Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Sunrise Vegetarian Chili

As I was driving to school yesterday morning I decided that it was about time I became best friends with my crock pot. As much as I cook, you'd think I'd have done this bonding already. I confess I'm not fond of how the crock pot looks. I know silly, but it just doesn't fit my motif. Instead, it stays hidden in the back of the cabinet. I only bring it out for teacher lunches so those hard working folks get hot food.

I thought I'd have a ton of time having both of the kids in school. Subbing, various appointments, and errands seem to impose on all of this supposed free time. Yesterday for example I had one kid home and one in school. My agenda included a doctor appointment, a chiropractor appointment (oh my aching back!), and pick up to tackle. These kind of days further inspire my need for a friendship with that darn crock pot. Chili just calls to be made on a cool, wet, and busy fall day.

After drop off, I performed my various housewife/mom duties and then gathered all of my ingredients to make my chili. I decided that I would get that going before my first appointment of the day. It took all of 15 minutes to chop all of my ingredients and get them into the crock pot. I sautéd the onions first. While they were cooking I chopped up the rest of the veggies and threw them all in the pot. It was even more gratifying to include a fresh scallopini squash from the garden. I added the rest of the ingredients and that was it. All of that anticipation and it ended in a rather unexciting moment. But I liked that I didn't have to stand there checking it all of the time (remember that aching back) and could just flip a switch and walk out the door. When we returned I of course checked on the process and turned it from high to low. Easy peasy.

After the chiropractor and pick up we finally made it home to cooked chili! It smelled so good. It all seemed too easy so I decided to add some flare and make some polenta. Polenta is another super easy food. I cooked the polenta for 15 minutes and added it to two empty tomato cans to get the circles for kid appeal. In order to get the polenta to cool in an hour and in time for dinner, I put the cans in my ice tray to speed the process.

Evan ate the polenta and Tristan being sick was generous enough to take a bite of my polenta and chili "sandwich" I created just for him. He said it was good. Cliff said it was my best chili ever.

Sunrise Vegetarian Chili

1 medium onion chopped
1 squash of choice chopped
1/2 cup chopped orange cauliflower
1 carrot chopped
1 small red bell pepper chopped
1 heaping tbsp coriander
1 heaping tbsp cumin
1 tbsp chili
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
16 oz pinto beans
16 oz white beans
1/2 cup favorite salsa
3/4 cup tomato paste

1. Chop onions and sauté until they start to turn brown. Add the coriander, cumin, and chili to the onions and stir until well combined and fragrant.
2. Chop all of the veggies. You can do this as the onions are browning.
3. Add the cooked onions, chopped veggies and the rest of the ingredients directly to the crock pot.
4. Turn that crock pot on to low and prepare to enjoy at the end of the day. Mine cooked for 6 hours. Once I returned home I turned to warm.
5. Adjust seasonings as needed.


1 cup polenta or yellow grits
3 1/2 cups of veggie broth
1 tsp olive oil
1 tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
1/2 tsp salt

1. Bring the broth to a boil.
2. Slowly add the polenta to the boiling broth and reduce to a simmer. Add the oil, optional nutritional yeast, and salt. Stir together, cover, and cook until thickened for 15 minutes. Check frequently to watch for clumps.
3. If you have empty cans first oil the inside. Add the polenta to the two cans. You'll need to protect your fingers as those cans get really hot. If you don't have cans you can put the polenta in a lightly oiled 8 inch baking dish and put in the fridge to cool. The cans take longer to cool and that is why I added them to the ice tray.
4. Slide the polenta from the can and slice. If using a dish, cut the polenta into squares.

This meal took 40 minutes of work and that was spread out during the day. Next time I use the crock pot I'll prep the meal the night before and store the ceramic dish in the fridge. As I prepare lunch the next morning all I have to do is take the dish out of the fridge and turn the crock pot on low. How cool.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Raspberry Oatmeal Bars

I made these bars three times this week. Yes, three times. One batch of these beauties lasts us about a day. The boys love having them in their lunch boxes. Even better, Evan came home asking for more. They take less than ten minutes to put together. Bake them and you're in for a treat. You know you've done something right when you feel the need to spoon the crumbs out of the pan.

I've experimented with various flours. Spelt and all purpose flour work equally well. Oat flour also works but they are more crumbly. You can use any jam you have on hand. We've used strawberry, blueberry, and raspberry.

This recipe comes from one of my favorite cookbooks, The Joy of Vegan Baking. I've modified the recipe by using canola oil rather than the margarine. I also use less jam than the recipe calls for. Jam can be pricey so I use 1/4 cup instead.

Raspberry Oatmeal Bars

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 salt
1 cup quick cooking oats
1/2 cup non-hydrogenated margarine
(I've used 1/4 cup canola oil and it worked as well)
1/4 cup jam
(The recipe calls for  3/4 cups, but you can get away with 1/4 cup)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 and lightly oil an 8-9 inch square baking dish.
2. Combine the sugar, flour, soda, salt and oats.
3. Add the margarine (or canola oil) and combine until crumbly.
4. Press two thirds of the mix into the baking dish.
5. Spread the jam onto the mixture. If the oat mixture loosens and gets mixed in with the jam this is no biggie. It all turns out well in the end.
6. Add the rest of the oat mixture to the top and gently press into the jam.
7. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until the top is lightly browned. Cool before you cut. When it first comes out of the oven it will be soft. By the time it has cooled it will be nice and crunchy.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

It's Fall Ya'll Banana Muffins

My friend Deb called and left me a message the other day with a very specific request: "Muffins." Apparently she's ready for baking and I'm her go to gal.

I searched through all of my cookbooks and decided on this yummy Banana Bread recipe from Veganomicon. You can't really go wrong with this book. There is something for everyone. Even better there were directions for turning the bread into muffins. Perfect. Frankly these were the best banana muffins I've ever made. Thanks Veganomicon.

I made these for my gang and 30 minutes later there were 2 left. I saved those for lunch boxes the next day.

I also added a small pinch of allspice and cloves to the mix and decorated the tops with pecan halves.

Banana Muffins

2 large and ripe bananas
1/4 cup applesauce
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp molasses
2 cups flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease muffin pan.
2. In a large mixing bowl, mash bananas.
3. Add sugar, applesauce, oil, and molasses to the applesauce and whisk briskly to combine.
4. Sift in the flour, baking soda, spices, and salt to the wet ingredients. Mix the wet and dry ingredients together until just combined.
5. Add the batter to the muffin tins. You can put a pecan on top of the wet batter at this point. I got exactly a dozen muffins filling to about 1/2 full.
6. Bake for 18 minutes and a knife should come out clean to let you know they are done cooking.
7. Remove from oven and remove the muffins onto a cooling rack.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Red Lentil Crispy Tacos

Red lentils are my go to quick dinner ingredient. Having recently started subbing at our school part time, fast meals on these nights make my day end on a lighter note. Tacos are fast and it is one of those meals where I don't get complaints from anyone. I can usually get dinner on the table in about 40 minutes.

Even better, I can fill these tacos up with lots of vegetables that otherwise wouldn't get eaten. Tristan doesn't care for zucchini, carrots, and onion. He says he's happy to eat them when he can't see them. Go figure. They are great with either crispy taco shells or tortillas as soft tacos. The term kid friendly is kind of funny. What my kid may enjoy may not be what other kids like, but I'm always up for a good experiment.

Red Lentil Taco Filling

1/2 finely chopped medium onion
1 grated carrot
1/2 grated zucchini
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp oregano
2 tsp cumin
1 cup red lentils
2 cups water
1/2 cup finely chopped spinach
      or favorite greens of choice

1. If you're using crispy taco shells start heating them in the oven according to package directions.
2. Finely chop the onion and add to a skillet. When the onions begin to start getting clear add the carrots and zucchini. Cook until they begin to get soft.
3. Add the spices and stir into the veggies.
4. Add the lentils and stir.
5. Add the water and bring to boil. Once boiling reduce heat to a simmer, add the spinach and cook the lentils until soft.
You may have to add water so check on them frequently.
6. I also chop up green onions, tomatoes and lettuce to use as toppings. Oddly enough, Tristan has started to enjoy green onions.
7. Cheese or non-dairy cheese is optional. I've added it directly to the taco mixture or as a topping.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Meatless Monday Tangy Brown Noodles

I just realized it is Meatless Monday. I made one of my favorite quick dishes tonight. I love it even more because everyone likes it. That means no complaints from the peanut gallery wishing they could eat something else. My kids just love balsamic vinegar which gives the sauce its tang.

In this picture the noodles aren't my usual soba noodles, but spaghetti. I like to cut up a bunch of extra raw veggies for everyone to at least try. Cliff and I usually end up with the most greens, big surprise. I often add my sauteéd tofu. Look for the tofu recipe later.

Tangy Brown Noodles

1/3 cup tamari/soy sauce
2 tbsp molasses
1/2 cup tahini
1/4 cup toasted sesame oil
1/4 cup agave
1 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup water

1. Start cooking your choice of noodles. Any will work: rice noodles, udon, soba, wheat free, etc.
2. While the noodles are cooking heat the tamari in a small sauce pan on medium heat. This cooks down the tamari and reduces the amount for about 5 minutes. Add the molasses and stir to combine.
3. In a blender combine the heated tamari, and the rest of the ingredients and blend.
4. Cut up what ever extra veggies you wish to add: green onions, bell pepper, salad greens, etc.

I usually serve up the noodles and let everyone pour on as much sauce as they want. Then you can go crazy adding all of the extra goodies.


Saturday, September 12, 2009

Rainy Day Honey Whole Wheat Bread

I love making bread. Last year when the prices of everything started going up I decided I needed to get crafty. These guys are toast maniacs. At $4 for an organic loaf of bread something needed to give. I woke up one morning and decided it was time to figure out how to make my own. Just recently I found Baking in America and this book has given me the best loaves of bread by far.

I recommend the Honey Whole Wheat Bread, Buttermilk, Wheat and Rye bread, and Buttermilk Wheat Germ Bread. I've adapted them all to be non-dairy. I can make buttermilk by adding a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to any nondairy beverage. The combination of cider and milks will curdle to make a quick non-dairy buttermilk. This process can be started while you are gathering all of the other ingredients for your bread.

I'm relieved that the weather is a bit cooler. I made everyone miserable all summer heating this house up. My only saving grace is how good it smells and the end result. Delicious toast and sandwiches. There is nothing more gratifying that having the loaf turn out just right.