Sunday, January 29, 2012

Dreamy Smoothie and Balsamic Roasted Vegetables

My favorite place to go in Los Olivos is the store, Global Gardens. They have wonderful local, organic oils, flavored vinegars, and other cool sauces and condiments. Most everything is organic and/or sustainably grown. Several of their products inspired a couple of delicious dishes today and I thought I'd share. I don't have exact measurements, but they're not really the type of recipes that need exact measurements anyway. I'll tell you as best I can and you can use your intuition when making these yourself.

Dreamy Smoothie
I add some "Dream Dust" made from sustainable rainforest, pure 100% cacao, Guatemalan Vanilla Bean, Indian
Cardamon, Clove & Vietnamese Cinnamon to my usual smoothie and it was AMAZING!

Orange Juice
Plain or vanilla yogurt (dairy or dairy-free)
1 large banana
Frozen mangos
Frozen blueberries
Frozen raspberries
Pinch Dream Dust

Puree until smooth. Serves 2 to 3.

Note: If you can't get your hands on some Dream Dust, just add a pinch of each of the spices listed.

Balsmic Roasted Vegetables

I tossed asparagus spears, whole white mushrooms, broccoli spears, carrot chunks in walnut oil with a little Blood Orange Balsamic Vinegar. I laid the veggies out on a baking sheet and sprinkled them with Caliterranean Garden Blend (dried herbs and sea salt). Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until tender on inside and carmelized on outside.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Book Review: Vegan Holiday Kitchen

Sometimes it's hard to come up with vegan specialities for holidays that kids and non-vegan family and friends will like, but Nava Atlas's new cookbook Vegan Holiday Kitchen is the answer to that dilemma. With recipes for Christian, Jewish, and nonreligious holidays and special occasions, the whole year is covered. And best of all, you don't have to spend your whole holiday cooking. These recipes are easy to make--but impressive enough to serve for company.

I received this book just in time for Thanksgiving and it's now after New Year's and I still haven't put it up on the shelf. I made the Walnut-Apple Stuffing, Agave and Mustard-Glazed Green Beans, and Cranberry Applesauce on Thanksgiving (my kids LOVED them!). On Christmas, I served the Hearty Lentil and Mushroom Shepherd's Pie (amazing!), Challah bread, and Red Wine-Roasted Brussels Sprouts. And though this is a holiday cookbook, I've made several other recipes on just regular old days. The recipes are easy to follow and so delicious--and very family friendly. I made dinner (from this book) for my friend and her kids, and she went right home that night and ordered it. That's how good the food is!

The recipes are organized by holiday which is a nice way to find a good recipe for that special occasion, but makes it just a bit tricky when you want to make a certain dish and forget what holiday it was categorized under (and the index is not terribly user-friendly).

All in all, this is a beautiful hardcover book with lots of beautiful pictures, and, most importantly, great recipes that your family and friends will enjoy. It is fast becoming one of my favorite cookbooks.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Super Quick and Yummy Dinner

I'm often surprised that the amount of time and effort it takes to prepare a meal does not always equal how much my family enjoys it. For example, tonight's dinner took me about 15 minutes to make, but the girls loved it so much, they ate every last bit--and I expected to have leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

So if you need a quick and easy hit, try this Sausage, Onion, Apple Fry-Up.

Heat a large skillet (I love cast iron for this) over medium heat. Add enough oil to coat the pan. Cut 4 Italian-style veggie sausages (made nonGMO soy) into diagonal 1/2-inch slices and add to pan. Peel an onion and slice in half-moons. Add to pan. Core and dice 2 apples. Add to pan. Toss everything together. Cover and cook about 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes to brown sausage and onions. I served this over steamed potatoes and squash, but I think it would also be great over mashed potatoes or with rice.

Monday, January 09, 2012

BOOK REVIEW: Vegan World Feast

Review: World Vegan Feast by Bryanna Clark Groggan

World Vegan Feast is exactly that . . . virtually a vegan foodie trip around the world with recipes like Sizzling Saigon Crepes (vietnamese moong dal pancakes stuffed with tofu and vegetables), Indonesian Green Curry on Roasted Sweet Potatoes, and Rose-Scented Baklava. This is my first Bryanna Clark Grogan cookbook, but I can see why she has such a following. Using her cookbook is like taking a cooking class. I've never read a cookbook with such detailed instructions--she really, really wants the reader to be successful making her recipes. I was skeptical about the no-knead bread but it came out wonderfully--I'll never knead again! My family also loved the Lentil and Rapini Stew with Spicy Vegan Sausauge (though it needed quite a bit more water than the recipe specified). The "index to countries" makes it easy when you want a recipe from a particular region, and Grogan also includes recipes for basics like "chicken" broth powder and worcestershire sauce.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Restaurant Review: Real Food Daily

Years ago, I reviewed the Real Food Daily Cookbook. I liked the organic, vegan gourmet/comfort food so much, I told myself that if I ever went to LA, I was going to eat there. Well, this week my daughters and I took a trip to LA to go to the Museum of Tolerance. I looked up Real Food Daily online and found out that it was between the museum and the hotel, so great!

After spending an emotional day at the museum (don't get me wrong, the museum was great, but the exhibits were about the Holocaust, etc.). Anyway, we left the museum at the 5 pm closing time--exhausted and hungry and ready for a relaxing dinner. Of course, we were now in the middle of LA rush hour traffic. I found what I thought was the right street, but we couldn't find the correct number ... in fact the numbers weren't even close and then the street ended. So we drove around. It was now dark and there was so much traffic and then I got lost. I eventually found a road I recognized and we headed back to toward the hotel ... but further on, we saw the road that the restaurant was on (the one I thought I'd found before) and this time, the numbers matched up and hooray we saw the restaurant. But then we had to find a place to park, because it seems all LA neighborhoods are permit-only parking. As we circled around, we passed Bloomingdales realized that we were back at the corner we had been at over an hour ago! Man!!!!! Anyway, we finally found a metered space and walked to the restaurant. I was stressed, the girls were starving, and then the girls were a bit intimidated by the menu. Although they are used to vegan food, I don't use much fake meat or mock cheese sauces, so it took us another half hour to decid what to get. But I'm happy to say, we all LOVED the food and had a wonderful dinner.

I ordered the special which was the Hippie Love Loaf made with lentils, butternut squash, and millet and covered in a mushroom gravy and came with root vegetables and brussels sprouts. Very delicious but the portion of loaf was HUGE. I would have loved a portion half the size and a scoop of mashed potatoes, but still--yummy.

Aimie went for the pizza made with a herb cornmeal crust (gluten free), topped with sun-dried tomato pesto, tomatoes, spinach, basil, melted cashew and mozzarella cheeses, sautéed daily greens & cannelini beans. The waitress suggested adding avocado which sounded weird but according to Aimie was fantastic. Emily decided to play it safe with side orders of brown rice, black beans, and the house salad topped with a delicious vegan ranch dressing--and was very happy with her choice.

All of the desserts sounded incredible. Emily decided on the Gluten Free Double Layer Chocolate Cake, which I have to say was the best chocolate cake I've ever had. (I'm not a big cake fan, but this was moist and the raspberry was so good!) Aimie chose the Coconut Cream Pie but didn't care for it (though I thought it was fine), and the waitress was nice enough to let her switch to the Blackout Cake, which she liked.

Anyway, we made it back to our hotel without incident and next time we go to LA, we will most likely go again . . . this time I'll borrow a GPS though.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Cranberry Bread

Ever since the success of the cranberry apple sauce on Thanksgiving, I've been thinking what else I could make with fresh cranberries. Maybe it's my New England upbringing, but I just love the flavor of those tart berries. So, though I've been adding them to pies, sorbets, galettes, etc. . . . this weekend, decided to go back to basics and try a good old-fashioned cranberry bread . . . but a healthier, vegan version, of course. So here's what I came up with:

Cranberry Bread
I love the flavor of the tart berries in this slightly sweet bread. We love to dip it in yogurt for breakfast.

2 cups whole wheat pastry or unbleached white flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch cardamom
Grated peel of 1 orange (optional)
3/4 cup nondairy milk
1 tablespoon vinegar (I used blood orange champagne vinegar but apple cider vinegar is fine)
1/4 cup oil
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups fresh (or thawed frozen) cranberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350. Oil a loaf pan. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cardommon and orange peel in a medium bowl. In a separate larger bowl, beat milk, vinegar, oil, and sugars together. Gently mix flour mixture into wet mixture. Fold in cranberries and walnuts. Bakin 50 minutes, or until tester inserted in center comes out clean. Cool before slicing.

Makes 1 loaf