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Pho Sho!

7 Jan


It doesn’t make sense how I made and consumed this healthy beyond belief Vietnamese Pho just one day before I became the victim of a flu that kept me on my couch for the next four days straight. Not, I realize, the most appetizing way to start off a piece about a wonderful soup– but it is what it is and that’s what happened.

I haven’t been sick like that in years, the kind of sick where my body is just too weak to function normally. It’s actually quite odd– being actively aware that your body is busy battling something beyond your reach, and with all that energy your body is putting into making you better its leaving you completely exhausted and feverish and freezing and weak, and there is just nothing you can do about that battle going on but sit under the covers on your couch, watch Netflix and drink juice. It’s a creepy reminder that you don’t really control your body after all. It’s as if your body has a higher level of consciousness  and it has told you, OK once I’m done doing what I’ve got to do, you can go back to your silly escapades again.

If anything, being very sick for only a few days is actually a blessing in disguise as it is a nice reminder of how sweet health is. For a few days you aren’t physically able to do anything, you just sit there under your covers watching as people go about their lives and their routines without you–going out and strolling the streets, picking up a paper and coffee, casually meeting friends for a beer, enjoying a day of work and then dinner… All simple take-for-granted pleasures. Not being able to participate in such things for a few days actually allows for a new sense of gratitude when you are back to your health.

So, as it turned out my New Years Flu  actually became a nice way to be more grateful for the simple things I do most days.

And back to the soup!

Pho! This was my first dabble in Pho and though I really enjoyed it I’d like to take some time working on a homemade Pho broth, which I’ll report back on. In the meantime, I just used a store-bought Pho flavored broth (Pacifico Organic Pho broth is available at Whole Foods- so are Pho brown rice noodles for a healthier noodle.)

Vegan Pho

  • Heat a soup pot filled with Vegetarian Pho broth
  • Add sliced carrots, edemame, shitake mushrooms to the broth (however many veggies you want- based on if you want a brothy soup or something with more bite.) Let this sit at a low heat for about 10 minutes until the vegetables are tender
  • Bring a second pot of water to boil, add pho noodles and boil for 1 minutes and drain
  • Toss noodles with a few tsp of sesame oil (optional) and split noodles into bowls (Note: Your soup bowls should be on the larger size)
  • While veggies continue to simmer, slice firm tofu and drizzle with soy sauce, and then add to bowls on top of noodles
  • Create a “toppings” buffet to add to your soup when it’s ready, include: lime wedges, chopped scallions, chopped cilantro, mung sprouts and Hoisin sauce, and mint sprigs
  • Ladle broth into bowls and add toppings. Eat with a large soup spoon and chopsticks.


Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

3 Dec

photo (57)

Peppers, aka God’s little bowls, waiting to be stuffed.

I like stuffing stuff. One time I had a dinner party and called it, “Stuffed Stuff.” Stuffed peppers, stuffed mushrooms, stuffed eggplant. You can stuff squash, you can stuff potatoes, you can stuff tomatoes. You can literally stuff anything with a peel or skin. And then you just eat the whole entire thing and it’s delicious.

Now that we discussed the art of stuffing, lets discuss quinoa. I don’t love quinoa as much as I should. I know, shocking right? I should be obsessed with it. It’s a complete protein. It’s probably the healthiest grain there is- it just doesn’t excite me that much. (Let me first set the barometer on the sorts of things that do excite me: Farro, wheat berry, my shower drain not clogging, when this grandmother who lives in the apartment across the street has her lights turned on when I’m walking home so I can pause and look in her windows- a ritual that strangely relaxes me…) What I am saying is I’m easily excitable so quinoa should, in theory, excite me, but it doesn’t that much. It tastes too… pilly or something.

But the quinoa in this recipe is the best quinoa I’ve ever made. I think it’s the fact that I roasted it that helped with the texture and made it exciting. I made extra “stuffing” that didn’t fit into the two peppers, which I just threw onto the cookie sheet and roasted everything together. Then put the extras on a pile of spinach next to the plated pepper. And poof, a complete meal and a complete protein.

And what’s even more exciting? Don’t put cheese on top of this and you got yourself a vegan recipe. And lastly, let it be noted that a man ate this with me, and he was really into it. I just like to say that to prove that these recipes don’t just please the rabbit-girls of the world.

So stuff some stuff and enjoy!

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees, lightly oil a baking pan
  • Boil 1/2 cup of quinoa & 1 cup of water (or chicken broth- better!) together, and then simmer for 15 minutes until soft
  • Cut the pepper’s “hats” off and clean out the insides- brush or spray the peppers with olive oil inside and out (I have spray olive oil, best invention ever)- put the peppers top-side-down in the oven for 15 minutes (when peppers are roasted, reduce the oven to 350)
  • In skillet, warm some olive oil, add half an onion chopped, some garlic chopped, for about 5 minutes- Then stir in 1 teaspoons of cumin, coriander, red pepper flakes & salt
  • Add a handful of each: chopped carrots, celery, zucchini & corn… really add as much as you want, you like a lot of veggies, add more, whatevs
  • When veggies are tender add the quinoa and salt to taste
  • Stuff the peppers with the quinoa stuffing, if there is extra just toss it on the oiled baking sheet. Sprinkle grated cheddar cheese over the peppers and put back into the oven for 10-15 minutes
  • Place over a nice bed of spinach and you’re done!

East West Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

27 Nov

I forgot to take a picture of the stuffed mushroom, so here is a picture of some nuts and my grandmothers & aunts & great aunts & my cousins & me that I keep in my kitchen.

You know what happened yesterday? I spent over an hour reading this blog thinking, Why don’t we update this blog anymore? And then I decided to make Alayna’s rosemary bread which is really, really easy to make and as I was mixing the dough I was thinking, I really still like all of these recipes that are on this blog. And then I started talking to Alayna and we were both like, Why don’t we update this blog anymore when we’re both such better cooks now than we were when we were writing this blog?

And so, hellllllo ladles wez be back!

Just because Alayna and I haven’t been posting for… err… about a year now, doesn’t mean we haven’t been cooking. Au contraire! Have we ever. So what we’re going to do is start updating Monday’s Soup again with whatever we have made that’s really awesome. Don’t gotta be soup, just gotta be good.

I also really want to do this so I can start stealing Alayna’s recipes again.

For those of you who are new here, let me tell you a bit about how Alayna and I cook so you know what you’re getting into:

  • We don’t use measuring cups or spoons because that would result in more dishes to clean. That means these recipes are really loose, add more of what you like, don’t add what you don’t like… this isn’t baking, it’s cooking so relax. (Well sometimes it’s baking but even then we don’t really use measuring cups.)
  • Alayna and I do not like to waste food, ever. This is less of an environmental/responsible conscious kind of thing (though there’s that, too) rather it’s more like, we’re really, really anal.
  • Alayna and I like to cook things that are both practical and wholesome. This is where our love for soup is really rooted- to make soup most of the time you really just use one pot. And then you get a whole delicious meal out of it. So practical! So healthy! So perfect!
  • Alayna and I really like to eat.

Alayna, please comment if I’m missing anything.

So anyways. Here we go again. Kicking this off are these amazing stuffed mushrooms I made last night adapted from the Moosewood Cookbook (I recommend!). Because this meal involved a lot of eastern flavors (e.g. miso, soy sauce, sesame oil & peanut butter) I wasn’t totally sure how this would come out. But it came out awesome. Gavin said, “This meal should go in the rotation.” As in, the rotation of dinners I make- that’s as big of a compliment as I’m going to get. It’s also, I just realized… vegan! But you really, really don’t realize that because it’s so flavorful and hearty and good.

Now without further ado…

East West Portobello Stuffed Mushrooms 
Serves 2 people who eat a lot, or 3 normal people
  • Preheat the oven to 350, oil a baking sheet that will hold 3 portobello mushrooms
  • Make brown rice (use about 3/4 of a cup of dry brown rice)
  • In a large bowl crumble 8 oz of tofu, 1 red diced red pepper, 1/2 a can of water chestnuts, 3 diced scallions, 2 tbsp of peanut butter, 2 tbsp of miso, some diced ginger, 1 tsp of sesame oil & mix well
  • Twist off the mushroom stems and place them gill-side up on the oiled pan, in a small cup stir 3 tsp of sesame oil & 1 tbsp of soy sauce brush this onto the mushrooms. Then mound the fillings on top of each mushrooms (I had extra and just put it on the baking sheet to heat up with everything else.
  • Bake for 35 minutes
  • Meanwhile! in a small sauce pan mix 1 cup of unsweetened apple juice, 1 tbsn soy sauce, 1 tbsp rice OR cider vinegar, some grated ginger, 1 tspn sugar and put on low heat
  • Slowly pour in 1 tbsp of cornstarch dissolved in 1 tbsp of cold water– mix for about 1 minute over heat

To plate:

Put down a handful or two of fresh spinach, then pile on a serving of the brown rice, then top on the stuff mushroom, then sprinkle everything with the sweet & sour sauce. Add soy sauce if you’d like, to taste

Thai White Bean Soup

24 May

Bridal showers. Good lord. Before any ladle starts out on a food blog of their own, you know what they should do first? Get engaged to someone to have a bridal shower. Toasters, blenders, mortars and pestles, oh my! It’s like my kitchen went on Extreme Makeover. I have one pot made of copper (thanks Katie!) that is so beautiful it just sits on my stove as a decoration because I’m too afraid to cook in it lest it might lose some of that shiny luster.

Anyway, so as you might have noticed (or not, unique page views are down, what’s up with that?), Alayna and I aren’t posting with the same once-week-or-something-terrible-has-happened rigor. This has a lot to do with me. And this new job. At my last job I could handle 25 hobbies and a Little Sister. This job I’m just trying to get home with enough time to eat dinner before I fall asleep. Sigh. Even more rougher waters are ahead if you can believe it because Alayna is going to Madagascar for the summer in a mere two days. When I think of Madagascar, I too imagine a place where all the animals are animated and so is Alayna.

But I’ll try my best to hold my own. And Alayna will give us occasional reports from the field. So keep checking. I’m aiming for once a week. I might not always make soup though, but I’ll try to keep it vegan. But who knows? Life’s an adventure right? Lets have this soup blog live a little. Jump out of the soup pot and run down the road and see what it finds. Love. Adventure. Spices. Butter.

Speaking of, so the soup I made last night (because for the first time in about 6 months I was craving soup) was good! I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. Be liberal with spices. Especially when you’re cooking vegan. Spices taste as good as fat. Fat as in diary and meat. (Not “fat” like wahh I eat 12 thyme twigs instead of dinner.) My mom gave me a Thai Curry spice for my bridal shower which basically is a mix of black pepper, salt, curry powder, onions, peppercorns, turmeric, paprika, chili peppers, thyme and parsley. I added a bunch of this into the soup and it was delicious. Also note that when I say “Thai Curry” in the ingredients, you can just use a combo of those spices which you should already have in your spice rack. (Good ladles always have robust spice racks.) And without further ado…

Thai White Bean Soup

  • Saute olive oil and 1 white onion chopped until translucent under low heat
  • Add 1/2 a spaghetti squash (any squash, or sweet potato, will do… and will probably be easier to cut)
  • Add 1 16 oz can of cannelloni beans and 1 16 oz can of black eye peas (if you want a heartier soup, if not, just use 1 can of beans)
  • Add a bay leaf, cover with vegetable broth, and add about 3 tablespoons of Thai Curry spices (or the spice combo listed above)
  • Add two handfuls of cherry tomatoes with their centers squeezed out into the pot (and then throw in their skins. Enjoy this process.)
  • Let this simmer for about 30+ minutes (while you write more bridal shower thank you notes, perhaps?)
  • Add a ton of arugula (I put in a whole bag.) mix until it wilts
  • Ladle out and add some parm cheese if you don’t want to be a complete vegan tonight.
  • Enjoy!


Vegan Enchiladas

27 Apr

The vegan challenge. I’m always happy with the results of my meals, but finding those meals to make in the first place is a little annoying. Alayna’s sister awesomely sent me a cookbook that passed through her magazine, Women’s Day, called “Part-Time Vegan.” I was super pumped. I haven’t given the recipes there a good look yet, but I will and will get back to you. Mainly, a lot of the self-declared “vegan” recipes I find on blogs and vegan cookbooks seem so bland. And it’s not the lack of cheese and stuff. Cooking vegan isn’t that different from how I ordinarily cook. It’s the lack of spices and flavor. I really beg, if you have great vegan recipes please share them by commenting below. I’d love to try them out.

But in the meantime, try out this one for size. Enchiladas. That is one thing I’m discovering actually, that vegan recipes that aren’t self-declared “vegan,” but are actually, vegan, from all around the world (more like Asia here, not how I think of Mexican food…) are totally flavorful and delicious. I should poke East for my recipes for next time. Anyways, this is delicious. I didn’t miss any cheese or meat and Gavin loved it. Very flavorful and filling.

Plate cleaning.

  • Preheat oven to 350 F
  • Saute 1 onion in olive oil with a sprinkle of salt until soft
  • Add 1 green (or any color) chopped pepper, 2 normal size summer squash cut in bite sized pieces and 1 tspn of chili powder, 2 dried chili peppers crushed, saute for another 5 minutes on medium heat
  • Add 3 or 4 chopped cloves of garlic
  • I bought this all natural taco seasoning at Whole Foods and added a ton– you don’t have to do this, you can just add 1 tbsp of tomato paste, generous shakes of cumin, onion powder and more chili powder instead
  • Add 1 can of black beans, saute for another 5 minutes.
  • Turn off heat and add lime juice (from one lime)
  • Lightly spray large rectangular baking dish, place a tortilla in front of you and arrange about 1/4 cup of bean mixture (or whatever you think) across the center. Roll up and place seam-side down into the backing dish.
  • You can fit about 4 inside, put extra juice you have from pot on top of the enchiladas and put in the oven for 20 minutes
  • Take out, sprinkle with chopped green onions and add sliced avocado on the side. And hot sauce if you so desire.
  • Enjoy!

Avocado & Tomatoes

6 Apr

Welcome back to the vegan challenge! Before I get into the dish, I want to talk milk. Long ago I have dismissed “milk” as a bi-product evil of American food politics and I became suspicious of it. I also have dismissed soy somewhere down the line. Why do I dismiss everything? Anyway, so now I’m onto Almond Milk like everyone else. I don’t drink glass loads, I put it in my coffee and oatmeal. But I noticed the other day that my Whole Foods Almond Milk does not boast “All Natural.” I then read the ingredient list and it’s weird. What should I cream my stuff with? I’m confused. I want your suggestions here. Is there a more natural almond milk to drink? Is milk not that big of a deal? I’m not going to be a super crazy and drink raw milk, that seems extreme. But I’d love to hear your tips. Anyways, now back to vegan challenge.

I know a vegan side dish isn’t the most exciting of posts. But it’s a side dish I’ve been bringing in as my lunch/snack to work nearly every day for the last 2 weeks because it’s so delicious (and avocados have been on sale, if we’re going to be honest) and I felt bad not sharing this with my ladles. Note that when I say “lunch/snack” I mean I tend to eat a procession of snacks instead of a lunch during the day at work. But this would also be just as lovely as a salad or summer side dish. It’s also the easiest, easiest thing to make in the world. And it tastes better than you think, I promise, even if you think it’ll taste delicious, it’ll taste more delicious.

Avocados & Tomatoes

  • Put in a cup of grape tomatoes
  • Put in bite size pieces of 1/2 and avocado
  • Add a tpsn or less of olive oil
  • Add a teaspoon of sea salt (liberal with the salt!)
  • Add a teaspoon of pepper
  • Shake it around. Eat chilled.

Farro with kale

22 Mar

Alayna, are you so jealous of my well versed grain cupboard?

Hello Farro. Alayna asked what vegan meal I was going to make this week and I told her something that involved farro. She said What’s farro? And I said, that was exactly the response I was going for. As I mentioned earlier, one aspect of the vegan challenge for me is exploring whole grains, as we did with vegetables for soup. I feel like I have conquered bulgur- and now I’m moving on to the next thing. I actually had to go to two food stores to find farro, which was a pain because it was 9pm post-Poetry class so I wasn’t all in the mood for wandering the Whole Foods of Manhattan but alas, these are the things I do for my masses upon masses of ladles.

A little bit about farro. It takes about 45 minutes to cook. Like brown rice. You know what’s something I am discovering? 45 minutes isn’t actually that long. If you put the farro in boiling water, then turn it to simmer, right when you get home– then you go and putter around, it actually doesn’t set your eating time back. Writing that out I realize that sounds like incredibly obvious advice, but I have a tendency to get home and spin around in some weird whirlwinds for 30 minutes. So realizing I can put the thing on the stove or in the oven the moment I get home pre-spazzing out, well it’s just time efficient. Anyway, nutrition. There actually isn’t a lot written about farro. But lets see.

Well look at that! Farro is the oldest grain in the world. Didn’t realize I was eating great grandma last night. It was very popular in Biblical times. Awesome. Now it’s sort of popular in Italy and the Middle East. But I think circa Jesus and crew was farro’s real hay-day.  Farro is a whole grain that is an excellent source for complex carbohydrates. Additionally, farro has twice the fiber and protein than modern wheat. Different than some other whole grains, a carbohydrate in farro called cyanogenic glucosides has been found to stimulate the immune system, lower cholesterol and help maintain blood sugar levels. While farro does contain gluten, the gluten molecules are weaker than modern wheat, making it more easily digested.

Slam dunk! So anyways, I cooked this farro and tossed it in a pot with sauteed kale and broccoli in broth. And it was delicious. One serving (a BIG serving) had 10 grams of protein. Woot woot. Farro, welcome to my blog. And to my heart.

Farro with kale

  • Put 1/2 cup of farro with 1 and a 1/2 cups water and a tspn of salt over high heat, when boiling turn to simmer, cover, and have it sit for 45 minutes
  • Putter around
  • Saute an onion with some salt in olive oil
  • Add a bunch of kale (I literally put in an entire bunch and ate this meal by myself. That sounds excessive writing out, but remember how small it gets when it cooks!) Add some more salt
  • When kale start to shrink down at brocilli and about 2 cups of veggie broth (or chicken, I mean like, whatevs). Put on simmer and let sit for about 20 minutes
  • Throw in farro and mix it all around. Let sit for about 5 minutes.
  • Put in your bowl and enjoy. If you aren’t crazy vegan parm cheese is a very nice addition.