Friday, 30 September 2011

Seeing Shells

I See Shells, Yummy!

I love pasta. I grew up on KD, which is not pasta really. Box of nasty chemicals, not pasta.

So yesterday Denise and I where taking FOREVER to decide what to have for supper. We were going back and forth and did we want to walk to the far away store with the Daiya? It was raining. Would make suggestions, she would make suggestions, no one liked the suggestions.

Finally, Denise came up with a suggestion that hit home, pasta shells with tofu ricotta and sautéd ground round and mushrooms. Topped with tomato sauce and baked. Oh, yeah, that was the ticket.

So après Zumba (and showers), we went to the grocery store and got the supplies. This is a photo of the supplies. I LOVE putting my groceries away (and as Denise can attest, I will sometimes just open the cupboards and look at all the food). This photo is a example of my food love.

Ok, on to the recipe;

Pasta Shells with Tofu Ricotta

12 pasta shells
2 cups tomato sauce
2 tbsp canola oil
1 package chicken ground round
3-4 cups sliced mushrooms
Pinch sea salt
1 225 g block of tofu
1/2 container tofutti plain cream cheese
5 cloves garlic
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 heaping tbsp vegan Parmesan
2 tbsp soy milk

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook the pasta shells according to package directions.

While the pasta is cooking, slice mushrooms and we used fake chicken ground round, put in fry pan and sauté. I like the mushrooms to turn a bit brown. Set aside.

In a food processor, but in a block of tofu ( chop it up a bit), the onion, the garlic, salt, parm, and soy milk. Puree till the consistency of ricotta.

Drain pasta when almost al dente, and cool so you can handle them without injury!

Lightly oil or otherwise spray or line 8x8 pan. Take a shell, spoon in about 1 tbsp of mushroom mixture, then top with about 1 tbsp of the ricotta. Place in the pan, and repeat till all shells are done.

Take your 2 cups tomato sauce, and spread evenly over the shells.

I shook some more parm on top.

Bake for 30 or 35 minutes.

Serve. So friggin' good. You'll see there was no side, as that was way too tough to decide after taking so long on the main.

Enjoy. And by the way, it's really good the next day too!

- Melina : D

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Sexy Salsa, Bitchin' Beans & Rice

I love fresh homemade salsa. OMG. I yearn to have a deck, just so I can sit out on it in the summer and drink margarita's, and eat chips and fresh salsa. It's my dream, ok?

So, no deck yet, but damn, I do make a fine salsa. And what better to go with the delicious salsa than lovely beans and rice. Denise LOVES my beans and rice. And so does our friend Kerry. Whenever she comes over I like to make beans and rice and chocolate saucy cake (that will follow). She isn't vegan, but likes my cooking which makes me happy.

Often Denise will ask what we are having for supper hoping I'll say beans and rice. I do like it, but she likes it more than I do.

Sexy Salsa

1/2 onion
2-3 cloves garlic
1/2 green pepper
3 tomatoes
1 small jalapeño
1 small lime (2 tlbs)
1 tsp sea salt

Chop everything except the lime into small-ish chunks and dump into the food processor and add the salt. Blend till nice salsa like consistency, cut the lime in half and use your wooden reamer to get the juice out and into the bowl of the processor and blend a second more. Done!

Now, if you have time, pop into a container or jar and stick in the fridge. It's nice to let the flavors blend a bit, but it's also good straight out of the processor. Yum!

Bitchin' Beans & Rice

1 cup brown rice

1 tsp canola oil
1/2 onion, chopped
5 mushrooms, chopped
1 540 ml can of tomatoes, diced
2 340 ml cans kidney beans
1 340 ml can black beans
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp chipotle chili pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Cook the brown rice according to package directions. Set aside.

While rice is cooking, in a large- ish pot or pan, sauté the onion and mushrooms in the canola oil till onions are translucent. Add canned tomatoes and the beans (they should also be rinsed and drained, the beans, that is). Add seasonings and simmer on medium heat till the beans start to split open, usually 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

When beans are beginning to split, and it's all done simmering, get a potato masher ( I use the one that is like a circle with holes in it, very effective) and mash those bad beans. If anyone made you angry today, mash that mofo away!

Once it is all mashed, or as much as you feel like mashing, you are done. Put you rice on first, then your beans, then any other fixings you would like. We like Tofutti sour cream and well as the salsa.

Enjoy. Ole.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Donair Pizza, Hold the Bad Karma

Oh the donair.  The ultimate food that I thought as a vegan was forever left behind.  Honestly, the basis of the entire thing is that strange mystery meat on a spinning heat rack.  But the seasoning is so great and the sauce so sweet and garlicky, and the tomatoes so juicy ...

OK, I went away there for a minute.  Imagine my surprise to find out that a local restaurant had a vegan version of this delicacy!!  I tried it and I have to say it was very YUM, but it used plain seitan.  It lacked the seasoning and wow-ness of the actual donair seasonings.  I thought to myself, "I can do better".  More accurately, "Melina can do better".  It would be a miracle to get her to let me make a recipe for the first time in her kitchen (see this post).  As she has no experience of the donair, I did the research to guide her.   And I also thought it would be great to make the version of this delight I most miss - DONAIR PIZZA!

If you are like Melina and have not experienced the delight of the original donair, allow me to explain a few things.  The donair itself is meat, onion, tomato, sometimes mozzarella cheese, and the most amazing yummy sauce in the world.  Two facts:

1 - it is best at 3AM after many adult beverages.

2 - no matter how hot you think you are after all of those beverages, when you are sitting on the curb chowing down on one of these babies you can't possibly look good.  They are very very very messy.  Maybe that sauce dribbling down your chin and between your fingers as you smile drunkenly at the hottie across the street is karma for the mystery meat.

Here you go; donair taste in a pizza with no Karmic retribution!!

Take it over Melina.

~ Denise

Ok, Denise!

Now, as Denise just said, I never actually ate one, but I am so in the minority here. Growing up on the South Shore of Nova Scotia, these where very popular. I just could not get over the gross-ness of that spinning block of gray meat. I did eat meat back then, but was still grossed out. Yeah, it was that gross.

So, this is what I did, because, as Denise rightly said, I really dislike her in my kitchen.

I started with the seitan. If you currently do not worship seitan (har, har) you seriously need to re-think your decisions. Some people are nervous making this tasty blob of protein, but it is so easy. Just do this;

Donair 'Meat'

Preheat over to 350 degrees.

1 cup vital wheat gluten
1 tsp salt
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp italian seasoning
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

 Combine in medium bowl, but you really want everything combined very well.

Then add 1/2 cup water (or slightly more) and stir, when it is almost all incorporated, use your hands. When it is in one blob, pull it out of the bowl and kneed with the heel of your hands a few times.

Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly oil (I just thew it on a non-stick 8 x 8 pan) and pop in the over for about 30 minutes. When it's done, it will look a bit browned, let cool on a plate or cooling rack.

When the 'meat' is in the over, it is time to start the sauce.

Donair Sauce

1 1/2 -ish cups soy milk
3/4 cup sugar
3 tsp garlic powder
6-7 tsp vinegar ***

In a glass or metal bowl - your creating magic here folks, plastic doesn't work - combine sugar and garlic powder, add soy milk. You need to make sure this is all mixed well. Then, and this is important, add in very slowly the vinegar and stir slowly too. This will make the sauce thicken and sort of turn a bit translucent. And yummy, according to Denise.

*** We used apple cider vinegar, but may try it with white sometime to see the difference.

Once it is thickened, cover and pop in the fridge.

On to the main event!

Donair Pizza

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

This is a bit different that normal pizza, so I'll walk you through it, k?

Get you pizza crust out, put in pan. We bought a vegan crust at the store. When you're busy, you gotta do what you gotta do. Put your cheese (Daiya for us, but any vegan cheese you like) on, I used 3/4 cups. Then I sliced the cooled seitan in thin long strips, and tore them up a bit and popped them on top of the cheese. I'd diced onion and tomato, threw some of that on top. Pop it in the oven.

I baked it for about 20 minutes, but I like the onion and tomato to get a bit browned. So yummy.

Take it out of the oven, and slice it really thin, I didn't take a photo of this part because the pizza just magically disappeared after it came out of the oven. Huh.

Now, remember that sauce in the fridge? Bring it out and put in small - medium dipping bowls. You will be dipping your pizza slices in the Donair sauce.

That is how you make vegan Donair Pizza. It seems to be a atlantic Canadian thing. So, enjoy some culture.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Hummus Among Us

The idea to make hummus and thus this post is when Denise said she read somewhere that vegans spend too much on hummus. And it's so easy to make. But, oddly enough, being rather busy of late we were actually buying it pre made. Gross, eh?

So, what follows is a nice mellow yummy hummus. I'm attempting freezing the hummus too. I don't remember if it worked before or not, so here goes.

In this recipe, I lightly roast 2 cloves of garlic. I do this by crushing the clove with the side of my knife (carefully !) and tossing the cloves in a pie pan and stick them in the oven for about 10 -ish minutes or so at about 300 degrees.

For this hummus recipe, you'll need;

4 cups canned chick peas
juice of 1 lemon
4 cloves garlic (2 should be lightly roasted, all peeled and chopped)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoon tahini
1 1/2 cups of water (adjust to desired consistency)

Put everything in the food processor. blend till nice and smooth. Takes me about 5-10 minutes with mine.

I love toasting the pita in the oven, soooooo much better than if you don't.

This recipe makes about 4 cups hummus. Eat!

- Melina  : D

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Delicious Dinners; Cream Sauce With Pasta

Hi there, gentle viewers, today we are going to be making what we refer to in our house as 'white' sauce with pasta. Most folks call it cream sauce.

One of my favorite meals years ago before I was vegan, or even veggie, was a chicken alfredo with linguine.  They served it at a fancy restaurant that I only got to go to a few times. But the love of that dish stayed with me for years. Then, about a year and a half ago, my life changed, and we got 'The Conscious Cook' by Tal Ronnen. In this delightful cookbook is the recipe for cashew cream.  If you don't eat dairy, you need to make friends with this new cooking staple.

You take raw cashews (NOT roasted, they must be raw), and soak in water in the fridge overnight. The next day, you drain the soaking water out of the container, and put the plump, rather odd looking cashews in a blender, cover with fresh water, and puree till smooth and creamy.  Then, what I find helpful is to measure out 1/2 cup in baggies and freeze them.  Awesome.  Wonder if Tal is single? Hmm.

Anywho, on to the recipe for cream sauce. This is what you will need:

1 tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 fake chick'en breasts, cooked
1 cup soy milk
1/2 cup cashew cream
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp brown rice flour
2 cups water
1 tbsp soy Parmesan ( you can use nutritional yeast if you like, Denise seems to be allergic to it!?!)
1/8 tsp fresh ground pepper, or to taste.

Linguine or any other pasta you'd like.

In a fairly large pot, put olive oil in pan, and on medium heat, add garlic, onion, and diced fake chick'en and add too. Sauté till onion and garlic are done. Then add cashew cream, water, soy milk, salt, pepper, parmesan and brown rice flour.

I usually turn down the heat about now, and let simmer, stirring till sauce is thickened to desired thickness. Round about 15-20 minutes-ish.

When you add all the liquid to the white sauce, it's a good time to put the pasta on.
Drain your pasta, put on your plate, and cover in yummy sauce. I sprinkle a bit of Parmesan on top of mine.

I love pasta. I hope you will too.

- Melina

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Busy Besties Need Nuggets

We are two busy besties.  We have an Etsy shop where we sell accessories, Melina is a fantastic painter, I write, and we both work our slightly soul-sucking (say that 10 times fast) day jobs.  And don't even get me started about our recent Zumba addiction!  All in all, we need 30 hours in every day.

Now Melina is a ridiculously fabulous cook.   She is a born house frau and the kitchen is her domain.  I can also cook, but am generally not allowed in 'her' kitchen as she says it is too stressful for her.  Apparently when you make gravy there shouldn't be soy sauce on the ceiling and flour on the cupboard doors.  Who knew?  My job is often to come up with recipes or ideas that she then works with.  All in all, I've got it pretty good.  Wait until you see the posts of more elaborate meals she throws together.  Yup, she'll make someone a good little wifey someday.  *will duck to avoid the inevitable blow from that comment*

Though she is amazing, due to our ridiculous schedules we often lack time.  What is a vegan vamp to do?  We can't just throw a Lean Cuisine in the microwave like our carcass eating friends (who we love very much, but will inevitably be mocked frequently in this blog).  We've been left to our own devices.  Now you will see many exciting and elaborate recipes on here, but this is not one of them.   It is, however, quick and delish!  And it reminds me of a certain fast food evil empire's product which will not be named.

Here is what you need:

4 meatless chicken nuggets
1 slice of vegan cheese (we use Toffuti)
1 bun (we use multigrain flat buns, 'cause they're good AND because saying 'flat buns' makes us giggle)
Vegenaise or Nayonaise

These are the meatless nuggets we get here in Halifax at the Superstore, however we have done the same sandwich with the plain Gardein nuggets and had equal deliciousness.
Cook up the nuggets according to package directions.  Assemble sandwich with a goodly amount of Vegenaise, a slice of cheese and nugget yumminess and ENJOY!

 MMMMMMMMMM!  I gotta go eat!  More elaborate meals to follow, I swear.

~  Denise

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Who are We

For the most part this will be about food. Sometimes about other vegan 'lifestyle' issues.

Melina (me) started cooking at a young age, as my mother wasn't prone to feeding me anything other than fried bologna and Kraft Dinner. Yuk. I loved fresh food and would graze in the forest and grandfathers garden for berries and beans. After a failed, and unsupported attempt to become vegetarian in grade 5, I vowed one day I would be veggie. And in 2000 that is just what I did, and 3 years later was vegan.

Denise grew up in a house where there were no desserts. In that cookie jar? Baby crackers. Her mom made healthy to the point of blandness. Boiled, skinless (eeeew) broiled chicken, or fish. Boiled potatoes. Canned veggies. Sound familiar? What was the sound most likely to make little Denise cry? The sound of the pressure-cooker simmering away. She has an unnatural aversion to the devices to this day. It was with her gentle encouragement, that I finally became veggie.

This is a powerful duo. You might wanna stand back a pace or two. Vamps? Well, we love supernatural fiction and most vampire shows. Even the silly ones. But, really, we watch way too much 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer'. Hmm, could have been the 'Vegan Slayers' I suppose, but I'll leave that to Kerry King. Ha.