Sunday, January 17, 2010

Comfort Food!

As the birth of our daughter looms closer on the horizon (yes, it's a girl! two ultrasounds confirmed it), Mr. PLV and I are having lots of talks about our eating habits. He is still pretty much an omni, although he eats so much veg stuff by now, he's almost half and half. Of course, he eats all vegan when I cook and rarely complains :) except when it comes to meal choices, during which we haggle over the recipes we'll make. Fruit or no fruit? Ginger or potatoes? We like a lot of the same things, but he still prefers more comfort food - familiar dishes - while I like to jump in to things a little more "exotic."

So, in anticipation of future compromises in front of a watchful child, I made some true comfort food this week, starting off with these amazing Soft Tacos with Potatoes and Sausage from The Complete Vegan Cookbook. This may be the first recipe I've made from this book, and for once, we were both blown away! I didn't make the sausage myself as directed, but used our new favorite brand, "Field Roast" (chipotle flavor). This made it super easy to whip together on a weeknight. The rest was simply diced onion and potato, cooked up with chili powder and salt. A little salsa and lettuce, and we were in heaven! We both gave this four stars **** and it was super easy.

We made this next dish together, also on a weeknight. I think it was something like Sausage, Spinach and BBQ Beans but anyway it was definitely from Vegan Express and it was definitely express! Mr. PLV has made this at least once before and loves it. It's a souped up version of franks and beans, although it calls for sausage, and we actually used veggie dogs this time with good results. A good way to sneak some greens onto picky plates! Three solid stars for me ***.

Probably my favorite dish this week, though, were the Baked Chimichangas from 500 Vegan Recipes a new cookbook that I checked out from my library. I might end up buying this one, based on this single recipe! Cubed, pressed tofu is browned and then cooked up with salt and nutritional yeast. A cheesy salsa (made with nutritional yeast as well) is added to the tofu along with some black beans. Results? Another amazing dish, with very little work! We did bake the filling in tortillas, but I could have eaten them as burritos. Wow! What great flavors and a nicely rounded dish. We had some green beans on the side, too. Four stars for sure ****!

Here's the chimi before I attacked it.... :)
Tonight, Mr. PLV is going to make a chili with the Field Roast sausage and the rest of the week looks like it'll involve some lentil kibbe for lunch and hemp burgers during the week. Here's to comfort food and to realizing that maybe your husband's food preferences are pretty good after all :)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

First Dishes of the New Year

For the past few years, I've made it a point to eat black eyed peas, as the Southern tradition suggests, for good luck. I could eat long noodles (Chinese) or loads of other things, but as I don't eat black-eyed peas on a regular basis, this is a good excuse to make something new. However, I've not been able to find that many good recipes (dinner dishes, anyhow, not side dishes or dips) that incorporate this adorable legume. Thus, a repeat of a couple of years ago, we enjoyed these Black-eyed Pea- Quinoa Croquettes with Mushroom Sauce, from Vegan with a Vengeance. This time, I took it easy on the salt (for some reason, some of Isa's recipes are way too salty for us), and poured the delicious mushroom sauce over the kale and croquettes on their bed of quinoa. If I have to say it a million times, I love my rice cooker! It even cooks quinoa to fluffy perfection, with no effort, no boiling over, no burning to the bottom. We don't even have a fancy, expensive one, but it is one of my favorite kitchen appliances! Four easy stars for this recipe ****.
Here are the croquettes, fresh out of the oven. Baking, not frying them, makes them light and healthful tasting!

So, the first really new recipe of the new year was this Carrot, Wakame, and Kale Stew, from Vegetarian Times magazine, January 2010 issue. I was pleasantly surprised at how yummy this was. Three solid stars ***. Lots of great flavors and textures and very healthy. We ate this with some nice French bread. My only comment would be to leave this as a soup and not puree half of it. I used my immersion blender to do this, and it just made parts of it chunky. Usually, the immersion blender works great - better than pouring hot soup into a blender!- but not this time. Oh well.

I had an acorn squash that really needed to be eaten and some extra mushrooms from the croquette sauce, so I made a modified version of a recipe in the cookbook, The Well-Rounded Pregnancy. I don't own this title - just borrowed it from my library - and it's not exactly a vegan book, but this recipe (Quinoa with Mushrooms, Caramelized Squash, and Toasted Pecans) was a nice and easy dish. I ended up just roasting the squash in the oven and "dicing" it the best I could afterwards. It also has onion, thyme, pecans and dried cranberries in it. Sounds like a bowl full of healthy, yummy food, doesn't it? Well, it was healthy and filling, but not that tasty. Two, maybe two and a half stars **. Not terrible, just kind of dry and not very spicy. I figured maybe they were trying not to make their recipes too spicy on account of nausea in their pregnant readers.

Since soups seem to be the only thing I'm craving at this point (started my 6th month today - yeah!), Mr. PLV requested Beet, Barley, and Black Soybean Soup with Pumpernickel Croutons from Vw/aV. We've made this before (two years ago I think- wow!) and it was certainly very easy and filling. But, I think we used fresh dill last time, and it wasn't nearly salty enough for me this time around. Still, a solid three star *** recipe and worth peeling those beets! (by the way, that was the only "difficult" part of the recipe - it is really very easy!). The croutons are a cinch to make, too.

I leave you with nothing new, but certainly something delicious: Chocolate Cookie Bark from Big Fat Cookies. I made this cookie bark last year for work and it was a hit (at least that's what I was told) and Mr. PLV really loved it, so I made this again to welcome everyone back for the new year. I had plenty of candy canes left over to use but as usual...

I had to do one with coconut! Y-U-M.