A New Toy!! And Really Good Soup

I am so excited.  One thing that I have always wanted, and have never had, has been a pepper mill.  I have grown up with preground pepper, and have never used anything different.  But today, everything has changed.  I went to Sur La Table and bought the coolest pepper mill that I have ever set eyes upon.  It's neon yellow, and you turn it one way to make it grind pepper, and the other way for salt.  I love it.
And the new pepper mill was just perfect for this soup.  It added just the right touch.  Oh, how I love this soup from the bottom of my heart.  It's quite hearty, and the broth is just right.  Don't even get me started on how good the veggies are, and it's really quick to make too.  I highly recommend getting the chicken bullion- I purchased mine from the Asian Market, and I'm pretty sure that's what makes this soup really good. 
The name of this soup came about because originally it was wedding soup, but then I decided to add some beans that needed to be used up.  M said it seemed rather like ministrone, and there you have it.  I guess that makes it really Italian.  And speaking of Italian, I just got a really big Italian cookbook from the library, which has a lot of good looking recipes. 
I've been feeling really bad for M recently, because she seems to be constantly shivering.  That's kind of backwards this year, because normally I am the one who is so sensitive to cold.  I'll admit, the weather is so crazy this time of year- a cold front just came from Canada, and it was 70 degrees yesterday, and now it's 30.  And that's really good soup weather...

Wedding-Ministrone Soup

Adapted from I Eat Food

Serves 8

1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1 medium head broccoli, cut into florets
6 cloves garlic, pressed
7 1/2 cups water
3 tbsp vegetarian chicken bullion
1 veggie bullion cube
1 1/2 cups chopped fake meat, cut into small cubes (I used a giant sausage-like object that was rather firm)
1 ½ cups small pasta, like small penne, cooked
1 bunch spinach, washed and stemmed
Generous ½ cup dried great northern beans, cooked
1 tbsp thyme
2 tbsp corn starch mixed with 4 tbsp water
Freshly-ground black pepper

Heat a Dutch oven over medium high heat and add the green onions, carrots, broccoli, and garlic. Sauté until the broccoli turns bright green, about 7 minutes. Add the water and bullions, and bring to a boil. Return to a simmer, and add the meat, pasta, spinach, beans, and thyme. 10 minutes or so before you serve the soup add the corn starch mixture. Serve, topped with fresh pepper.


Hearty Cabbage Stoup

The weather where I live is beyond me- just a couple days ago, I was wearing my warmest sweater and still shivering, and now I am wearing short sleeves and shorts. It’s just so weird… but I think that the whole US is supposed to get some arctic blast from Canada, just in time for Thanksgiving. Ah, Thanksgiving. It’s just around the corner now, and I can’t wait. Plus I have just about six hours until I am entirely free until next Monday. Which is more welcome that you could even imagine. And I will be doing so much cooking. And eating. And cooking. And other fun stuff too, like Christmas shopping.

I think that’s really all I have to say at this point about life, and now on to this stew-thing. I am reluctant to call it a full-blown stew because it’s not really all that thick, but it seems like there is not enough broth to call it a soup. And so you have stoup. And very good stoup, I might add. It’s loaded with nutritious and filling things, and is quite cheap as far as these types of things go. Cabbage with tomato sauce, rice, and potatoes, and some vegetarian sausage. I loved how this dish turned out, and will most certainly be making it again, because it took all of 20 minutes to put together, and was so warm and filling. The caraway seeds were also quite an interesting addition. I’m so glad I bought them- M ended up finding the seeds, because I couldn’t at first. And the sausage is quite funny in the package. Like all the other ingredients, it’s quite cheap as far as fake meats go, and looked like a giant, short, fat sausage. M thought it looked quite unappetizing, but I just thought it was funny. It tasted kind of like the beef, but had a bit firmer texture. The only thing about it was, because of its size, M was struggling for almost ten minutes trying to get the wrapper off because it was freezing her fingers. Defrosting the chunk took quite a while too, but the stoup was so good.

Cabbage and Caraway Stoup

Adapted from I Eat Food

Serves 8

1 large onion, roughly chopped
1/2 green cabbage, shredded
1- 2 tsp caraway seeds
2 smallish red potatoes, cubed
4 cups water
1 vegetable bullion cube
2 tsp Better Than Bullion Beef Flavouring
8 oz tomato sauce
½ 100 g log-sausage-like-thing of fake meat
2 cups cooked rice
Salt, to taste
Paprika, to taste

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium high heat. Sauté the onion until translucent, about 7 minutes. Add the cabbage, and sauté for a couple minutes, until it has shrunk some. Add the seeds through the tomato sauce. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.
Add the remaining ingredients, and continue to simmer for atleast 10 more minutes, until potatoes are tender and it is heated through.


Caraway, Cheese, and Broccoli Casserole

Ok, wow.  Talk about improving a recipe big time!  I had broccoli, and the soup, and a lemon, but that's about it.  Not even a piece of pepper to be seen.  But I am holding out for a pepper mill, so I can experience the wonders of fresh pepper... I just need to find a mill that I actually like.  And our lemon juicer was MIA, and I think it might have broken or something, so that is another thing that I will have to keep an eye out for.  I am getting so pumped up for Thanksgiving.  Although it will just be M and me, I think I have some pretty creative ideas for what to make.  We'll see just exactly ends up on our table, but I have a feeling that it will turn out a lot better than last year's meal.  That seemed to be a failure.
I did love this broccoli dish, though.  Like I said before, I had none of the spices on hand that the original called for, and so ended up spotting an unopened jar of caraway seeds that I had bought for a different recipe.  And so, I opened the jar, took one whiff of the seeds, and decided that they were going in the dish.  The seeds do have quite a strong flavour, but it jazzes up the dish to the point that both M and I declared it an easy favourite.

Cheese, Caraway Seeds and Broccoli Casserole

Adapted from Kalyn's Kitchen
(about 6 servings)

8 cups fresh broccoli flowerets
1 can fat free broccoli cheese soup
¼ cup milk
Juice of one small lemon
Pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
2-3 tsp caraway seeds
¼ cup-ish parmesan cheese for topping

Preheat oven to 375. Heat a wok coated with nonstick spray over medium heat with a bit of water. Sauté the broccoli for about 5-7 minutes, until it just starts to turn bright green.
Mix together the soup through caraway. Mix the sauted broccoli and soup mixture in a casserole dish. Bake, covered, for about 25 minutes, until it starts to bubble.
Top with parmesan and bake for 7-8 minutes more, until you are fed up whith waiting. Serve.


A Many-Beaned Stew

When I first picked out this recipe, it had white beans.  I originally was going to use up the last of the huge bag that has been in my pantry for ages now, but the thought of finally trying 12 bean soup mix would not get out of my head.  And so, that's exactly what happened with this soup.  Or stew.  I don't really know what to classify this as.  A stoup?  Sure... That just doesn't sound very appetizing, does it.  And that was what was going through my head when the bean mix finished cooking.  It was essentially a grey blob.  But I decided to go foreward with the complete recipe, and am oh so glad that I did.  This is another great and really filling stew for cold days when you are in need of something to melt icicles off of your fingers.  I can highly recommend it with a plain baked potato and a salad for dinner. 
On a different note, I still hate Charles Dickens.  He goes off on way too many tangents.  Dickens needs to stick the the point of his stories and get his message across.  Serioulsy.  It's really annoying.  I don't know how many other Dickens books I will be reading after A Tale of Two Cities, but I hope that number is very small.
Oh, just a random tidbit about the soup.  Use the parmesan.  It really makes the soup something memorable and something that I would want again and again.  Without the parmesan, and good hot dogs, you are not going to have a very satisfactory soup.

Fake Sausage, Peppers, and 12 Bean Stew with Parmesan

Serves 8
Adapted from Kalyn's Kitchen

2 medium onions, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 portobello mushrooms, chopped
2 carrots, coined
1 generous cup 12 bean soup mix
28 oz can petite dice tomatoes
1 tsp. coriander
1 tbsp fresh sage, chopped
2 tsp dried thyme
3 bay leaves
1 tbsp Better Than Bullion Beef Flavouring
1 vegetable bullion cube
3 vegetarian hot dogs, coined
Grated parmesan for topping

Cook the beans: Bring a pot of water to boil, and add the mix. Make sure the water is just enough to cover the beans. Simmer for 50 minutes, until tender.
Sauté the onions and carrots until the onion begins to turn transparent, about 4 minutes. Add the mushrooms and pepper, and sauté for 5-6 more minutes. Add the ingredients through the bullion cube, bring to a boil, and simmer for 30 minutes, covered. Add the hot dogs about 10 minutes before you are ready to eat.
Serve, topped with grated parmesan cheese.

Slightly Sweet, Slighty Indian Stir Fry

Harry Potter 7 came out today in theaters.  I didn't go, but I know quite a few people that did, and it was supposed to be quite good.  Perhaps I will see it some day, but most likely not.  I don't get why people stay up unitl three in the morning to go see some movie, especially when there is school and work the next day.  Honestly, I think I would much rather sleep and cook.  I also heard that there were quite a few creative costumes running around the theaters, which I found rather funny.  One person tried to be the Hogwarts Express, and that was kind of a failure, appearently.
And so, in honnor of Harry, I made this stir fry.  Not really.  But I think it was just as good tasting, and probably better for you, than some of that stuff that the elves whip up for Hogwarts students.  The name pretty much says it all- a little sweet, mixed with subtle Indian flavours.  At first I thought it was rather bland, but as I ate more of it, I liked it exponentially more.  Especially the spinach.  I really need to eat more spinach.  I think it was one of the only veggies that I have loved since the day I was born... the only draw back is the amount of prep it takes.  But the ease of other ingredients in this stir fry negate that time.  I was pleasently surprised at how good this one tasted, and how easy all the chopping was.  And I still love those fingerling potatoes.  So cute, and they have such a nice pop.

Slightly Sweet, Slighty Indian Stir Fry

Inspired by Wok

Serves 4-6

1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup mirin
1 tbsp Better Than Bullion Beef Flavouring
1 1/2 tsp each ground coriander and cumin
1/2 tsp curry powder
1 1/2 tbsp corn starch
1 heaping tsp garam masala
1/3-1/2 cup hoisin sauce
1 1/2 tbsp chili garlic sauce
1 large onion, sliced
2 carrots, coined
2 cups cauliflower florets
2 shallots, chopped finely
4 cloves garlic, pressed
1 bell pepper, chopped
3 cups green cabbage, shredded
1 package vegetarian mutton, defrosted and broken into bite-sized pieces
12 oz fingerling potatoes, large ones halves and boiled until tender (about 8 minutes)
1 bunch spinach, stemmed and washed

Mix together the soy sauce through garlic sauce in a bowl. 
Heat a wok over high heat with a bit of water.  Add the onion and carrots, and after two minutes add the cauliflower and shallots.  After a minute toss in the garlic, and then add the pepper and cabbage after anothe minute.  After two or three more minutes add the mutton, and let it heat up a bit.  Stir in the sauce and potatoes.  When that is heated through again, add the spinach and cook until wilted.  Serve over rice.


A Quick Tofu Wrap

I think I literally made this recipe in about 15 minutes, start to finish.  It was quite epic, to use the popular term.  Life is way to hectic anyway to be spending more than that time on dinner.  I think this tofu was supposed to resemble eggs, but I really don't think that it tasted anything like eggs (or looked like them, for that matter).  The only thing I would change about the original batch that I whipped up would be to reduce the mayo a bit, because it seemed a bit heavy to me.  Other than that, I loved it, and the leftovers saved both M and I on several occasions. 
I bet this would be good with frozen and thawed tofu, too.
And another thought.  It seems kind of ironic that it's quite cold outside, and these wraps are to be eaten cold.  Don't ask me the logic in that, because there really isn't any.  But I really love the weather.... stew, stew, stew!

Quick Tofu Wraps

Serves 6-8

Adapted from Vegan Appetite

19 ounces extra-firm tofu, pressed really well, crumbled
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
½ teaspoon turmeric
1/4 cup fat free mayo
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp capers
¼ cup minced onion
¼ cup minced red pepper
1 tbsp minced fresh basil
1 teaspoon paprika
½ tsp tumeric
salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl until well combined.
Spread a layer on a wrap, and then add the toppings of your choice. I used alfalfa and spinach- tomatoes would also be good. Alternatively, make a sandwich!


White Stew

A couple of things to say before I start talking about food.  This morning, because of the time change, I ended up getting out of bed at a quarter to four, which is probably the earliest I have ever woken up.  I would kind of like to go back to sleep, but here I am, blogging...  and then I will be working my very tedious way through A Tale of Two Cities, which has got to be one of the most difficult books to work through and figure out what is going on.  Seriously, I can't understand half of what Dickens is saying, and if it is even relevent to the story.  Hopefully I will get the hang of it soon, and won't be slogging through the book so much.
This stew (which used to be chili, but both M and I agreed that it was more of a stew) looks really, really bland.  Really bland.  But it's not, which just goes to show you that you can't judge a book by its cover.  It actually turned quite thick, and is loaded with flavour.  And it made enough to feed an army, so much so that we had to move it into two pots before the night was over.  And it was such an excellent thing to eat on a cold night- a nice and hardy, and not to mention filling- stew, loaded with protein and other healthy things.  A great recharging stew for winter.

White Chili
Adapted from I Eat Food
Serves 8
2 cups dried great northern beans, soaked and cooked until tender
2 medium onions, chopped
7 cloves garlic, smashed
1 large yellow bell pepper, chopped
4 large Yukon gold potatoes, chopped
1/2 tbsp oregano
2-3 tsp thyme
1/2 tbsp Hungarian paprika
2-3 tsp chili powder
½ tbsp liquid smoke
2-3 tbsp Chinese mustard
1 tsp chili sauce
4-5 cups water
1 ½ tbsp Better Than Bullion Beef Flavouring
2 tbsp corn starch
1 vegetarian chicken, chopped (about 3 cups)

Heat a VERY large dutch oven over high heat with a bit of water. Sauté the onion for 2 minutes, and then add the garlic. Cook for 3 more minutes, and add the bell pepper. When the onions are tender, about 5 more minutes, add the potatoes through chili sauce. Add enough water to cover the veggies and then add the bullion. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, until potatoes are almost tender, about 30 minutes.
Mix the corn starch with 1 cup water, and add that, with the chicken, to the pot. Mix thoroughly and simmer for 10 more minutes, until potatoes are tender and the stew is piping hot.


Mexican-Asian Fusion Stew

I originally started out using mushrooms in place of hominy in this soup, because I hate corn.  However, the mushrooms did not really seem to go, and here I have made the changes that I would make next time.  M said this was one of her favourite soups that I have ever made, and I agree that it’s very good.  The combination of flavours is rather interesting, and there are tons of veggies.  My favourite part though has to be the potatoes and yuba.  Never had yuba in a soup before today, but I really like it.  The wrapped pieces came apart in the soup, and there were really long ribbons of it in the finished product, so it kind of reminded me of spaghetti.

Mexican-Asian Fusion Stew

Serves 6-8

Adapted from Chow Vegan

3 ounces dried yuba (bean curd) sticks, soaked to rehydrate, cut into short strips
2 medium red potatoes, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
1 small onion, diced
 4 garlic cloves, smashed and roughly chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
2 cups bean sprouts
28 oz. can fire roasted crushed tomatoes
4 cups water
1 tablespoon vegan beef base bouillon
1 vegetable bullion cube
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili sauce
1/2 teaspoon oregano
A few sprigs of cilantro for garnish, chopped

Heat a large dutch oven over high heat with a bit of water. Add the garlic and onion and sauté until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the green onions, potatoes and carrots and sauté for 2 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and its juices and spices. Stir to mix well.
Add both the bouillons, the water, bean sprouts and the yuba sticks. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 35 minutes. To serve, garnish with the cilantro.

Tofu Tacos... and Tests

There was this thing at my school today where they had a whole bunch of restaurants selling food on campus, because it was some special week. I always bring my lunch, mostly because the cafeteria food is so gross and unhealthy. I could probably go ranting about it for quite a bit, but suffice it to say that one gets buckets of bread and carbs, and it’s rather difficult to rack up even one serving of veggies, let alone two. Plus most of it is loaded with oil and grease to boot. I had thought today would be a different story because professional restaurants came in, but the only vegetarian option that looked remotely healthy was Chipoltle veggie burritos. I went poking around on the internet for nutritional info, and was rather scared about what I might be consuming. And so, I decided to be cool and make my own burritos. Thus these tofu tacos, which would probably be good in a taco shell as well as a soft shell (which is my preference).

I think it takes all of five minutes to actually make these, plus whatever time you are going to spend on toppings. Which was good, because I had so many tests to study for… four out of seven classes had tests. That had to be one of the hardest days of my life. And the tacos turned out to be really, really good! They were rather salty, but the flavour was excellent, and they were just perfect. I suppose one could make large quantities of the baked tofu and freeze it. I might try that one day.

Tofu Tacos

Adapted from Vegan Dad

Serves 4

12 oz firm tofu, pressed, and cut into thin rectangles
3 tbsp Better Than Bullion Beef Flavouring
1 tbsp miso paste
1-6 tbsp warm water
Sliced tomatoes
Alfalfa sprouts
Bell pepper
Sliced red onion
Shredded romaine lettuce

Preheat the oven to 350 convection bake.
In a casserole dish, lay the tofu in a single layer. Mix together the bullion and miso with a bit of warm water to get the right consistency. Coat the tofu. Bake for 35 minutes, until the sauce is bubbly and tofu is slightly firmer than when you took it out of the package.
Layer the wrap with tofu and whatever toppings you happen to have stashed away in your house.

Chop Suey

There's not really much to say tonight.  My testing extravaganza is over, and I did pretty well.  Except in English, but what can I say?...  And barely any homework tonight, which is really nice, to say the least.  So lots of time to cook!  I still can't wait for Thanksgiving, though, because I have such an awesome idea.  Which I really hopes to turn out alright...
I have realized that the ingredients list on my stir frys are getting more and more lengthy, but there're not that complex.  Half of the things are for the sauce, and I have all of them on hand.  It's just kind of intimidating, though.
I L-O-V-E the beef in this stir fry.  Seriously, it's amazing.  M isn't such a fan, so I have it all to myself, pretty much!  Yay!  Again, this is quite quick to pull off, and it's unusually colourful.  I don't really think it resembles chop suey very much, but it still tastes good, and that's what counts, right? 
I agree.
Chop Suey

Serves 4-6

Inspired by Wok

3 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp corn starch
1 tbsp yellow bean sauce
1 tbsp chili garlic sauce
2 tbsp agave nectar
1 tbsp Better Than Bullion Beef Flavouring

1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, coined
.75 lb shiitake mushrooms, chopped
2-ish cups red cabbage, shredded
1 red bell pepper, chopped
.75 lb snow peas, trimmed
1 package vegetarian beef (about 3 cups), defrosted and cubed
2-3 baby bok choy, chopped
2-3 cups bean sprouts
Salt and pepper, to taste
Cashews, for topping

Mix together the soy sauce through bullion in a small bowl. Set aside.
Heat a large wok over high heat with a bit of water. Saute the onion and carrots, and after two minutes add the mushrooms. Continue sautéing for three more minutes, and then add the cabbage, bell pepper, and snow peas. After another two minutes or so stir in the beef. When the veggies warm up again add the bok choy, salt and pepper, and sauce. About 30 seconds before it is done cooking stir in the bean sprouts.
Serve over rice or whatever, and top with cashews.

Paneer Tofu and Peas Stir Fry

I have no clue whatsoever why this recipe caught my eye- I guess it just looked appealing.  I had such a kitchen-y day today, because I also had to do the cooking for my greek competition (which I think we won, too!)  I won’t be posting any of the recipes, because they were pretty gross.  The tizaki that I made was a hit, though, but I hate cucumber.  So there.  This is another easy stir fry that deserves five gold stars.  One really weird thing, though.  No soy sauce!  I’m dead serious.  It is Indian, but still.  Actually, there are a lot of other flavours that take its place, so there’s no lack of flavour, or sauce for that matter.  One really depressing thing though.  A Greek recipe had called for lemon juice, and I only had one lemon on hand, and so did this recipe.  I juiced it, and then, unknowingly M threw away the leftover juice.  And so there was

Paneer Tofu and Peas

Adapted from Vegan Dad

Serves about 4

½ tbsp peanut or other frying oil

26 oz tofu, pressed and cubed
6 tbsp milk
2 tbsp plain (or almond, or vanilla) yogurt
1 tsp miso paste

Heat a non-stick frying pan (or wok) over medium heat with the oil. Whisk together wet ingredients in a small bowl, making sure miso dissolves. Add tofu to frying pan and fry for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it is pretty much done and you are ready to stop and move on to the next step.
Add the wet mixture and cook for a couple seconds, and then remove to a separate bowl.

1 large-ish sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 large onion, halved and sliced
1" piece of ginger, grated
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
2 tsp tumeric
2 tsp garam masala
½ tsp salt
1 tsp chili powder
4 cups frozen peas
28 oz can diced tomatoes (or 3-4 fresh tomatoes, here used 14.5 oz canned and 2 fresh)
1 cup milk
2 tsp lemon juice (optional)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the potato, and cook until tender-firm, about 7 minutes. Drain.
Heat a wok over high heat with a bit of water. Sauté the onion for a couple minutes, and then add the ginger. Sauté for about 5 more minutes, and then add the cilantro and seasonings, and cook for 2 more minutes, mixing the spices thoroughly. Add the peas, tomatoes, and potato and cook for five minutes. Add remaining ingredients and tofu, and cook for about 10 more minutes, until heated through and bubbling slightly.
Serve over rice.