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.