Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Houseboat and Viva Vegan/Peruvian Seitan and Potato Skewers

Hi everyone!  I was trying to post the other day but something was going on with my blog and it just didn't work out.  I'm here now!  I hope you are all off to a great summer.  4th of July is coming up, do you all have plans?  My in-laws are coming up again this year to watch the fireworks with us.  Our town has a parade and then some good bands that play before the fireworks.

We have been back from the family reunion housboat trip about a week now.  We had a nice time.  It was only like 104-107 degrees out. lol!   Acually that isn't bad because we have been houseboating in the middle of July and that's when it doesn't even cool off very much at night. My father-in-law made some awesome margarita's that I will post soon.   Here are a few pic's, I'm waiting on everyone else's pic's because we couldn't stay the whole week. 
Looking out from the front of our boat to the back of the "old people's boat" as we called it! lol!  Those "older ones" can put down some drink I tell you! 

Cleo hanging out!  First day we found a place to anchor she was non-stop in the water.  She was pooped out the next day.
I couldn't wait to make another recipe from Viva Vegan and the Peruvian Seitan and Potato Skewers were calling to me.  These are so good!!!  I made the Red Seitan recipe from the book and used up 3 out of 4 loaves from it for the skewers.  The seitan recipe is really easy to make and it made 12 skewers.  For the skewers I found these small cherry size potato's at Trader Joe's that worked perfectly.  The marinade for these skewers is delicious!  Next time I will kick up the heat more, I toned it down for my son.

This is one skewer(kabob) served with the So Good, So Green Dipping Sauce that is also in the book.  Again I will add more heat next go around but we really liked this sauce.  We made some artichokes as well and used the green sauce for dipping the leaves in them.

This sauce makes alot!!!

I had plenty of left over skewers from the night before so for dinner the next night I sauteed up some zucchini slices,a couple of tomatoes, then added the veggies and seitan from the skewers and heated through.  Warmed up some corn tortillas, filled them with the seitan mixture, topped off with avocado, lettuce, green onion and green sauce!  Served with a side of pinto beans. The seitan was really good the next night with all of those wonderful flavors from the marinade. Yum!  Dave commented on how good this was and topped off with the green sauce that he really likes!
My next venture...tamales? 

 I have a couple of girlfriends coming up to visit today.  I better go get ready. 
Until next post..have a wonderful summer day!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Flan, White Bean Chili, apricot/coconut logs

We are so close to officially being in summer.  Everywhere there is fruit galore!  All kinds of berries, peaches, apricots, cherries, etc.  Yum! This year the berry vines in our yard are producing so many berries.  Every couple of days I'm picking more ripe ones. The only problem is I pick a big bowl full
wash them and set them on the counter and next thing you know, the bowl will be empty.  Hey I know what you are thinking....but it's Keaton eating them all, I just eat them off the vine as I pick!  hee hee. 
When I lived in Colorado the grocery store we shopped at had these yummy apricot coconut logs that I used to enhale!  I love apricots so I've tried to replicate over the years and recently I've just made some more. 
Apricot/coconut logs.  These are so easy to make.  In a food processor add in some unsulphered apricots and add about half the amount of shredded coconut.  Process until blended.  Next roll into logs and then roll in coconut.  I keep these in the refridgerator just because it's been warm here. 

  I've recently received a copy of Viva Vegan and flipping through it the first thing I saw that I could make rather quickly and easily was the Vanilla Coconut Flan.  Everything is going to have to wait until I have more time and there are many recipes, tamales, samosas, erapas, the list goes on.  Anyhoo, Keaton loves flan and Dave likes it as well so I couldn't wait to try this recipe out.   I've never been a big fan, but I tell you...this stuff absolutely, amazingly, rocks!!!  I can't wait to make this for company.  No one would know this doesn't have dairy in it. 
White bean chili is the perfect meal for a cool spring/summer evening  topped off with chunks of buttery avocados.  This is one of my favorites chilli's.  This is one of those meals that I do use Yves Meatless Turkey.  I don't like to use those types of products very often.  You could use extra beans or another product in here if you choose to.  I usually cook up my own beans but if you want you can use canned beans instead.  The Chili's I used were a mixture of anaheim and poblano, Keaton can't take alot of heat or I would've kicked up the heat more.  You can control your heat with the amount of Jalepeno's you use as well.  Also, jalepeno's are not created equal so you will find some that are really hot and others real mild. You can also use canned chili's as well.

White Bean Chili

1 1/2 C. yellow onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 C. cooked cannelini or other white bean
5 C. No-chicken broth(Imagine Foods) or veggie broth
1 1/2 C. anaheim chillies, poblano mixture, diced
1 jalepeno or less, pick your heat, finely diced (optional)
1 pkg. Yves Meatless Turkey
1 T. dried Oregano
2 Tsp. ground Cumin
1 tsp. ground black pepper
salt to taste
1/2 C. cilantro(optional)

In a large stockpot heat 2 T. of oil and add onion, garlic and chilies. Saute until onions and chilli's are soft.  Next add in the Yves Meatless Turkey, oregano and cumin.  Stir for a couple of minutes until the mixture is warmed through.  Next add the broth and pepper.  Bring to a boil, cover partly with lid, lower heat to a simmer for 1-1/2 hrs.  Stir every once in a while.  Once this is done you can stir in cilantro and add salt to taste.  Top of with avocado or non-dairy sour cream.
If you are making this for company have some hot sauce out and people can add some to their bowls if they like it hot!  You can also have a side of extra jalepeno's as well. 

Now I'm off to get the last bit of errand's and packing done for our houseboat family reunion trip.  If you have never been on a houseboat before, you should at least try it once.  It's the most relaxing vacations you'll ever take.  Just make sure you pick the right famly, friends to join you because you'll be together for a whole week with them! 
Have a great weekend and I'll be back next week!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Raspberry Poppy Seed Dressing, Grilled Artichokes and stuff!

Another sunny and cool morning which will lead to a nice warm afternoon.  Summer is sure on it's way.
Yesterday the 3 of us went on a nice hike and we noticed how the spring flowers are fading and the hills are turning brown.  Here are some of my flowers in my backyard.  My sweetpeas have gone crazy and are everywhere. I love sweetpeas and the smell is absolutely wonderful!

In early spring wild poppies start popping up every where as well.  You can see them on the hillsides and in everyones yards.
 If you aren't using your own bags for groceries well you should be.  The stores out here are actually going to start charging people if they don't have there own bags.  It's about time, San Francisco has been doing this for years! Going along with using our own eco-friendly bags that we use for groceries I thought I would share with you some great produce bags I bought about a month ago.  Made in the U.S.A.

It took me quite a while to find a company that makes their bags here in the U.S.A. and it's called Beneterre.  I've found another type of produce bag but it was made of cotton, but I wanted something that would clean more easily and these are it! These are their Farm Fresh Sacs and they hold a head of lettuce, fruit, potatoes and much more.  They are sold in sets of  3 and are 11 by 12inches. I love, love, love these!  I've actually had people come up to me in the store and ask me about them.
Some companies say made in the U.S.A. but when you read the fine print or the complete description they aren't. 
I've spoken with one of the owners, Louise, she is very nice and responds very quickly.  I recently asked about them carrying bags for seeds and grains.   It seems they used to make a bag like that but ran out of the material.  Once they get their hands on more of the proper material they will offer them up again. 

This is a Raspberry Poppy Seed Dressing that I found at Gliving quite a while ago that is fabulous!  It contains agave, stone ground mustard, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, salt, poppy seeds and raspberries.  You can find the recipe by clicking here.  I blended the raspberries in the dressing but you don't have to, it just makes it more fruity.  If you love poppy seed dressing you'll love this, just don't add the rasberries.

The dressing on our first grilled salad of the season a couple of weeks ago. Bring on the salads!!!!
If you think you don't like artichokes well you have never tried having a grilled artichoke.  You have to try these, we are so hooked on them.  When you make these you won't want to eat an artichoke any other way!  They have a wonderful smoky flavor and you don't need any of that mayo dip or whatever you use with your artichoke leaves.

Grilled Artichokes (our way)

In a large stock pot with a steamer basket add in your artichokes, ours will hold 3 good size artichokes at a time.  Steam with lid on for about 40-45 minutes or so.  It depends on the size of artichokes. You want them to be pretty much cooked all the way through, grilling them is just to bring out the flavor.  Our second go around we cut off the tops, drizzled lemon on them and then steamed them.  This seems to cook them quicker.

While these are steaming, in a small sauce pan I heated some olive oil, earth balance, 1 garlic clove, minced, and a bit of lemon juice(optional). Set aside.

 Once they are steamed take them out and cut in half.  Be careful they will be hot!  (Once cut in half if they don't seem to be cooked enough you can always put them back on and steam them longer.)  Scoop out the chokes and throw in trash.   Towards the end of steaming you will want to heat up your outside grill.

Next take each half and drizzle the olive oil mixture on them.  Lay them on the bbq grill and grill them for about 10 minutes, tops!  Take them to your table and enjoy!  If you have any olive mixture left you can use this for dipping if you'd like, but you really don't need anything.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Helen's Kitchen, Tofurky and Quinoa Salad

Hey I just found out I was the lucky winner of the cookbook giveaway of Viva Vegan at Chow Vegan! I can't wait to start cooking recipes from it because I'm reading awesome reviews on it. 
As you can see I'm still here, my mind just hasn't been into blogging for the past week for some reason.  School has been out for almost a week now for Keaton and we are on summer mode.  Yesterday we did a nice family bike ride yesterday, 22 miles or so.  It felt great!   I feel pretty lucky to be able to bike ride in such pretty scenery, although the hills are turning brown, the trees and vineyards are all green.  We get to see cows, horses and other animals all along the way.  One thing I wish for is to be able to save all of those cute cows!  Maybe one day!

I was recently contacted by a company, Helen's Kitchen, a family owned brand, to try some of their products.  I had never heard of them before so I was delighted!  The products are all GMO, MSG free.  They are  frozen and offer vegetarian and vegan items which are all very clearly labeled on the packaging.  The items they offer are tofu steaks, veggie ground, burrito's and frozen entees.They are also lower in sodium than most frozen foods. Our local healthfood store only had 2 vegan options to try so I tried the vegetarian steaks, which are sliced tofu steaks infused with herbs and the Indian Curry entree, which I still have yet to try. The tofu steaks are very flavorful and you just throw them on the skillet to reheat. I actually used these tofu steaks to make a recipe that I used to make for Dave before I was vegan.  Since this tofu is firm and already flavored it was a good choice to use.  The recipe is below and the leftovers I used to make a sandwich the next day which tasted excellent! 
 Yummy sandwich!  The tofu steaks alone would be great by themselves on a sandwich, wrap or salad.
The products work well together with Turtle Island Foods or better known to many as Tofurky.  I'm really excited to tell you that Tofurky now makes 3 different  pizza's using  Daiya non-dairy cheese!  You can now purchase a cheese pizza, sausage/veggie, pepperoni/cheese or heck try all three why not!  Unfortunately, my local health food store doesn't carry this pizza yet so I'll have to wait until they do or make a trip to another store.  When I do try I will be sure to post and if you all happen to get your hands on this new product let me know how you like it.  

Cornflake Crusted Tofu Steaks
serves 4

2 C. organic cornflakes, crushed
1/4 C. Veganaise or other non dairy mayo.
1 Package of Helen's Kitchen Tofu Steaks (or other extra-firm tofu)
3T. whole grain mustard or dijon
1 garlic clove
herbs of your choice are optional as well as salt.
3Tbsp. Melted Earth Balance or(olive oil or spray oil)

Preheat oven to 350.
In a plastic bag crush cornflakes then poor in a bowl.  In a smaller bowl stir together the veganaise, mustard and garlic. 
Grab a tofu steak and coat with the mayo mixture then coat with the cornflakes and put on to a baking pan.
Once all of the tofu steaks are on the baking pan, drizzle on the Earth Balance.
Cook for about 30-35 minutes until brown and crunchy on both sides.

Okay, this is my new favorite salad.  I use quinoa for alot of things but cold quinoa salad is my favorite!  This one above is a yellow quinoa using this recipe here from HLife.  I took this to a track meet at Keaton's school for my lunch, so I added some garbanzo beans to be more filling.  It definitely did the trick and was so refreshing!

Here are some interesting facts about  Quinoa to those who may not be to familiar with it.
1.  It is actually not a grain but a seed from a leafy green related to a spinach or swiss chard. 
2.  It was called "the gold of the Incas".  They found it helped out with the Stamina of the Inca Warriors.
3.  It contains all nine of the essentail amino acids.
4.   It is a great for those who suffer from migraines, diabetes and atherosclerosis, cardiovascular health, menopausal women and many other health issues.  It contains a huge amount of maganese, magnesium, b2 and other minerals.  Magnesium helps to relax the blood vessels which is a wonder for migraine headaches.
5.  It's very easy and quick to make.

This salad I used black quinoa and I have the recipe down below.  I made this for dinner the other night and in my bowl, not pictured here, I added some chopped avocado and served along with a vegetable.  The next day for lunch Keaton and I had some with chopped avocado as well and diced, sauteed tofu strips.  Yum!  It's just so versatile.


1 C. dried quinoa, rinsed
1 1/2 C. water
1 red bell pepper, diced 
1 yellow bell pepper,diced
3 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 large cucmber, peeled and diced
1 very small red onion, chopped
2 spring onions, chopped  
1 1/2 C. spinach, chopped
1/4-1/3 C. fresh basil, chopped
1/4 C. pine nuts, lightly toasted

1 Lg. Meyer Lemon or( regular lemon), juice of
2 Tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
2-3 Tbsp. Olive oil
1 Tbsp. Raw Agave
1 Garlic clove, minced
salt to taste

In a medium saucepan add the rinsed quinoa to 1 1/2 C. water.  Bring to a boil and cover.  Continue to cook for about 20min until water is evaported.  Take off stove and let cool to room temp.

While quinoa is cooking, chop all of the veggies and put in large bowl. 
Next, make dressing by adding  all of the dressing ingredients and whisk until combined, set aside.
To toast pine nuts.  Heat a skillet to medium and toast pinenuts just until they start to turn color.  This only takes about 3-4min.

When quinoa is cooled add to the veggies and pour over dressing.  Stir until combined.  Eat room temp or refrigerated. 

Have a wonderful weekend! 
More reviews in the future.