delicious as a side dish on its own.

Potato Samosa Filling

Recipe courtesy The Captious Vegetarian http://www.captious.wordpress.com

4 medium-sized potatoes
2 – 4 Tbs. oil
1 medium-sized onion, peeled and minced
1 cup defrosted frozen peas
1 Tbs. peeled and grated fresh ginger
1 fresh hot green chili, minced
3 Tbs. finely minced cilantro
2 Tbs. water
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. garam masala
1 tsp. ground roasted cumin seeds
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 Tbs. lemon juice
Instructions:
Boil the potates unpeeled and whole. Meanwhile, chop and measure out all the other ingredients. When the potatoes are tender, drain and let cool.
While the potatoes cool, heat the oil in a 10- to 12-inch skillet over a medium flame. Add the onion, stirring and frying until it turns a light-brown color.
Add the ginger, green chili, cilantro, and water, and simmer gently for a few minutes, until the skillet starts to dry out.

IMG_3831Dice the cooked potatoes into roughly 1/4-inch pieces. Add them to the skillet, along with the salt, coriander, garam masala, cumin, cayenne, amchoor, and lemon juice. Keep heat on low and mix the spices with the potatoes. Continue cooking gently, stirring frequently, for 3 to 4 minutes.

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Taste before serving, and add more salt or lemon juice if needed.

IMG_3839Cut out pastry circles and drop a large teaspoon of filling in the center. Brush edges with soy milk then top with another circle and press together with a fork to seal.

Bake on lightly greased cookie sheet for 15-20 minutes until edges are golden brown.

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Pumpernickel Bread

headerBread baking can be a fun way to spend a few hours at home, especially during the winter months. It can also be a grounding, therapeutic practice–helping us slow down and become more present in our daily life.

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This recipe yields what my Nana would have referred to as a “good dark bread”. She was always delighted to find a fresh loaf at the bakery, the darker and more fragrant the better. As a child, I couldn’t appreciate the rich, full flavors of the rye flour, molasses and caraway. seeds. But over the years my palate has come to look forward to complexities of flavor like those in a dark coffee or imported chocolate.

This recipe is an old-world style with basic ingredients. The project time is long, about 3 hours—but, like I said, if you have the time and you’re feeling ambitious, you will be rewarded with a rich, tasty bread sturdy enough for your favorite sandwich or just a little spread of margarine or jam.

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Pumpernickel Bread

Recipe courtesy Elizabeth Yetter via About.com Bread Baking

1-1/2 tbsp active dry yeast
1-1/2 cups warm water
1/2 cup molasses
4 tsp salt
2 tbsp shortening
2 tbsp caraway seed
2-3/4 cups rye flour
3 cups bread flour, about
Preparation:

In large bowl, add warm water and yeast. Stir until yeast is dissolved.

Stir in the molasses, salt, shortening, caraway seed, and rye flour.

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Mix in 2 cups of bread flour. Slowly add the remaining bread flour until you have a dough that can be kneaded. You may or may not use the full amount of bread flour that is called for, depending on ingredients and weather.

Turn dough out onto floured board and knead for 5 minutes. If dough is too sticky, knead in more bread flour, a tablespoon at a time. I used a dough hook on my mixer for about 3-4 minutes.

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Place dough in greased bowl. Flip dough over so that top is lightly greased.

Cover and let dough rise in warm place for about an hour or until double in size.

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Punch down dough. Cover and let rise for another 45 minutes.

Punch down dough a second time. Turn out on lightly floured board and knead dough briefly.

Cut dough in half. Shape each half into small, round loaf.

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Grease baking sheet. Sprinkle sheet with cornmeal, optional.

Place both round loaves on baking sheet, cover, and let rise for about 45 minutes or until double in size.

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Bake at 375 degrees F for 35 minutes or until bread sounds hollow when tapped on.

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Remove from oven and let loaves cool on rack.

Loaves can be wrapped in plastic and frozen for later.

Sesame Noodles with Ginger-Soy Braised Tofu and Steamed Broccoli

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Ever Since I found out my beloved Ma Po Tofu at PF Changs contains more than a full day’s worth of  sodium (3450 mg) I’ve been getting creative coming up with quick Asian lunch ideas.

I cook an extra serving or two of spaghetti at dinner time and store it in the fridge for later. That’s the first timesaver. With a few spare minutes in the kitchen I whip up an easy sesame sauce that is delicious over noodles, or just for dipping steamed broccoli. In about 2 micro- minutes I braise up some tofu to add some protein to my lunch. Toss in some steamed veggies and I’ve got a delicious, nutritious meal for lunch or dinner.

Quick Asian Noodle Sauce

Recipe courtesy Jenna Webber (www.eatliverun.com)

     ½ cup Tahini

       ¼ cup Canola oil

       ½ cup Hot water, as needed

       ¼ cup Sugar

       ¼ cup Rice wine vinegar

       ½ cup Tamari

       ½ tsp. Red pepper flakes

       2 tsp. Ginger, fresh

       1 tsp. Minced garlic

Blend all ingredients in a food processor. Refrigerate in airtight container. 

Ginger-Soy Braised Tofu

       7 ounces firm tofu, drained and crumbled

2 tablespoons low-sodium tamari sauce

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

Splash rice vinegar

½ teaspoon chile-garlic sauce

½ teaspoon sesame oil

Combine all ingredients in a microwave-safe dish. Cover with a vented lid and microwave at 70% power for 2 minutes. Stir and taste for seasoning. Crumble over noodles and sauce with steamed vegetables as desired.

 

Brown Sugar Blondies

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These are classic–brown sugary goodness with the addition of chocolate chips, pecans and just a touch of bourbon. A delicious change of pace from traditional brownies, these are guaranteed to create a stir!

Blondies

from Chloe’s Vegan Desserts

by Chloe Coscarelli

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  • 1 cup All-purpose flour
  • ¾ tsp. Baking powder
  • ½ tsp. Cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. Salt
  • 6 tbsp. Vegan margarine
  • ¾ cup Brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. Vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp. Dark rum or bourbon
  • ⅓ cup Semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ⅓ cup Walnuts or pecans, chopped

 

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1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease an 8-inch square pan and line with parchment paper long enough to overhang the edges.:
2.In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt until combined. Set aside.:
3.Using a stand or hand mixer, beat the margarine, brown sugar, vanilla and rum or bourbon, if using, until combined. Slowly beat in the flour mixture. Once the flour mixture is incorporated, add chocolate chips and walnuts. The batter will be thick.:
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4.Evenly pat the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 25 minutes, until lightly browned around the edges. Once cooled, lift the parchment paper to release the blondies from the pan and unmold. Using a sharp knife, cut into 2-inch squares and serve.:

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Sesame Grilled Tofu with Sichuan Vegetables

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Here’s a quick and easy weeknight treat! I do not own a wok and still refuse to buy one. However, I have learned to make do–by creating my Asian-style meal as components and bringing them together in one perfectly cooked meal.

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Sesame Grilled Tofu

recipe courtesy “Isa Does It’ by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

1 14-ounce package extra-firm tofu, pressed and sliced into 8 planks

1 tbsp. toasted sesame oil

3 tbsp. low-sodium tamari or soy sauce

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Press tofu slices into marinade and flip over to cover all surface area. Marinate while grill heats.

With a tabletop grill on the SEAR setting, grill marinated tofu for about 5 minutes. Set aside.

Sichuan Vegetables

recipe adapted from Veg News magazine

2-3 cups assorted vegetables cut into bite-sized pieces or matchsticks (peppers, carrots, celery, mushrooms)

1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce or tamari

1 tbsp. dry sherry (or mirin)

1 tbsp. Chinese black vinegar (or rice wine vinegar)

1 tbsp. water

2 tsp. toasted sesame oil

1 tsp. natural sugar

1 tsp. chile-garlic sauce, to taste

1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (to taste)

1 tsp. cornstarch

*If you have a micro-wave steamer, steam vegetables about about 3 minutes, until crisp-tender and set aside. Meanwhile, combine all sauce ingredients except cornstarch in a skillet and simmer for about 5 minutes. Combine cornstarch with water to make a slurry and whisk gently into sauce until thick. Add vegetables and grilled tofu, cut into small triangles. Simmer until heated through.

*If you don’t have a micro-steamer, go ahead and stir-fry vegetables in a skillet or wok until crisp-tender then follow sauce instructions.

Mini Tofu Omelets

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Here’s a tasty, portable breakfast option from the new cookbook by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, “Isa Does It”.

These cute little mini-omelets have a great flavor and are super easy to prepare!

Mini Tofu Omelets

 

  • 2 cloves Garlic, peeled
  • 14 ounces Soft, silken tofu
  • ½ cup Water
  • 2 tbsp. Nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1 tbsp. Olive oil
  • ½ tsp. Turmeric, ground
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • ½ cup Chickpea flour
  • 1 tbsp. Arrowroot powder

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1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Chop the garlic in a food processor.: Add the tofu, water, nutritional yeast, olive oil, turmeric and salt. Puree until smooth.
 
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2. Add the chickpea flour and arrowroot and puree again for about 10 seconds, until combined.:
3. Make sure to scrape down the sides so that everything is well incorporated.:
4. Brush a 12-cup muffin pan lightly with oil. Pour the batter into each well until a little over halfway full.:
 
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5. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the edges have pulled away from the sides a bit and the top is firm to the touch.:
 
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6. For the best results, let cool for at least 10 minutes. :
Servings/Yield: Yield: 12
Source:  “Isa Does It” by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

Tempeh-Walnut Meatballs

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I have tried various combinations of grains, beans and nuts that call themselves meatballs, but these actually taste like the real deal.

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Sure, you can go to your local Whole Foods and pick up frozen Gardein meatballs which are pretty tasty, but they are highly processed. When you have a little extra time, this recipe is worth the bit of effort it takes to create a tasty whole food, plant-based meatball that pairs perfectly with your favorite marinara sauce.

Tempeh-Walnut Meatballs

  • 8 ounces Tempeh
  • 1 cup Walnuts
  • 2 tbsp. Nutritional yeast
  • 2 tsp. Parsley, fresh
  • ½ tsp. Oregano, dried
  • ½ tsp. Basil, dried
  • ½ tsp. Thyme, dried
  • 4 cloves Garlic , rough chopped
  • ½ cup Onion, diced
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp. Tomato paste
  • 2 tsp. Tamari
  • 2 tbsp. Water
  • 2 tbsp. Olive oil
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees:
2. Steam tempeh: Using a steamer basket, steam tempeh for 25 minutes to soften. Let it cool.
3. Process ingredients: In food processor, combine walnuts and remaining ingredients until you have a semi-moist meal.
4. In a bowl, crumble the steamed tempeh with your hands until there are no big chunks left.
5. Add the mixture from the food processor into the bowl with the tempeh and mash together with your hands.
6. Form into balls about 1 1/2 inch in diameter. : Oil a baking sheet. Place balls and coat with a bit more oil and bake for 30 minutes.
Servings/Yield: 5 servings | 20 balls
Source: Sexy Vegan
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Spicy Red Bean and Tofu Jambalaya

IMG_3393Here’s a quick and easy vegan meal to shake up the post-Thanksgiving doldrums. This dish can be put together in 30 minutes or less but tastes like it’s been simmering for hours. My secret is a homemade cajun spice mix I always keep on hand for a quick kick of flavor!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups pre-cooked brown rice
  • 14 oz. package extra-firm tofu, drained and pressed
  • 2 tbsp. Cajun spice mix, homemade or store-bought (recipe follows)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 bunch scallions, sliced (reserve 1/4 cup)
  • 2 stalks celery, minced
  • 1 large green bell pepper, diced medium
  • 1 medium tomato, diced (or 3/4 cup canned, undrained)
  • 1 14-oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tbsp. Earth Balance non-dairy margarine
  • 2 tbsp. canola oil
  • Hot cayenne pepper sauce (optional)

Prepare the tofu. Cut block horizontally across to make two slabs. Sprinkle both sides liberally with 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning. Sear in a hot pan coated lightly with a bit of canola oil, about 5 minutes on each side (cast iron is ideal). Remove from pan and set aside. Cut into bite-sized cubes or strips.

Add canola oil to the pan and sauté scallions, celery and bell pepper until translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute more. Add tomato, 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning and margarine, stirring until melted. Reduce heat to medium low. Toss in the rice and beans and heat through. Lastly, add the tofu back into the pan and stir occasionally until heated through. Adjust seasoning, adding more Cajun spice as desired. Garnish with reserved scallions. Serve hot sauce on the side.

Cajun Spice Mix

2 1/2 tablespoons paprika

2 tablespoons salt

2 tablespoons garlic powder

1 tablespoon black pepper

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 tablespoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon oregano

1 tablespoon dried thyme

Mix all ingredients and store in airtight container.

Double Chocolate Brownies

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My very favorite dessert is and has always been chocolate brownies. This recipe takes the cake! I finally found a rich, fudgy, dark chocolate brownie experience spiked with a bit of coffee, that rivals conventional recipes. I am serious. Try this recipe for yourself.

Dark Chocolate Brownies

Recipe courtesy The Sticky Fingers Bakery Cookbook by Doran Petersan 

Ingredients:

  • ⅔ cup Coffee, brewed
  • 1 tbsp. Earth Balance non-dairy margarine for baking
  • 2 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
  • 19.6 ounces sugar, weighed
  • 4 ounces Cocoa, weighed
  • 1 ½ teaspoons Sea salt
  • ⅔ cup Canola oil
  • ⅔ cup Water
  • 1 tbsp. Vanilla
  • 11 ounces All-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ cup chocolate chips

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1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan.:
2. Using a double boiler, heat coffee, margarine and dark chocolate, stirring until chocolate is melted and ingredients are thoroughly combined.:
3. In bowl of a stand mixer, combine sugar, cocoa powder and salt and mix together with paddle attachment.:
4. Add oil, water and vanilla and mix to combine.:
5. Add coffee mixture and mix to combine.:
6. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour and baking powder. Stir in the chocolate chips. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until ingredients are incorporated.:
7. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and bake for 45-55 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely before cutting.:
Yield:  12 really big brownies or 24 small

 

Pumpkin Spice Muffins

muffinsThese tasty muffins are a big seller at my greenmarket booth. They are moist and richly flavored with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and ginger.

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This is a quick and easy recipe, too, from my favorite vegan chef, Isa Chandra Moskowitz of The Post Punk Kitchen. Here is a link to the recipe, Best Pumpkin Muffins.

I like to bake the muffins and let them rest for a few hours. It actually seems to more fully develop the flavor of the spices. These also freeze very well. Enjoy!

Soup Magic: Hearty Lentil

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This is another one of my favorite high-protein meal soups. It’s simple and low maintenance, and comes together in just a few minutes. Let me start by saying, I enjoy cooking soup on the stove—that aromatic slow-simmering, stirring, tending, nurturing activity.

But, during the work week I usually don’t have that kind of time. The last thing I want to read in a crockpot recipe is the direction to sauté vegetables before adding them to the crockpot. If I had time to do that, well I would probably take it all the way on the stove!

Instead, I left my crock pot in charge this morning, and brisked out the door for work. By lunch time I had a rich, satisfying stew, and lots of it. I think about what a prepared cup of soup costs, about $3. For less than that, I could feed a family of four, dinner sized portions of this hearty, healthful, tasty meal. I’m just saying…

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Hearty Lentil Soup

1 ½ cups raw brown lentils, rinsed

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium onion, diced

2 or 3 carrots, peeled and diced

2 or 3 stalks celery, diced

Handful of celery tops (optional)

2 bay leaves

1 tsp. ground cumin

1/2 tsp. ground coriander

Big sprig of fresh thyme (or 2 tsp. ground)

5-6 cups vegetable broth (or water)

Fresh ground black pepper to taste

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Prepare all ingredients and add to crockpot. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours. Stir and check for seasonings. Depending on your broth, you may wish to add salt. With a pair of tongs or a fork, fish out and discard the bay leaves, thyme stems and celery tops, if used. Add a generous grind of pepper and add broth if needed, depending on how “soupy” you like it.

Yield:  4-6 big servings

Tofu Black Bean Quesadillas

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I’ve been working pretty hard the past couple of weeks, planning for a big upcoming event. This is where my diet tends to break down and food choices get kind of lax. Too tired to even think about dinner by the time I get to Sunday evening.

Sometimes, however, while rummaging around in the fridge I am hit with that second wind of inspiration. I thought about how I really enjoy scrambled tofu and how easy it is to flavor up with Indian spices and garlic. Tofu absorbs whatever you add to it. So I decided to flavor it with Mexican spices and see if I could make it like taco filling. It worked really well!

 I put it together with whole grain tortillas, leftover black beans, faux cheese, cilantro and green onions. This will make a great filling for tacos, casseroles, nachos or salads too. Dinner crisis averted!

Tofu Taco Filling

1 12-ounce package extra-firm tofu, pressed or squeezed well and crumbled

2 tsp. olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 cup diced onion

1/2 tsp. cumin

2 tbsp. chili powder

1 tsp. salt ( or less depending on your taste)

1/2 cup water

Saute the onion in olive oil until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute about 30 seconds. Add tofu and sauté for about 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Add spices, salt and water to combine well. Cook and stir over low heat until moisture is absorbed. Check for seasoning and serve hot.

Soup Magic: Spicy Black Bean

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Another weeknight meal I pulled off with minimal work! This soup didn’t even require any vegetable chopping! Can it get any easier?

I fired up the crockpot and added a few ingredients and let it cook on low for four hours. Dinner. Done.

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Spicy Black Bean Soup

Ingredients:

4 cups cooked black beans

3 cups vegetable broth

16 ounces of your favorite tomato salsa

2 teaspoons ground cumin

Method:

Place all ingredients in crockpot and cook, covered, on low for 4 hours. Feel free to add a cup or so of frozen corn or other vegetables near the end of the cook time. Make it your own!

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Yield: 4 – 6 servings

Soup Magic: Homestyle Split Pea

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When I think of split pea soup I think simple. A warm, savory stew of peas, tender chunks of carrots and celery with just a hint of onion and garlic.

This recipe is simple as simple can be. I load the ingredients in the crockpot on my way out the door in the morning, and by lunchtime I have a thick, hearty soup. That’s magic.

Magic Split Pea Soup

1 pound green split peas, rinsed

2 large carrots, peeled and diced

2 stalks celery, diced

1 small onion, diced

1 large garlic clove, finely minced

6 cups vegetable broth

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 Method:

Just pour everything into the crockpot, cover and cook on low for 3 ½ – 4 hours. Check for salt and add seasonings to taste. Yield: 6 – 8 servings.

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Buffalo Tempeh Caesar Wrap

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Way back when before I went vegan (BV) my favorite lunchtime meal was a big Caesar salad with grilled or blackened chicken or fish. Later on, it was the Buffalo Chicken Caesar Wrap, sometimes found as a lunch special on menus. I love the contrast of the creamy tangy dressing and crunchy Romaine lettuce against the spicy cayenne pepper sauce.

Now I have finally found an excellent vegan Caesar salad dressing, courtesy of Roberto Martin, Ellen DeGeneres’ personal chef,  and an excellent vegan Buffalo sauce recipe from The Post Punk Kitchen that tastes EXACTLY like restaurant-style, the two worlds have come together in my NEW favorite lunch!

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Tempeh is one of the very best plant-based sources of protein. I find WestSoy brand very mild, without the bitterness sometimes associated with tempeh. It also helps to steam tempeh before combining with sauces and marinades to improve texture and flavor.

Caesar Dressing

From Vegan Cooking for Carnivores

Note: This recipe makes alot of dressing (2 1/2 cups). A tablespoon of this intensely flavorful dressing goes a long way, so I cut the recipe in half when I make it.

Ingredients:

Juice of 2 lemons

3 garlic cloves, crushed

4 tablespoons capers, packed in brine

Dash of caper brine from the jar

4 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons vegan Worcestershire sauce (preferably Annie’s)

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 to 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional)

1 1/2 cups vegan mayonnaise

1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

3 ounces good-quality extra-virgin olive oil.

Method:

Place all the ingredients in the jar of a blender and puree until smooth. Use immediately, or store the dressing in a squeeze bottle or glass container with an airtight lid and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

Here’s a link to the Post Punk Kitchen’s Buffalo Tempeh recipe http://www.theppk.com/2013/07/ranch-salad-with-buffalo-tempeh/

Tempeh Meatloaf

title

One of my very favorite comfort foods is meatloaf. It is not easy to duplicate in vegan cookery, although recipes abound for variations of this classic main dish.  I have been on a quest for four years to find the texture and flavor I am looking for. I think I have found the one with this hearty loaf from Anne Gentry, owner of Real Food Daily restaurant.

The most important technical factor in a loaf, for me, is that is MUST hold together tightly and slice well. Loaf recipes can be tricky l and I will admit, I messed up on my first try.

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Not a problem, though, because I just crumbled the whole loaf and froze it to use later in a Shepherd’s Pie! Never waste good tasting food!

crumbles

I tried again and followed the directions explicitly and the second loaf turned out perfectly. I think I overcooked the tempeh the first time around. Yes, the recipe is a bit fussy, but the results are worth it– a substantial, tasty tempeh loaf, great paired with your favorite gravy or cold the next day on a sandwich, just like Mom used to make–well, sorta.

Tempeh Meatloaf

from The Real Food Daily Cookbook

1 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. canola oil

1 ½ pounds tempeh

1/3 cup organic ketchup

1/3 cup yellow miso

¼ cup nutritional yeast

2 tbsp. unsweetened soy milk

¾ cup gluten flour

1 cup finely chopped onion

½ cup finely chopped celery

½ cup finely chopped peeled carrot

1 tomato, finely chopped

2 tsp. minced garlic

1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh oregano or 1 ½ tsp. dried

1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary or 1 ½ tsp. dried

2 tsp. finely chopped fresh thyme or 1 tsp. dried

1 tsp. sea salt

1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp. sesame oil

shred

Preheat oven to 375. Coat the inside of a 9 inch loaf pan with 1 tsp. sesame oil and set aside. Shred tempeh with the shredder blade of a food processor or a hand grater.  In a large bowl, combine the ketchup, miso, nutritional yeast and soy milk. Add the tempeh and stir just to coat. Sprinkle gluten flour over mixture and combine. Mixture will be moist.

mix

Transfer to sheet pan oiled with 1 tsp. canola oil. Cover with foil and bake 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until heated through. Meanwhile, sauté the onion, celery, carrot and garlic in 1 tbsp. canola oil until soft (about 8 minutes). Add tomato, spices, salt and pepper and continue to cook another 5 minutes. Add tempeh mixture to hot vegetable mixture and mix well. Note: vegetable mixture must be hot when adding together. Transfer to loaf pan and pack tightly. Cover with foil and bake 25 minutes. Uncover and bake 20 more minutes or until brown. Allow to cool in pan for at least 5 minutes before removing. Slice and serve hot with your favorite gravy.

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Indian Lentil Salad with Curry Vinaigrette

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Where I am getting my lean, mean protein lately? Why lentils, of course! These friendly little legumes pack 18 grams of protein per cup. Here is a delicious way to prepare them!
Indian Lentil Salad with Curry Vinaigrette
from The Curry Book by Nancie McDermott
Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil (or water)
  • ½ cup celery, finely chopped
  • ½ cup carrot, finely chopped
  • ½ cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp. finely minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp. finely minced ginger
  • 1 cup brown lentils
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 2 scallions
  • 2 tbsp. cilantro, chopped
  • ¼ cup curry vinaigrette (recipe follows)
Method:
Saute celery, onion, carrot, garlic, and ginger in oil (or water) until soft (about 10 minutes). Stir in lentils, water, bay leaf and salt. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer over low heat until lentils are tender, but still whole.
cook
cooked
Remove the lentils from the heat, draining any excess water if necessary. Set aside and allow to cool slightly, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, make the dressing.
chopped
Curry Vinaigrette
  • ½ cup olive oil (see note below)
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. shallots
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp. curry powder
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
Method: Whisk together the vinegar, spices and sugar. Slowly stream in the olive oil while whisking constantly. When oil and vinegar are well incorporated, whisk in the shallots, jalapeño and garlic.
mis
While still warm, toss the lentils with 1/4 cup dressing and garnish with cilantro and scallions. Can be served warm or cold. Yield: about 4 servings.
Note:  If you are cutting back on oil, feel free to substitute water for some of the oil. The dressing will still taste great.