Archive for October, 2010
Greek-Style Veggie Kebabs

Since adding a grill to our backyard this summer, my world-view has been blown wide open. I’ve realized that veggie burgers are never as good as they are when grilled over an open flame. I’ve gotten to enjoy roasted corn on the cob. My pizzas have never been as crunchy and delicious, and there is even talk of a grilled french toast (fat-free!). Something that I should have gotten around to earlier was perfecting the art of the kebab.

These kebabs consisted of zucchini, red onion, green peppers, and eggplant. I prepared the eggplant by washing it and then letting it sit in salt, allowing the bitterness to leach out. I had read about it online and figured that it would make for a delicious eggplant. Instead, it was kind of a waste of time, as I noticed no difference. Anyway, I marinated these in a soy-yogurt concoction that you can find after the jump.

The Spanish Conquistador

When I worked at a coffee shop in college, we used to have this pain-in-the-ass drinking chocolate from a company called Shokinag. This is why it was so bad. Reason #1: it tasted awful. Reason #2: you had to take these chocolate flakes and melt them in hot water, stir them at 100 mph, and then add steamed milk. However, I was bored one day and started reading the back of the Shokinag’s can, which was full of interesting hot chocolate lore. Thanks to my superior memory, I will always know the following.

1: Hot chocolate was brought back to Spain by the conquistadores.

2: It was a drink enjoyed by royalty.

3: It is traditionally served with cinnamon and honey.

As the sun starts to set earlier and earlier, I find myself getting home from the gym and wanting something hot to drink. So last week I plopped on my Halloween-themed slipper socks (so comfortable, go get yourself a pair), and came up with this recipe.

No-Hurry Veggie Curry

One of my biggest food weaknesses is yellow curry. I love the combination of spices and sweet coconut milk, and always rationalize my consumption of it by thinking about all the nutritious vegetables that are floating around inside my bowl. However, I know that restaurant curries can be full of fat and unnecessary calories. I’ve been hitting barre fitness class four times a week lately, and I am not going to waste my time there by coming home and essentially chewing on a big piece of coconut fat. So, I set out to create a curry recipe with no added fat or oils, and I think I did a pretty good job. The coconut milk makes this dish rich enough, and I reason that the added oil is just a result of having to use a pan over high heat. I eliminated the need for any stir frying by converting this over to a crockpot recipe.

Sure, it takes a couple of hours to make, but I discovered that there is nothing more satisfying on a fall morning than waking up to the smell of this delicious curry. I took it to work with some steamed rice, and it was amazing.


I know that I have written about it before, but let me just re-iterate that tempeh is one of the most amazing vegan foods out there. Not only is it less processed than tofu, but it’s also nutty and satisfying in a way that few health foods are. I prepared mine by coating it with some soy-ginger sauce in the morning and leaving it covered in the fridge while I went to work. I popped it on the grill for about 4 minutes a side, and it was amazing.I took a picture of all the tempeh, just so that everyone is clear on portion sizes, that lasted me for 2 meals.

To make the accompanying green beans, rinse and trim green beans and then wrap them in alumninum foil with a spritz of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon. You can season them with a tiny bit of sea salt before serving.

Mezze, Mezze, Mezze

Unfortunately, I don’t have any great recipes to post from our Greek-themed dinner party. I served my now-famous vegan baklava, which I have already posted about. I also made Spanikopita from Vegan with a Vengance and some stuffed grape leaves, but the remainder of our dinner party spread was all purchased. I served an assortment of flatbreads with different hummus, dips, and tapenades. It was the perfect example of how entertaining can be effortless, well except for the time that my boyfriend and I spent on the lovely tablescape, which I am pleased to share with all of you.

Oh No She Didn’t

Oh yes, yes I did. I know that I should be at least a little embarrassed about whipping up a tater tot casserole, but I have decided that trailer park chic is back in vogue in the family kitchen. Sometimes, when I’m doing my grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s, I like to peruse their frozen section to see if I’m missing out on any vegan goodness. The other day I discovered that their frozen tater tots are completely vegan friendly, and I decided to get some for breakfast. Then, a brilliant idea dawned on me, the idea of tater tot casserole.

I cannot say for sure when I was exposed to the idea of tater tot casserole. It’s certainly not something that we ever had growing up, so I must have seen it on an episode of Roseanne or something. Anyway, I was so unfamiliar with the concept that I had to do a bit of internet research on this one. A classic tater tot casserole consists of cream of mushroom soup, ground beef, tater tots, and sometimes cheese. What’s so weird is that I didn’t have ANY of those things on hand (except the tater tots). I did a LOT of improvising, but the end result was absolutely delicious, and very low in fat when compared to the traditional preparation.

How Sweet It Is

One of my favorite fall dishes is sweet potato casserole. I know, Lex is out there thinking how gross sweet potato casserole is and how it’s full of oil and death. Wrong! So, my recipe is not 100% oil free, but it drastically reduces the fat and sugar found in most sweet potato dishes, while still coming out delicious. Needless to say, there are no gross gelatin-containing marshmallows on top of my casserole, but you can buy vegan marshmallows if it wouldn’t be the same for you without them.

Even though my sweet potato/pumpkin kick was mostly driven by my wisdom tooth surgery, I am glad that I’ve started delving into the fall dishes. I’m pretty sure that I’ll be staying in Los Angeles this year and cooking thanksgiving dinner for the first time in years. It also marks the first time I will be cooking as a vegan, although I did once put together an amazing all-sides vegetarian thanksgiving in college, and it was to die for. I don’t want such a high-stakes meal to be the first time I try any dishes, so I’m glad that I’m getting a chance to test drive some things now.

Hot n’ Sour Soup

Last weekend I picked up a whole bunch of fresh baby bok choy. I wanted a little bit for a stir fry I was planning on making, but the vendor at the Farmer’s Market was only selling them by the bundle. Since a bundle was only $2, I went with the bok choy and decided that I would have to identify a second use for it.

More and more I am becoming a fan of spicy foods. Don’t get me wrong, I still sweat at the sight of a jalapeno and a spicy curry dish will send me reaching for the water pitcher. But I am slowly coming to embrace a little kick in my meal. Lately I’ve been putting crushed red pepper flakes on all of my pizza, and it is delicious. Given my spicy food kick and all the bok choy burning a hole in my fridge: it really only made sense to put together hot n’ sour soup. I found a couple of recipes for hot n sour soup, and all of the vegan versions just ignored the egg that is whisked in to the omnivorous versions, so I took that route as well. Recipe is after the jump.

Wisdom Teeth :(

One morning in July, I awoke with a familiar pain. My jaw was throbbing and I had the distinct feeling of pressure on my gums. Uh oh. Wisdom teeth. I had my top two wisdom teeth out a year ago, and at the time decided to wait until the bottom two started to bother me. I waited and waited for the pain to go away on its own. It wasn’t constant, just an off and on pain that had a funny little way of resurfacing just when I thought it was gone for good.

Eventually I had to give in, so I scheduled an appointment. Big mistake, because this was the worst possible time in my life for me to have my wisdom teeth out. Not only did I have to navigate a COBRA nightmare to get coverage set up in time, but I also had to take off from a new job (which I do not like doing). I also just started this great fitness class at Pop Physique, and I hated to interrupt it.

In addition to being a bad time for me, I learned after the surgery that these teeth were severely impacted and that my healing experience would be far worse than last year. I’ll admit I kind of enjoyed having my teeth out last summer, since it meant tv and ice cream for a couple of days. I did NOT enjoy this.

The surgery was fine, but it’s a week and a half later and I still have trouble opening my mouth all the way. I saw the doctor for a follow up on Friday, and he said everything looks good, and just to wait it out. In the meantime, I have come to really appreciate the simple deliciousness of soft foods.  Since it was a little cold last week, I really threw myself into the fall with tofu pumpkin pie and sweet potato casserole.  I’ll post the pumpkin recipe (which my boyfriend loved) below and save sweet potato for another day.

My Magnum Opus

It’s been a little hard to keep up on the blog posts lately. For the record, most days I eat a lot of whole grains and vegetables. My favorite meal lately consists of steaming some rice and then when it’s almost done, adding vegetable potstickers and vegetables to the steaming rack of the rice cooker. It makes a delicious little bowl. Why do I feel the need to mention this? Well, it’s about to get very ugly around here, and I don’t want everyone to think that I eat this way all the time. I’m talking about my recipe for grilled “cheese”.  I ALMOST entered the grilled cheese invitational this year, and rather liked the idea of showing up with daiya at a grilled cheese competition. It was audacious and irreverent, and I like that. My grilled cheese recipe got me through a lot of rough nights in college, when you just needed something greasy and delicious so you could go back to studying. This sandwich is only possible because daiya is so amazing. I don’t think it would work with any of the lesser vegan cheeses (sorry Follow Your Heart, but you just don’t melt and pull in the same way).

Step 1: Ingredients

Obviously, you want to use Earth Balance instead of butter and daiya instead of dairy cheese. I went with the cheddar daiya, mostly because we ended up with a ton of it in our freezer, and I don’t use the cheddar that much. For my bread, I thought long and hard about what I wanted to use. I decided that I would go with white bread, because at this point why even pretend to be healthy about it? After perusing the bread selection at the co-op, I decided on this savory rosemary and olive oil bread by la brea bakery. If you cant get pre-siced bread, then you need to be really careful about slicing it to no more than 1/2″ an inch. Any more than that and the bread will overcook on the outside before the cheese can melt.

Step 2: The Spread

Pre-heat a pan or griddle to medium-low heat while you spread a generous layer of earth balance on each slice of bread. I let the earth balance reach room temperature first, because the last thing you want is to tear your bread. Make sure that you get spread all the way to the crust, because otherwise you’re just coming off as stingy.

Step 3: The Grill

Lay your bread, earth balance side down, on the griddle. Sprinkle a layer of daiya over the bread. I was intentionally a little stingy with the daiya, just because I didn’t want it to overpower the sandwich. Also, I’ve found that daiya is so rich that I need far less daiya than I would regular cheese. Cover the sandwich with a lid to trap the heat in. Now, you settle in to the long haul. The key is to cook your sandwich low and slow, and it’s not unusual for me to spend at least 5 minutes on a site. When the cheese starts to melt, you can check the bottom of the bread. When it is really golden brown, place the second piece of bread on top and flip. Cook for another 4-5 minutes or until both sides look like this: