Warming Soup w/ White Beans & Pasta

Where did the sun go?  The weather changed considerably yesterday afternoon and it suddenly went from sunny and warm to cool, overcast, and threatening to rain!  Well, bring it on, says I!  I love me some great autumnal weather!  Rain?  Oh yeah.  That’s soup weather! 

Image

I was feeling cold and hungry and whipped this up for dinner last night.  If you find yourself in the same boat tonight, try it out!  It’s pretty easy and tasty.  Oh, and it’s cooked in one pot!  Um, I think I’ve mentioned my love for things cooked in one pot before, right?  😉

This soup really reminded me of minestrone.  With a side salad and piece of garlic toast I was a happy camper!  Nick, on the other hand isn’t such a big soup fan and fought the urge to request something more “filling” for dinner.  However, once he tucked in found that this was exactly what the doctor ordered to cure the dinner time hungers!  So, I present to you, Warming Soup – Vegan – With White Beans + Pasta!

Ingredients:

1/2 White Onion, finely diced

4 Large Cloves Garlic, finely minced

1/2 Cup Chopped Carrots

1 Can Crushed Tomatoes

4-5 Cups Veggie Stock

1 Can White Beans

2-3 TBS Olive Oil

3-4 Servings of Dried Pasta (I used penne, but you could use any other type you have on hand)

1/2 TBS Dried Basil

1/2 TBS Dried Oregano

1 tsp. Dried Thyme

1 tsp. Dried Parsley

1/4 tsp. Dried Rosemary

1/4 tsp. (or less) Red Pepper Flake

Salt & Pepper (to taste–I added what felt like quite a bit to get it tasting just right.)

Image

Directions:

In a large pot, saute onion and carrot in olive oil until softened.  Add garlic and saute a minute or two longer.  Add veggie stock, seasonings, and pasta.  Stir, cover, and return to a slow simmer.  Cook until pasta is starting to soften, about 6 minutes or so.  Add tomatoes and beans, cover and let simmer for another 10 minutes or so.  Taste your soup to make sure it doesn’t need any additional seasonings. 

And that’s it!  Easy, right?  Right.

Image

I’m going to enjoy the leftovers today for lunch!  What are some of your favorite rainy weather dinners?  🙂 

Advertisements

A Long-y but a Good-y

Guys.  Today’s post might get a little long.  I have two recipe reviews to share, a strange encounter (of the human kind), and other general ramblings and musings.

I’m going to jump right in with the recipe reviews!  Yay!

First Recipe Review:  Walnut Date Cookies

So, first up is a quick and easy walnut date cookie recipe that Poppy’s Patisserie shared yesterday.  I just about fell out of my chair when I saw it because I was craving something sweet, healthy-ish, and quick to make.  (Yay for instant gratification!)  The second I saw this recipe, I literally ran upstairs to the kitchen (from the office downstairs where I’ve been kickstarter campaigning) and made them.  YES.  Cookies fo’ life!

Here’s the link to Poppy’s post:

http://bunnykitchen.com/2013/09/23/fast-and-delicious-cookies/

And here’s the link to the original that includes the recipe for these tasty cookies:

http://kineticheart.wordpress.com/2013/09/23/fast-and-delicious-cookies/

Okay.  I *think* that takes care of any moral/ethical/legal issues with sharing & reviewing, right?  (If not, please let me know and I’ll fix it straight away, okay?)

Now for the photo!

Image

I’m going to give this recipe overall a solid 9.5 out of 10.  Extra points were awarded (in my opinion) for:

1.  The lack of white sugar & flour in the ingredient list (gluten-free, haaaay!)

2.  Ease to make (throw in a Quisenart, then bake).

3.  Limited ingredient list (that you are most likely to have in your pantry).

4.  Smelled GREAT while baking.

5.  Tasted GREAT while EATING.  Which, if you ask me, is THE most important little detail.  😉

Image

Chewy & melt-y are great qualities in a cookie, if you ask me!

Notes:  Now, I didn’t use medjool dates as the stores around here have been oddly OUT of them, so I’m not sure what kind I used.  I deducted 1/2 a point because the cookies were just a tad on the oily side and they could have been a little teensy tiny bit sweeter (my sweet tooth, I guess, is less of a tooth and more sized like a Mammoth tusk? ha!) but I’m think that perhaps the right kind of dates would make a difference here.  The only change I made was in the use of the chocolate chips.  The original recipe featured one lovely, large, chocolate chip, placed front and center on the cookies and I used a few small ones, just sprinkled on top.

I’m excited to use this recipe formula to make other nut + date cookie combos.  Next on my list will be to try this is almonds, as the original recipe creator, Kineticheart made mention of this in their post.

Overall, two thumbs up–great recipe, please try it!

Second Recipe Review – Buffalo Chickpea Mac ‘n’ Cheese

This recipe from a vegan blog I only just discovered called Vegan Yack Attack for Vegan Buffalo Chickpea Mac ‘n’ Cheese.  If you guessed that I discovered this recipe whilst trolling for something to make for dinner, you would be CORRECT!  Now, I’m going to tell you all that since going vegan, there have been a number of flavors/tastes I have been missing.  A good Mac N’ Cheese and buffalo sauced anything are on that list.  When I came across this recipe, it was like a little light went off; the angles trumpeted and the skies parted!  When I read the ingredient list I realized that this was something I could totally make, too!Here is the link to the original post:

http://veganyackattack.com/2013/09/19/buffalo-chickpea-mac-n-cheese/

I am going to tell you that I did make some modifications to this recipe.

1.  I made my own buffalo sauce as I didn’t have any.  Vegans beware, but the majority of buffalo sauce recipes I found had butter in them!  I never knew!

2.  I made my ranch recipe because it is easier and I can’t tell the difference between it and the non-vegan kind.

3.  I didn’t have any salad fixin’s (I had to hit the store and my fridge was running low!) so I made it without the lettuce.

4.  I used Daiya cheese shreds instead of “Cheddar Teese”.

PHOTO:

Image

I’m going to give this recipe a solid 9.5 out of 10.  I awarded it points for:

1.  Quick and easy to make.

2.  Even though my pantry and fridge was near empty, I had these ingredients, including the stuff to make the buffalo sauce!  Yay!

3.  Exciting and amazing flavor profile.  My taste buds were thrilled!

4.  Satisfying.  Totally satisfying.  The mac ‘n’ cheese was creamy and didn’t taste “vegan.”

5.  Felt great after eating this–if I had eaten a non-vegan version, I would have been lethargic and my tummy would have hurt.  No negative side effects after eating this, however!

I did deduct a half point here because it isn’t the healthiest thing in the world.  But honestly, if you can’t enjoy the food you eat, then what’s the point of cooking?  I especially loved the buffalo flavored roasted chickpeas with the hint of ranch on them.  They were crunchy and spicy and on their own would make a great snack. It is nice to be able to mix it up once in a while and make something that is a wee bit sinful, but still vegan!  Hey, I made cauliflower and broccoli to go with it, so that counts for something good, right?  😉  (Just ignore the vegan ranch I put on top of it!)

Overall, total recipe success on this one!  It is crave-worthy.  I’ll be making this again, soon!!

Notes:  Here is my vegan buffalo sauce recipe!

3 Tbs Vegan Butter

1/2 Cup Hot Sauce (I used Rooster Sauce aka Sriracha)

1/4 tsp Salt (taste to see if it needs)

1/2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce

1/2 tsp White Vinegar

Several shakes of onion powder and garlic powder

If you like it SPICY you can add chili powder, but I felt it didn’t need any more spice, so I left it out.

Directions:  Melt vegan butter together with rest of ingredients.  Apply lavishly over anything that needs it.  🙂

Human Encounter Story

Okay,  I *think* I may have already mentioned this, but I basically needed to go to the store, because if you haven’t caught on, I was dang near out of everything! lol

While at Trader Joe’s, a woman who I’ve never seen or met before leans over to me and says, “That’s a pretty skirt!”  I say, “Thank you!” and proceed to reach for some Medjool dates, and say, “Oh my gosh, they finally have these back!”  She looks at the dates, then says, “What ARE those?  I mean, no one likes how those things look, they are so strange.”  I proceed to tell her that I use them in baking, often times as a sugar replacement.  She looks puzzled, then starts to tell me that what she really needs is some really nice, ripe fruit.  Her man loves fruit and all he has at home is a can of peaches.  But the prices at Trader Joe’s were too expensive, she says.  I say, “Well, the strawberries look good…” She then starts to wanders off to go see, and I say encouragingly, “Well, good luck finding great fruit for your guy!”  She then looks over the row of grapefruit and says to me, “Do you know that Jesus loves you?” I say, without skipping a beat, “Yes, I do!  Thank you! Do you know he loves you?”  She says, “Yes, I know he does!  I feel it every day.”  I reply, “Good, I’m so glad!”  Only then do I notice she has crosses on her earrings.  She smiled, wandered on, and so did I, pursuing avocados.

I’m not religious.  At. All.  I’m not eve sure where my words came from.  They flowed, naturally, and I didn’t even think about it.  Honestly, I’m not sure what I find more surprising, her random shout out to Jesus, or my response.  I found the encounter to be so odd I had to share on here.

I really enjoyed doing the recipe reviews as I struggle to sometimes to create new recipes on my own.  So, I think this might become a standard part of the blog!  I have my eye on making some vegan Almond Joy truffles… I can feel my Mammoth tush sized sweet tooth getting activated!  🙂

My Pesto is the Best-o

Hey All!

So, I’m thinking you’ve been long overdue for a yummy and easy recipe.  Amiright?  ….pretty sure I’m right.  😉

I made this for dinner last night.

Image

I’ve loved pesto for a long, long, time now, but rarely order it out or make it at home because it has so. much. oil.  And I have considerations about eating it for that reason.  I’ve since lightened up the basic pesto recipe and find it to be even better than the stuff you get out or in a jar.  The addition of the vegan sausage really put the dinner over the top and made it even tastier!

My Pesto is the Best-O Recipe

1 Cup Packed Fresh Basil Leaves

1/4 Cup (heaping) Walnuts

4 Tbs. Olive Oil

4 Tbs. Veggie Stock

4 Cloves Garlic

Dash Red Pepper Flakes

1/4 tsp. Salt (or add to taste)

1 ladle-full (about 4 Tbs.) Pasta Water (the water the pasta was cooked in.)

Directions:

Place all ingredients into a Cuisinart and blend until smooth.  

Image

You see here the type of sausage I use.  I love it because it doesn’t have any processed soy meat in it and tastes great! 

Once your pasta is al dente, drain (after adding the water to the sauce that is!), put back in the pot, add in the sausage and sauce, toss to coat, then cover, and put on low heat for about two minutes.  (Side note: By doing this, you really get the pasta to soak up the flavors of the sauce.  The added bit of heat cooks the raw garlic just a bit, so it is less bitter.)  Toss pasta again, leave lid on, turn off heat and let sit for another few minutes.  You can use this time to prep garlic bread and a salad! 

This recipe makes about a 3/4 cup of sauce–enough to cover and coat 6 – 8 servings of pasta.  I like to make enough for leftovers, which taste great cold, by the way.  Also, I used one vegan sausage for the two of us, but if you are cooking for more, modify this amount.  I’ve also found that the pesto sauce will free just fine, in case you have extra and you don’t know what to do with it. 

Image

This recipe is super good, super easy, and now made guilt free!  So enjoy! 

Oven Roasted (Lemon + Garlic + Balsamic Vinegar) Artichokes + Papa Rubies Rigatoni (Vegan!)

Hi everyone!

Since becoming vegan, I’ve had to learn how to adapt certain recipes, but I still have my old favorites, like this little bute.  This recipe will make your house smell like God came in and did some cookin’.  No joke. 

I present for your approval, Oven Roasted Artichokes!  …And a little how-to guide for dealing with this little, prickly beasts since they can be intimidating. 

Image

Ingredients:

Artichokes

Lemons

Olive Oil

Garlic

Balsamic Vinegar

Salt & Pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  If you have a roast option, use it.  Line a Pyrex with tin foil and set aside. 

To prep your artichokes I like to deal with the prickles, first, before you wash with water.

ImageFirst, peel away one to two layers of leaves from the base of the artichoke.  Next, lop off the prickles on the top.  Then, trim up the stem, but don’t lop that all off.  Once baked, it is amazingly tasty.  Next, use your kitchen scissors and trim the spines off the top of the remaining leaves.

Image

Next, slice the arti’s in half.  This is how I handle squirrel-ly little round-y things that like to move when you go to chop them up! 

Image

Hull out the choke part–the nasty little thistle in the center, with a little spoon.  Then wash your arti in water.  Really scurry the water under the leaves and make sure you shake the water out, really well.  Then, hold the arti over your tin foil lined Pyrex and squeeze lemon juice all over ’em.  Let the lemon juice go into the Pyrex and put the lemon rind in there, too.  Lemon keeps the arti’s from browning.

Once all of your arti’s are prepped like this, make sure you have enough lemon rind to cover the bottom of your pan.  If you don’t, slice up more lemons to cover the bottom of the Pyrex.  You will want to have a nice bed of lemon for your arti’s to steam/roast on!

Next, peel several cloves of garlic (for four arti’s I used 5 cloves, I think?) and slice into thin slices.  Place the garlic slices behind the arti’s leaves.

Image

Image

Here you can see all the garlic slices really loaded up and nested in there!  When you eat the final results, you encounter these little yummy nuggets ever so often.  No only is it super tasty, but it also makes your breath smell aaa-maay-zing! lol 😉  Side note, Nick says my body utterly lacks the ability to process garlic.  After eating these, while my stomach is dreamy and happy, my mouth is totally garlic-ified. Well, I guess it’s good he loves me! 😉 

After you’ve shoved the arti’s full of garlic, drizzle or brush olive oil and balsamic vinegar all over them, into the areas under the leaves; really coat ’em up.  Let some of the extra oil and vinegar go into your Pyrex, too.  Then, salt and pepper both sides of the arti’s and lay face down in the pan.

Image

Ah….little minions of goodness…..

Okay, now, cover with tin foil and put in the oven!  Depending on size, they may take over an hour before they are done.  These guys did–an hour and 10 minutes, and they weren’t huge arti’s.  They will be done when you can easily pierce the heart of the ‘choke with a sharp knife.  The knife will slide in, like buttah. 

ImageUh huh!  Ready for the eating!

…Now, what do you serve with these yummy little artichokes of glory?  Why, Papa Rubies Rigatoni of course! 

….What IS Papa Rubies Rigatoni, you might ask?  Well, good question! 

In Santa Barbara there is a restaurant, called Palazzio, and this is something on their menu that I fell in love with years and years ago.  Roasted red bell pepper cream sauce?  Yeah!  Chicken?  Yeah!  Pasta, artichoke hearts, sun dried tomatoes, heck yeah! I called them up and asked them what was in it and how they made it–and they told me!  Go figure!  So, based on the ingredients and the brief instructions they gave me over the phone, I futzed with the recipe, made modifications, and enjoyed for many years.  Now that I’m vegan, I’ve modified the recipe once again, and if you make it this way, you will swear it tastes just like the original.  If I’m going to eat something, I don’t want a cheap imitation–and I don’t want anything I make to taste vegan, either!  My target is to create food that you’d never. know. is. vegan.  Plus, vegan food gets such a bad wrap.  People seem to think that if it’s vegan, it’s going to take like dirt rubbed, patchouli infused kale with a side of lemon grass.  Rant over. 

May I now present my Papa Rubies Rigatoni–Vegan & Fabulous!

Image

Ingredients:

Roasted Red Bell Pepper Sauce

1 Jar Roasted Red Bell Peppers (I’ve roasted my own, in the oven works great and smells good, too, but this is just as good and quick!)

1/4 Cup (maybe less) Veggie Stock

1/8 tsp Salt

Fresh cracked Pepper

One or Two Shakes of Red Pepper Flakes

For the Rest:

1/2 Package Pasta, your choice

1 Can Garbanzo Beans, rinsed and drained (I find this makes an acceptable chicken substitute, you could also use tofu, too.)

4-5 Cloves of Garlic

1 Can Artichokes (in water)

Sundried Tomatoes in Oil

Red Pepper Flakes

Directions:

For Sauce–put all ingredients in your Cuisinart, and blend until smooth.  Set aside.

Get your pasta water started.

Mince up the garlic.  Drain your artichokes, rinse, squeeze out the water, then slice into halves and quarters.  Set aside. 

Image

Use some of the oil from the tomatoes to saute the garlic on medium to low heat and a few shakes of red pepper flakes.  Saute until the garlic is starting to soften, then add your garbanzo beans. 

Image

Saute beans for about 5 minutes, then add your sun dried tomatoes and saute for several minutes. Then add the artichoke quarters and saute for several minutes.

Image

Your pasta should be in and cookin’ by now.  

Cook pasta until a dente.  Before you drain it, scoop about two ladles full of that pasta water into your bean/tomato/artichoke mix.  Add the sauce from the ‘nart, drain the pasta, then add it in.  Yes, your sauce will be thin. 

ImageHere is before I added the pasta.

Leave the heat on the burner for a minute or two longer as you combine sauce, pasta, beans, etc.  Then, cover, and let stand for 3 – 5 minutes, then stir, then re-cover and let stand for another 3 – 5 minutes.  Stir again and let stand, covered, this time until you are ready to serve. 

Image

See, here it has been transformed!  Creamy, yummy, ready to go!  It’s the pasta water that does it.  Taste before serving–you may need to add more pepper, salt, or a touch of garlic powder, depending on what tastes good to you and your particular taste buds.

Serve in your best rooster bowl with an artichoke and some green beans you are set!  Image

Hopefully you don’t have any garlic allergies!  Enjoy!  Your house will smell great!  Your breath….well…there’s a tic-tack for that. 😉

 

 

Tomato X 3 Pasta Recipe & Possible Other Thoughts

Image

Boo ya.  Dinner was great tonight!  When Nick came in he said, “Wow!  What’s for dinner? It smells like STEAKS!”  I have no idea what he was sniffing, I assume the roasting tomatoes?  Anyway, I crafted this based on a mash-up of three recipes I’d read earlier today.  Since I’m not feeling super snuffy, I was craving something hot, with a hint of spice, that was also healthy to help my body kick this cold!  So naturally something with tomatoes in it makes sense, right?

Tomato X 3 Pasta

Ingredients:

3 – 4 Roma Tomatoes

Olive Oil

4 Cloves Garlic (made it medium garlicky, if you don’t like a lot of this flavor, you can add less)

1/2 to 3/4 a Package of Spaghetti (I like more sauce to pasta ratio, plus I tend to cook for two, with leftovers desired for lunch the following day.)

Sun Dried Tomatoes

5 Tbs Tomato Sauce

1/4 Cup Fresh Basil

1/4 Raw Cashews

Pinch Red Pepper Flakes

Salt & Pepper To Taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 Degrees.  Cut tomatoes in half, place in a tin foil lined dish (helps with clean up!) drizzle with olive oil, salt & pepper, then pop in oven.

Get your pot filled with water and on the stove, starting to get hot for your spaghetti

In a Cuisinart, put cashews, basil, & tomato sauce.  Blend until smooth set aside.

In a large pan, add a tablespoon or so of olive oil, minced garlic, and red pepper flakes.  Let cook on lower heat, just so that the garlic starts to soften and suffuse the oil.  Then add your sun dried tomatoes.  I like the kind packed in oil because I like to use the oil for sauteing and dressings, but you can always opt for the plain ones and rehydrate them in a bit of hot water before using.

Tomatoes will look like this when done:

Image

Add them, juices that run off and all, into the Cuisinart, and blend until smooth.  Then add to the pan with the garlic and red pepper flakes and let cook over light heat while your spaghetti cooks. Sauce looks like this:

Image

When spaghetti is al dente, drain, and dump right into the sauce, mix, turn off heat, cover and let sit for about 5 minutes before serving.  I served with one of my favorites–steamed green beans with lemon and salt on them.

The dinner was super nourishing and while I don’t feel 100% healed, I do feel well fed, and that’s something! 😉  I’d give this a solid 8 out of 10, but am not sure how to improve it.  Time will tell if I start craving this again.

It is amazing how certain flavors take me back to my childhood.  Cashews are one of these sorts of tastes.  My grandpa (Pop) and grandma (Nana) always had these amazingly huge cashews on hand as part of their secret stash of goodies.  Pop would always share some cashews with me when I’d go to over to their house for the day.  Additional loot included HUGE (and I mean HUGE) dates (seriously, where’d he even find these?), candied apricots, and halva.  My cousin and I still talk about these food yummies, since they were an important part of our experience with our grandparents.  Though the grandparents have since long passed, I was right back in their kitchen tonight, as I snacked on the raw cashews that went into this sauce.  I was instantly feeling and re-experiencing the four year old me, marveling at these gigantic cashews, basking in the loving glow of my Pop’s face, as we nibbled, together.

Food is amazing, isn’t it?