Saturday, January 31, 2009

Winter Meals

I guess I've given up and accepted that it's really winter, but secretly, I also find hope in the fact that we are now one-third the way through this nasty season. Although this nasty season also gave me a snow day to catch up on reading and blogging and such, so I can't hate it too much. You don't have "too much sun" days off in July....

At any rate, I have been craving warm, filling and savory foods like there's no tomorrow. And a good thing, too, since I've been trying to keep relatively sugar-free (I still put agave nectar in my tea and god help me but I just can't help licking the batter bowl if I bake something!).

So, here is my first lasagna in a very long time, made for a couples potluck that we just started this past fall. This Spinach-Marinara Lasagna from Veganomicon was outstanding! The tofu ricotta was yummy and the "Almesan" (almond-Parmesan) topping was good, too! I'm not sure how the other couples liked it, as they didn't comment one way or another, but they all ate a good piece of it, alongside the meat version served by the hosts, and there were few leftovers!

My husband thought it was just as good as the meat one, if not better simply for the "sauciness." Good call by Isa to serve it with more marinara sauce! Three and a half stars ***1/2

But then there were these bananas, getting very ripe, very quickly on my counter, and there were too many to eat as-is! So, I tried out two new recipes: Banana Oatmeal Cookies from the Vegan Lunchbox Blog (but not in her book -hmmm!), and Banana Bread (rice version) from "You Won't Believe It's Gluten-Free!" - a cookbook I picked up from the library. Both were surprisingly good! I had to add about a cup more oats to the cookies, so they were a little tough, but otherwise I was pleased because they were sugar-free, oil-free and salt-free! Tasted like a healthy cookie and reminded me of Dreena's Banana Oat Bundles (but not nearly as good). I'll continue tweaking these for my diabetic friend at work.

The bread, however, was amazing! Fluffy, moist, and with a great taste, I really "didn't believe it was gluten-free!" Except it did have a slightly grainy texture due to the rice flour. This cookbook is great, because it gives a rice, potato, and corn version of nearly every baking recipe, with details as to the differences you will notice in each! I can't wait to make this for my celiac friends at the Veg Group next month (which starts tomorrow- ack!).

Here is a beautiful plate of Tofu and Vegetable Lo Mein, from Vegan Planet, by Robin Robertson. I fiddled with the recipe a tad, using soba noodles instead of Chinese ones (trying to use up my pantry items!), and adding red bell pepper and black sesame noodles. I accidentally shredded the cabbage too small, so it didn't turn out quite right, but I'm not a huge fan of cabbage anyway, so it was actually fine with me that it was "hidden!" This was a very quick, easy and three star recipe ***! I made it to go with the next item...

Egg-rolls! I've made these before, also from Vegan Planet, but this time, I used a recipe a friend had hand-written and given to me. It uses phyllo dough instead of egg roll wrappers (which, along with wonton wrappers, contain the unfortunate addition of eggs- blech!). These were also super easy to make. Just saute some cabbage (that one cabbage went a long way this week!) with some ginger, garlic, oil, salt, pepper, and soy sauce, then wrap up and bake! Because I had just made almost three pounds of seitan last weekend (and it's so easy! - see my post about it here), I decided to add some chopped seitan to the egg rolls, like the pieces of pork would be in traditional ones. Results? Fabulous! Four stars **** With a sesame-soy dipping sauce from Veg News, they were perfect! I ate them all week by reheating them in the toaster oven to keep them crispy.

Making your own seitan is really easy AND much cheaper than buying it store bought. It costs over $4 at my local store in the box (and I think it's only 8 oz, not even a pound), while a box of gluten that costs maybe $2 tops, makes almost three pounds!
Here it is, finely chopped and waiting for the phyllo dough and cabbage.

Here is our 2009 Chinese New Year dinner, complete with sauteed kale (which kicked ass when drizzled with the dipping sauce).

The night before, my husband had promised to make this Warming Winter Vegetable Soup from The Vegetarian Meat and Potatoes Cookbook, but as he was busy putting together his new toolbox (the one I thought I had hidden so well from him before Christmas but he found anyway), I put this soup together. And actually is was way easier than his toolbox! I was thankful that he chooses pretty easy recipes to make - this was a cinch to put together and tasted great. With kidney beans, potatoes, carrots, spinach and parsnips, it was a party in my mouth with every bite. Three stars ***.

Later in the week, I was looking for a way to use up some leftover canned pumpkin and stumbled across a recipe I had copied from a borrowed book: Vegetarian Celebrations, by Nava Atlas. These Pumpkin Turnovers were supposed to be desserts, but after cutting the sugar in half and adding some ground cayenne pepper, they were good enough for dinner! I don't usually make carb-loaded meals such as these (there is only a scant tablespoon of filling in each), but they were good just the same. And, I used whole wheat pastry flour. I guess they were still a little too sweet for me for dinner, as they started up my sweet cravings again, so I froze them for a later indulgence or afternoon snack. Three solid stars! ***

Here is a pretty shot of their insides. Piping hot!


VeggieGirl said...

Lasagna, cookies, soup, turnovers... perfect winter dishes!! :-)


Lasagna, a gift from the gods. I can't wait to try this recipe.

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