Saturday, April 21, 2012

I'm Back...with Oodles of Recipes!

Why do I fail so hard at blogging? Not sure how some people stay motivated with it, but I go through (extended!) periods where I don't feel like documenting everything I cook & bake, ha ha. A lot has changed in my life recently---I graduated, moved to a new house (with a huge garden space!), had to leave my much-loved, long-term job (because it was through the university where I graduated), & a bunch of other personal stuff.

I feel excited about blogging again, not only because I'm back to eating a mostly vegan diet (I say "mostly" because I still eat honey, plus use wool for knitting, & don't feel comfortable identifying as a vegan)
& have been cooking/baking a lot, but because I want to keep track of crafty projects I'm working on, as well as documenting the gardening process over here. It's been SO LONG since I've been able to have an actual garden, rather than little containers full of puny tomaters & such. There's so much to learn & catch up on! Luckily, the Multnomah County Library system is so effing amazing, so I've put holds on a ton of organic gardening books; in fact, I need to pick up three of them today. <3

Because I have such amazing, supportive friends & family members that have been there for me during all this upheaval, I decided to thank a handful of them by cooking a feast the other night. I feel so fortunate that people are willing to have my back & go all "mama bear" for me (Coral, I'm talking about you!), plus they live close to me. Yay! The pictures of the food are pretty terrible, but I'm putting them on here anyway, mostly because I want to share the recipes I used. I didn't take pictures of my friends, since my sister & Saurabh were stuck in traffic, & got here a little late-ish, & also because I didn't want to stick my camera in their faces while they ate. Imagine that! :)

Without further ado, here's the feast, which included Rosemary Roasted Tofu w/Chipotle Mayo Dipping Sauce, Herb-Scalloped Potatoes, Roasted Beets & Sweets, Quinoa Pilaf, Fennel-Orange Salad, Chips w/Guacamole, Salsa & Hummus (Roasted Red Pepper & Regular), then Gingersnaps for dessert:

Recipe time! I made a shitload of everything, so you might want to halve the recipes if you don't want leftovers for life....

This tofu is from Bryant Terry, the author of Vegan Soul Kitchen. It's so simple, but people loved it! The texture is simultaneously crispy, chewy, & soft. While we were waiting for Smels & Saurabh to get here, I whipped up some Chipotle Mayo, in case people were in need of a little saucy oomph. I just stirred a little lemon juice & a couple minced chipotles into a good amount of Vegenaise. Voila!

Rosemary Roasted Tofu
  • 2 pounds extra-firm tofu, cubed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 450*F. Toss all the ingredients together in a large bowl, then put them in a single layer on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Roast them for 20-25 minutes, turning them over halfway through the baking time.


These taters are mostly from Veganomicon, but I made them a little differently, based on my fave scalloped potatoes recipe.

Herb-Scalloped Potatoes
  • 4 pounds potatoes, peeled (if desired) & thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups veggie broth
  • 1-2 cups almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
Preheat the oven to 400*F & oil a 9X13-inch Pyrex dish. Layer the potatoes somewhat loosely & artistically in the Pyrex (you want the sauciness to be able to permeate & seep into the potatoes as they bake, so don't cram them in too tightly).

In a large saucepan, saute the garlic in the olive oil over medium-low heat till fragrant. Add the flour & nutritional yeast, then whisk in the broth & almond milk. Add the herbs & keep whisking occasionally until thickened. Gently pour the sauce over & into the potatoes---it helps to give the Pyrex a gentle back-&-forth shake to allow the sauce to get in thurrrr.

Cover loosely with foil & bake for 40-ish minutes. Uncover & bake 15-20 more minutes. Mine didn't brown, because the oven was so jam-packed, so I broiled them for a couple minutes towards the end.


This is one of my favorite dishes to make! It's super simple & doesn't require a lot of work, but everything just meshes together so beautifully.

Roasted Beets & Sweets
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 6 beets, peeled & cut into chunks
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled & cut into chunks (or a mix of sweets & yams)
  • 1 large sweet onion, cut into chunks
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
Preheat oven to 400*F. In a bowl, toss together the beets & 1 tablespoon of olive oil, so they get coated. Place them on a heavy baking sheet in a single layer, & bake for 15 minutes.

While they're roasting, toss together (in that same old bowl) the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, the sweet potatoes, onion, garlic powder, salt, pepper, & sugar.

After the 15 minutes have passed, get out another heavy baking sheet & plop half the par-cooked beets onto that. Divide the sweet potato mixture between the two beet-y sheets, then toss the beets & sweets together. Put both sheets back into the oven & roast for 45 more minutes, flipping them a couple times. You probably want to rotate the baking sheets as well, so you have even browning on both pans.

This is a nice alternative to rice pilaf, & can be made with whatever fresh herbs you have kicking around. I've made some changes to the recipe, but it's based on this one.

Quinoa Pilaf

  • 3 1/2 cups veggie broth
  • 2 cups quinoa
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup minced celery
  • 1/2 cup minced carrot
  • 1 cup minced onion
  • 6 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
  • salt & pepper to taste
Bring the broth to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the quinoa, cover, & simmer on low for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, but set it aside to finish absorbing all the broth. In a big old cast iron pan, saute the garlic, celery, carrot, & onion in the olive oil over medium heat. When the veggies are softened & a little browned, stir in the cooked quinoa & fresh herbs, fluffing it all together. Season to taste.


I found this recipe when I was cooking dinner for a veggie-loving, gluten-free friend. It's so light, refreshing, & simple!

Fennel-Orange Salad

  • 2 large fennel bulbs, thinly sliced (you can mince some of the fronds & toss them in too)
  • 4 medium oranges, peeled & segmented (or an equivalent amount of Satsumas, which I prefer!)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries

Gently toss everything together & serve!


The hummus was just a basic recipe, with extra cumin added. To half of it, I blended in some roasted red peppers as well---pretty & tasty! The guacamole consisted of a couple avocados, mashed w/some salsa, cumin, salt, lemon juice, & Franks Red Hot Sauce.

The chewy Ginger Cookies were especially for Ryan, who's not the biggest sweets-eater, but I guess he loves these particular cookies that I make every year for Christmas. Here's the recipe, if you wanna give 'em a go. I made this latest batch with butter, so I wouldn't be tempted to eat them all, yikes!


Last, but not least, I wanted to share some balls with you! I made a trio of balls to send to my friend Laurel, who is studying in Laramie, Wyoming. They were part of a late birthday care package. If you don't eat honey, I'm sure that you could substitute agave nectar, maple syrup &/or brown rice syrup.

The balls in the back right of the photo were date-based, & included the super-food chia. I mainly followed this recipe, but I substituted chia for the flax, & rolled them in coconut. Next time, I'd probably double the spices because they're very subtle. Orange zest would also be good!

Spiced Chia Date Balls

  • 1 cup whole almonds
  • 1/2 cup ground chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup pitted dates
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup dried apricots
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1-2 tablespoons water (if necessary)
  • extra unsweetened coconut for rolling
Pulse together the almonds, chia, dates, raisins, apricots, coconut, cinnamon, nutmeg & ginger in a food processor, adding a little water if necessary. You want the "dough" to be sticky enough to hold together, but not wet. Once it comes together, form it into 1-inch balls & then roll them in the extra coconut.


The balls on the front right were cashew-y, & inspired by this recipe.

Cashew Butter Energy Balls
  • 1 cup cashew butter
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 cup quick oats (or pulse some regular oats in your food processor)
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • pinch salt

Mix everything together, then roll into 1-inch balls. Mine didn't turn out sticky enough to necessitate coconut, but the original recipe calls for it. Maybe play it by ear...


The last balls (on the left) were peanut butter chocolate balls, based on these ones.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Energy Balls

  • 3/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup quick oats (or pulse some regular oats in your food processor)
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup dark cocoa powder
  • pinch salt
  • unsweetened coconut for rolling
Mix everything but the coconut together. Form into 1-inch balls, then roll in the coconut.



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