Monday, December 19, 2011

Mexican Hot Chocolate Snickerdoodles

Well, it's the middle of December according to the Gregorian calendar, which means many of us in the Northern Hemisphere are getting a bit chilled. To stave off this wintery bite, I suggest plenty of warm goods: fires, bourbon, and loads of spicy food.

This past Saturday night, a few friends came over bearing a bottle of that wonderfully warming Kentucky mash, and a tasty recipe from the Post Punk Kitchen.  These snickerdoodles had all the right ingredients for a cold night's snack. There was chocolate, sugar, cinnamon... and cayenne pepper! We added a bit more cayenne than called for, so that the pepper would dance a fiery jig with the bourbon through the night. You can find the recipe here, and please do! You won't regret it.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Spicy Black Bean Calzones

A few months ago I attempted to make some black bean empanadas. The key word here being "attempted." Now, they didn't come out completely terrible: the black bean filling was delicious and had just the right kick. Unfortunately the dough was a disaster. It fell apart at the seams, was entirely too dry, and generally didn't taste like empanada dough. The one saving grace of the experience, though, was that it DID taste like calzone dough.

Building on that past experience, I decided to take the two positives and put them together (purposefully this time) into a batch of black bean calzones. I modified my filling to add more of an Italian taste (basil, cilantro, and oregano), and made sure to knead enough bread to prevent any tearing. Here's what I ended up with!

2 cans (24 oz.) black beans
2 medium carrots, diced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
4 large garlic cloves, diced
2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
1 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tbsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp ginger

3 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
1 package yeast
1 cup warm water
1 tbsp raw sugar
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2-3/4 cup water (or more as needed)
1 tbsp rosemary
1 tbsp fresh basil, chopped

1. In large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand 5 minutes.
2. Add the oil and sugar, mix.
3. Add 3 cups of flour, water, rosemary and basil, mix until you form a dough ball.
4. Lightly oil a large bowl, place dough in bowl and cover. Set aside for at least 1 hour.
5. In a medium bowl, mash the black beans together with a potato masher or the back of a fork.
6. Add the rest of the ingredients to beans and mix together.
7. Sprinkle some of the remaining flour on counter top.
8. After dough has risen, remove from bowl and knead on the floured counter top.
9. Cut dough into 6 even portions.
10. Roll out each portion, sprinkling flour on dough to keep it from sticking.
11. Spoon out filling into the center of each piece.
12. Fold dough over filling, seal the edges by pressing with the back of a fork.
13. Brush lightly with olive oil .
14. Place on cooking sheet and cook for 35-40 minutes.
15. Remove from oven, let cool 10 minutes. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Toasted Sesame Pasta

With the scent of freshly picked basil, my mind begins to wander through every imagineable use. After countless minutes spent staring into space, drooling on my shirt, I snap out of the food delerium with an image of what I'd like to create. This time, I settled on an Asian-inspired pasta dish. Here's how it went:

3 cups whole wheat rotini
1 lb potatoes, sliced to 1/4 inch cubes
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 red chile pepper, diced
6 roma tomatoes, chopped
2 small yellow onions, chopped
1/2 cup fresh basil, diced
2 tbsp fresh cilantro
1 1/2 tbsp toasted sesame oil, divided
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp brown rice vinegar

1) In a large pot, cook 3 cups rotini
2) While rotini cooks; in a large skillet on medium-high heat, warm vinegars and soy sauce
3) Add potatoes and 1 tbsp sesame oil, cook while stirring until lightly browned
4) Rotini should be finished; drain and set in large mixing bowl
4) Reduce heat under skillet to medium, add peppers and onions, cook 10 minutes or until onions soften
5) Add tomatoes and herbs, cook for 2-3 minutes
6) Combine veggies with pasta, add remaining toasted sesame oil if desired
7) Serve and enjoy!

Couscous Salad

This is an extremely quick and simple recipe, it takes about 10 minutes from start to finish. It's also light, delicious, and good for you. What's not to love?

2 cups of instant couscous
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cucumber, quartered and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 bunch broccoli, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 1/2 tbsp olive oil, divided
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp crushed black pepper

1) Boil 2 cups of water
2) In a large salad bowl, combine couscous and water
3) In a medium bowl, mix together garlic, lemon juice, pepper, and 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
4) Add broccoli, stirring to evenly coat broccoli in mixture
5)  Combine broccoli mixture, tomatoes, and cucumber with couscous
6) Add remaining 1 tbsp of oil if desired
7) Serve warm, or let cool in the fridge, covered, and serve chilled.

Banana nut bread

I've been stockpiling over-ripe bananas in the freezer, which pays dividends: a ready supply of all the bananary goodness I need for whatever I want to bake on a given day. It's perfect. Since I've already got banana chocolate chip cake down, I decided a great banana bread would be next. With it's delicious, yet almost-breakfast-taste, it's a perfect snack any time of the day.

3 very ripe bananas (preferably frozen)
1 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
1/2 cup raw sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp ground flax seed
3 tbsp water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp cinnamon
2-3 tbsp chopped almonds

*** FYI: If substituting applecause for oil, use 1/3 cup sauce but consider adding  2 tbsp flour to offset the chewiness

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2) Whisk together flax seed and water, set aside to thicken
3) In a large bowl, add bananas, oil, and vanilla. Mash together. Add the sugar, and flax/water combination, mix well.
5) In a medium bowl, combine dry ingredients.
6) Slowly stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients, mixing until a sticky dough has formed
7) Grease a loaf pan
8) Pour dough into pan, top with chopped almonds
9) Bake in oven for 60 minutes
10) Remove from oven, let cool 10+ minutes, then enjoy!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Curried sausage and okra

After 2 weeks of missing the farmer's market (out of town for one, ultimate frisbee tournament during another), I came back to this week's market with a vengeance! Only kidding. But I did hit that thing harder that Rush Limbaugh hits his pill cabinet, and came away with even more delicious goodies than Rush would have.

After filling my bag with okra, red potatoes, green beans, red onions, garlic, and a myriad other veggies, one farmer commented, as he placed a few yellow onions into my eagerly awaiting bag, "you've got quite the bounty there." Indeed I had, and I intended to cook it up as soon as I got home. Unfortunately, the activities of the day - namely training in the park and a Louisville Vegetarian Club meeting - kept me busy until 4 pm when I got my first crack at these locally grown treats.

Peering into my completely stocked fridge, I'll admit I was somewhat overwhelmed by the possibilities. What to do with all of these peppers, onions, garlic, okra, potatoes, etc.? Since I like a good challenge, I decided to try my hand at making a delicious okra dish. Now, I'm not saying okra isn't tasty; freshly-picked from the plant it has quite a delicious, broccoli-like flavor. Despite this initial crispness of flavor, I've found it hard to cook okra into something flavorful without frying it. I thought perhaps infusing it with the hot spice of peppers would be a good idea, and perhaps add some other crunchy vegetables to accompany it. And so came about this sausage and okra curried dish.

2 large okra pods, cut into 1/4'' cross sections
3 celery stalks, halved and sliced small
1 large carrot, halved and sliced small
1 small red onion, sliced small
2 small yellow onions, sliced small
4 cloves garlic, diced
4 red potatoes, cut into 1" pieces
1 red serrano pepper, diced
1 green serrano pepper, diced
2 Tofurkey Italian sausages, halved and cut small
1 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp coriander
1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp water
1 tsp brown rice vinegar

1. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat
2. Add okra, potatoes, water and vinegar, cook 8-10 minutes and stir occasionally
3. Once potatoes begin to brown, add remaining ingredients, cook 8-10 minutes stirring occasionally
4. Remove from heat and enjoy!

Love Burgers

In the past, I haven't been too inclined to fill my diet with faux-meats. When Kroger decides to put LightLife Gimme Lean Beef on 50% sale, however, I'll buy a few rolls and sneak them into my normal meals. So with it being Summer and all, I decided I could make a good burger with this immitation meat. While the lightlife creations are great substitutes, there's not much to them taste-wise, so I felt the need to kick them up a notch (do I owe Emeril royalties for that?). To add that extra oomph, I added cayenne pepper, turmeric, black pepper, and a few veggies to "beef" up these faux-beef patties. Everything I added is easy to grow or find, and takes very little prep time. The best part about making these patties is mushing them together with your bare hands! I love making messes... probably because I love cleaning. Anyway. Who wants a burger?

1 roll LightLife Gimme Lean Beef
1 can black beans
1/2 large white onion
1 stalk celery
1 large carrot
1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp turmeric
2 tbsp oil

1. Drain and rinse the black beans, pour into large bowl
2. Smash beans with the back-side of a fork until they create a thick paste
3. Dice onion, celery and carrot, dump into large bowl with basil and beans
4. Add LightLife to large bowl, mix ingredients together by hand
5. Once ingredients mixed, sprinkle spices evenly over top, mix again
6. Form mixture into patties
7. Heat 1 tbsp oil in skillet on medium high
8. Add 2 or 3 patties to skillet, cook 5 min on each side (or until brown)
9. Add more oil if necessary, cook remaining patties
10. Remove patties from skillet, set on plate covered by paper towel to remove excess oil, or directly onto bun for eating!

This will make 8-10 small patties or 6-8 large patties, but probably only 5 heart shaped patties. Add any toppings you like; I enjoyed mine on whole wheat bread with tomato, onion, sprouts, veganaise and barbeque sauce.

Spinach Skillet Surprise!

Just a few short weeks ago, I was preparing for a 15 hour drive home to Connecticut. This required all sorts of packing, rest, and caffeination - not to mention cooking. As with most people who set out on long road trips, I was concerned about the food available to me along the sides of highways as I passed through the states... especially Kentucky, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, which have given me serious meal worries in the past. So I took matters into my own hands and cooked up pretty much everything I had left in the way of food in my house. What I made turned out to be a delicious, healthy, and filling creation that lasted 4 meals and kept me out of the queues infront of the roadside fast food vendors, and it took very little preparation!

1 1/2 cup lentils
1 cup brown rice
1 can black beans
4 medium Yukon gold potatoes, cut in 1'' cubes
2 cups fresh spinach
3 roma tomatoes, diced
2 large celery stalks, diced
1 tsp dried ginger
1 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp freshly chopped thyme for garnish
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup mushroom broth

1. Add lentils, rice, and potatoes in a large skillet with high sides. Pour in water and broth, turn the burner to medium high
2. Chop celery, measure out spices
3. After liquid begins to simmer, stir in remaining ingredients minus the spinach, reduce heat to medium and cover skillet
4. Let cook for 15 minutes, or until liquid has been absorbed/evaporated, remove from heat, stir in the spinach and let sit covered for 5 minutes
5. Garnish with 2 tsp freshly chopped thyme (optional)

If you have any mushrooms, I suggest adding those.  I was fresh out when I made this, but I think they would add great texture and taste to the dish.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Thai curried noodles

I pulled this recipe out of the latest issue of Vegetarian Times, Thai Curried Noodles with Broccoli and Tofu, page 38. It's delicious, has a great sweet and spicy kick to it, and is very easy to make. The original recipe called for 1 cup of shallots, but I substituted these for onions and purple garlic because that's what I had on hand. Also, the recommended amount of curry paste wasn't quite as spicey as I would have liked. I added another Tbsp. (3 total), and that was perfect. The lime wedges for garnish add a fantastic layer to the flavor complexity of this dish, so I recommend not skipping them.

2 tsp. vegetable oil
1 cup chopped shallots
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro stems
    plus 1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves for garnish
2 Tbs. yellow or red Thai curry paste (I used red)
1 tsp. curry powder
1 tsp. ground turmeric
1 15-oz. can light coconut milk
3/4 cup low sodium vegetable broth
2 tsp. light brown sugar
1 12-oz. package firm tofu, drained and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
5 oz. dry fettuccine
5 cups broccoli florets
6 lime wedges (1 lime) for garnish

1) Heat oil in medium pot over medium-high heat.
2) Saute shallots in oil 2 minutes
3) Add cilantro stems, curry paste, curry powder, and turmeric; cook 1 minute
4) Stir in coconut milk, broth, and brown sugar; bring to simmer
5) Reduce heat to medium, cook 5 minutes
6) Add tofu, simmer 10 minutes
7) Cook fettuccine in large pot according to directions on package
8) Add broccoli to pot for last 2 minutes of cooking
9) Drain, cover pasta with tofu-curry mixture
10) Mix well, serve with lime wedges and chopped cilantro

Summer squash burritos

If I'm looking for a simple dish to make that can last for a few meals, I often turn to burritos. Now that summer is here and vegetables are fresh and crunchy, there's almost no need to even cook your ingredients before you put them together. With the varied selection this time of year brings, you can also mix up your choices to match your mood.

This is a squash-infused take on my favorite burritos, with most of the items diced while fresh and tossed in the tortillas. Since the squash (both yellow and zucchini) can be a bit chewier than the onions and peppers, I decided to cook them in a skillet for a short period of time to soften them up. Replacing the lettuce with sprouts adds a noticeable crunch, as well as changes the flavor to better match the other items.

Package of tortillas (I used spinach tortillas)
2 cups of whole grain brown rice
1 large zucchini
1 large yellow squash
1 medium white onion
1 red bell pepper
1 greed bell pepper
1 medium tomato
1 can of beans (black or pinto)
1 handful of sprouts
2 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp cilantro leaves
Salsa or topping of choice
1) Combine rice and 3 cups of water in a large pot.
2) Bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer for 20 minutes
3) While rice is cooking, cut squash in quarters lengthwise, then cut into 1/2 inch pieces
4) Add squash and 1/4 cup water to large skillet on medium heat
5) Cook until water evaporates, remove from heat
6) While squash are cooking, dice peppers, onions, and tomato
7) Drain beans, set aside
8) When rice is finished cooking, drain then mix with lime juice and cilantro in a large bowl
9) Build your burritos!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Vegan Pesto

If you're anything like me, you can't get enough Italian food. So when I harvested basil from my garden yesterday, the first thought to pop in my head was "Pesto!" With a strainer full of fresh basil, I headed into the house to wash off my booty of greens and get to cookin'.

Now, since I love making bread so much I decided that this occasion - my first attempt at pesto - needed it's own bread to go with it. So I made a small twist on the basil bread recipe below; I used fresh chives from my garden, then added dried rosemary and thyme. No basil this time around, since I needed the bulk of it for pesto. When prepping the dough for baking, I spread it out in a slab along a slightly oiled baking sheet; roughly 1" tall, 3" wide, and the length of the sheet. This made for a long, easily sliceable loaf, perfect for dabbing pesto and topping with small slices of tomato.

While the dough was rising, I headed to Whole Foods to grab pine nuts and the all-important nutritional yeast. This stuff is magic for replacing cheese, so it's a must have for this pesto recipe. Here's what you'll need:

1 cup pine nuts
1 1/2 cups fresh basil
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
6 cloves garlic
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp sea salt

Not too many ingredients, most of which you probably have on hand already. My one recommendation: use a food processor. I do not have one, and using a blender to make this took quite some effort and patience.

1) Combine all ingredients in food processor.
2) Blend
3) If you're serving guests, perhaps save a few pine nutes to crumble on top as a garnish

Put this delicious stuff on bread, sandwiches, crackers, or anything you want to be instantly delectable.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Garlic & basil bread

I wish I had known how entertaining it is to make bread from scratch years ago; I'd have been doing it all this time! Like a potter at his wheel, I love to mix, shape, and form the dough into a delicious piece of edible artistry. Now, I'm not saying my bread is pretty... but it is pretty damn tasty! So here's a simple recipe for some extremely aromatic garlic & basil bread that is sure to compliment anything from garlic hummus to sweet red pepper relish.

3 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups unbleached white flour
1 packet active dry yeast
1 tbsp raw sugar
2 cups warm water
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup chopped fresh garlic
1 tbsp chopped fresh chives
2 tsp crushed dried rosemary

1) In a large bowl, dissolve sugar in the warm water
2) Stir in yeast, let sit for 10 minutes until foamy
3) In a separate bowl, combine flours (set 1/2 cup aside for rolling)
4) After 10 minutes, add 1 1/2 tbsp oil to water/sugar/yeast
5) Slowly add flour combination, stirring as you add roughly 1 cup at a time
6) Once mixture has turned into dough, spread the 1/2 cup flour on a flat, hard surface
7) Lay the dough out on this surface, sprinkle on the basil, garlic and chives as you begin to knead the dough. Knead until bread is smooth
8) Use remaining 1/2 tbsp oil to coat a large bowl
9) Put dough in oiled bowl, sprinkle on rosemary and turn to coat dough in oil/rosemary
10) Cover bowl, let dough rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size
11) Remove dough from bowl, knead and cut in half
12) Shape halves into loaves, place in oiled 9x5 bread pans and let rise to the top of the pan (30 min)
13) Cut 3 diagonal slits roughly 1/4 inch deep across the top of each loaf
14) Bake loaves for 45 minutes at 350 degrees F

After the bread is done baking, allow to cool a few minutes before slicing. Put on your favorite toppings, and enjoy!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Spinach lasagna

Well, my computer died about 3 months ago and I haven't been able to post anything since. Luckily I received a brand new ThinkPad for work, and decided it was time to start posting again! Here is a delicious lasagna I made back in the Spring along with some herb and whole grain bread. The bread recipe will be posted shortly. The two items are chock full of veggies and herbs, and they compliment each other for a hearty, filling meal.

2 tbsp olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
8 cloves garlic, diced
3/4 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
1 tbsp dried oregano
2 tbsp dried parsley
2 tsp dried marjoram
32 oz diced tomatoes
8 oz tomato paste
1 tsp sea salt (optional)
2 tsp fresh ground black pepper

Tofu Ricotta:
14 oz firm tofu
3/4 cup water
2 tbsp tahini
2 tbsp olive oil
6 cloves garlic
2 tsp dried basil
2 tsp dried oregano

1 package spinach lasagna noodles
tofu ricotta (from above)
sauce (from above)
1 lb spinach
1 large zucchini, thinly sliced
6 large carrots, thinly sliced
8 oz white button mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 tsp sea salt
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp dried basil
8 cloves garlic, diced
2 large yellow onions, diced


1) In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat
2) Saute the onions and garlic for 5 minutes
3) Add the seasonings and saute for 1 minute
4) Add the tomato paste and diced tomatoes and simmer for 5 minutes
5) Reduce heat to low and cover

6) Combine all tofu ingredients in blender, blend until smooth

7) Add 1 tbsp of oil in a large frying pan over medium heat
8) Combine garlic and onions in pan, saute for 5 minutes
9) Add mushrooms, basil, oregano, salt and pepper in pan, saute until mushrooms golden brown
10) Add carrots and zucchini, continue to saute for 10 minutes
11) Off to the side, steam the spinach for 3 minutes using a steamer basket in a large pot
12)  Transfer the spinach to a bowl, squeeze out excess liquid
13) Oil a baking pan with extra 1 tbsp olive oil
14) Spread 1/2 cup of sauce across bottom of pan
15) Lay down one layer of noodles
16) Spread a thin layer of cheese over noodles
17) Spread a thin layer of sauteed veggies over cheese
18) Spread a thin layer of spinach over veggies
19) Repeat steps 15 through 18 again using the rest of the veggies and cheese
20) Add a final, top layer of noodles
21) Spread the remaining sauce over the top layer of noodles
22) Cover with foil, bake for 1 hour
23) Remove foil, bake 10 minutes, then set out to cool

Monday, February 28, 2011

Sweet and Sour Tempeh

First of all, I've got to thank Mum for gifting me the Real Food Daily cookbook on my birthday this year. It is where I picked up this amazing dish, and has been an inspiration for more than a few of my experiments. I've added a few ingredients to this dish, and also tweaked the ratios to get what tastes best to me. To find the original recipe, check out the Real Food Daily website.  This tempeh concoction may very well be the best tempeh dish I've ever had at home... and the trick is in the marinade. Let's get to it.

1 1/2 lb tempeh
1 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup water
3 tbsp sesame oil
8 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp ginger
1 1/2 cups maple syrup
1 1/2 cups brown rice vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tsp crushed red pepper
2 medium onions, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
4 carrots, halved and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 celery stalks halved and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 green bell pepper, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
16 oz. cooked garbanzo beans
1 large bunch of broccoli
1/2 head green cabbage
8 cups cooked rice

1. Whisk together 1/2 cup soy sauce, water, 2 tbsp sesame oil, garlic and ginger in a medium dish.
2. Cut tempeh in half crosswise (the halve the depth) and then again horizontally (to halve the length). Place in marinade and let soak 1 hour at room temperature, or overnight in the fridge (I recommend an overnight soak).

1. Heat oven to Broil. Place tempeh on baking sheet covered in foil. Let brown for 5 minutes. Turn tempeh over, use excess marinade to baste, let brown another 5 minutes. Let cool then cut into 1/2 inch squares.
2.Whisk maple syrup,vinegar, an remaining soy sauce into leftover marinade. Set aside this sweet-and-sour sauce.
3.Heat 1 tbsp sesame oil, olive oil, red wine vinegar, and crushed red pepper in large skillet/wok over high heat. Saute onions for 2 minutes, add carrots and saute for 2 minutes. Add celery, saute for 2 minutes. Add peppers, broccoli, cabbage, saute for 2 minutes.
4.Once vegetables crisp-tender, add tempeh and sweet-and-sour sauce. Let simmer for 2 minutes to absorb flavor. Serve with rice.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sun dried Tomato Hummus

Hummus is definitely near the top of the list of  tastiest things you can make in 5 minutes, especially when you throw in some extra flavors. My personal favorite is sun dried tomato hummus, and I make it all the time. It's quick, delicious, high in protein... what's not to love?

32 oz. cooked chick peas
12 oz. sun dried tomato (I buy mine jarred in olive oil) 
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp tahini
5 kalamata olives
1 tbsp lemon juice

1. In a blender or food processor, combine ingredients. Blend until smooth.

How easy is that? Too easy. You can't mess it up. And it tastes amazing! You can use it as a spread, a dip, the main ingredient in a sandwich, or whatever you can dream of. Enjoy!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Whole wheat pizza!

Oh, the joys of pizza. If I ever have had a hankering for some cheesy dish, you can bet your ass it was for a fresh slice of pizza! With my discovery of Daiya mozzarella cheese a few months back, now I don't have to miss out. This is an incredibly easy recipe, but a tad time consuming; the crust takes an hour to rise. Not bad though, considering it only takes 20 minutes of hands-on prep time before you pop it in the oven. I chose whole wheat flour for the crust because of the health benefit, but I'm sure it tastes just as good with other flours.

For the Crust:
4 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup unbleached flour
1 1/2 tbsp active yeast
2 cups warm water
1 tsp sugar of choice
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic
2 tsp fresh ground black pepper

1. In a large dish, combine warm water and sugar. Mix well, then add the yeast. Let sit for 10 minutes.
2. Mix in 1 tbsp olive oil, pepper and minced garlic. Slowly add the whole wheat flour until the mixture starts to clump and form dough.
3. Sprinkle unbleached flour onto counter, tip the dough onto flour. Knead and form into a large ball.
4. Use the rest of the olive oil to cover sides of a large bowl. Add dough, make sure to oil all of the dough. Cover and let sit for 1 hour.

For the Sauce:
36 oz tomato sauce
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp fresh basil
1/2 tsp fresh parsley
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
5 cloves roasted garlic
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tbsp local honey (optional)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh ground pepper

1. Wrap garlic in aluminum foil, heat in oven @ 400 degrees for 30 minutes on center rack.
2. In a saucepan, combine other ingredients and heat over medium-low . Stir occasionally, add garlic when finished roasting. Remove from heat, or turn to low. I'd suggest letting it sit and stew for 20-30 minutes.

For the toppings:
1 tbsp basil
1 bag Daiya (for every 2 pizzas)
Chopped veggies/fruits/whatever you like!

After the dough has risen and the sauce has sat in it's own juices, it's time to combine the two! The dough should be plenty for 2 pies, so size it up and split it. Get out your pizza pan, or pizza stone if you're a lucky bugger, and place the dough in the center. Evenly spread the dough out in all directions until you've reach a thickness and shape you desire. Pinch along the outside lip to raise the edge; this will hold in the sauce and give you a nice crust to grip when you eat. After you spread the sauce, cover with cheese (As I noted, I prefer Daiya cheese!) and sprinkle on your favorite toppings. On this batch I chopped up onions, green and red peppers, and mushrooms. It was delicious, I highly recommend the combo! Pop the pies in the oven, heat @ 425 for 18-20 minutes or until the crush is turning golden and cheese is melted. Take out, let cool for 2 minutes (that's about as long as I can stand the mouth-watering aroma before I tear into it), slice and serve! Might I suggest a hearty stout or porter to compliment the whole wheat crust... or an ale/lager if you're into lighter refreshment.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Root Veggie Stir-Fry

I hate to say it, but as I get down to the last bits in my veggie drawer it's almost always the root vegetables that are left til the very end. As much as I love sweet potatoes, the peppers, broccoli, etc. are always gone before their rooted brethren. So as I peaked into the drawer tonight it wasn't too surprising to spot the carrots, celery, garlic(actually, the garlic was a surprise), and onions waiting to be cooked up. Feeling a touch of Eastern influence as I was fresh from a yoga session, I decided it would be an Asian meal tonight. Despite the fantastic Indian spices I just received for my birthday (thank you Bryce!), I thought the vegetables available lent themselves better to a nice stir-fry. I don't yet own a wok, so my large Calphalon skillet would have to suffice.
I like to make 3-4 meals worth of food at one time; this way I have dinner tonight and lunches to take to work the next few days. Expect this recipe to serve 3-5 people.

4 cups white rice
4 carrots
4 celery stalks
2 red potatoes
16 oz. cooked black beans
1 yellow onion
3 cloves garlic
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame seed oil
2 tsp red wine vinegar
3 tsp ground ginger

*** The red potatoes were a spontaneous addition. They looked too good to be left out, but you can surely leave them out if you don't like potatoes in your stir-fry. Also, I add some sort of beans to most meals to get a healthy dose of protein. Feel free to leave these out as well if they don't match your idea of stir-fry***

1. Add rice and 6 cups water to large pot. Bring to boil, reduce heat to medium and let simmer partially covered for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low and cover completely with lid, cook for 15 minutes.
2. Cut celery and carrots in half lengthwise, then into 1/4 inch sections width wise. Cut potato into small 1/2 inch pieces. Chop onion, dice garlic.
3. In a large wok (or skillet) add vegetable oil, soy sauce, sesame seed oil, vinegar, garlic and ginger. Stir mixture, heat burner at medium-high heat.
4.  Once garlic sizzles, add onion and potato, cook for 10 minutes.
5. Add remaining ingredients, cook for 5 minutes, then turn down to medium-low until rice is cooked.
6. Drain rice, combine ingredients and serve.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Perfect Breakfast Corn Muffins

It's 9:30 am, I've been up for 45 minutes and I still haven't eaten... so of course I'm thinking about nothing more than breakfast. First it was pancakes, now it's muffins!

I made this batch last week after a few other attempts at corn muffins, and I think I finally have the ratios of ingredients figured out. Corn meal is great because it's low in saturated fat and sodium, and has significant amounts of fiber and protein. It can be made into some tasty breads/muffins/etc., but to me it often seems too dense or too dry. To combat this, I decided to mix the meal with whole wheat flour, flaxmeal, and oatmeal, as well as pump in some more baking powder and vital wheat gluten to assist in rising. This gave it much more of an air-puffed texture, yet it was still dense enough to be a filling breakfast.

2 ½ cups cornmeal
¾ cup whole wheat flour
¾ cup flax meal
¾ cup oatmeal
½ cup sugar in the raw
3 tsp baking powder
3 tsp vital wheat gluten
2 cups almond milk
2 tbsp oil
½ cup water
1 banana
½ cup raisins
1 tbsp vegan chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2. Combine dry ingredients in a very large mixing bowl
3. In a blender or food processor, mix banana, milk, water, and oil.
4. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients.
5. Add raisins, chocolate chips
6. Grease muffin pan, add batter
7. Bake for 14-18 minutes for small muffin pan, 16-20 for normal size, 20-25 for oversized muffin pan. 

Makes ~24 small muffins, 18 regular, or 12 giant-sized

Apple (flap)Jacks

It's Sunday morning; time for pancakes! As is the tradition in the Johnson house, Sundays are meant for sleeping in because the pancakes don't come off the griddle until 11. If you're making them before 11, you must have some important business, and generally that's just uncouth for a Sunday. Since I was inundated with apples this fall, I tried to eat them for every meal to avoid being left with a bag of mushy, bruised fruit. When breakfast came around, it was time to start a new recipe for the classic Johnson pancake. You'll notice a healthy portion of ground flax seed in these pancakes; that's another ingredient I like to throw into any baked good or smoothie to take advantage of it's omega-3 essential fatty acids, antioxidants, and fiber, without having to sacrifice taste.

** A sidenote on honey - This recipe calls for local honey as an optional ingredient. Many vegans do not eat honey as they view it's collection as an unfair and often violent act. I choose to use local honey from people I know who maintain bee colonies. These great folks take wonderful care of the bees and take every possible measure to ensure the bees are not harmed. Also, honey bees play a crucial role in pollinating the flowers of countless species across the country. With their population dropping off due to Colony Collapse Disorder, I believe it is important that beekeepers help maintain a species that is so vital in every other species' survival. But, to each their own, so feel free to leave it out if you don't wish to consume it.

2 granny smith apples
2 1/2 cups unbleached flour
2 tsp baking powder 
2tbsp ground flax seed
3-4 tbsp water
1 ½ tbsp cinnamon
½ cup cane sugar
1 1/2 cups almond milk
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp local honey (optional)

1. Peel, then finely grate apples.
2.Combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon and sugar in a large bowl.
3. In a separate bowl, whip together flax seed and water to make an airy mixture.
4. Slowly pour milk and oil into dry mixture, stirring as you pour. Once thoroughly combined, stir in flax & water til combined, then add honey and apple.
5. Heat lightly oiled skillet on medium. Add dollops of pancake mixture to skillet. Once the dollop  bubbles, flip and let brown for 2-3 minutes, checking occasionally. 

You may find that with the sweetness from the apples and honey, syrup is an optional addition. 

Chocolate peanut butter cinnamon cookies

It seems that every week I go to the grocery, food prices fluctuate more than the price of a gallon of gas. One of the only constants, though, are the cheap and incredibly nutritious old-fashioned oats. High in fiber and protein, low in fat (although this is a downside for me), full of cholesterol-lowering and potassium-raising goodness, oats are heart healthy and pretty fantastic. I eat them for breakfast, bake them in my cakes/loafs/muffins, and eat them for dessert whenever I can. Here's my baked-take on the traditional no-bake oatmeal cookies.


3 tbsp peanut butter 
⅓ cup chocolate chips 
½ cup vegetable shortening 
⅔ cup milk 
1 cup cane sugar 
3 cups oatmeal 
1 cup unbleached flour 
½ tsp baking powder 
1 tbsp cinnamon 

1. In a large bowl, mix flour, oatmeal, baking powder, and cinnamon. 
2. Combine milk, chocolate, sugar & peanut butter in a double boiler (or saucepan). Stir at medium-low until melted. Raise temp to medium-high, stir while simmering for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
3. Mix wet & dry ingredients.
4. Place spoonfuls (or more) onto lightly greased baking pan. Bake @350 for 12 - 15 minutes. 

This makes a ton of cookies, so feel free to create some huge, pancake-sized cookies(I did!). They have just enough sweetness to make them a perfect dessert, yet just enough nutritional value to stop you from feeling guilty. 

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Spicy Chickpea Stew for these cold Winter days

This recipe is my take on a recipe given to me by a friend. It started out as a hearty, flavorful stew... but it needed something more. What did it need? you ask. Fire! Heat! Sweat-inducing spiciness! Maybe it's all the dinners I've been eating at the Parthasarathy's house, but I just need more spice in my meals these days. So I added a few additional spices, doubled what the recipe called for on the original ones, and tossed in some extra ingredients to thicken it up. Here's what I came up with:

1 tsp ground black pepper
½ tsp ground white pepper
1 tsp turmeric
½ tsp cloves
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp cayenne
1 tsp ginger
1 tbsp fresh chopped ginger
32 oz. cooked chick peas
3 tbsp oil
5 cloves garlic
1 large yellow onion
4 stalks of celery
4 carrots
8 oz tomato sauce
32 oz. vegetable broth
1 lb red potatoes
½ cup Italian parsley

1. Set oven to 400 degrees
2. In a baking pan with high walls, pour 1 tbsp oil along with chickpeas
3. Roast chickpeas in oven for 18 minutes
4. In a large pot, add 2 tbsp oil, garlic, onion, and fresh ginger. Cool on medium until soft
5. Stir the remainder of spices into the pot, cook for 2 minutes
6. Add tomato sauce, cook for 2 minutes
7. Add the remainder of ingredients (except for parsley), bring to boil, then let simmer for 20 minutes with lid on
8. Remove lid, add parsley, let simmer for 15 minutes or to desired thickness

If all those spices sound too much for you, just 1/2 the doses and it should be very manageable for someone with sensitive taste buds. More of a slight kick than an actual spice. 

Black Bean & Barley

Here's a simple recipe that's surprisingly full of protein, fiber, and all that good stuff. The barley takes some time to cook, but luckily you don't have to watch the water boil so there's only about 10 minutes of actual preparation time for this meal.

1 cup pearled barley
½ cup whole grain brown rice
16 oz. cooked black beans
1 tomato
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic
½ tsp oregano
½ tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp chopped Italian parsley

1. In a large pot, add barley and rice to 3 ½ cups of water. Bring water to boil, cover and let   simmer for 20-25 minutes
2. Chop tomato into small, ¼ inch chunks. Chop parsley, dice garlic
3. In a medium saucepan, warm olive oil on medium heat. Once hot, add garlic, let cook for 2 minutes
4. Add beans, lemon juice, and oregano. Continue to heat for 5 minutes while stirring occasionally. Add parsley and turn heat to low
5. Drain barley and rice, scoop into bowl, and serve beans over top. Season with crushed black pepper to taste 

Feeds 1-2 people, or 1 giant  

Autumn's Offering Muffins

Imagine it's November, and you're surrounded by apples. Apples at the market, apples on the teacher's desk, apples getting hucked at you when you make bad jokes. What are you going to do with all the apples? Well, if you know me you'll guess pretty quickly; it's about damn time for some muffins. Since I love bourbon even more than I love muffins, I figured it was time to combine the two. Here are some tasty little treats to get you through those gray days.


3 cups unbleached flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp ground flax seed
2 - 3 tbsp water
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 cup cane sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 oz honey
1 oz bourbon
2 oz maple syrup
2 skinned, diced apples

1. In a medium saucepan combine sugars, honey, bourbon, syrup, and ½ tbsp of cinnamon.
2.Soak apples in mixture for 15 minutes. Then, while stirring, heat mixture to a rapid boil. After 30 seconds, remove from heat, let sit to cool down.
3. Combine flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg in a large mixing bowl.
4. In a small bowl, mix flax seed with 2 tbsp water, stirring vigorously (mix in blender or food processor if available). Consistency should be thick and creamy. Add more water if necessary.
5. Add flax seed combination as well as apple reduction to the dry ingredients. Mix well, but do not over mix.
6. Pour batter into muffin pans, bake @ 425 for 18-22 minutes or until golden brown. 

This should make about 2 dozen small muffins, 16 normal sized muffins, or 12 huge muffins if you're lucky enough to have oversized muffin pans... I hope you're that lucky.  Also, if you're a big bourbon fan - it won't ruin the recipe to add another ounce or two (which is one or two "shots") to give you that good ol' Kentucky taste.