Monday, July 19, 2010

Polenta Dinner

polenta dinner
Friday night before we began our long long car trip to Maryland (i.e. Grammy and Gung-gung's house), I made up a polenta and beans dinner for us all (me, the girls, and Dave). We ate all the polenta. Adrianna couldn't get enough; Jacqui ate pretty quickly; and Dave and I ate up our full portions (plus an extra one for Dave). I gave each of the girls 1 1/2 pieces of polenta, giving Jacqui beans only and Adrianna beans and sauce. Two pieces each for me and Dave, with an extra piece waiting for Dave when his plate was clean.

The polenta is from my earlier-in-the-week cauliflower and polenta effort. For the bean sauce, I used some mushroom and olive marinara sauce mixed with coco rose beans, heated slightly and spooned on. On the side, farm fresh cukes. I fork-cut up Jacqui's and Adrianna's portions to make it easier for them to eat by themselves. It was a quick and easy dinner, perfect for getting the girls to eat quickly so that we could be on the road before 8pm.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Marinated Tempeh and Cauliflower Polenta

When I got home last night, I made up a quick marinade for some SoyBoy soy tempeh (cut into four triangles). After the girls were finally asleep, I cooked the tempeh, and started chopping cauliflower for my polenta.

Jacqui is in the final stages of potty-training. She wears underwear during the day and hasn't had an awake accident in more than a week. Yay! The last stage is sleep. Some days she wakes up dry from her nap, some days she wakes up wet. Of course, the days she wakes up wet are the days I foolishly allow her to nap without a diaper over her underwear. Sigh. She has yet to wake up dry from overnight sleep. And, over the last week, her body has determined that she needs to poop between 8:30 and 9:00 pm. When she should be in bed, going to sleep. Instead, she is sitting on the potty, pooping. "Mommy, I want to be a big girl, I don't want to pee and poop in my diaper." What can you say to that entreaty? "Ok, ok, go sit on the potty." Even if it's the third time since going to bed that she's asking to go. Even if I'm the only one home with the girls and Adrianna is on the verge of falling asleep. Even if I'm starving because I haven't gotten to eat yet. I just can't say no to the "I don't want to pee or poop in my diaper because I want to be a big girl" plea. Bedtime is just becoming later and later and dinner time for me is becoming much more of a Spanish-time dinner... but I don't get an afternoon siesta. Sigh.

I based tMarinated Tempehhe marinade on a tempeh marinade recipe from Veganomicon. I omitted the maple syrup (didn't have any) and only used 1/2 the liquid smoke. I used 1/3 of a bouillon square plus 3/4 cup hot water to make the vegetable broth. The tempeh marinated for a bit more than an hour, then I cooked it in my handy dandy (but a little too large) non-stick skillet. I used some of the marinade to cook with the tempeh, but saved half of it to use again for marinated tempeh sticks. (I cut up another block of tempeh, into small finger-sized strips, and put them into the marinade and the whole container into the fridge last night. I'll cook them up tonight, so the girls have something new for lunch on Friday.)

As I cooked and ate my tempeh (yum yum), I started the polenta. I've been dreaming of making polenta for some time now. (Is is odd that I dream of making certain food? I don't think it's too odd...much better than some of my other dreams!) My first attempt to cook polenta was thwarted when the polenta had grown a thick layer of green mold on the top. Eck! I took it back to the farmers market and got a new bag. No mold on this one. Phew!

I based the polenta on a recipe from Veganomicon (Broccoli Polenta). I subbed cauliflower for the broccoli -- although I didn't have any broccoli, I had a huge head of cauliflower waiting to be eaten in the fridge. :) Four cups chopped and I still had enough for 3-4 more. Instead, I ate maybe half raw while cooking the polenta. So I've got a little bit of raw cauliflower left in the fridge for another night. I chose to use my brownie pan for the cooked polenta -- after taking out some of the polenta-cauliflower slop to eat immediately! I topped it with some large sea salt and nutritional yeast. Yum!

Pan of Cauliflower Polenta
Here's my pan of cauliflower polenta. It looks eggy, no? The bowl of freshly cooked polenta really looked eggy to me. After the pan cooled a bit, I put it into the fridge to firm up. This morning before I left for work, I cut into squares and gave Dave directions on how to make it for lunch. Fry 2-3 squares in the skillet, add a little olive oil if necessary. Top with tomato sauce and coco rose or white beans (both are sitting cooked in the fridge). The girls will have a yummy lunch!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Lavender Pancakes

I found a recipe for lavender pancakes earlier this week. The girls and I had bought a bag of baking and tea-making lavender from Lavender By The Bay, a farm out on Long Island that sells on Saturdays at our farmers market. It's been sitting in our kitchen, waiting for something wonderful to make. I decided that this morning was the morning to try the lavender pancakes for breakfast.

I made some adjustments to the original recipe. My sister and niece had gone through a gluten-free (GF) phase. When it ended, I inherited their leftovers, including a HUGE bag of GF all-purpose flour. I didn't have any wheat all-purpose flour, so I used the GF AP flour.

Probably because of the GF AP flour, I found that I needed to add quite a bit more milk, and the batter still wasn't as runny as I expected it to be. When I spooned the batter onto the pan, I had to spread it out to make the pancakes. The batter was too viscous to go anywhere on its own. You can see in the photo above the results of not immediately spreading the batter as I spooned it onto the pan...the center circles are the plops of batter, the rest is the result of my expert spreading. :).

Still, the pancakes were yummy, if a little stretchy (again, I think a result of the GF AP flour). The lavender flowers added a subtle flavor when the pancakes were eaten right after cooking. The flavor was much stronger and more pronounced at lunchtime/dinnertime when Jacqui and I finished off the remaining three pancakes that weren't devoured by us and Dave at breakfast.

Here's my version of Vegan Guinea Pig's lavender pancakes.

1 ¼ cup gluten-free all purpose flour
2 T dark brown sugar
1 T lavender flowers
¼ tsp fine sea salt
4 tsp baking powder
¼ cup plain soy yogurt
¼ cup strawberry applesauce
1 ½ cup vanilla hemp milk
¼ cup organic canola oil

What to do
Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl. (I had to smash up the brown sugar by hand because it had started to gel into balls, probably from the humidity in NYC.)
In a separate bowl, whisk the well ingredients together well.
Whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, mixing well until you have a smooth batter.
Heat your pancake pan over medium heat. Using a ¼ cup, spoon the batter onto the pan. I had to then spread the batter out with the back of a spoon to make pancakes. (Otherwise, these would have been more like drop biscuits or scones.) Cook until the top is all bubbly and starting to dry, then flip over. The bottom should be a lovely golden brown. If it's still pale, then let it cook a little longer on that side before flipping.
Serve the pancakes with maple syrup for dipping or all alone.

The recipe made 15 4-in diameter pancakes for me, all of which were promptly eaten, leaving none to freeze for another day.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


We are loving smoothies in the hot heat of New York this summer. I'm sharing a few of our recent recipes below. Each makes enough smoothie for the four of us to enjoy for breakfast or lunch. :) Just blend all the ingredients together, pour into glasses, and enjoy with or without straws.

Strawberry Banana Hemp Smoothie
This is a lovely pink smoothie with a bit of a tang from the cranberry pom juice.
1 cup vanilla hemp milk
1 cup cranberry pomegranate juice
2 frozen bananas
1 cup frozen strawberries
2 heaping spoonfuls ground golden flax
1 avocado

Blueberry Banana Green Smoothie
This is a beautiful purple smoothie with lots of protein and vitamin C.
1 cup vanilla oat milk
1 cup green juice
2 frozen bananas
1 frozen kiwi
1 cup frozen blueberries
2 heaping spoonfuls ground golden flax
1 heaping spoonful soy protein powder
1 avocado


On Saturday, we used the large (and I do mean LARGE) bunch of basil we bought at the farmers market to make PESTO!!!!

Pesto is so easy to make, and so tasty. Store-bought pesto always has cheese in it, so if you want vegan pesto, you've got to make it yourself. All you need is a food processor (or high powered blender) and some ice cube trays, and you're ready to put some pesto away for later.

basil Pictures, Images and Photos
(image from photobucket)

6 cups loosely packed basil leaves (rinsed and patted dry)
3/4 cup pine nuts
6-8 garlic cloves
1 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

What to do
Combine the basil, pine nuts, garlic, salt, nutritional yeast, and olive oil in a food processor fitted with a metal blade. (I tried to make this in the blender first, but the blender didn't cut it. Literally.) Process until smooth and creamy, scraping down the sides to ensure everything is processed.
Using a spatula, fill ice cube trays with pesto and cover tightly with plastic wrap and freeze. Keep enough unfrozen for whatever meal you want to make with it immediately.

This recipe can be halved or doubled, depending on how much basil you have on hand. You can also add more or less of the salt and nutritional yeast, as you prefer the taste. You will also notice that my recipe has lots of garlic. I love garlic. Jacqui's first comment was that the pesto was spicy. Not so spicy that she didn't like it, but spicy enough that she let Adrianna have the next three spoonfuls while she thought about the spiciness.

Saturday night, I mixed pesto with brown Basmati rice and garbanzos for dinner. Yum. The girls loved it, and it was such a quick and easy dinner for them.

Last night, we made pasta (brown rice pasta for the girls and
tofu shiratake pasta for me and Dave) with white beans and pesto. The brown rice pasta was delicious with the pesto, as were the beans. I threw some grape tomatoes in with Dave's and my meal. The tofu shiratake pasta was not very good. It was rubbery and made me want to gag. I ended up eating around it -- just eating the tomatoes and beans with pesto -- and filling up on the fresh gigantic head of cauliflower that I steamed for dinner too. I think I ate half of the cauliflower myself. It was probably a foot across. I had to steam it in three batches last night. So delicious. Fresh vegetables from the farmers market just taste better. Ahh...

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Smoothies and Farmers Market Lunch

Saturday is my day with the girls. Dave was out at kung fu all day long.

For breakfast, we made strawberry banana smoothies. Jacqui has been asking for smoothies for breakfast every day lately. I think it's the heat. We had been making banana smoothies with whatever type of juice we had around for a few days because we didn't have any other frozen fruit. But Friday, we made a special trip to the store to pick up some frozen strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries, so yesterday we were prepared for yummy smoothie goodness.

5 pieces (1/2 banana each) frozen banana
1 cup oatmilk
1 cup orange-pineapple juice
two heaping scoops soy protein
3/4 avocado
1 1/2 cup frozen strawberries

What to do
Place the milk and juice in the blender first, then the remaining ingredients. Blend until smooth and serve in glasses (plastic for the little girls). Enjoy!

After breakfast, we took our regular Saturday trip to the market. (When I ask Jacqui where we should bike to, the market is always her first-choice destination, every day of the week. Too bad our market is only on Saturdays.) The organic woman-run farm we love (Evolutionary Organics) had the cutest selection of fresh, small zucchini and summer squash. I made the mistake of letting the girls pick some, and ended up spending $10 on squash. We also picked up a napa cabbage head and some vitamin greens. At another farmer's stand, we got lots of fresh berries (raspberries and blackberries) -- on special for 4 boxes for $10. Adrianna and Jacqui stuffed their faces with the berries before we even bought any. For the rest of our trip around the market, Adrianna's face was stained black and red (as were her hands) from all the berry goodness.
After purchasing the delicious berries, we went to play in the park for a bit. And eat more berries. And play. After playing for a while, we walked back through the market, picking up two humongous heads of white cauliflower (they barely fit in the fridge last night), a peach for lunch, two greenhouse tomatoes, and a large bunch of fresh basil. Homeward!

Farmers Market Lunch
4-5 small summer squash, sliced into rounds
1 large fresh tomato, chopped
1 T extra virgin olive oil
sea salt
black pepper
1 small red spicy pepper (from our window garden!)
1 cup cooked garbanzos

What to do
heat the oil and then saute the sliced squash. Add the red pepper, tomato, salt, and black pepper. Then add the garbanzos. Saute and cook until the squash is soft. Serve!

It's so easy and Jacqui and Adrianna loved it! So much fun picking your own lunch at the market and helping mom make it up.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Moroccan Garbanzo and Lentil Soup

I love garbanzo beans. Love love love. ♥ And lentils. ♥ Love love love.

Jacqui loves sweet potatoes. She asks for them all the time, and tells me that she LOVES sweet potatoes.

So it was no surprise that this morning, when I asked her what she wanted in today's soup, that she asked for sweet potatoes. She choose sweet potatoes over white potatoes, yellow potatoes, green peppers, and green beans -- all vegetables she truly enjoys.

This soup is a sweet potato version of a soup I made back in April. The recipe is a mix up of several recipes -- one from my mom and sister and a few lentil and garbanzo bean soup recipes that I've found over the years. I used ground ginger this morning because I didn't have any fresh ginger in the apartment.

2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
1 large sweet potato, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp tumeric
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 cup dried lentils, picked over
1 15 oz can of diced tomatoes, with juice
2 1/2 - 3 cups cooked organic garbanzos
6 cups warm or hot water
2 low-salt vegan bouillon squares

What To Do
Heat the oil while chopping the onion. Saute the onion for 5-10 minutes, letting it brown a little. Chop the garlic, and add it for one - two minutes. Then, add a bit of water to de-glaze the pan (get all the good brown stuff off the pan). Let this simmer while you put all the other ingredients in the soup pot.
Jacqui unwrapped the bouillon and put the 2 cubes into the pot, then helped me put in the 6 cups of water. Jacqui and Adrianna then helped me add the cooked garbanzos (cooked last night with 2 bay leaves), chopped sweet potatoes, and green lentils.
Add the ginger, tumeric, cinnamon, cumin, and cardamon. Add the onion, garlic, and whatever water is still there with them. Stir everything well.
Place over medium-high heat and let everything come to a boil. Reduce the heat, and let the soup cook for 45-60 minutes, stirring every so often.