Category Archives: dinner

Easy Coconut Curry Lentil Soup

Yesterday we ate a late lunch, so I scrapped my planned dinner menu and searched around for something lighter.  I looked around my pantry for what I already had and decided to make lentil something.  Using vegan lentil soup as my search term, I came across this recipe.  I didn’t have greens of any sort and made the soup without them.  The soup fragranced my house with exotic curry and in short order, we were enjoying little bowls of this soup.  The original recipe says it freezes well, so if you’re making soup for one, this is a winner!

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I had most everything on hand–subbing ground ginger for fresh.

ingredients

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced, or 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 TBSP tomato paste
  • 2 TBSP curry powder
  • ½ tsp hot red pepper flakes
  • 4 cups No Chicken broth
  • 1 (140z) can light coconut milk
  • 1 (14 oz) diced tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups dry lentils
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • cilantro for garnish
  • rice for serving

Add a splash of No Chicken broth to a large stock pot and saute the onion and garlic until the onion is translucent–about 2-3 minutes.

saute onion garlic

Add ground ginger, tomato paste, curry powder, and red pepper flakes.  Stir to combine and cook for another minute.

add spices tomato paste

Add broth, coconut milk, lentils and diced tomatoes.  Stir to combine.

add broth coconut milk tomatos

Cover and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 30-35 minutes, until lentils are tender and soup is thick.

cover and simmer

Taste the soup and adjust seasonings (add salt and pepper) to your taste.

taste and adjust seasoning

Spoon prepared rice into bowls and add the lentil curry.  Garnish with cilantro.

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Quick and easy enough for a weeknight, yummy and comforting.  I think we’ll have the leftovers tonight rather than freezing them.  Mmmm-mmmm-mmm!

 

 

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Filed under comfort food, dairy-free, dinner, lunch, Potluck, recipe, vegan

Tofu Veggie Tikka Masala

I’m one of those people who can be convinced to try a new grocery item with a coupon for it.  Recently, I had a coupon for one item from a certain brand.  The shelf-safe Tikka Masala sauce caught my eye.  It sounded exotic and flavory.  A perfect compliment to my veggies and tofu.  So I bought it without checking the label–I was shopping my local health food store, what could be a problem?  Dairy.  Turns out this particular sauce has dairy.  In reading recipes for Tikka Masala sauce, yogurt seems to be key.  Sigh.  Oh well, I had it, why not go ahead and cook with it?  This yummy recipe is therefore vegetarian rather than my preferred vegan.  Have a look–you can make this in no time.

garnish with cilantro

I cruised the Google and found quite a few vegetarian and vegan versions of Tikka Masala, which is traditionally made with chicken chunks (tikka).  I combined ideas from these two: Tofu Masala and Vegetarian Tikka Masala, made all the easier for the premade sauce.  Here are the ingredients:

ingredients

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced  (the pic shows little garlic ends leftover from roasting whole garlic heads)
  • 1 (14 oz) extra firm, organic tofu
  • 1 (14oz) can chickpeas, drained
  • premade Tikka Masala sauce
  • cilantro for garnish
  • prepared rice
  • naan or pita bread for serving

Drain and then press the tofu.  Wrap it in a clean kitchen towel and set something a bit weighty on top of it.

press tofu

Saute onion and pepper in a bit of veggie broth until onions are translucent–about 2-3 minutes.

saute onions and peppers

Add garlic and saute until fragrant–30 seconds to a minute.

add garlic

Remove the saute to a bowl.  Set aside.

remove saute

Cube the tofu by cutting through the center of the flat side, then cut into sticks and then cubes.

cube tofu

Spray your pan with a bit of spray oil and saute the tofu cubes until mostly browned.  I do this by stirring occasionally–I’m too lazy to turn each cube for perfect even brownness.

brown tofu

When tofu is sufficiently browned, add saute back to the pan, along with drained chickpeas. Stir to combine.

add saute and chickpeas

Add the sauce and stir to coat.

add sauce

stir to coat

Scoop rice into a bowl, add the tofu tikka masala, garnish with cilantro, and serve with naan or pita.

serve with rice

serve with naan or pita

So yummy!  I’m currently looking around for a truly vegan masala sauce recipe.  I’ve found a few so far, some using coconut yogurt–a flavor that sounds yummy with the rest of the ingredients here.  I’m also thinking about marinating the tofu ahead of time and grilling it to more closely recreate a traditional Tikka Masala.  Do your recipes evolve like this?

 

 

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Tofu-riffic Tacos!

Pickled red onions on a taco?!  Oh bay-bee!  The favor combination of the vinegar-y onions, creamy guacamole and the spicy, smoky sauce on the tofu is other-worldly good.  Like something I’ve never tasted or even imagined.  You may think you don’t like tofu, but after trying these tacos, you’ll be running to the store for more!  We came across this combo in a Denver restaurant called Fuel Cafe–a tricky place to find in an industrial part of the RINO district–click through the images on their page to get a feel for the place.   Well worth the journey for tacos like these.

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To get started, you’ll need to pickle a red onion.  It’ll need time to chill and be ready for your tacos.  You can make the pickled onion ahead of time.

ingredients for pickled onions

  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 TBSP sugar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced.

Slice the onions as thin as you can.

slice thin

Blanch the onions in boiling water for about 10-20 seconds.  You don’t want to blanch the color out–if you see it starting to fade it’s time to drain them!

blanch

Drain completely in a colander and return to the now empty but still warm blanching pot.

drain

Add the vinegar, sugar and salt along with enough water to just cover the onions.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 1 minute.

add vinegar sugar salt water

Place onions and vinegar into a jar and chill.  The onions will turn a beautiful fresh hot-pink color!  So pretty!

in a jar

Now that your onions are chilling, prepare the sauce–it’s essentially the same as for sofritas.  The sauce can be made ahead of time.  You’ll need:

ingredients

  • 1/4 cup chipotles in adobo sauce
  • 2 poblanos, roasted, peeled and seeded
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp chili blend–like a fajita mix or a chili powder of your choice
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • a splash of lime juice
  • 1/4 cup broth–I use No Chicken broth
  • 1-2 TBSP tomato paste
  • NOTE-ignore the tofu, I recycled the pic from the sofritas post!  🙂

Roast your poblanos, either in a 400F oven or on your grill.  I chose my outdoor grill–it was a beautiful day!  Roast, turning until blistered on all sides.

roast poblanos

Place the peppers in a plastic bag and seal to steam.  This will help the skins slip right off.

steam poblanos

When the peppers have cooled enough for you to handle them, peel by rubbing them gently with your fingers.

peel poblanos

Then remove the seeds and stem.

seed poblanos

Place the cleaned poblanos in your blender.poblanos in blender

Then add the chipotles, cumin, chili blend, salt, garlic powder, oregano, lime juice and broth.

everything else in blender

Blend until smooth, transfer to a bowl and stir in the tomato paste.  Set aside.

add tomato paste

Now for the tacos!  You’ll need:

ingredients tacos

  • pickled red onions (see recipe above)
  • prepared sauce (see recipe above)
  • 1 (14 0z) package extra firm tofu–always choose organic tofu to avoid GMOs
  • prepared guacamole–buy it or make it yourself.  Mine is simple–avocado, garlic powder, salt, lime juice, and cilantro.
  • corn tortillas
  • chopped lettuce
  • chopped cilantro
  • lime wedges

Drain and then press the tofu by placing it on a clean kitchen towel.

drain tofu and place on towel

Wrap the towel around the tofu and place something on top to help press out most of the remaining liquid.

add weight to press water out

Let the tofu sit for at least 15 minutes (up to 30 minutes) and then cut into cubes, by cutting through the side and then cutting long sticks.  Finally cut the sticks into cubes.  The cubes will be about 1/2 inch on a side.

cube tofu

Spray a fry pan with oil and place over medium high heat.  Add tofu cubes and fry, stirring occasionally to brown on all sides–or as many as you can get.  Don’t worry about getting every cube perfectly browned.  🙂

fry tofu

Reduce heat to low and add enough sauce to coat the tofu–about half of the sauce.

add sauce

Stir to coat.  Now it’s time to put the tacos together!

stir to coat

 

Warm the tortillas inside a kitchen towel in a microwave or however you like to warm them.  Place a bit of lettuce, then tofu cubes, then a bit of guacamole, then pickled onions and finally a sprinkle of cilantro.  Look at them!  Like art!

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Squeeze a lime over the top, pick one up and have your first wondrous bite.  Oh my.

Both the sauce and the onions can be made ahead to speed up the tacos when you’re ready to make them.  Is this my new favorite way to eat tofu?  Yessssssss!  Mmmmmmmmmm-yummy!

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Filed under dinner, lunch, recipe, restaurants, Uncategorized, vegan, Vegetarian

Chipotle-Style Sofritas

Generally, eating out–especially fast food, and being vegan in Western Colorado is not an easy thing.  And THEN(!) Chipotle introduced its fabulous Sofritas (Crumbled tofu marinated and braised in chipotles, poblanos and other spices….slurp!).  So yummy!  Any time we’re in the Chipotle neighborhood, we’re there for a Sofritas Burrito.  Michael suggested we could figure out how to make this spicy tofu nirvana ourselves; we are “accomplished” vegans, after all, now that we’ve been cooking with tofu for over a year.  🙂

By chance, another blogger liked one of my posts, and I clicked his link “to see what he’s been up to” from the WordPress notification that always shows up with a like.  In the sidebar of his blog, there it was.  Chipotle Sofritas Recipe!  I always have tofu, but needed the poblanos.  Unfortunately, none to be found, so I used a combo of serranos and cubanelles.  The resulting sofritas were spicy (thanks serranos!) and close enough to the Chipotle flavor that I wanted to make them again.

I found poblanos, adjusted the seasoning just a bit and voila!  Homemade sofritas!

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Plan ahead–the sofritas are best after marinating for at least two hours.

ingredients

  • 1/4 cup chipotles in adobo sauce
  • 2 poblanos, roasted, peeled and seeded
  • 1 14-0z package extra-firm organic tofu (Get organic to avoid GMOs)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp chili blend–like a fajita mix or a chili powder of your choice
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • a splash of lime juice
  • 1/4 cup broth–I use No Chicken broth
  • 1 bay leaf

Roast your poblanos, either in a 400F oven or on your grill.  I chose my outdoor grill–it was a beautiful day!  Roast, turning until blistered on all sides.

roast poblanos

Place the peppers in a plastic bag and seal to steam.  This will help the skins slip right off.

steam poblanos

Drain tofu and place on a clean kitchen towel.

drain tofu and place on towel

Wrap the towel around the tofu and place something on top to help press out most of the remaining liquid.

add weight to press water out

When the peppers have cooled enough for you to handle them, peel by rubbing them gently with your fingers.

peel poblanos

Then remove the seeds and stem.

seed poblanos

Place the cleaned poblanos in your blender.

poblanos in blender

Then add the chipotles, cumin, chili blend, salt, garlic powder, oregano, lime juice and broth.

everything else in blender

Blend until smooth.  Oh my does this smell amazing.  I think it would be a great sauce for all sorts of things!

blended sauce

Crumble the tofu into mostly uniform pieces.  I like mine to be about the same texture as cooked and crumbled ground beef.

crumble tofu

all crumbled

Add the sauce and stir to mix.  Toss the bay leaf in–it will add to the flavor as you cook the sofritas later, and cover with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate at least 2 hours or over night.

add sauce and bay leaf

Place the marinated sofritas in a pan and heat, stirring until heated through–about 10 minutes.  I added a bit more broth to help keep the mixture moist.

sofritas in pan

Then serve it up however you like!  Use it however you might use seasoned taco meat.  We decided to make burritos with brown cilantro rice, pinto beans, avocado and lettuce.

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How do you like YOUR burrito?  Last time we made sofritas, we combined the leftover sofrita, beans and rice and made it into enchiladas the next night.  Yum-yum-yummy!

You’ll have leftover chipotles, and they won’t keep long in the refrigerator.  I like to place individual peppers with a bit of adobo sauce into snack size bags, seal them and then seal them into a freezer bag.

freeze leftover chipotles

Then I can thaw out however many chipotles I need for a particular recipe later.  🙂

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Turkey White Chili

Ah Thanksgiving leftovers.  They seem like a bounty of riches at first, and then…  I’ve gotten to the I’m-so-tired-of-turkey phase.  Part of this is because most of the time I’m vegan, and I just don’t care much for meat anymore.  However, my son is NOT vegan, and I didn’t want to mess with a holiday tradition for him, so we roasted a small turkey.  But even a small turkey can result in a fairly large bag of leftover meat!  What to do, what to do?  I’d already made tetrazzini and enchiladas.  I didn’t want it going to waste, or even lurking in my freezer, scolding me for not using it.  I want to use up ALL of the rest of it!

Winter weather has a tendency to make me crave a warm bowl of soup, and my husband ALWAYS craves spicy.  How ’bout a white chili, then?  The Google provided me with lots of inspiration.  Does anyone else resort to the interwebs for food inspiration?  It’s like searching through ton of cookbooks with a click!  The Pioneer Woman got me started and I improvised from there.

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Grab your bag of leftover turkey and a crockpot and by the time you get home from work, Turkey White Chili will be waiting to warm your chilly self!

ingredients

  • 2-2 1/2 cups cooked turkey, shredded or chunked
  • 1 can green enchilada sauce
  • 4 cups or so chicken broth (I use No Chicken Broth)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed or minced
  • 1 can diced green chiles
  • 2 cans white beans
  • 1 TBSP cumin
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • cayenne pepper to taste (optional)
  • 1 cup milk (dairy or non-dairy)
  • 2 TBSP masa harina

Saute onions in a bit of broth or butter if you’d rather.  Saute until onions are translucent, about 5-7 minutes.

saute onion

Add garlic and saute until it becomes fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Remove from heat.

add garlic

Chop or shred the turkey.  I like to use a cutting board that can go into the dishwasher when cutting meat, even if it IS cooked.

chop turkey

Open one can of beans, drain and place into your crockpot.  Mash them so you still have some pieces left.

mash 1 can of beans

Drain the other can of beans and add to the pot.  Add turkey, onions and garlic, green chiles, enchilada sauce and spices.

all in the pot

Cover with broth, give it a stir, cover and set the cooker to low for 5-6 hours. Alternately, set to high for 2-3 hours.

add broth to cover

Whisk masa harina–a corn flour–into the milk.  If you can’t find masa harina, corn meal is ok.  It helps thicken your chili and gives it a fabulous corn tortilla sort of flavor.

mix masa with milk

Add the milk mixture to the crockpot, set it to high and cook for an additional 30 minutes.

add masa milk to pot

Ladle it up in a pretty bowl and cut yourself a slice of crusty bread.  Garnish with cilantro and avocado.  Yum, yum, yummy!

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Just the remedy for a cold and wintry day.  Go ahead.  Have seconds.

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Winter is here to stay in Western Colorado.  Not crazy about the cold, but it sure is pretty.

alpenglow

Alpenglow is the term used when the setting sun “warms” the nearby Grand Mesa.  Especially pretty in the snow!

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Filed under comfort food, crock pot, dinner, Holiday foods, lunch

Leftover Turkey-Palooza!

A Thanksgiving dinner is pretty spectacular.  Aromas that fill the house, laughter and smiles of loved ones that warm our hearts, and the spirit of gratitude that starts the season.  And then there’s the next day.  And the day after that, and the day after.  I like to look at those last few days of November as days to celebrate!  Turkey leftovers!  Woot!  I like them as much as the holiday meal.  Maybe even more, since they come together in an hour or so; not the all-day cooking affair of Thanksgiving.  I’ve put together a few of my favorite recipes for leftover turkey here.

Let’s start with Grampa Tom’s Turkey Tetrazzini.  A family fav, especially for the home-from-college guy.  Warm and cheesy and peppery and comforting.  Oh yeah.

tetrazzini

Then, how ’bout a Turkey Pot Pie that’s not your average pot pie.  Spiced with green chiles, its individual portions are perfect for company.

pot pie

Turkey Sammiches are super popular.  I present to you the Lexi Sammich, one that would be perfect with turkey!  I might also suggest substituting cranberry sauce for the apricot preserves.  Yum!

Lexi

Or how about a TURKEY Cordon Blue Panini?  All melty and flavored up with ham and mustard?  I had almost forgotten about this one.  Just substitute turkey for the chicken.

cordon blue

If Asian food is what you’re craving, sub turkey for the chicken in this easy Lo Mein recipe.

lo mein

Enchiladas are another favorite around here.  First, here’s the college guy’s Granny’s recipe with a rich creamy white sauce and flour tortillas.  Again, sub turkey for the chicken.

ninas enchiladas

Finally, our house special enchiladas, with traditional red sauce and corn tortillas; use turkey for the chicken.  Better than a Mexican restaurant, right in your own house!

house special enchiladas

Almost makes me wish I’d bought a bigger turkey!  Turkey is wonderful in nearly any chicken recipe–have fun experimenting!  Happy Holidays!!!

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Filed under comfort food, dinner, Holiday foods, lunch, Potluck, recipe

Vegan-tastic Zuppa Toscano

I haven’t been to Olive Garden in quite awhile…all that cheese and cream sauce and sausage, oh my.  I still remember the Zuppa Toscano, though.  Creamy and spicy with potatoes, greens and sausage; an ultimate comfort soup.  A soup you can make a meal out of.  But so not vegan.  Waaaaah.  Until now, that is!  Hurray for cashew cream and vegan sausage!  Hurray for a warm bowl of soup on a cold and rainy night!

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The original recipe’s been making the rounds on Facebook. Aside from veganizing, I also changed up some of the cooking to squeeze out even more flavor.  This link matches the image and the general idea of the recipe shared around Facebook.  Here’s what you’ll need for the vegan version I made:

ingredients

  • 1 lb. vegan Italian-style sausages ( I only had 3 sausages from the 4 pack, which worked out OK and reduced the fat in the recipe)
  • 4-6 potatoes, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic (about 3-4 cloves
  • 32 oz. No Chicken broth
  • 2 c. kale or Swiss chard, chopped
  • 1 c. raw cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours in enough water to cover them by an inch
  • 4 tsp corn starch
  • 2 cups No Chicken Broth
  • salt, pepper and cayenne to taste

Lightly spray a non-stick pan with oil and brown the sausages.

brown sausage

Remove sausages from pan, cut each in half lengthwise and then slice into half-moons.

chop sausage

Chop the onion and peel the garlic.

chop onions peel garlic

Saute the onion in the same pan used for the sausage, adding a bit of No Chicken broth to deglaze the pan, releasing the yummy browned sausage bits into the onion.  Yum.  Saute until onions are translucent; about 5-7 minutes.

saute onions

Mince or press the garlic and add to the pan and continue to cook until garlic becomes fragrant; an additional 30 seconds or so.

add garlic

Scrub and chop potatoes into 1/2″ dice.

chop potatoes

Transfer potatoes, sausage, onions, garlic and 32 oz No Chicken broth to a slow cooker; veggies and sausage should be covered.  Cook for 3-4 hours on high or 5-6 hours on low.  Potatoes should be tender.

sausage onions garlic potatoes and broth in crockpot

After the cooking time, wash kale and remove the stems.  I only needed 2 leaves.  Chop into 1/2 to 1″ -ish pieces.  Small enough to stay on the spoon, but not so fine so it gets lost in the broth.

chop kale

Drain the cashews and place them along with 4 tsp corn starch and 2 cups No Chicken broth into a blender and blend until smooth.  This may take from one to five minutes–check it by rubbing it between your fingers–you want it as smooth as possible.  You may need to scrape down the sides during the blending time.  (Remember how to do this for future creamy soups and sauces–it’s creamy vegan MAGIC!)

cashews corn starch and broth

blend until smooth (1)

Add the kale and cashew cream to the crock pot, and cook an additional 30 minutes on high to thicken.

add kale and cashew cream

Season with salt, pepper and cayenne pepper to taste.

season

Ladle into bowls, add a nice warm wedge of bread or bread sticks and prepare to be amazed!  So, so yummy!  Michael pronounced it good enough to include in a weekly rotation; high praise.

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This is definitely NOT low-fat, but not too bad.  Fat comes from that light spray of oil, 10 grams per serving (1 link) of sausage and 13 grams per serving (1/4 cup) of cashews.

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While the soup was warming my house with its spicy aroma, it was cold and drippy outside.  I stood at the window, watching birds busy at the feeders and noticed someone else was watching the birds as well–the neighbor’s cat, Keshet!

keshet1

Keshet tends to do more watching than stalking and rarely kills a bird, but I have seen her with a mouse in her mouth, so I’m OK with her bird watching if she also keeps a few mice from trying to get into my house as the weather chills.

keshet2

Eventually my cat, Pookie wandered over to watch birds, and Keshet as well.

keshet3

You can see how dreary the day was in that last picture.  A great day for a vegan-tastic soup!

 

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Filed under comfort food, crock pot, dinner, lunch, Potluck, recipe, vegan, Vegetarian