Week 9: Chronicles from March 4, 2012

So, we have technically finished our 60-day Vegan Challenge. We celebrated by having a little strawberry ice cream with our vegan chocolate cake last night. Boy, was it sweet and very, very creamy. It wasn’t bad, but I compare the amount that was sufficient last night to what it used to take and I’m astounded I could ever eat that much!

Anyway, I’m sure I’ll slow down on the full veganista thing since I’m starting to lose my ability to be upright for very long. And yes, I can only blame myself for not exercising as much with this pregnancy as the last two, but I can’t do a lot to remedy that at this point, so simplify, simplify, simplify. But I think we’ll all be surprised how much we stick with a whole foods, plant-based diet mostly because we love it.

Sunday:
• Black bean and veggie (thank you Red Iguana) burritos with guacamole, fresh salsa, spinach & cheese for the kids – one of those meals where I never feel I’m lacking something
Monday:
Somer’s BBQ Seitan “Ribz” – I told Matt we were having ribs and he raised an eyebrow at me, to which I responded – with a “z” at the end, and he started throwing all sorts of letters into ribs to make them sound more vegan – wribz was probably the final outcome.
Asian Coleslaw – yum!
• Roasted baby potatoes, baby carrots (surprise find at our garden two weeks ago!) and onions – all seasoned up yummy (my favorite part of the meal)
Tuesday: – I looked at the menu and didn’t really like what I saw, so I squinted my eyes, did a few quick internet searches and had one of my best “experimental” dinners in a long, long time.
Everyday Red Lentil Dal – I added lemon juice at the end, and a lot of salt (I’m sorry, I know it will kill us!) and had to cook ours down for probably 15 more minutes to let it thicken up. And I added cilantro – I used to hate it but after pregnancy #1, I loved it – who knew?
• Brown Basmati Rice Pilaf – recipe below. I used a combo of a few different recipes and while it served it’s purpose as a good base, it didn’t stand alone very well. I think it needed more pomp than I gave it.
• Sauteed cauliflower with golden raisins, almonds and saffron – recipe below, because it was AWESOME!
Wednesday:
• Black Bean Soup with optional cheese, recipe below
• Leftover Coleslaw and Fried Potatoes
Thursday:
• Tempeh Reuben Sandwiches (shhh, we put swiss on them, but don’t tell anyone), the recipe is sort of below, but I winged a lot of it. We ALL loved these.
• Sweet potato fries
Friday:
• GROUPON NIGHT! Dasks for vegan gyro and vegan falafel – both pretty good, but just couldn’t compare with O’Falafel. It’s not even worth trying to compare, really.
Saturday:
• Grilled Pizza Night – peppers, onions, olives, sundried tomatoes, broccoli, some with mozzarella (which nobody – even the kids ate), some without cheese, some with Daiya
I love cooking pizza on the grill on the pizza stone. It makes awesome pizzas and in the summer it doesn’t heat up the house. It’s quick and delicious.
• Grilled Asparagus (skewered GIANT spears like a raft and grilled with olive oil, salt, and lemon pepper until tender – who knew you could make brush-cutter asparagus good?)

Brown Basmati Rice Pilaf
Based loosely on this recipe
Ingredients
• 1 Tablespoon olive or sunflower oil
• 1 ¼ t. mustard seed
• ½ onion, diced
• 1 teaspoon salt
• ½ t. cardamom
• Dash of cloves
• 2 cups long grain brown rice
• 3-1/2 cups water
• 1 c. frozen peas, defrosted
• Juice of one lime (give or take)
• Chopped cilantro for garnish
Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 375F
2. Rinse rice in a fine-meshed sieve and drain well.
3. In the bottom of a French Oven, heat oil together over medium heat.
4. Add mustard seed and cook until popping
5. Add onion and cook for 1 minute.
6. Add salt and spices to the onion and cook for an additional minute.
7. Add rice, stir well to combine, and toast together for 2 minutes.
8. Add the water, and bring to a boil. Stir the rice once, then cover and place in the middle of the oven.
9. Bake for 40 minutes, then remove from oven, stir in peas, and let sit, covered, for an additional 10 minutes or until dinner is ready
10. Fluff rice with a fork, stir in lime juice and cilantro, and serve
This could probably be modified in a hundred different ways

Sauteed Cauliflower with Golden Raisins, Almonds & Saffron
Adapted from “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian” by Mark Bittman
Ingredients:
• 1 head cauliflower, chopped into florets
• 1-2 T oil for sauteing
• Small handful golden raisins
• Small handful sliced almonds
• pinch of saffron
• salt and pepper, to taste
Directions:
Steam cauliflower until just tender – don’t overcook since you’ll be cooking it during the saute process. In a large saute pan, heat oil over medium to medium-high heat. Add steamed cauliflower and cook until florets begin to brown, adding the raisins, almonds and saffron. Continue cooking until everything is a nice dark golden brown, and serve hot! So good. So, so good.

Black Bean soup
Adapted from a Food Network version
Ingredients
• 1 -2 T. olive oil
• 2-4 T Bac’uns or other bacon substitute
• 2 medium onions, chopped (about 2 1/2 cups)
• 6 garlic cloves, pressed
• 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can reduced-sodium vegetable broth
• 1 1/2 cups canned chopped tomatoes
• 2 tablespoons ketchup
• 2 teaspoons vegan or regular Worcestershire sauce
• 1 tablespoon chili powder
• 2 quarts (or 7-8 c.) black beans, drained but not rinsed
• Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
• ½ bunch cilantro
• juice of 1/2 lime
• Thinly sliced scallions, for garnish
• Sour cream, optional for garnish
• Grated cheddar, optional for garnish
Directions
Heat oil over medium heat in a large soup pot, add Bac’uns and cook until a bit crispy, add onions and cook, stirring, until they start to turn translucent, about 4 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until you can smell it, about 1 minute. Add the broth, tomatoes, ketchup, Worcestershire, and chili powder. Stir in the beans, turn the heat to high and bring to a boil. Adjust the heat so the soup is bubbling gently and cook 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, pick off all the thick stems from the cilantro. Wash it and shake dry. Chop the cilantro coarsely and stir it into the soup when it has been simmering 10 minutes. cook until the soup is thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the lime juice. Serve with the garnishes.

Tempeh Reuben Sandwiches
Adapted from THIS Food Network Recipe
Ingredients:
Sauerkraut:
• 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 small onion, thinly sliced
• 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
• 1-2 c sauerkraut, drained (as much as you think you’ll use)
• 1 sweet apple, grated
• Generous pinch allspice
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Russian Dressing:
• 1/4 cup vegannaise
• 1 tablespoon ketchup
• Dash hot sauce
• 1 tablespoon minced fresh chives and/or fresh dill
• 2 teaspoons capers, chopped
• 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
For the Sandwich:
• 8 oz package of Tempeh, sliced thinly
• Seasonings (to taste): liquid smoke, caraway seeds, dijon mustard, soy sauce or Bragg’s liquid aminos
• 8 slices rye bread
• Swiss cheese – sliced, optional
• Vegan butter or butter
Directions:
For the sauerkraut:
Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Add the sauerkraut, apple, and allspice, season with salt and a generous grinding of pepper. Cook until sauerkraut is tender, lightly browned and all the liquid has evaporated, about 15 minutes more.
For the Russian dressing:
Mix all the dressing ingredients together, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
For the Sandwich:
Preheat oven to 350 – 400 degrees (I used the temperature needed for my sweet potato fries). Place tempeh in shallow baking dish, and brush with selected seasonings to give it your preferred pastrami flavor. Bake until warm and flavor is absorbed (I guessed with this whole sandwich, so who knows what happened).
Heat frying pan or griddle over medium heat. Layer rye bread with Russian dressing on both sides, sauerkraut, tempeh, and optional cheese. Butter the outside of the bread and cook on griddle until heated through, flipping to get crispy, crusty sandwichness.

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5 thoughts on “Week 9: Chronicles from March 4, 2012

  1. Woohoo for 60 days! Your new recipes look amazing! Doing green smoothie challenge this week so we’ll have to try them next week. Froze a quart of butternut soup for you last night. Then thought, I’m helpless with helping out :/ who wants frozen butternut soup?

  2. Pretty awesome menu here. I’m stealing the vegan Reuben and the seitan wribz (Couldn’t fit any numbers in there, just for fun?). Hopefully my wife will love them as much as you did. Thanks a ton for posting.

    • Awesome! That reminds me I need to do the vegan reuben again – tasty and a perfect summer dinner. Your wife is lucky to have a husband that makes her yummy vegan food!

    • Thanks! It’s pretty tasty stuff! However, looking at your seitan recipe, I see that I could improve the texture for sure. I love my seitan neat loaf, but others said it was gross ‘texture wise’ -like raw meat. Not a good thing for a vegan dish….. Maybe my oven cooks hot, as I thought it was crispy deliciousness. Oh and it was Amanda’s husband that christened them Wribz, I’m pretty sure we could fit a number in there…..

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