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Warm Millet Salad with Delicata Squash, Crispy Tofu and Beet Greens

My cousin Beth always seems to be cooking up some amazing things. When I saw the recipe for this on her blog I immediately got excited. I had a container of millet in the pantry for awhile now, that I bought in bulk from the Co-op, and have been waiting for an idea to come along and strike my fancy as to what to make with it. I had everything on hand which is also great, including more Delicata squash than I can actually use. So I got to cooking.

Cutting up the squash was not the funnest part by any means, and I went right ahead and peeled the squash while cutting it, after reading that the skin is not exactly edible, despite how colorful and charming it may seem. Don’t let it deter you though, this is one of the better squash I have eaten, becoming very soft and remaining incredibly sweet.

I then made the millet, which is super easy to make, which makes me think I should have made some earlier, and should make it more often as well. I then whipped together the dressing (using brown rice syrup instead of honey), pressed, cut, and cooked the tofu, and then cooked the beet greens. I chose the beet greens because we had a ton of them on hand, and they seemed in peril of going bad quicker than the rest of the greens. As it turns out, they were wonderful in this dish and went very well with the dressing. I would consider cooking beet greens and tossing them in the dressing on their own.

This salad, which functioned as a main dish for me two nights after work, is super great and packed full of flavor. It is also great cold! The best part is that it is easy to make, not ingredient heavy, and is also pretty cheap to throw together. Next time I would even cut the squash in half and stuff it with the greens, millet and tofu, and drizzle the dressing on top!

Squash, Kohlrabi and Barley Soup

 

This soup is truly the child of the CSA. In opening the refrigerator and seeing piles upon piles of squash, along with a couple heads of kohlrabi, I knew I had to do something with them before they started going bad on me. In remembering that I had barley in the cupboard and that it was amazing in soup last winter, I decided to go ahead and make soup once more. I was also motivated by having a large pot of food to come home to and be able to sit and eat without putting a lot of effort into (working in the pharmacy is wearing me down!). Plus, the days are slowly getting colder here in Buffalo as we descend sadly into winter, and having a bowl of hearty soup is one of the most enjoyable things ever.

I started by cooking the barley. While I love this grain, I don’t enjoy the smell of it cooking to much. But that’s okay, but it is totally worth it when it comes together in the soup. While the barley was cooking, I started cutting my vegetables, included 1 small onion and 1 minced clove of garlic,  2 stalks of celery, 3 carrots, 1 cubed kohlrabi, and one diced kabocha squash. The kabocha squash goes wonderful in the soup because it gets amazingly soft and the skin is edible.

 

Then, I sauted the onion and garlic for about 5 minutes, and then added the veggies, followed y the vegetable stock and barley. I threw in some salt and pepper, a dash of cinnamon, and some fresh parsley and basil from our herb pot. It all smelled wonderful together, and looked great too!

Altogether, this soup was fantastic. It was warm and filling, and had a great variety of flavors and colors. The carrots, squash and celery all got unbelievably soft, while the kohlrabi maintained just enough of a firmness to resemble a potato. The squash was the perfectly sweet and essentially melted in your mouth, while the barley was tasty, chewy and hearty.

The next day we, of course, had leftover soup for dinner. We had to add a little bit more water as the barley had continued to absorb some of it over night (which can probably be avoided by soaking the barley for a couple of hours beforehand), and then to spice things up a little bit we threw in some chili powder and a package of Boca TVP crumbles. It was awesome like this too! I love versatile things like this, especially when I get a couple of meals out of them too!

White Russian Cupcakes


It feels like it has been forever since I have made cupcakes. My lofty dreams of being a vegan pastry chef, creating tons and tons of awesome cupcakes and pastries, seems pretty unattainable given the amount of time I had left over at the end of the day to bake (and my paranoia of getting fat!), so I am happy I baked these just in time to have sitting on the kitchen table for the boyfriend to eat after returning home from visiting graduate school in DC. After finding this recipe at Cute and Delicious, I knew I had to make it. Not only that, but make them, and then consume them while watching The Big Lebowski.

The best part about these is that they actually taste like White Russians. Not only the Kahlua and vodka infused frosting, but the cupcake batter itself. The double batter recipe made for a charming looking cupcake once you bit into it, noticing the darker and lighter layers. They rose nice and high as well.

The frosting was DELICIOUS, my only regret is that I did not have Earth Balance in the refrigerator despite thinking I did, so I was stuck with using margarine, which made the frosting runny and less visually appetizing. But hey, they look kind of messy, and let’s face it, The Dude was not exactly a neat, well put together guy. He would appreciate these cupcakes, and I would totally make them again.

Pizza Night

Pizza Night is much like Taco Night. Unplanned yet still great whenever it happens. It generally accompanies Sabres games. Again, there is only this singular picture, because I did not think to take a picture of the pizza in its entirety until well after half of it had already been consumed. We generally will switch up the veggies and the fake meat, and lately it’s been dependent on what pizza-friendly vegetables we have been getting from the farm share (which sadly, this is our last week of it for the season, which makes me very sad). This time, it was fairly simple, with just chopped green pepper and tempeh pan-fried in hot sauce and BBQ sauce.

We bought the dough from a local pizzeria (see, here in Buffalo and it’s suburbs there is a pizza place practically on every corner), let it warm on top of the stove while the oven was preheating to 475, and then stretched it out to fit the pizza pan. Then, regardless of what toppings we use, we first bake the crust alone. It helps it to not become soggy while cooking, and gives it just a little bit more of that desired crispiness in the crust. Then, we coat the crust with a thin layer of olive oil, and sprinkle on garlic powder and sesame seeds. Sesame seeds on a crust is one of the most amazing things ever. Next comes the sauce, and then whatever cheese-like substitute we decided to use. Most of the time it is a sprinkling of nutritional yeast, but sometimes we will throw on Daiya too. Then comes the veggies and the mock meat. We usually bake the pizza for 8 to 9 minutes at 500 degrees, and it turns out perfect every time! Now if only we could teach ourselves how to NOT eat pizza until we feel like we are going to puke…

Chicken Parm!

One of the many options for the chickpea cutlets...

Just like I had predicted, I found myself making the chickpea cutlets again, and this time making them into a ‘chicken’ parm dish. This was DELICIOUS, and again, really easy to make. I had the chickpeas pre-cooked before work, so when I came home I started making them immediately, which does not take long at all. This time I cooked the chickpeas for a little longer, so they were more soft, and I think it made the consistency of the cutlets even better, and particularly easier to work with, as there was not little pieces of chickpeas that had not become totally soft falling out of the mixture when I was kneading it.

While the patties were cooking on the stove (I pan-fried them again, next time I make them, which I am sure will be soon, I will try to make them in the oven and see if it changes the texture of the cutlet at all), I started boiling water to cook my whole wheat pasta. I understand that there are a ton of carbohydrates in this dish, but that’s alright every once and awhile I think, especially when it tastes this good. When both the pasta and the cutlets were done, I heated up some marinara sauce, poured it over both (I used a generous amount, the pasta and the cutlet seem to suck up the sauce pretty well), and sprinkled some vegan Parmesan cheese over the entire plate. I only wish I had my pot of spices on hand to add on some fresh basil and parsley. It was so good, and the texture of the cutlets turned out great for a second time, really making it a good stand in if you are ever missing chicken parm.

I don’t know if I have made this clear or not, but I really love this recipe from the Veganomicon. It is so easy, and tastes like it should have been a lot more difficult to make. I think this is definitely one of those recipes everyone should try out. It is a dish I would gladly feed to a non-vegetarian to gauge their response, it’s that convincing!

Butternut Squash Soup

Well worth the effort

Let me apologize in advance for the lack of pictures here. Some how the boyfriend and I neglected to take a good amount of them of the soup, but that is not to say that the soup did not turn out amazing, because it totally did.

The farm share has left us with so, so, so many squash. Delicata, kabocha, butternut, acorn, tons and tons of squash that are overflowing our kitchen table and fridge. It really is almost ridiculous the amount we have, which has me on the search for more squash recipes. That being said, expect a good handful of squash-related entries over the next few days. But hey, it is the fall, they are in season and plentiful, and it is good to be challenged cooking-wise.

Our squash center piece

As it turns out, it is a lot of working making butternut squash soup. After peeling and cutting the squash alone I almost wanted to call it quits. I even took a little break after cutting up the squash, celery, carrots, onion and garlic. There was a point when I thought, “I will never make this again!” After all is said and done, I will though. Because it’s delicious and because we have far too much squash.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 large butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch sized pieces
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 stalks of celery, diced
  • 4 carrots, diced
  • 5 cups of vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp sage
  • 1/2 cup soy milk
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 1 apple, diced
  • cinnamon to taste (optional)

After preparing all of your veggies (and the apple!), saute your garlic, ginger and onion in a soup pot for three to five minutes. Then, add the celery and carrots, and saute for another 5 minutes. Add the squash, apple, broth, sage, salt, pepper and cinnamon. Let this cook for 25 minutes or until all of the vegetables are soft. Then, in batches, I placed the soup into the blender and pureed until everything was blended well, and was smooth. I then added soy milk to each batch to make the soup just a little bit more creamy. I returned it all to the pot, waiting to reheat when we were ready to eat dinner.

I love this soup. It had a great taste of ginger, cinnamon, and of course, the sweet taste of butternut squash. It is warm and deceptively filling, something I can appreciate now that I am living on my own and the days and nights are getting colder. Other than being sweet and creamy, it is also a brilliant yellow-orange color, basically begging you to eat it. I think I would even classify it as a comfort food. If you wanted to make it even MORE hearty, you could easily throw in some brown rice, greens (such as spinach or kale), or beans, after everything has been mashed or pureed.

Despite being fairly time consuming, I would make this again. It’s just too good not to!

Chickpea cutlets!

Chickpea cutlets - the favorite child of the Veganomicon

Even before making these, I had heard nothing but good things about them. Even the little blurb before them in the cookbook says how they (Isa and Teresa) are super proud of it. They have every reason to be. These are super easy to make (and you can make them fairly quickly too, which is makes them even better), they are extremely versatile, and a fabulous meat substitute. The texture of these is spot on, dense and slightly chewy, for a stand in for something like fake chicken, especially if you were to use seasoned or Panko bread crumbs instead of the plain ones. They smell delicious when cooking (I fried them in a pan, but they can be baked in the oven as well, which perhaps I will try next time), and even have a scary resemblance to their real meat counterparts. I think the best part of them however, is that they are absolutely fantastic whether or not you want them to be a stand-in for meat or not.

I can see these working perfectly in a chicken parm dish, which I can see myself making anytime now, smothered in sauce and vegan Parmesan cheese. This time when I made them, I served them alongside a string bean and potato casserole, and drizzled some left over tahini dressing on top of them (they went very well together!). I love this recipe so much. I like the idea of making my own meat substitutes rather than just buying Boca burgers and letting them do the job. Plus, it is more rewarding making them yourself, even if it does require a little extra time and effort.

An interruption

I wanted to take a break from my normal blogging ventures and spread the word about the Farm Sanctuary’s Adopt a Turkey program going on. It’s fantastic and has received a lot of publicity lately, especially as Ellen DeGeneres has signed on to be the spokeswoman (and she’s awesome too). Everyone should check it out and spread the word – Thanksgiving really should be for the turkeys!

I don’t think many people stop to consider the horror behind Thanksgiving – the mass amount of turkeys sent to their death in ‘honor’ of a holiday, but not after being forced to live in horrible conditions for the duration of their severely shortened life. This doesn’t even begin to touch upon the hormones they are fed and how they are purposely bred/killed to create a larger turkey, so much so that they cannot even support their own body weight.

Turkeys are typical amazingly social animals and caring parents. Chicks will stay with their protective mothers for up to five months, where they are babied and learn necessary habits for grooming, feeding, and more. They are naturally super inquisitive, and are able to recognize the faces of humans. So if you can’t sponsor a turkey this year, at least be conscious of your choices and the food on your plate!

Apple Crisp Pie

More delicious than you could possibly imagine

Saturday night it was beyond cold in the apartment. After sealing all the storm windows and investing in thicker curtains, it was still chilly (putting plastic on the windows is a job lined up already for next weekend), and we are attempting to hold out turning on the heat until at least the start of November.  In an effort to warm the place up, I was in quite a baking mood. With a bag of apples sitting around, I knew I wanted to incorporate them into some kind of dessert, and after seeing the Apple Crisp on my cousin Beth’s blog, I knew instantly that I wanted to make that  as well. It just looked so great, and clearly easy to make vegan by replacing the butter with margarine/Earth Balance. I had my heart set on making apple pie from then on. I had a mental struggle for about two hours as to whether or not I really felt like I had it in me to make a crust that night. After much debate, and recalling the last time I tried to make a while wheat crust (which turned out horrible, dry, and frustrating), I decided to walk to the near by coop and by a pre-made one. I know that it is cheating, but I really wanted to pie and did not want all of the anger of crust-making that night. So after picking up a whole wheat vegan crust, I continued onward.

The first thing I did was slice up the apples and started to make the filling, and preheated the oven to 350 degrees.

  • 6 medium apples (I used Gala apples), peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 2 tbsp apple cider
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup of maple syrup (depending on how sweet you would like your filling, I only used 1/4)
  • 2 to 2 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 1/2 tsp corn starch
  • 1 – 2 tbsp flour (I used whole wheat)

After the apples were peeled and sliced, I boiled them and the 1/2 cup of raisins for about ten minutes, until the apples had just become soft, which also allowed the raisins to plump up a bit. I then drained them both, saving 1/4 of the cup of apple water for the pie mixture.

I then added the 1/4 cup of water, apple cider, maple syrup, cinnamon and nutmeg. After mixing this, I then added the cornstarch and flour to thicken up the mixture. When it was all thoroughly combined, I poured it into the pie crust and spread it out evenly.

Then, I started making the topping for the pie, following Beth’s recipe:

  • 2/3 to 2/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup gluten free flour (I ended up using whole wheat flour yet again)
  • 1/2 cup of rolled oats
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup of butter/margarine, softened

I mixed all of the ingredients together, and then began to slowly add in the butter (I used Wegman’s brand spread/margarine) until the mixture was crumbly (in the end I used slightly less than 1/3 of cup). I placed the topping on the apple pie filling, drizzled the smallest amount of maple syrup over the top, and put the pie in the oven for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top was golden brown.

First of all, the pie made the apartment smell fantastic. Between the boiled and baking apples, cinnamon and nutmeg, the place smelled like the embodiment of fall. Even after it was done baking, the mere presence of the pie on the kitchen island was fragrant enough to make you want to continuously eat it.

The topping was probably just as good as the pie itself. It was sweet, crunchy, and the sugar in it played well with the apple filling, which on its own was not too sweet. The raisins were delicious in the filling, adding a bit of a chew and sweetness to every bite. The filling turned out perfect: not too dry and not too moist. The crust, while I cannot take credit for it, was great as well.

The ever-tempting pie

If I really wanted to, I could have ate this pie in one sitting. After the first piece, while it was still room, I had to remove myself from the apartment so I would not eat any more. The smell of the pie from our room was so strong that we had to cover it with a plate as to not see or get a delicious scent of it after brushing our teeth before bed. I would say it was one of the better things I have baked in a long time.

CSA – A wonderful thing

Rather than posting something I cooked or baked today, I wanted to write a little bit on Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and the farm share that my boyfriend purchased for the household. First of all, it must be immediately said – it is a wonderful thing! It provides us with fresh vegetables every week (in our case, on Saturdays) and forces to cook and eat vegetables that we normally may not buy or eat, which is also a good thing. Before having the farm share I had never cooked or ate kohlrabi, and now I love it.

More CSA veggies!

There are so many reasons, other than the one previously mentioned, why CSA is awesome. Over all, for the amount of fresh vegetables we are getting, we really are saving money, as everyone knows that vegetables can be quite expensive, while the junk-sugar-high-fructose-corn-syrup-who-knows-what foods are the cheapest. You pay a fee at the beginning of the season (ours was summer/fall), and get an overflowing bag of vegetables every week delivered to a specific location (or sometimes you may have to drive out to the farm). We joined when the season had already started, and received a bit of a discount as well. While we do not know exactly what we will be receiving each week until the day of due to differences in weather, crop yield, harvesting, etc, we do know ahead of time what we will be receiving per month. Right now, I am very excited for the upcoming pumpkins!

Sauteeing squah - there was so much of it at one point

It is a good way to keep you more in touch with you food. You know exactly where your food is coming from – in our case, Porter Farms, and also helps support local farmers, businesses, and families. Your food is traveling less distance to get to you, and the veggies often times seem more fresh than anything you will ever buy in the store. The kale we get is always fresher than anything in the store, and two weeks ago we received the most beautiful head of Romaine lettuce I had ever laid eyes on.

Farm share vegetable and vinegarette - a simple but great snack

In short, I love our farm share and would highly recommend supporting CSA!

Seitan and summer squashes - making use of the plethora of zucchini!

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