Five Spice Multi-Coloured Chicken Stir Fry

So, today I ran a 5k, the first one that I have ran in a while.  I'm really excited about how well I did.  Yes, I am really avid about excersise, and love running.  I ended up doing the 5k in 27 minutes, 29 seconds, which coverts to an 8:52 mile!!  That's awesome for me... I kind of feel like a whimp, because I know that's really not all that good in the grand scheme of things, but it's a personal best, that's for sure.  That really made my day.  And M reached her goal, too, of 10 minute miles.  So we're both satisfied.  And I beat M.  Heehee.  I also got a free banana, which is always nice.  Plus the T-shirts are really cool.
Now that I got that out of my system, on to the important part.  Here's another stir fry with one of those awesome vegetarian chickens.  I keep forgetting to look on the package to see how much the thing actually weighs, so I'll have to remember to do that one of these days...  I normally don't cook with any bell pepper but red, but the yellow seems to go very nicely with the stir fry.  Kind of a story behind this one- M and I got home at 5.30, and normally if that happens then we have leftovers.  But I knew that was impossible, so we ended up whipping dinner out in an hour- this stif fry, plus our usual two monster salads.  Which was really impressive, if I do say so myself.
And, just another little random thing that made me happy.  I found two pennies on the ground...  Childish joys!

Five Spice Multi-Coloured Chicken Stir Fry

Inspired by Wok

Serves 4-6

1 generous tbsp five spice powder
1 generous tbsp Better Than Bullion Beef Flavouring
4 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp vegetarian stir fry sauce
2 tsp yellow curry paste
1 generous tbsp yellow bean paste
Juice of 1 lime
1 tbsp corn starch
1 onion, sliced thick
2 carrots, coined
2 portobello mushrooms, chopped
1 small bunch asparagus, trimmed and chopped into 1 inch pieces
2-3 cups red cabbage, shredded
1 red bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
2 baby bok choy, chopped into ribbons
1 vegetarian chicken, defrosted chopped into bite sized pieces (about 3 cups-ish)
Cashews, for topping

Mix together the five spice powder through the corn starch.  Set aside.
Heat a wok over high heat with a bit of water.  Stir fry the onion and carrots for 2 minutes, and then add the asparagus and the mushrooms.  After two more minutes of stir frying add the cabbage and peppers.  After three more minutes or so add the remaining ingredients except cashews.  Saute until bok choy is wilted and the massive pile of veggies is heated through. 
Serve over rice, topped with cashews.


Sweet and Salty Five-Spice Tofu Stir Fry

There'e nothing to warm the soul like a giant pile of veggies covering a small nest of noodles, and that's exactly what so many of my stir frys turn out to be.  This is just another one of those, only this is my first stir fry with five spice tofu.  It's really good stuff- I love the texture.  Although, for some reason this dish tasted quite salty, and I think the tofu was the culprit.
It all stemmed from an extra bundle of asparagus that was lying around, and really needed to be used up.  I also got an insiration to add edammame, which is something that rarely happens, and the concoction turned out rather tasty.  Not to mention the ingredients were easy to prep. 
Honestly, now I know what sleep deprivation feels like.  I've got two major tests tomorrow, and that's so not cool.  I don't know how so many of my buddies are living off of only a couple hours' sleep every night, but they are.  I suppose it's because they don't cook!

Sweet and Salty Five-Spice Tofu Stir Fry

Serves 4 - 6

Adapted from 101 Vegetarian Cookbooks

Zest and juice of one lime
¼ cup hoisin sauce
2 tbsp miso paste
¼ cup soy sauce
3 tbsp mirin
Chili sauce, to taste
Sea salt, to taste
2 cups cauliflower florets
2 carrots, coined
1 tablespoon ginger, grated
1 bunch of asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 bunch green onions, sliced
1 package oyster mushrooms, large pieces chopped
2 cusp red cabbage, shredded
1 cup edammame
2 packs 5 spice tofu, chopped
2-3 heads baby bok choy, cut into ribbons
2 handfuls fresh basil, slivered
Toasted cashews

Mix together the lime through the salt in a small bowl.
Heat a wok over high heat with a bit of water. Add the cauliflower and carrots. After 2 minutes add the ginger, asparagus, and garlic. After another 2 minutes or so toss in onions and mushrooms. When that is heated through add the cabbage. When the veggies are almost tender add the edammame, tofu, bok choy, and sauce, and cook until bok choy is wilted. Stir in the basil.
Serve over noodles of some sort… topped with cashews.

Green Beans and Casserole

Ah, the weather is getting colder, and my cooking is quickly meeting the bill.  I was inspired by a post on I Eat Food, mostly because it had veggie dogs in it.  I don't know why, but I had a yen to make something with those.  They're so cute!  Although, I was thinking as I cut the weiners up, the real things are gross.  I'm sure you know all the random parts that end up in what seems to be a staple in the American diet.  Just the other day I saw some of my friends eating them at lunch, because the cafeteria was serving hot dogs.  And I thought schools were supposed to be converting to healthier food.  Go figure.  What I think would be really neat is if the cafeteria served vegetarian food once a week.  Although that would probably cause more than a few complaints.
The green beans were rather a random choice to make that night- partly because there was pretty much nothing else to eat with the casserole, and partly because they taste really good...  It's a staple recipe at my house, and one of the few with oil in it.  So easy, too.  I normally use regular green beans, but long beans were what was on hand today, so that's what I used. 
And the casserole- yum!  It was incredibly filling, and so easy, not to mention quite fun, to throw together.  I put it in the oven in under half an hour, and that's saying something.  I loved the slightly smoky flavour, and it only got better as I ate more.  Most certainly something that's made for winter, and a healthy comfort food.  Just a side note- the type of veggie dog makes all the difference.  Mine were nice and firm, and packed with flavour.

Hot Dog, Pasta, and Bean Casserole
Adapted from I Eat Food
Serves 6
1 1/2 cups whole wheat shell pasta
1/3 cup parmesan cheese, grated
3 vegan hot dogs, sliced into coins and then halved
1 large onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1-2 tsp chili paste
14 oz crushed tomatoes
¼ cup ketchup
Generous ½ cup beans (I used great northern and pink)
1 tsp liquid smoke
2 tbsp molasses
¼ cup brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 375 convection. Cook the pasta until al dente, drain, and set aside.
Saute the onions and bell pepper for about 7 minutes, until tender.
Combine all ingredients except cheese in a casserole dish. Bake for 45 minutes, removing 10 minutes before done to top with cheese.

Japanese Sesame Green Beans
Serves 4
1 tablespoon canola or peanut oil

1/2 tbsp sesame oil
1 pound fresh green beans or long beans, trimmed
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Splash of balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds (baked at 350 for 3 minutes or so)

Heat a wok over medium-high heat.  Add the oils.  When those are hot add the beans.  Saute for 10 minutes.  Add the soy sauce and vinegar, cover, and cook for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat, stir in sesame seeds, and serve.

One Good Orange Recipe... and One Not So Good

It's most certainly season for most of the orange foods out there.  This post I will focus on two of the veggies- sweet potatoes, and pumkins.  Although, I do have to say, oranges are beginning to tastes really good, too!  Currently I really can't be pressed to think of any other orange foods, but whatever.  Carrots!  There, thought of one. 
Life is getting really hectic.  I nearly broke my record of not having opened a soup can for over a year now because we have been running so utterly dry on leftovers.  Which is quite a pitty, and I have no clue whawt I will be doing in this next week as far as food goes.  It's a darn hard life!  Why can't I just skip english or something and go home and cook instead?  Much better use of time than reading AE Poe.  Seriously.  I really, really hate Poe right now.  It's Halloween time, so I think my English teacher is trying to get us into the mood for that.  Which is great and all, but not when I just want to go to sleep, and I am left wading through lakes of words that I can't understand half of.
Anyway, now that I am done ranting, on to those lovely sweet potatoes. Oh, just by the way, sweet potatoes have more fiber that white.  I thought that was rather interesting.  The potatoes are really easy to make, and require minimal hands-on time.  And they are rather good too- a nice thing to whip up, and a reaccuring theme in my lunches this week.  Make sure to use fresh sage, because that makes all the difference in the dish.
And the pumpkin salad was rather interesting, to say the least.  If you like pumpkin, than I think this is an excellent dish that would catch your heart instantly.  If not, like I found out was true for me, then I will keep experimenting with different veggies.  It's a really great base, I just didn't like the pumpkin.

Roasted Pumpkin Salad Recipe

Adapted from 101 Vegetarian Cookbooks
Makes 6-8 servings

2 pie pumpkins
fine grain sea salt
15 shallots, peeled
1 ½ cups wild rice
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
¼ cup mirin
2 tbsp miso paste
2 tbsp rice vinegar
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon agave nectar
1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped
2-3 carrots, peeled and cut into 2 cm lengths

Preheat oven to 375. Cut the pumpkins into quarters-ish and put them on a baking sheet. On another baking sheet put the shallots and carrots. Roast both for about 45 minutes, until tender.
For the rice, boil 1 ½ cups water. Add the rice, and simmer for about 45 minutes, until all the water is gone.
For the dressing, combine remaining ingredients in a large bowl.
When the veggies are done roasting, allow pumpkin to cool, cut off the peel, chop, and add to dressing with the shallots, carrots, and rice. Mix well.

Ricotta Cheese Sweet Potatoes
Serves 6
Adapted from All Recipes

3 medium sweet potatoes
2 shallots, finely chopped
1/2 cup fat-free ricotta cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage

Wash the potatoes, poke holes in them, and microwave until tender. Allow to cool enough to handle.
Meanwhile, sauté the shallots until tender, about 5 minutes. Combine with remaining ingredients. When the potatoes are cool, cut open and remove pulp, taking care not to break the skins. Mash the pulp with the ricotta mixture, and refill the potatoes. Heat through either in the oven or microwave.

Pumkin Seeds!

This is just a quick little recipe that I have made several times with the seeds from pumpkins.  Basically, all you do is chuck the seeds in a bowl with enough cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and nutmeg to coat, and mix it all together.  Then roast the seeds in the oven for about half an hour at 325, until they are slightly browned.  Quite delicious.
And a word on the seeds- wash the stringy pumpkin bits off immediatly after you finish carving up the pumpkin.  That way it's a lot easier to get the strings off, and they have not dried on the seeds.  The clean seeds can wait in a container in the fridge for quite a while- I know atleast a day or two.


Indian Mutton Stir Fry

For a while now, I have had my eye on some of the cutest food that has ever come to the Asian Market.  Peewee potatoes.  I think they are absolutely adorable!  So, of course, I knew I was eventually going to make something with them, but have never gotten around to thinking of the mini taters at the right moment.  Until this recipe! 
This one started out as another one in my lovely cookbook Wok, and I added more veggies, as usual.  This one is more Inidan in flavour, as appossed to Chinese-feeling.  And I was rather surprised at the amount of spices that it called for- most of which I didn't have the real version of.  It called for things such as cardamom pods and a cinnamon stick, so I just used the ground version.  Some days I wish I had a motar and pestle, because that would be really cool...
Honestly, I have been so busy lately that I can't seem to find much time for blogging anymore, and it seems like I just do all my posting on the weekends... Stupid chemistry is really getting to me and my GPA. 
But back to this stir fry.  The potatoes went just perfectly in it- they were done just right, and kind of popped in your mouth.  The sauce, which is yogurt based, is rather different from your conventional stir fry sauce, and it was a lot thicker than others that I have had.  The first few times I ate this, I had it over rice, but that ran out, so I also had it over sorgum noodles (which are really similar to soba noodles), and that was surprisingly good.

Indian Mutton Stir Fry

Serves 4-6

Adapted from Wok
1 tsp tumeric
Salt, to taste
1/4 - 1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 - 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp cinnamon
Nutmeg, to taste
2 tbsp miso paste
1 1/2 tbsp Better Than Bullion Beef Flavouring
3 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp rice vinegar
1 large onion, chopped
4 small or 2 large carrots, coined
1 inch piece ginger, grated
3-4 cloves garlic, pressed
1 red bell pepper,  chopped
3 cups green cabbage, shredded
12 oz fingerling potatoes, cut in half and boiled just until tender
1 can straw mushrooms, drained (these were actually kind of a weird addition- if you can think of anything else to add, go for it.  Maybe green beans?  Peas?)
1 generous cup edammame
1 package vegetarian mutton, thawed and broken into bite-sized pieces
2/3 (6 oz) fat free plain or vanilla yogurt (I used vanilla- Target brand!!)

Mix together the tumeric through nutmeg in a small bowl.  In a separate bowl mix together the miso through rice vinegar, stirring until miso and bullion is dissolved. 

Heat a wok over high heat with a bit of water.  Add the carrots and onion, and saute for 2 minutes.  Add the garlic and ginger, stir throughly, and add bell pepper and cabbage.  Stir fry for another minute or so, and then add the mushrooms, edammame, and potatoes.  Cook until heated through, and add the sauce and mutton.  Heat through again, and stir in all the spices and yogurt.  Serve over brown rice.


Souffles- They're Not That Hard!

One thing I have to say about these.  Appearently they don't like the camera, because I didn't really get any good pictures of these soufflés.  And now they're all gone.  Which really stinks, because they were really good.
Yes, they are quite time-consuming, from all the chopping of the leeks so finely.  M was positively groaning by the time she had finished (I gave her that job.  I know, I'm so nice).  And then they have to bake for half an hour too.  But it's all worth it.  Both M and I loved these- the combination of flavours and textures made this such a unique culinary experience.  I got to use my ramkins, too, which is always a plus... One thing I have to say though.  These are a little higher in fat than something I normally make, from the eggs and walnuts, but are still very healthy and good for you (and a lot healthier than the original version).
This was both M and mine's first soufflé experience, both in eating and making.  I was surprised at how well ours rised, because soufflés are notorious for not turning out right.  This was not the case for that recipe, so I would highly recommend it to anyone who has never made a soufflé before. 
Walnuts, leeks, eggs... all really poofed up, in a lovely warm ramkin...

Leek and Walnut Soufflés

Adapted from the Vegetarian Bible

Serves 4-6
3 small-ish leeks, very finely chopped
½ cup broth
2 eggs, separated
1/3 cup walnuts, chopped finely
2 tbsp chopped mixed fresh herbs (we used chives, basil, and rosemary)
2 tbsp vanilla yogurt
½ cup skim ricotta cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a large frying pan over medium heat. Saute the leeks for 3 minutes. Add the broth, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350.
In a small mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks (I used an electric mixer).
In another bowl, beat the yolks. Add the leeks and remaining ingredients, and mix well. Working quickly now before the whites deflate, add the whites to the leek mixture, and pour all of that into ramkins or a large baking dish, coating them with nonstick spray.
Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until nice and poofy and golden brown on top.

Simple Salsa

What can I say about this salsa?  It was a good thing to make on a night when I also had to make bread and salad dressing.  It's fairly quick, and fairly tasty.  I was not blown away, and will probably continue seaching for something more like the perfect salsa that I tasted at a restaurant, but this was by no means something that I did not enjoy.  I had it over baked potatoes.  Combined with feta cheese, this made for a very satisfying dish, with a bit of a unique flavour. 
I think the hardest thing about this dish is all the fine chopping involved, but if you don't mind a bit of elbow grease, than this is a nice thing to throw together when you are pressed for time.  One of these days, I would like to try it over grilled tofu, too.
A word on baked potatoes.  I eat the peel- all of it, no matter how the potato has been cooked.  I have often wondered if I am the anomoly, because most people that I know avoid the better part, if not all of, the peel.  Is this true, I wonder?  M eats about half her peel, and I kid her about it.  But none of my friends that I know of eat the peel.  Why?.. it's most certainly my favourite part.  It's fun to eat with your fingers, too...
Simple Roasted Red Pepper Salsa

Adapted from Vegan Dad

Makes about 3 cups

1 small onion, finely diced
Juice of one lime
1 roasted red pepper, cooled, seeded and skinned, and diced
3 tomatoes, seeded, and finely diced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Pepper to taste

Um…. Basically just mix everything in a bowl.

Simple Baked Asparagus and Carrots

If you are ever in need of something simple, beautiful, and delicious, look no further.  I think this takes the cake for falling in that catagory.  Just look at the pictures! (I couldn't resist adding a lot of them.)  This is one of the prettiest dishes that has ever come into existance at my house.  And I think it took all of 15 minutes to make, and then you stick it in the oven.  Not to mention that is tastes marvelous.  Cashews, a slightly zippy sauce, and some nice tender asparagus thrown together with carrots, which are always good.  It would be especially great for spring time, when the weather begins to warm up, because it's warm, but not very warming.  It's light and satisfying to the taste buds.  I almost didn't want to take it off the pan, it was so pretty!

Simple Baked Asparagus and Carrots

Adapted from Vegan Yumyum

Serves 4

1/4 Cup cashews
1 tsp chili sauce
1 lb asparagus, last little woody bit cut off
4 carrots, peeled and cut into long, thin strips (about enough to equal the asparagus)
2 tbsp Soy sauce
2 tsp Balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp Better than Bullion Beef Flavouring
2 tsp yellow bean paste
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Preheat the oven to 400 convection bake.
Mix together the chili sauce, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, bullion, yellow bean paste, and lemon in a small bowl.
Add the carrots, asparagus, and sauce to a large plastic bag and shake well to coat.
Place the asparagus on a baking sheet coated with nonstick spray. Sprinkle with cashews and bake for 5 minutes, until veggies are tender. Turn the broiler on for a couple of seconds, just until the veggies are slightly browned, watching carefully to make sure they don’t become burned. Serve.


Another Mutton Stir Fry

I have waited so long to post this recipe, my memory of what I did is probably fairly inaccurate.  But I think it's pretty accurate- the only thing is that you might want to add more soy sauce or rice vinegar, depending on your tastes.  When I first made this, I thought it was rather bland.  Thus the reason I waited so long to post it.  M was fine the way it was, but I got an inspiration to add apricot preserves to mine in order add a bit of punch.  That worked out so well, and I fell in love with the stir fry afterwards.
I can't praise the mock meat section in the Vegetarian Market enough... it's amazing!  A-ma-zing!  They have these really authentic looking drumsticks that I would like to try next... and Wok has a recipe that I think would fit excently.  So look for that pretty soon.  In the meantime, M and I are surviving on this one.
I was totally amazed at how simple it was to put this together.  I picked the ingredients because M wasn't able to help me that night, and I wasn't eating at midnight.  And it made so much- it hardly fit into the wok at first.  I served this over udon noodles, because they are fast, but I bet it would be excellent over rice as well.

Sweet and Spicy Mutton Stir Fry

Inspired (VERY loosely) by Wok

Serves 6

1 package vegetarian mutton, thawed and broken into bite-sized pieces
1 large onion, halved and sliced
.75 lb shiitake mushrooms, chopped
.75 lb snow peas, trimmed
2 cups broccoli florets
2 cups green cabbage, shredded
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 leek, cut into rings
5 1½ inch pieces lemon grass
1 tbsp grated ginger
½ tbsp corn starch
Chili sauce, to taste
1 tbsp yellow bean paste
1 tbsp Better Than Bullion Ham Flavouring
4-5 tbsp soy sauce
4-5 tbsp rice vinegar
Sugar free apricot preserves, if you want, to taste

Mix together the corn starch through the rice vinegar in a small bowl. Set aside.

Heat a wok over high heat with a bit of water. Add the onion, and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the shiitakes with the leeks, cook for another minute, and then stir in the ginger and lemon grass. Add the broccoli, cook for another minute, and add the cabbage, snow peas, and bell pepper. When the veggies are almost tender add the mutton and sauce. Heat through and mix thoroughly.

Remove the lemon grass stalks, and serve over udon or rice. I put the preserves on the table, where I could add as much as I wanted. M was fine the it way it was; mine needed a bit more flavour for me.

A Simple Wrap Featuring Broccoli

Never, ever, in my whole life would I have believed that something this simple could end up tasting so good.  These are really odd, really tasty wraps.  And so easy to make- it probably took about 20 mintutes from start to finish, and a good bit of that was down time waiting for stuff to cook.  A simple combinaition of broccoli, potatoes, and cabbage, with a bit of agave and feta cheese.  The agave really lends a nice sweetness.  The original recipe said to add walnuts, which M did, but I decided to skip them.  M really liked the nuts, though, and I bet they would taste pretty good.
I think I found the trick for keeping wraps together.  It looks weird, but it works.  I lay my fork on top of the wrap when I'm not holding it.  Simple as that.  And it keeps me from getting really frustrated, which is always a good thing...
Oh, and just a little side note.  I don't know why I am bothering to post this.  But, for a project, I need ancient Greek recipes.  So hopefully it'll actually taste good, and that will be showing up in a post soon.  But first I have to actually find an authentic one.  Wish me luck on that- it's for a competition, and I want to prove my cooking skills!

Potato Broccoli Wraps

Adapted from Karma Free Cooking

Serves 3

1 medium red potato, chopped
1 ½ cups green cabbage, shredded
1 cup broccoli florets
3 tbsp or so fat free feta cheese
2 tbsp or so agave nectar
Salt and Pepper to taste
3 wraps

1. Bring a pot of water to a boil, and cook the potatoes for about 10 minutes, until tender. Drain and set aside.

2. Heat the pot again over medium heat with a bit of mirin. Sauté the cabbage and broccoli for 6 minutes, until tender.

3. Line the potatoes on each of the wraps. Layer the broccoli and cabbage on top of that. Sprinkle with cheese, drizzle with agave, and add salt and pepper to taste. Roll.


More Fall Recipes!

I feel like I have been doing so much cooking today.  They have all been really small and quick dishes, but it's been quite a creating-leftovers sort of day.  I'm kind of stocking up for next week... Which is going to be, I think, over the top crazy.  Which really stinks.  I want Thanksgiving holiday to be here so bad- I know both M and I are tired of the hectic lives we have.  But ever onward we shall go...
In the meantime, I whipped out another two delish things for dinner tonight.  Pumpkin dumplings, and tomato soup.  They were rather interesting, and, although they were nothing to rant and rave about, I was pleased with the day's results.
The soup is just tomato soup.  Nothing super special, unless you count the basil, but sometimes a person just really wants tomato soup.  It's a comfort food, I think.  I know M was especially grateful for the soup, as she has been rather sleep deprived.  And I just like tomato soup.  So there.
The dumplings were interesting, to say the least.  I think the filling took all of 3 minutes to mix together, and filling them took about half an hour.  I was so pleased with the results too, because I managed to use up all of our wonton wrappers and all the filling.  That never happens.  And so in the oven these went, where they developed a nice crispy shell.  I'm still trying to come up with a good sauce, but as of right now I think the best option would be apricot preserves watered down with something.  Milk, maybe?  Soy sauce?  Anyway, the pumpkin flavour was different from what M and I normally eat, and was a nice change of pace.  Although, I do have to say I didn't do all that neat of a job filling them, because the wrappers were being very breakable.

Ricotta-Pumpkin Dumplings

Adapted from Taste of Home

Makes about 40

15 oz can pureed pumpkin
1 cup skim ricotta cheese
Salt, to taste
40 wonton wrappers

Mix together the pumpking, cheese, and salt in a small bowl.  Spoon about 1/2 tbsp in a wrapper, wet the edges of the wrapper, and seal.  Place on a plate.  Repeat with remaining filling.  Freeze until frozen through, or you are ready to use.
For baking: Preheat the oven to 375.  Coat a baking sheet with nonstick spray, and place dumplings on sheet.  Bake for 10 minutes, until lightly browned, crispy, and heated through.  Serve with dipping sauce.

Tomato Basil Soup

Serves 6
Adapted from Cooking Light

2 cups roughly chopped onion
2 cups roughly chopped fennel or leek
3-4 cloves garlic, roughly minced
4 cups vegetable broth (or 4 cups water and bullion cubes)
1 28 oz can tomatoes, any form (the original says diced, but whatever you have on hand works)
½ tsp thyme
2 tbsp fresh basil, roughly chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a dutch oven over medium high heat. Sauté the onion for 3 minutes, and then add the leek or fennel and sauté for 3 more minutes. Add the garlic, and after two more minutes add the remaining ingredients except salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, for 35 minutes.

Remove from heat and blend with either a blender or immersion blender (how I would love one of these). Return the soup to the pot if necessary, and heat through. Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

Aspargus and Chickpea Casserole

Sometimes, a person gets really lucky.  That's what happened here; asparagus was on sale, for some really, really strange reason.  But, hey, who am I to say anything about asparagus sales?  The grocery store gods do all the determining with that stuff... So what could I possibly do but take this oppertunity and make an asparagus casserole out of asparagus?
So, I ended up trying Fat Free Vegan's Asparagus Casserole, and much to my delight it ended up much better than I expected.  One thing about aspargus is that it is so finicky, and can either be really good, or really bad.  I just happened to pick a bunch of the former catagory. 
This is not your average casserole- anything but.  I loved the unique combination of ingredients.  Although it does not have much for seasonings, the veggies and chickpeas make this a lively dish, and I thought Susan's idea for the potato topping was really unique, to say the least.  And I was so amazed at how thick the dressing ended up!  Never would have imagined how creamy it could get...
M was in love with this dish.  I liked it- would definently make it again, partly because it takes remarkably little time to put together.  And something to set the mood for fall.  Yay!  It's actually cold today.  I am wearing sweats for the first time since last winter- it's amazing...

Asparagus and Chickpea Casserole

Serves 6-8

Adapted from Fat Free Vegan

1 medium-large onion, diced
1 carrot, coined
8 ounce, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb asparagus
2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
1 cup water
1 tbsp Better Than Bullion Ham Flavouring
3/4 cup milk
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
2 tsp fresh basil, chopped
1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas
1 medium raw potato, peeled and shredded
Smoked paprika

Preheat oven to 400F. Coat a large casserole dish with nonstick spray.

Heat a frying pan over medium-high heat. Cook the onions with a bit of water for 2-3 minutes. Add the carrots, mushrooms, and garlic and cook for 2-3 more minutes, until start to soften. Add the asparagus and two tablespoons of water, cover pan, and cook for another 2-3 minutes, until asparagus is bright green and beginning to become tender.

Mix together the flour, water, and bullion. Add it, the milk, thyme, and basil to the pan and heat until bubbly. Add the chickpeas and salt and pepper to taste. Turn heat to low, and simmer for 5 or so minutes. Pour into prepared casserole dish and top with an even layer of shredded potatoes. Sprinkle paprika on top.

Bake until bubbly, about 35 minutes. If it is not browned, broil for a couple minutes, then serve.


Easy Mock Beef Stew

Here I am, with my stew, almost sweating while I eat it.  Ah, fall... it's not 100 degrees anymore!  I honestly thought the weather was about to become really cold... that's why I ended up making this.  But the weather would not cooperate, and, alas, it's honestly NOT stew weather. 
But back to the recipe.  It was a very thick and satisfying stew, to say the least.  And, like I pointed out to M, it took up all of 20 minutes total of actual working on the dish- the rest was just letting it simmer.  Incredible, if you take into account how much food we actually made.  And good thing it made such a large batch, too, because this is something that I would want large amounts of.  So thick, creamy, and such a rich and deep flavour.  A definate stew to get you into the mood for fall and Halloween.

Easy Mock Beef Stew
Adapted from I Eat Food

Serves 8
1 lb mock beef, chopped
3 tbsp mirin
3 small onions, chopped
4 smallish carrots, coined
4 medium red potatoes, chopped
4 cups water or vegetable broth
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp Better than Bullion Vegetarian Beef flavouring
1 cup crushed tomatoes
2 bay leaves
Pepper and salt, to taste
1 1/3 cups frozen peas
2 tbsp cornstarch mixed with 3 tbsp water

Heat a dutch oven over high heat with a bit of water. Sauté the carrots and onion until tender, about 8 minutes. Add the potatoes, stir, and then add the remaining ingredients except the beef, peas, and corn starch. Stir well, bring to a boil, and then cook, just over a simmer and covered, for 35 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, and cook for 20 more minutes, until heated through and veggies are tender.


Sweet, Sour, and Smoky Duck Stir Fry

Bottled sauces have got to be one of the most useful things that are known to man.  Sometimes, I feel like I'm cheating when I just dump a boatload of sauce from a jar into a stir fry, but I figure that enough of my own elements are added too to where it's not cheating.  So that's my excuse...
But, honestly.  Who cares where the sauce came from if it makes a stir fry so good, you get dreamy just thinking about it?  Not me, that's for sure.  And that's exactly the case with this dish.  It's easy (relatively), makes a ton, and the sauce is irrisistably tasty and thick.  Another good old pile o' veggies that I would love to make time and time again.  Sometimes, I think piles of veggie are good for the soul, and there is nothing more picturesque than a steaming stir fry on a night when one is completely whipped out.
The mock meat M and I selected for this recipe was called "Smoked Duck".  Weird, I know.  But it was really fun to cut up, and lended a smoky flavour (no duh) that I am so fond of.  And it smelled really good, too, when cooking.  Of course, the texture was interesting too- not quite setian, not quite tofu.  Just bliss...

Sweet, Sour, and Smoky Mock Duck Stir Fry

Serves 4-6

Inspired by Wok

2 large carrots, coined
4 leeks, coined
1 large or 2 small red bell peppers, chopped
2 cups broccoli, chopped into florets
2 cups green cabbage, shredded
1 package smoke-flavoured mock duck (good luck finding that… mine came in a long, thin package, I would guess it was just under a pound)
1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup ketchup
3 tbsp rice vinegar
6 tbsp sweet and sour sauce

Mix together the soy sauce through the sweet and sour sauce in a small bowl. Set aside.
Heat a wok over high heat with a bit of water. Add the carrots, and sauté for a minute. Add the broccoli and leeks. After about 3 more minutes of sautéing, toss in the cabbage and basil. When that is mixed in, add the bell pepper. Cook for about 5 more minutes, until almost done, and then add the duck and sauce. Stir to coat the veggies, and continue sautéing until heated through.
Serve over brown rice, or noodles.  Sorgum noodles are in the picture; I also liked this over rice.


Green Bean and Cabbage Dijon Stir Fry

This has got to be one of the most ad-lib dishes that has ever appeared for dinner.  The original recipes were a salad type thing.  This is a stir fry.  The originals have almost no ingredients in common... but whatever.  I was so surprised with how well this turned out. 
The sauce got all nice and thick, and the walnuts add a nice touch, as they seem to be so good at doing.  I honestly have no clue why dijon popped in my head, but I saw it staring at me when I was puzzling over what to make the sauce with, and voila.  I have had dijon and cabbage before, but nothing quite like this.  There is a tad of spiciness, a little zip, and the yellow bean sauce adds such a nice undertone- a deep salty goodness.  Not one of your prettier stir fries- but, to quote M, "I'd rather have it taste good than look pretty, if it had to be one or the other." 
And, I just have to say, this is something a person can whip up quickly on a Friday night.  Which was a good thing tonight, because, franlky, I'm exhausted.  But the food is delish, so it's all good.

Cabbage and Green Bean Dijon Stir Fry

Serves 4-6

Inspired by this and this recipe from 101 Vegetarian Cookbooks

1/3 cup mirin
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tsp yellow bean sauce
2 tbsp lemon juice
½ tbsp corn starch
3 tbsp Dijon mustard
Chili paste to taste
1/2 a small cabbage, shredded
1 ¼ lb green beans, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 red onion, diced
1/3 cup toasted walntus
1 ½ cups pink beans

Mix together the mirin through chili paste in a small bowl. Set aside.

Heat a wok over high heat with a bit of water. Sauté the onion for a minute, then add the green beans. Sauté for 2 more minutes, then add the cabbage. After 5 more minutes stir in the beans, and then add the sauce. Stir to coat, and continue sautéing until the veggies are tender, about 4 more minutes. Remove from heat and stir in walnuts. Serve.

Spinach and Shiitake Tofu Quiche

This is a prime example of something worth the effort that goes into it.  Yes, this is one of the most time-consuming dishes that I have attempted recently.  And yes, it is one of the most outstanding dishes that I have attempted recently.  Seriously, every time I was eating the quiche "I'm in heaven" was flashing across my mind.  This makes quite a bit, too, so it lasted M and I the whole week (along with other leftovers, of course). 
I have made a tofu quiche before, and that one is really good too- I just adore the creamy texture of the pureed tofu, and the crust is always a favourite.  I don't think that there was one thing in particular that I really liked about this quiche- it's just all around a great dish.  Spinach, mushrooms... onion... and other yummy stuff!
My only regret is that the picture did not turn out all that great.  But don't be fooled- it looks much more appetizing in real life.  I was hungry and wanted to eat.  What can I say?

Spinach and Shiitake Tofu Quiche

Adapted from 101 Vegetarian Cookbooks

Serves 6-8

1 large onion, roughly chopped
.75 oz package shiitake mushrooms, chopped
2 tablespoons mirin
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
3 garlic cloves, chopped small enough to put in a blender
12 basil leaves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary
Pinch hot red pepper flakes
1 pound firm tofu, cubed
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp Better Than Bullion ham flavouring
A bit more than one huge bunch fresh spinach, stemmed, with a bit of water still on the leaves from washing
1 sesame oat pie crust (or whatever you want)
Hungarian paprika, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350 convection.

Heat a large pot (I used a dutch oven) coated with nonstick spray over high heat with a bit of water. Sauté the onion and mushrooms until tender, about 8-10 minutes, adding water as needed. Remove from heat and put in a largish bowl.

In the same pot, cook the spinach until wilted, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat, cool, and chop. Add to the mushroom mixture.

In a blender or food processor, mix together the mirin, salt, garlic, basil, rosemary, red pepper, tofu, lemon juice, rice vinegar, soy sauce, and Better Than Bullion until smooth. Add to the mushroom mixture.

Stir the mushroom mixture well, and then put it in the pie crust. If you have leftover filling, put it in a ramekin, and bake it alongside the quiche. I ended up with 4 ramekins extra.  Sprinkle with paprika.

Bake for 35 minutes or so, until it begins to bubble and brown on top. Cut into wedges and serve.

Shells and Green Beans Pasta Salad

I rarely eat pasta.  Seriously- it's weird that I would go for Asian "pasta"- udon, soba, and the like- over Italian stuff any old day.  But of course on occasion, I run across something really good looking with pasta in it.  Normally, I end up changing the original recipe quite a bit.  This one is just another prime example of that.
I have never had or bought orzo before, but the original looked so pretty, and I had to go on the quest for orzo.  Unfortunetly, I only found one brand in the limited time that I have these days, and it was not whole wheat, so M and I settled on shells.  Before we have always gotten what I call "Super pasta"- the Barilla Plus, which is loaded with protein and all that good stuff.  But, this time M and I settled on the whole wheat shells, and so that's what went in this salad.  Honestly, this is nothing that I would rave about, but it worked great for my lunch, and is a dish that I would be happy to eat any time of the year.  Plus, it's quick!

Shells and Haricot Verts Pasta Salad

Serves 6

Inspired by All Recipes

• 1 red onion, chopped
• 1 large carrot, coined
• 2 cups green beans, chopped
• 1 ½ cups whole wheat shell pasta, cooked
• 1/4 cup basil, chopped
• 2 ½ tablespoon chopped sun-dried tomatoes
• 2 tbsp soy sauce
• 2 tbsp raspberry vinegar
• 2 tbsp mirin
• Salt and pepper to taste
• ½ cup fat free feta cheese

Heat a frying pan over medium high heat. Saute the red onion, carrot, and green beans for about 10 minutes, until tender.
Mix together the pasta, basil, tomatoes, and sauted veggies in a large bowl. Add the soy sauce, vinegar, mirin, salt and pepper, and cheese. Mix well, and serve at any temperature.


Baked Dijon Oyster Mushrooms

This, honestly, is probably one of the weirdest dishes that I have ever made.  Becasue:
1) The original recipe called for anise.  Well, the Asian market did not have any anise, and I was not going to pay a whopping $2.50 for a pathetic looking bulb at the "normal" grocery store.  So, at first I was heading for the leeks, but then THESE caught my eye- giant green onions.  So, of course, they went in instead.  I thought I was going to die of laughter when I was chopping them... (Actually, if you can't find these, I bet normal green onions would be a great substitute.  Or, I would really liked to have anise, and that would really add a unique flavour.)
2) I have never made a "mushroom casserole" dish like this before.
3) Dijon was something that I would never have thought of using.  Which stinks, because I love that taste, and really need to start using it more.
4) I think the mushrooms deflated when they were baking.  Honestly, the dish was overflowing when I shoved it in the oven, and it was half empty when it came out.  That puzzles me.  I can just picture the mushrooms deflating like a bunch of mini balloons.  That's such an odd image...

And with all that, this tasted really good!  A bit heavy on the mushrooms- maybe I would eliminate about 1/3 pound or so and use something else like broccoli or cabbage (that's not a bad idea, actually).  I had it plain, with cashews, and over rice, and all are really good ways to serve it.  The rice was great at soaking up all the sauce, and the dijon mustard was so cool!  I never really use dijon in things like this, but it's a formidable (as the French would say) taste.

Oyster Mushrooms Rockefeller

Serves 6-8

Adapted from The Vegetarian Times
2 12-oz. pkg. oyster mushrooms, chopped if they are large
3 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp rice vinegar
1 bunch spinach, washed and stemmed, water still on the leaves
2 baby bok choy, chopped into thin ribbons
1/2 cup fat free mayonnaise
1 package giant green onions, chopped, or 1 fennel bulb chopped
3 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 shallots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced

Preheat the oven to 400. Coat a large casserole dish with nonstick spray.
Put the mushrooms on the bottom of the casserole dish.
Saute the green onions until they are wilted, about 7 minutes. (Skip if you are using anise.) Place in a small bowl.
Saute the spinach and bok choy, using the water to wilt the leaves.
Meanwhile, mix the green onions with the remaining ingredients in the bowl.
When the spinach mixture is wilted, remove with a slotted spoon and roughly chop. Layer over the mushrooms. On top of that put the mayo-dijon dressing.
Bake for 15 minutes, until it has greatly decreased in size. Broil for a couple minutes to get a nice brown top, and serve.

Rustic, Warming Cabbage and "Beef" Stew

Going with my trend of these amazing mock meats, I picked out this recipe by Fat Free Vegan for my next round of cooking.  I kept pretty much everything the same, with only a few changes- namely, nixing the celery and adding bell pepper because I think it tastes better.  I had half of a humongous head of cabbage to use up, and this seemed like the perfect dish to throw it in. 
And I was right about that- this is another winner.  It's healthy to the extreme, and is so rich in flavour and filling.  A most appropriate thing to make when the weather took a turn for the cooler.  It's now in the 80's!  It's soo cold...
But, really, I loved the deep flavour of the broth, and the onion and cabbage seemed to marry so nicely.  M had it one night over rice.  I never did, but she said that it was great that way too, because of all the sauce. 
Yay!  Fall has arrived, and so has this bounty of all these delish foods with it.  Halloween.. Purmpulnickens- what I call pumpkins.  I can't wait!

Rustic Cabbage and "Beef" Stew

Serves 6-8

Adapted from Fat Free Vegan
2 medium onions, sliced thick
1/2 head medium cabbage, shredded
4 carrots, coined
1 bell pepper, chopped into strips
2-3 cups water
2-3 tbsp Better Than Bullion Ham Flavouring (the BEST stuff ever)
1 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground sage
1 teaspoon Chinese mustard (or just normal ground mustard)
Generous teaspoon and wasabi
3 tablespoons cooking sherry
salt and pepper, to taste
8 oz package fake beef
¼ cup soy sauce
2 tbsp mirin

Heat a large soup pot over medium high heat with a bit of water. Saute the onions for 5 minutes, until tender-ish. Add the carrots, mix, and then add the cabbage and bell pepper. Add the water and flavouring in order to get the consistency you desire. Add through the salt and pepper, and mix. Cover and cook at a simmer for 15 minutes, stirring on occasion.

Add the remaining ingredients, stir again, and cook for atleast 10 more minutes. Serve.


The Cutest Thing I Have Ever Seen... And a Sweet Stir Fry

I love my cookbook Wok. It is like an Asian food bible- I think it’s pretty authentic, too. So many good looking recipes… So much to eat… so. Much. FOOD! But that’s a good thing for a chef, is it not?

Here’s yet another odd recipe that I gave a whirl last night, when there was really nothing else to cook. I really ended up improving the veggies, and the combination turned out really good. And the sauce was a total impromptu invention, too. But that seemed, as M put it, “to hit the spot” that night. You could barely taste the apricots, but they were there, adding a nice touch of sweetness along with the mirin.
And the chicken… Ok, when I opened the package, I was amazed. Those Asians are weird. No offense if you are Asian- I would love to be Asian, I think that ethnicity produces some of the best people, and best food a person can find. It tasted like the frozen bean curd sheets (aka yuba), and I really love that taste and texture. I have nothing to say about what shape came out of the package though. Just that it was adorable. Super, super, super, cute. And one of the oddest things that I have ever seen in my whole life. Just look at the picture, and I highly recommend getting this exact product, if you can get your hands on it. Just for a good laugh, if nothing else.

Mock Chicken Stir Fry with Sweet Apricot Sauce

Serves 4

Inspired by Wok
1 Veri Soy vegetarian mock chicken, defrosted and chopped
2 baby bok choy, chopped
2 carrots, coined
1 bunch green onions, chopped into 1 inch lengths
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
1 can straw mushrooms, drained
1 large onion, sliced thick
2 cups broccoli florets
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1 inch piece ginger, grated
Chili sauce, to taste
Juice of 1 lime
5 tbsp sugar free apricot jam
4 tbsp soy sauce
4 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp Better Than Bullion Ham Flavouring

Mix together the chili sauce through the ham flavouring.
Heat a wok over high heat with a bit of water. Add the onions and carrots. After two minutes add the broccoli, ginger and garlic, and cook for two more minutes. Add the bell pepper and green onions. Mix thoroughly, and add the mushrooms. Cook for another minute or so, and add the chicken, then bok choy, and sauce. Make sure there is enough sauce at the bottom to suite your taste- I had to add a bit more soy sauce, but I think the amount is pretty accurate! Saute until the bok choy is wilted, and the chicken is completely heated through. Serve over rice, noodles, or whatever suits your fancy.