Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Happy Herbivore Cookbook Giveaway

Picture courtesy of Jayedee's blog

Jayedee @ Life in the lost world blog is doing an awesome giveaway now. You can win a really nice vegan cookbook. Who wants to win "The Happy Herbivore Cookbook" by Lindsay Nixon? I would love to win this cookbook :-) Go to Jayedee's blog for more information and an interview with the cookbook's author.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Cheesy Potato Frittata with Vegetables

This is my veganized version of a combination of two popular dishes from Czech Republic. Both of the original dishes use precooked potatoes and cheese. One of them is made with layers of potatoes, diced sausages, diced hard-boiled eggs and cheese. The other one is made with potatoes and vegetables that are coved in a mixture of raw eggs, milk and cheese and baked until firm. The second version can be made with precooked pasta instead of potatoes. These dishes were a big part of my childhood, both at home and at a school cafeteria. There is something comforting about them. They are also cheap and easy to make, plus they can be made with leftovers from previous lunch or dinner. I missed them so much that I decided to create a vegan version for myself. I like to eat this Cheesy Potato Frittata with pickles, which makes the dish even more nostalgic. I tried making it with several different vegan cheeses, but Daiya Mozzarella Style Shreds worked the best in this dish. This vegan cheese is tasty and it melts and stretches nicely which mimics well the traditional cheese used in the non-vegan version of this dish.

Cheesy Potato Frittata with Vegetables

3 large potatoes (Russet or Yukon Gold)
2 Tbs oil
1 small to medium onion, diced
1 14-oz package firm tofu, drained
1 12-oz bag frozen vegetables (I used carrot, brocolli and cauliflower mix)-you can use fresh veggies instead
1 cup frozen peas
4 Tbs shredded vegan cheese (I used Daiya Mozzarella Style Shreds), plus extra for topping
3 Tbs soy sauce
1 Tbs Nutritional Yeast (optional)
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
Salt to taste

Place potatoes in a medium pot (don't peel them yet) and cover completely with water. Bring water with the potatoes to a boil, reduce heat to medium and cook 40-45 minutes. Make sure that the potatoes are covered with water the whole time. Drain and let cool completely. You can cook the potatoes a day ahead and cool in the fridge until the next day.
Preheat oven to 375 F. Coat a 9-inch or 10-inch casserole dish with cooking spray.
Peel potatoes and cut them into 1/2-inch rounds. Set aside.
Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Saute onion for about 5 minutes. Add frozen vegetables (except for the peas) and cook 5 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Add the peas and cook 2-3 minutes more. Remove from heat.
In food processor or blender, puree tofu, vegan cheese, soy sauce, nutritional yeast and black pepper until smooth.
Add tofu mixture into the vegetable mixture and blend well. Add more pepper or salt to taste.
Arrange potato slices in single layer in casserole dish. Spoon half of the tofu and vegetable mixture on top of potatoes. Place a single layer of potatoes on top. Spoon the rest of the tofu and vegatable mixture on top. Arrange another layer of potatoes on top. Bake 40 minutes. Sprinkle extra vegan cheese on top (enough to cover all the potatoes) and bake for 10 more minutes. Let stand few minutes before serving.
Serve with pickles on the side :-)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Lemony Asparagus Risotto

I have been trying to create a creamy risotto recipe. However, the basic white rice and basmati rice that I used didn't worked well in my trial risotto recipes. The rice always turned out either too mushy, or too hard and it was missing creaminess.
I went grocery shopping yesterday and I decided to splurge on white Italian Arborio rice. I usually pay about $2-$4 for 2 pounds of rice, but this one was almost $6 for 2 pounds. I looked at other brands and noticed that some were even more than $7, that is crazy!
I made this "Lemony Asparagus Risotto" for dinner tonight. I was very pleased with the results. The Arborio rice was the key! The rice absorbed all the flavors from the broth, wine and lemons and created a creamy sauce without being mushy or too hard. The texture was amazing and the flavor was outstanding! The delicate asparagus, the tangy lemons and the creamy rice blended perfectly with the wine and broth and created a mouthwatering dish.
I still have to work on a few finishing touches before I will have this recipe completed for my upcoming cookbook.
Have you tried the Arborio rice? What are your thoughts?

Thank you for all the goodies that I won

Over the past few months I entered numerous blog contests and giveaways. I won several of them. I loved all the prizes and enjoyed them very much. This post is a big thank you to all kind bloggers who were holding the giveaways, and the companies who provided the prizes. If you have a chance, please, check out these awesome vegan blogs.

I won this really cute shirt from Sherry @ Exploits of a Vegan Wannabe blog
Sherry is not only a vegan blogger with great ideas, reviews and delicious recipes, but she is also a vegan jewelry designer. She makes a very pretty jewelry. Here is a link to her work.

I won this beautiful Kiss My Face package from Carla @ The Year of the Vegan blog

A lovely purple Lavender Mandarin "Peace Candle"
Lemongrass Clary Sage scented All-purpose "Peace Soap"
And Grassy Mint scented "Peace Hand Soap"

Carla is an amazing vegan cook from Canada. She is also a cookbook author. Her new cookbook "Quick and Easy Vegan Bake Sale" is coming out soon.

This picture is a courtesy of Carla @ The Year of the Vegan

I won a Tofutti coupon for a free product from Celyn @ Miso for Breakfast blog
I redeemed that coupon for a delicious Cuties Ice Cream.

I won tons of free food from Tanya @ Eating Kale (Cooking with T) blog in two different giveaways. Tanya is an amazing vegan cook and a very talented violist. I have heard some of her classical music and it is stunning! Here is a link to her website.

Tasty Bite prize was a yummy assortment of quick and easy Indian and Thai meals.

And Bob's Red Mill giveaway was an assortment of organic whole wheat flour, nutritional yeast, 10 grain hot cereal, and organic flaxseed.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The lazy vegan's 15 minute dinner: Grilled portobello mushrooms, roasted garlic mashed potatoes and savory herb gravy

Lately, I have been getting a bit burned out by preparing dinners that take over an hour after a long day at work. Therefore I decided to try something that would be quick but would taste like it took a lot of work to prepare. I love mashed potatoes! I make the best mashed potatoes from scratch so I never wanted or needed to use instant mashed potatoes before from a fear that it would taste weird. All the instant mashed potatoes at regular grocery stores that I found contained milk or butter so I kind of gave up, until I found Edward & Sons Organic Mashed Potatoes (They have home-style, roasted garlic and cheese, which are all vegan). I made this dinner with the roasted garlic mashed potatoes. Let me tell you, I was shocked about the flavor! It tasted almost like homemade mashed potatoes with freshly roasted garlic! I chose the quickest preparation method-sprinkling the mashed potatoes powder into a bowl of freshly boiled water and melted vegan butter. I had to use much more liquid than suggested ( I added more almond milk) to reach my desired consistency. As a gravy I prepared "Quick savory herb gravy" that made a wonderful topping for the garlicky mashed potatoes. The gravy was nice and thick with a pleasant herbal taste. I served all this with grilled portobello mushrooms that I marinated in my own marinade. I grilled the mushrooms on my electric grill. This dinner took me less than 15 minutes (minus the time that the mushroom were marinating).
Here is a recipe for the marinade. You can use it for tempeh (about 8 oz) or mushrooms (about 2 or 3 large caps) that you cut into 1/4" thick slices and place into a medium-size ziplock bag. Then you fill the bag with marinade, shake and chill for about 30 minutes to 1 hour. Cook the tempeh or mushrooms either on a grill, or in a large skillet that was sprayed with a non-stick spray, or with a little bit of oil.

Smoky marinade

1/3 cup soy sauce
3 Tbs water
1 Tbs canola or olive oil
2 Tbs red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp. liquid smoke

Whisk all the ingredients together in a bowl.

This Wizard's Worcestershire Sauce has been my pantry staple for over 4 years. I use it in stews, marinades, soups, baked beans, and even some salads. I even put it into a virgin Bloody Mary drink :-) I go through a bottle every few months. What do you use your Worcestershire sauce for?