Monday, February 1, 2010

Creamy Corn Tortilla Soup

At a certain restaurant, whose identity I shall not name, they serve a Tortilla Soup that is so fantastic, I knew I'd have to make a vegan version (it is vegetarian, but they use cream).  I've been so excited to try this, and now I'm triply excited because it takes less than half an hour, and I can have all the ingredients on hand! (If I have canned tomatillos and frozen bell peppers...) So awesome.

Here's the recipe:

2 - 3 tbsp chipotle sauce (look in the mexican food section)
1 12 oz package soft silken tofu
1 tbsp canola oil
1/4 medium sized red bell pepper, diced
1/2 tsp cumin seed
2 medium tomatillos, diced
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes with green chiles (or just diced tomatoes if you don't like it so spicy)
3 15 oz. cans whole kernel corn
1/2 tsp oregano
1 tsp salt


Combine silken tofu and chipotle sauce in a blender and blend until smooth.  Set aside. (If you can't find chipotle sauce, use tomato puree and about a tsp of chipotle powder, or very finely chopped chipotle peppers - which are dry roasted jalapenos! Oh, and the silken tofu is probably with the asian foods, or on the baking aisle with the soymilk)
Heat oil in a medium sized pan on medium heat.  Add bell peppers and saute just until they begin to brown, 3 - 5 min, then add cumin seed and saute another minute.  Add tomatillos and saute for another minute longer. Add the rest of the ingredients, and the tofu mixture from the blender, and cook until heated through.  Spoon about half of the soup back into the blender, cream it in the blender, then add back to the pot.  Or, use an immersion blender to cream it as much as desired. (Thanks Aunt Claudia for that immersion blender, the best present ever!)
Serve hot and top with crushed tortilla chips.  That's it!!

Now, a note about spiciness.  All of my family, except for me, is pretty sensitive to spicy foods. (To me, the spicier the better!) and this soup was too spicy for them.  My husband said it was "eatable" and he really enjoyed the flavor, but almost too spicy that he couldn't eat it.  SO, if you don't enjoy spiciness I'd suggest just using diced tomatoes, not with green chiles, and maybe only using 2 tbsp of chipotle sauce, or maybe just to taste. 

As always, I hope you enjoy this one and please let me know how it turns out!

(Served here with Enchilada Muffins - recipe for the book!)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Quinoa Cakes

A few days ago I was reading about the nutritional benefits of quinoa. For one, quinoa has an especially high, complete protein content. It is a good source of fiber, magnesium and iron, gluten free and easy to digest. So, I thought I should try to cook more with it. My hubby really doesn't like quinoa, he says he doesn't like the texture, so I knew I had to make something completely different from any quinoa he'd had before. 

Enter the Quinoa Cake! They're really cupcakes, of the savory variety. Here's the recipe:

2 cups cooked quinoa (1/2 cup dry quinoa cooked with 1 cup of water)
1 zucchini, peeled & grated
1 yellow squash, peeled & grated
1japanese eggplant, peeled & grated
2 stalks celery, finely diced
1 medium carrot, grated
2 tbsp canola oil
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp dried sage
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp salt
pepper to taste
1/2 cup ground, unsalted sunflower seeds (unhulled)
1 heaping tbsp ground flax

Preheat oven to 350f and spray muffin pans with oil or liners.
Heat the oil in a medium skillet.  Add celery and carrot and saute for about 2 minutes. Add the rest of the vegetables, the spices and the water. Stir and simmer for about 5 minutes, or until vegetables begin to be translucent and the water is beginning to soak in.
Grind the sunflower seeds in a blender or coffee grinder until coarse. Put in a large mixing bowl, add the vegetables from the skillet, then add the flax and the quinoa. Stir together until completely mixed. Spoon into muffin pans and bake for about 45 minutes, or until they begin to brown on top. Makes 12 cakes!

My husband actually really liked these.  (Amazing!) I think they're great smothered in ketchup. My little one thought they were so cute she wanted to hug them! As always, please try and let me know how it came out! Feedback is greatly appreciated. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Belly-warming Lentil Soup

So, I've been on a slight hiatus this week.  The family and I had to spend a few days in Los Angeles, and it wasn't nearly as bad as I expected it to be. Los Angeles is becoming more and more vegan friendly, which is quite exciting.

Anyway, now that I'm back I couldn't wait to get into the kitchen! I made this tasty lentil soup that warms the soul, as well as some "tortas fritas" (an Uruguayan fried flat bread that is perfect on rainy days) and as if that's not enough I even tried my  hand at "Chik'n Seitan" from Vegan Comfort Food and it wasn't bad at all. In fact, it was super easy and I can't wait to experiment more with other flavors (and I'll post some of those experiments here, of course!).

Now I have to decide which recipe to post.  I would love to put up the recipe for the tortas fritas, because it was actually easier than I expected but the instructions would take too long... and too many pictures to illustrate what I'm talking about. I think I'll need to master it a little better and get the measurements right first, since I'm going from watching my husband, who's Uruguayan, make these for years and never measuring anything.  (He always laughs at me, the American, always needing my measuring cups and spoons).  So, for easiness I decided to put up the recipe for the soup, which goes along perfectly with all this nice, cold weather we're finally getting!

Here's the recipe, which can easily be cut in half if you're only cooking for 1 or 2 (or for 1 day, we have leftovers)

12 cups vegetable broth/water and bouillon in whichever combination you want to use that adds up to 12 cups of liquid
2 cups green lentils
1 cup pearl barley
2 - 3 medium carrots, sliced into rounds
2 medium russet potatoes, cubed
2 small stalks of celery

2 tbsp olive oil
about 1 tbsp salt, or to taste
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
1 tsp basil
1/4 tsp oregano
2 - 3 bay leaves (so you can plant them in hubby's bowl so he'll do the dishes)  :)

1/3 pkg vegetable crumbles (hamburger style)
1/2 pkg chicken-style strips

Now I took the easy way on this and put everything in the slow-cooker in the morning, so we'd have a nice steaming bowl waiting for the big one when she came home from school.  However, if you don't have a slow cooker or don't have the time, you can also cook it on the stove.

Heat olive oil in a large pot.  Add celery and saute until it begins to turn translucent.  Add broth or water and bouillon cubes and bring to a boil.  Add the rest of the ingredients and cook on medium heat until lentils and barley are softened and soup begins to thicken (roughly 1 - 1 1/2 hrs, although I'm not quite sure), stirring occasionally.

My family loves this one (extended family included) and my big one jumped up and down with excitement when I asked if she wanted to take some for lunch the next day.  So, I hope you enjoy making this one, and as always let me know how it turns out!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

This was a nice, creamy vegetable soup. My big one loved it, and she hates butternut squash! (well, she did) :)

4 - 6 cups of water
5 medium, diced russet potatoes (or yukon gold)
1 medium butternut squash
2 cups chopped broccoli
2 cups chopped spinach
1 stalk celery, diced
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp tarragon
1 tsp basil
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
pepper to taste

optional: add 1 pkg soft silken tofu and 1/4 cup plain soymilk for extra creaminess (adjust salt as needed if you do this)

Heat oven to 400f. Cut the butternut squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and stringy stuff and place face-down on a lightly oiled cookie sheet. Place in oven and bake for about 45 min, or until flesh can be easily pierced with a fork.

Meanwhile, bring the water to a boil. Make sure to use as much water as you will need (and no extra) because you'll be using all the water for the soup.  You can always add more later if you need more.
Dice the potatoes (I like to leave them peeled) and add to boiling water. Cook for about 10 minutes, then add broccoli and the rest of the ingredients. Cook for about 30 minutes or until broccoli and potatoes are very soft.

When butternut squash is done, use a spoon to scoop out the flesh and add it to the soup.  Use an immersion blender (or a regular blender will work just fine) to puree the soup to desired consistency.

Walah! You're ready to serve in a nice big bowl, perhaps with some other roasted veggies or fresh bread or baked tofu... the possibilities are endless! Enjoy!

And as always, please let me know how it turns out!

Friday, January 8, 2010


Sorry, no new recipe yet (we've been eating enchilada leftovers...that recipe's for the book).

I just got a note from a friend about being vegan or vegetarian while pregnant and thought I'd share the response with everyone.  You definitely can stick to your veg(etari)an diet, just make sure you're eating healthy. One of my friends lent me the book Your Vegetarian Pregnancy and I highly recommend it.  Also, take prenatal vitamins! I've been taking Rainbow Light Vegan One, because it's the only one I can get locally that's totally vegan and doesn't cost a fortune. I tried taking another one this summer (they were out of the vegan one vitamins), but I was supposed to take four per day, and it made me nauseous.

Anyway, don't let people tell you you can't go through your pregnancy sticking to your animal-free diet, because you totally can. And best wishes to you!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010's year in review

I really enjoyed reading this. It is a bit long, but I found it quite entertaining.  And its good news for everyone, really, not just vegans.  I'm glad at least 2009 had some good news in terms of healthy trends. I especialy like the "plant-based substance that can be used to produce gooey, stretchy, totally realistic cheese" that has been invented.


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Sneaky Spaghetti!

Here it is - my first weekly, quick and easy recipe to sneak in some extra veggies! Tonight's secret ingredients are: Japanese eggplant, collard greens and carrots.

1 16 oz package of pasta of your choice, prepared according to box

Marinara sauce:
4 tbsp vegan mayonnaise
2 tsp nutritional yeast (or more to taste)
28 oz can crushed tomatoes

3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp hing (aka asafoetida)
     (You can use garlic if you prefer, my family despises it, so we use this instead)
1 heaping tsp basil
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp tarragon

1 japanese eggplant, peeled and shredded
1/2 cup FINELY chopped collard greens (or other dark leafy of your choice)
      I put this in my little hand-mixer with a spoonful of tomato sauce and gave it a whirl to make sure it was extra small
2 small carrots, shredded

1 1/2 cups burger-style vegetable crumbles (optional)

While pasta is cooking, warm vegan mayonnaise in a medium pot. Whisk in nutritional yeast until combined.  Add crushed tomatoes and mix. Add the rest of the ingredients and allow to simmer for about 5 minutes, or until your pasta is ready. Drain pasta and coat with sauce (or drizzle sauce over your pasta).  Serve immediately, with lots of love and gratitude! :D
PLEASE try this recipe and let me know how it turns out!!

Kid and husband approved!!

Monday, January 4, 2010

The "Experiement"

Yesterday my 6-year old daughter, the Big One, and I were talking about trying new things in the kitchen. We agreed that we need to try to recipes and new vegetables we've never tried before... OK, well, I made the decision and she went along with it. I was able to generate some excitement by telling her she can make some decisions as to what we can try to cook.  She's been very skeptical lately as I've tried to get her to eat a few new things she just knew were "going to be horrible!" She decided it is a bit like a science experiment - hence the name The Kitchen Experiment. 

Unable to contain my excitement to begin this new experiment, this morning when I made her smoothie I decided to put a couple leaves of kale in the mix (after reading some of the recipes from my new birthday present from the family - Quick and Easy Vegan Comfort Food). I quickly tore the pieces of kale, threw them into the blender and dumped some pineapple on top, and disposed of the stems before she entered the kitchen. Upon trying the new, improved smoothie she exclaimed "Mom, you make the best smoothies in the world! Even better than Jamba Juice!" She went on and on, telling dad about this wonderful smoothie on the way to school.  I finally had to tell her about my sneakiness, and let her know about the leaves of kale I put in it. She said she had noticed some green pieces, but thought they were leaves from the pineapple! (She said this after making her astonished, half-disgusted face) After the initial shock wore off, she gave me a high-five for adding some extra veggie-goodness and it was still delicious! Our vegan kitchen experiment is on!

So, here I will be posting some new recipes we develop during our little experiment.  Please come back and TRY the recipes! Let me know how they work for you or how I might improve them. My brother suggested my husband and I make a cookbook, so I am trying to work towards that goal. Your feedback is greatly appreciated!