"Beef" and Broccolini Stir Fry

It's so cold and wet.  M and I went shopping today, and I'm still frozen solid like an ice cube, even though we got back hours ago.  What miserable weather.  I wouldn't really mind all that much, but it seems to be cold, cold, cold everywhere.  It's impossible to find anywhere to thaw out.  Unless I'm buried underneath a pile of blankets in bed.  When means that I have a very hard time getting up in the mornings.  I just feel bad for New York City, because they just got a huge snow storm.  That's winter for you!  Only, where I live, it doesn't really snow, it just gets really cold.
But there's nothing like a nice and warm stir fry to warm me up, and this one certainly fit the bill tonight of being quick and hot.  It's nice and simple, and the sauce turned out great.  The funny thing was that I had no clue what I was doing the whole time I was making the dish.  But it still turned out to be exactly what I had been craving, especially becasue the last stir fry I tried to make was absolutely disgusting.  I am very grateful that this one turned out so good and kind of wish that it make a bigger batch.  Oh well.  It was quick, filling, and stellar cooking.

"Beef" and Broccolini Stir Fry

1 very small onion, sliced
2 small carrots, sliced on the sharp diagonal
1 lb white button mushrooms, quartered
1 bunch broccolini, stalks cut in half. stems and florets separated
2/3 cup edammame
3-4 cups vegetarian beef
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp corn starch
1 tbsp Better Than Bullion Vegetarian Beef flavouing
4 tbsp soy sauce
4 tbsp mirin
1 1/2 tbsp chili garlic paste
Cashews, to serve

Mix together the  honey through the chili garlic paste in a small bowl.  Set aside.
Heat a wok over fairly high heat with a bit of water.  Add the onion and broccolini stems and stir fry for 2 minutes.  Add the carrots.  Stir fry for a couple more seconds, and then add the mushrooms, and stir fry for another minute.  Add in the broccolini florets, and cook for 5 more minutes.  Add the sauce, edammame, and beef, and cook until heated through.
Serve over rice, topped with cashews.

Umm... Lasangne?

I am so excited!  I just got 3 new cookbooks from Half-Priced books, and they are loaded with really good looking recipes.  I really can't wait to crack them open, and they are loaded with tons of mouth-watering recipes.  One's vegetarian, one is Chinese and Thai, and the other is just plain Thai.  Lots of stir frys, but there are other interesting dishes too.  The funny thing is, is that if I made a recipe from one of the cookbooks every day, it would last me for almost three years.  That's a lot of cooking, I think.  Heh, who am I to talk about a lot of cooking?
This recipe was rather interesting to make.  I do not really think it's real lasagne.  It's kind of lasange, kind of something else.  I modeled it after a smoked fish version, and then saw that what I was planning would not really work out.  So, I ended us pretty much improving the whole thing, and it actually turned out tasting pretty decent.  And so, here you have it.  I totally just made this up as I went along, and this is how it went.  I think.

Kind Of Vegetable Lasagne

Serves 8

1 large onion, cut into rings
1 lb button mushrooms, sliced
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1 cup carrots, coined
1 tbsp Italian seasonings
2 tbsp vegetarian chicken bullion
9 lasagne sheets, boiled until tender, about 10 minutes
14 oz can fire roasted tomatoes
1 cup skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 lb vegetarian bacon
2/3 cup frozen sweet peas

In a large frying pan, heat a bit of water and add the onion.  Saute for a couple minutes, and then add the mushrooms through carrots.  Saute until almost tender, about 7 minutes, and then add the Italian seasoning and bullion.  Continue sauteing until tender.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375.  Spray a large casserole dish with nonstick spray.
Line the bottom of the casserole dish with 3 noodles.  Add 1/3 of the sauted veggies, leaving behind the juices.  Then add 1/3 of the bacon, half the cheese, and then the peas.  Add another 1/3 of the lasagne noodles, and then another 1/3 of the veggies and 1/3 of the bacon.  Add the remaining noodles, then veggies, tomatoes, bacon, and finally the last of the cheese.  Pour the reserves vegetable liquid over the top.
Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes or so, unitl heated and cooked through.

Walnut Cabbage Stir Fry

This Christmas, M and I did presents kind of differently, because we just went shopping a bunch over the break.  No real wrapped things under the tree, but this way, both M and I agree it's better because we get what we want.
Which is actually kind of true, because most of the things that I recieved were rather unwanted.  Sometimes I wonder why people bother with all this present nonsense, because the majority of it gets returned anyway. 
So yesterday, while out shopping, we wandered into the purse section, because M needs a new one badly.  I think we actually found one that both of us like, and it's a really nice and simple purse.  And then I trotted over to the scarf section, because I have been wanting a scarf forever.  And then I saw this really soft, deep navy blue one, which I fell in love with immediately.  So I bought that.  It was kind of funny, because I wore it out of the store after buying it, because it was so cold outside.  It's soooo soft and warm...
And then we came home and I made this stir fry.  It's really simple to throw together, makes enough to last two people for days, and tastes amazing.  What could go wrong with cabbage and walnuts?  I love this stir fry.  It was kind of funny what happened to the tofu I was roasting though.  I think the cubes shrank to about half their size.  Poor things.  Oh well.  It tasted absolutely amazing, like every time I have made this dish.

Dijon Cabbage and Walnut Stir Fry

Adapted from The Vegetarian Bible

Serves 6-8

8 oz tofu, cubed rather smallish
A few tablespoons of mirin
1 very small purple cabbage, shredded
3 large cloves garlic, pressed
1 small bunch green onions, chopped into about 1 inch pieces
1 very small green cabbage, shredded (just a bit more than your red cabbage)
2-3 tbsp dijon mustard
1 1/2 tbsp poppy seeds
Juice of 1 lemon
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the broiler.  Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray, and spread the tofu onto it in a single layer.  Broil until browned nicely, about 12 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat a wok coated with nonstick spray over medium high heat.  Add a bit of mirin, and then add the red cabbage.  Stir fry for a minute, and then add the garlic, green onions, and green cabbage.  Continue stir frying until almost tender, about 6 minutes. 
Add the remaining ingrients (don't forget about the tofu), and continue stir frying until tender and heated through.  Serve, with additional salt and pepper.

A Multi-National Christmas Dinner

So, yesterday was Christmas.  It was really windy and cold.  And I went running outside, because I am fanatical like that, I like to make myselft miserable by running into wind that is worthy of a hurricane.  Not really, but that is what ended up happening.  It was rather interesting, to say the least.
For the afternoon enterainment, M and I went to the local Super H Mart, and I bought some really awesome pencils, because all of my old ones have broken.  Which is rather depressing, I think.  We also got some carrots (whoopee!!), broccolini, and fried tofu.  I know, me, buying fried tofu.  I figured it looked really good, and it's not really that bad for a person, especially if it's fried right.  I'm really excited about the broccolini, too, and can't wait to use it.  I've already got plans...
Before we went to the H Mart, I defuzzed my sweater too, which was tons of fun.  I've never used a sweater defuzzer before.  It makes a really neat sound.
And then there was dinner.  Oh, M and I were so tired for some reason, and we were both moving in slow motion that night.  But I still managed to pull off these spectacular... enchilada-taco things.  I actually meant for them to be enchiladas, but then saw that M and I only had four wraps, which was not enough.  So I just ended up cheating, and there you have it.  These actually turned out to be exactly what I needed, and they are really filling... and high fiber, in case anyone cares.  They're really good- one of the best dishes I have made recently without fake meat.

Black Bean and Veggie Taco-Enchiladas

Serves 6-8

Adapted from The Book of Yum

1 small red onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
I½ lb white button mushrooms
1 packet taco seasoning (I used Taco Bell’s – it was about 4 tbsp total), divided
2 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
1 sweet potato, peeled, cubed, and boiled until tender
1 cup dried black beans, soaked overnight and cooked until tender
1 cup tomato sauce
2 tsp. ground cumin
salt and pepper to taste
½ tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp smoked paprika
Cooked rice
Mozzarella cheese, grated

In a kettle, sauté the onion with a bit of water for 2 minutes, and then add the red bell pepper and mushrooms. Sauté for a couple minutes, and then add ½ the taco seasoning, about 2 tbsp, the cilantro, potato, and beans. Add about ¼ cup water, turn the heat to low, and cover. Keep warm on low heat until ready to use.
Meanwhile, mix the tomato sauce, cumin, salt and pepper, sugar, the rest of the taco seasoning, and paprika in a small bowl.
When you are ready to serve, heat the wraps, rice, and tomato sauce mixture in the microwave. Make the tacos: On the wraps, place a layer of the rice, then bean and veggie mix, then the tomato sauce, and finally top with shredded cheese.

I Actually Ate Out

Ok, wow.  This never happens.  I actually did not technically eat at a restaurant, but M and I did get some Chinese food t o go on Christman Eve.  It was actually really good, and I would love to be able to replicate the stir frys.  M got a cabbage egg roll and a shiitake and bok choy stir fry.  I got a bowl of soup with a few veggies floating in it, with a tofu stir fry with baby corn, green bell pepper, onion, and broccoli.  Like I said, it was really good.  I would just be scared to know how unhealthy that food was compared to my ususal cooking.  That's the one big thing that I hate about restaurants - it's so unhealthy.  But I have never been able to figure out hew to replicate the thick brown sauce that restaurants seem to be so good at, and would love to be able to. 
The other thing that almost turned into a crisis was that I forgot to tell the restaurant people I wanted brown rice, so I had white rice staring me in the face when I opened up the box.  Luckily, there was some brown rice already made in the fridge, and I ate that.  Still, I think waitresess should offer brown of white rice, becasue those of us health-concious people are mortally afraid of white rice.  At least I am.


More Orange-Flavoured Broiled Tofu

I cannot say how excited I am about broiling tofu.  This is so amazing- it opens up a whole new world of ideas.  I really like tofu, but my only issue is that it's not very firm, just quite mushy.  That used to be ok, but since I tried the fake meats, I have really not been fond of that flavour.  Well, now that has all changed.  I love broiling tofu.  A lot.  Tons.  Because that gives the tofu a nice firm outside, without having to fry it or anything unhealthy.  Next time I would really like to marinade the tofu beforehand, because I know that would taste even better.  But that will happen on a day where I am no so pressed for time to pull dinner together, like I was last night.  And so here is another spectacular dish using broiled tofu.
The one thing I find really ironic is that both times I have broiled tofu, I have made an orange flavoured sauce.  Although this one is very different from the last one that I have made.  It has cashews, and lots of onion and broccoli.  It's also quite good, and fun to put on a plate becasue of all the different layers.  I just have to be sure not to forget any of the pieces.

Orange Tofu and Broccoli Stir Fry

Serves 4

Adapted from Vegan: Happy Healthy Life

19 oz firm tofu, pressed and cubed
½ cup orange juice
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
Scant tbsp corn starch
1 small onion, chopped
3 cups broccoli
6 garlic cloves, pressed
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated
Rice, to serve
Salt and pepper, to taste
Cashews, to serve

Preheat the oven to broil. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray, and spread the tofu cubes evenly across the sheet. Broil for about 15 minutes, turning occasionally, until firm and lightly browned.
Mix the orange juice, honey, vinegar, and corn starch in a small bowl.
Heat a wok over medium heat. Sauté the onion for a minute, and then add the broccoli, garlic, and ginger. Sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the sauce, and cook until thickened.
Serve. Rice on the bottom, then veggies, then tofu, and finally the salt, pepper, and cashews. Add more orange juice or vinegar if needed.

.. And Now I Really Need to go to the Grocery Store

After making this soup, I think there is almost no ingredients at my house except for a onion and some cilantro.  Seriously, this is getting rather desperate.  I actually just had barely enough "ham" to make this soup, and I had to add it to my individual bowl.  That seemed rather depressing.  It was the same way with the cooked rice.  Atleast I have some time now to actually do something besides homework because it's Christmas break.  But still, I have actually been working for quite a surprising amount of time for the past week.  It's getting kind of old. 
Out of all the recipes that I had been planning to make, this was the only one that I could have actually made.  Which was OK with M and I, because we were frozen solid when we got back from shopping at an outdoor mall.  Which was insanely busy, I might add.  But this soup was, thankfully, not all that hard to pull together, moslty becasue M did all the washing, and we had dinner on the table in just over an hour.  The soup was delicious, and very filling.  We were both starving, and this just hit the spot.  It made a very large batch, too, which is a good thing because otherwise I would be fighting M for the leftovers.  Which will probably end up happening anyway.

Dark Veggie and Rice Soup

Adapted from Kalyn’s Kitchen

Serves 10
1 smallish onion, chopped
1 cup carrots, coined
6 cloves garlic, pressed
Just over 1 lb crimini mushrooms, sliced
5 cups water
2 tbsp Better Than Bullion Vegetarian Beef Flavouring
14 oz can diced tomatoes
Generous 1 cup frozen peas
2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and diced small
2 Tbsp molasses
2 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
4 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped
2 tbsp corn starch mixed with 2 tbsp water
1 bunch spinach, stemmed
3 cups vegetarian meat
1/3 cup brown rice, cooked
Cheese, to top
Salt and pepper, to taste

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium high heat. Sauté the onion and carrots for 2 minutes and then stir in the garlic. Add the mushrooms and sauté for 5 more minutes, until pretty much tender. Add the remaining ingredients through the rosemary, and simmer until the sweet potatoes are almost tender, about 20 minutes. Add the corn starch slurry, the spinach, the meat, and the rice. Simmer until ready to serve. Serve, topped with cheese and salt and pepper.


Easy Orange Green Beans

I got new running shoes today!  I'm very excited about them, because they are neon yellow, and look very snazzy.  Much better than my old boring shoes.  They were kind of on the pricy side, but I think that they were worth the ten extra dollars from the not so neat looking shoes.  I also tried on a pair of orange Newtons.  Those are awesome shoes.  I actually would totally have bought those instead, but they were $175.  Both M and I agreed that that was a bit steep.  I'll put those on  the wishlist, because those shoes made me feel like I was walking on air.  Amazing.  And then I tried a pair of  the Five Finger shoes, which are all the rage right now.  I think those would be rather intersting to have, and I would have liked to spend more time getting used to those in the store.  Very different, that's for sure.
And so was the green bean dish that I whipped up tonight.  It was quick and easy, and did not require any special groceries.  This also tasted extremely good, and had a nice holiday touch.  I was very pleased with the orangey and sweet flavour, and the cranberries were a good inspiration, I thought.

Honey Orange Green Beans

Serves 4

Adapted from Allrecipes

1 lb green beans
3 tablespoons honey
1 orange, zested
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1 tbsp soy sauce
½ tbsp balsamic vinegar
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Cranberries, to taste

Mix the honey, orange zest, garlic, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, and garlic in a small bowl.
Heat a wok over medium heat with a bit of water. Add the green beans, and sauté for a minute or so, and then add the sauce. Sauté for 10 minutes, or until tender. Serve, topped with pepper and crandberries.


Italian "Ham" and Veggies with Green Olives

It's kind of sad, but I have no clue what I will be cooking for Christmas.  Which, I suppose, is not all that crazy because it will only be for M and I.  But still, I feel like I should be making something special.  Perhaps just winging it will be the best option, and whatever comes will come. 
Just as another little side note, yesterday I ate a bad potato.  Note to self: never eat a potato with a rotten center, because it will make you feel sick for the rest of the day.  And that was so not cool.  I came so close to just staying home for the whole day, because that's how close I came to being sick.
But, most thankfully, the food today was much better.  Dinner was a very elegant affair with this dish.  What's kind of funny though is that I had intended to bake this dish, but had totally forgotten about that.  So I ended up making it into a stir fry type thing, which is just as good.  I thought this was quite an excellent dish, and it certainly looked fancy enough.  I had mine over wild rice, and M had hers over whole wheat spaghetti.  Both were delish, we agreed.

“Ham” with Veggies and Green Olives

Adapted from Practical Pasta and Italian by Fiona Biggs
Serves 4-6

½ 100 gm log of “meat”, cut into 16 semi-circles
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, pressed
2 small red bell peppers, chopped
1 lb crimini mushrooms, sliced
14 oz diced tomatoes
¼ cup dry cooking sherry
½ cup green olives, cut into thirds
Salt and pepper
Chopped cilantro

Preheat the oven to 350. Bake the “meat” for 10 minutes, until heated through. Keep warm until ready to serve.
Heat a wok over medium high heat. Sauté the onion and garlic for a couple minutes, then add the bell pepper, and mushrooms. After a couple more minutes add the tomatoes and cilantro. Cook until tender.
Serve the rice/pasta first, then veggies, and finally the “meat”. Add the olives and salt and pepper to individual servings.


Wild Rice, Veggies, and Tofu

I went to a Sur La Table yesterday, and wanted to look at knives.  Actually, the real reason M and I went there was because I had seen some really cool ornaments for out tree.  We ended up getting a carrot, a head of garlic, broccoli, a tomato, and a bunch of bananas.  They are some of the cutest ornaments that I have ever seen... I love them so much. 
M and I both really want new knives.  We got to talk to a person who was at the knife station, and he showed us a brand that I really liked called Global.  Appearently, they are Japanese, and really popular in California.  Go figure.  But I loved them, mostly because they were so light weight.  Now I really, really want a nice new set of knives.
But, dispite that, I still managed to make one of the best stir frys ever tonight.  And I learned a new way to make tofu- broiling it.  That gives the tofu a nice texture- all crusty and firm.  Oh, I loved this dish.  The sauce was nice and thick, and the wild rice was different and quite a nice change.  L-O-V-E it.  Not to mention it was a nice dish to kind of clean up some leftover things in the fridge and pantry.  The cilantro was a nice touch too, I thought.  And this looked so gourmet too, like something you would find in a fancy restaurant.  And I bet this is way healthier that what you would find at any restaurant, too.
Orangey Tofu and Veggies

Serves 4

Adapted from The Book of Yum

19 oz tofu, cut into 4 slabs and pressed

2 tbsp sherry
¼ cup orange sauce
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tbsp chili garlic paste
1 tbsp corn starch
½ cup cilantro leaves, chopped
1 lb crimini mushrooms, sliced
2 tsp grated ginger
4 cloves of garlic, pressed
1 bunch green onions, chopped
4 baby bok choy, chopped

Wild rice, to serve

Preheat the broiler. Coat a baking sheet with nonstick spray, and put the tofu in a single layer on there.
Meanwhile, mix together the sherry though cilantro in a small bowl.
Broil the tofu for 7-8 minutes on each side, until golden and firm, and keep warm if it finishes before you are ready to serve.
Heat a wok over medium high heat. Add the mushrooms with a bit of water, and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger, stir those in, and add the green onion. Cook for another couple minutes and add the sauce and bok choy. Continue cooking until the bok choy is tender, about 4 more minutes.
Serve, rice first, then veggies, and finally the tofu.


French Onion Soup

I remember when M and I were first searching for this recipe, we went through every french onion soup recipe on AllRecipes, looking for a healthy vegetarian one.  This happened to be the only one, actually, that fist the bill.  It uses vegetable broth, and has no butter.  Plus it's one of the most flavourful dishes that I have ever run across.  This soup is a timeless dish that I have made quite a number of times.  The hardest part is peeling the onion and garlic, especially if you have a garlic press to chop the garlic for you.  I love this soup because it's so simple and elegant, and onions are one of the most amazing foods that I have ever know.  Cheap, too!

French Onion Soup

Adapted from All Recipes

Serves 6

1 cup dry sherry
4 small onions, thinly sliced
9 cloves garlic, pressed
4 cups vegetable broth, or the equivilent in bullion
1 tbsp corn starch mixed with 2 tbsp water
Freshly grated salt and pepper, to taste
Parmesan, mozzerella, or some sort of cheese

Bring the sherry to a boil in a dutch oven, and then add the onions.  Saute for 10 minutes, until the onions are soft.  Add the garlic and cook for 5 minutes more, adding more sherry if it gets too dry.  Add the broth/bullion, and bring to a boil.  Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.  Add the corn starch and water, cover, and simmer for 10 more minutes.  Serve, topped with salt and pepper and cheese.

My First Brussel Sprouts...

Simple roasted vegetables are one of the best and safest dishes that I know of.  These sprouts fit the bill- they are very quick to throw together, and then you are just left with a good chunk of time while they cook.  This was actually my first time eating brussel sprouts, which I now find rather depressing.  These that I tried for this dish were frozen because I could not get my hands on any fresh ones, and they were rather mushy.  But they were still excellent, and I can't wait until M and I can find some fresh ones, so I can try them.  This dish seems to be a great and flavourful side dish, and it goes well with pretty much everything.  Horray for the cabbage family- who cares what the majority of people think about "gross veggies", I love 'em.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Vinegar, Cheese, and Cashews

Serves 4

Adapted from Kalyn’s Kitchen

Generous 1 lb. brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut into bite sized pieces
Scant 1 T olive oil
1 T balsamic vinegar
Mozzerella cheese, grated, or another type of cheese
Cashews or another type of nut
Preheat oven to 360. Mix the sprouts with the oil and vinegar.
Place the sprouts on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake for 20 minutes, until tender.
Serve, topped with cheese and nuts. Yum!

"Bacon" and Pasta

I don't think that I have ever eaten so much Swiss Chard in my life.  It's quite odd, really, how much I have been eating recently.  Not that I'm conplaining in the least, because I really like chard.  I only wish it wasn't so expensive, but there you have it.  Both M and I agreed that this dish is rather tasty, and it was quite easy to make, even if I did underestimate the amount of cooking time, and we were waiting for ages for the chard to cook down.  Then I realised that the wok was not on the burner.  Things seemed to speed up remarkably when I put the wok back on the burner...
M and I have very different tastes when it comes to the amount of pasta to put in the dish, so I ended up with a lot less spaghetti than her, but I enjoyed it all the same (or maybe even more that her, because I ended up eating the majority of the dish. 

“Bacon” and Chickpea Pasta

Serves 6-8

Adapted from I Eat Food

12 oz. whole wheat spaghetti, cooked and kept warm
6 cloves garlic, pressed
½ lb “bacon”, cut into strips or squares
3 portobellos, diced
28 oz can diced tomatoes (preferably petite diced, but I used normal)
1 bunch Swiss chard, chiffonaded
1 generous cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and cooked
½ tsp chili sauce
1 tbsp vegetarian chicken bullion
Freshly ground salt and pepper to taste

Heat a large wok over medium heat. Sauté the garlic and mushroom in a bit of water for 5 minutes or so, until tender.
Add the tomatoes and their juices; cook for two minutes.
Add the remaining ingredient except pasta, and cook for 10 more minutes, until the chard has wilted.
Serve over pasta.

Mini Potato Pizzas

These are so cute!  I got home kind of late when I wanted to make these, and yet I still had no clue how they were going to turn out.  And then I decided to make some last minute decisions about how to make the sauce - which, I have to say, saved me about 15 minutes of prep time.  I was really pleased with how these babies turned out, and they are really fun to eat and make.  I finally have found something that will serve as a pizza crust that I don't have regrets about eating.  Potatoes are one of the most amazing foods, I think. 
Another random tidbit that I found in the Taste of Home magasine that someone has given me a subscription to - appearently, black rice is even healthier than brown.  I guess I would buy that.  I just thought that was rather interesting, and now I feel like I should try it.  The really ironic thing, though, was that I saw that writeup in TOH, one of the least healthy magasines that I know.  Go figure.

Mini Potato Pizzas
Serves 4

Adapted from Practical Pasta and Italian by Fiona Biggs

1 large baking potato
1 cup crushed tomatoes
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp onion powder
2 tsp Italian seasoning
1 small can mushrooms, drained
½ cup skim mozzarella cheese, grated
Salt and pepper, to taste
Basil leaves, for garnish

Slice the potato into ¼ inch thick pieces, and arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet.
Mix the tomatoes, garlic and onion powder, and Italian seasonings in a small bowl.
Preheat the oven to 380.
Top the potatoes with the sauce, mushrooms, and cheese. Bake for 25 minutes, until the cheese has melted and the potatoes are tender. Serve, topped with basil leaves and salt and pepper.

Atleast Something Turned Out Right: Soup

Oh my gosh.  Final are finally over.  And I'm rather mad, to say the least, at the GPA grading system. In three of my classes, I was one point below almost maxing out.  I think that would make anyone really ticked off.  I was just so frustrated.  Especially when one of those classes was AP .  One more stinking point, and I could have been so happy.  I would actually be really excited right now, because I actually did score really high, but that one point thing just does not rest well with me.  A 92 is much higher than a 90, BUT they get you the same GPA.  This is total injustice, and I want a refund.  Why did I try so hard then?  I could have pulled off a bunch of 90's, without studying so hard I was about to cry.  I think that schools should get rid of GPA, and just stick with raw numbers, because that would make life so much easier and more fair.  Let's think about it.  Colleges have to compare GPAs on different point scales from different schools.  If schools did away with GPA then colleges would not have to deal with any of that converting junk, because everyone does the hundred point scale at first.  And that is what I think.  I know, too, that a lot of people agree with me, because I have heard more that one person steaming about being one point away from getting .3 points higher. 
And that was the brunt of my day.  Being steaming mad about my GPA. 

But oh, atleast something turned out according to my wishes- this soup.  Umm, yum, yum.  It was just the thing to warm me and M up, because we had been shopping earlier in the evening out in the cold.  The soup got all nice and thick, and it was just had an excellent and deep flavour.  A perfect soup to warm up a cold person, and it made a ton, too, so leftovers galore for us.  Actually, it made so much that I could not fit the pasta in the pot with the other ingredients, so we had to add that to the bowls seperately.  And I had all my pasta at the end of my soup, becuase it's kind of hard to stir a super full bowl of soup with the bowl that I was using.  Who cares!  It was amazing, and so thick, and chock full of veggies.

“Sausage”, Veggie, and Pasta Soup

Serves 8-10

Adapted from Kalyn’s Kitchen

1 onion, chopped
3 carrots, coined
6 cloves garlic, pressed
4 small red potatoes, diced
5 cups water
28 oz can petite diced tomatoes
2 tbsp “chicken” bullion
1 tbsp ground fennel
3 sprigs rosemary, leaves removed from stems and chopped
8 oz penne pasta or other small pasta, cooked until al dente
2 cups “ham”, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 tbsp corn starch mixed with 2 tbsp water
Freshly ground salt and pepper to taste
Heat a large Dutch oven over medium high heat. Sauté the onion, carrots, and garlic for five minutes, until the onion starts to become tender. Add the potatoes, and cook for a couple more minutes. Add the water through the rosemary, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to just over a simmer and cover for about 20 minutes, until the potatoes are almost tender. Add the remaining ingredients except salt and pepper, and cook for 10 minutes more. Serve, topped with salt and pepper.

Traditional Look, Spectacular Taste

It's almost the holiday season.  And I have two weeks of school left.  And I have one week of insaneness until final exams.  That about sums up my life to the T.  I had to write three essays and take two tests on Thursday, and that was quite a pain.  Yesterday, when I was chopping an onion for dinner, my hand started to sieze up because of all the furious writing I had been doing.  I feel like I am so tired - I have almost fell asleep standing up, which is rather pathetic.  I honestly wonder how people pull off all-nighters, because I think 10.30 is my cuttoff point.  But then again, I'm just unusual in that respect.  School is the reason that this blog is getting neglected, and it's getting quite depressing.   I would much rather read and write about food that Louis IXV.  Cooking is much more exciting.

Especially when I stumble across a gem of a stir fry like this one.  It's fantabulous.  Absolutely one of the best stir frys that I have ever made.  No clue why, either, which kind of stinks, but I ended up hogging most of it for myself, and would not let M eat the leftovers, because it was just THAT good.  This is actually pne stir fry I might make again, because I rarely repeat a stir fry.  It will hold a special place in my heart, that is for sure.   It has just the right combination of sauce ingredients and veggies, and is quite warming and will perk up any day.  I wouldn't mind having some right now, and it's seven in the morning.
I say it looks traditional because it really does.  That's the first thing that popped in my head when the plate came in front of my nose at dinner.  I guess that's because it has all these old-school stir fry veggies, and the "beef" only helps that image.  But really, I think that it does not really matter what it looks like, and the taste blowed me out of the water. 

Traditional-Looking Vegetarian Mutton Stir Fry
Serves 4-6

Adapted from The Book of Yum

4 carrots, coined
1 tbsp grated ginger
5 cloves garlic, pressed
1 lb crimini mushrooms, sliced
3 cups broccoli florets
2-3 cups green cabbage, shredded
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 cup-ish edammame
2 large baby bok choy
12 oz fingerling potatoes, cut in half and boiled for 9 minutes, until tender
1 lb. vegetarian mutton, defrosted and cut into bite-sized pieces
3 tbsp agave nectar or honey
2 tbsp chili garlic sauce
¼ cup hoisin sauce
2 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp Better Than Bullion Vegetarian Beef Bullion
¼ cup soy sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix together the sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.

Heat a wok over high heat with a bit of water. Add the carrots, ginger, and garlic, and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and sauté for another minute. Add the broccoli, and then after a minute add the cabbage and green onions. Sauté for a couple more minutes and add the edammame and bok choy. After another minute add the sauce, potatoes, and mutton. When the sauce has thickened and the stir fry is hot, serve over rice.  Add extra salt and pepper, if desired.

Onion Attaaaack!! And Chickpea and Swiss Chard Stew

I cannot remember the last time I have used such strong onions.  I think these totally take the cake, because when they were cooking I had to ask M to stir them, and even then I was crying and had to leave the kitchen for a couple minutes.  There's got to be something illegal with onions that strong.  The odd thing was that I had no problem chopping them, only when they were cooking.  Go figure.  Life lesson: never question vegetables about their motives for making you cry, just deal with it and have a tissue box handy.
This is a recipe that I haven't made in over a year, but it's quite good.  The odd thing is though, it's not nearly as flavourful as my memory tells me it was.  I guess my tastes have just changed.  Although it wasn't outstanding the first night, this is one of those stews that get loads better with time.  And it's quite easy to make, too.  I have always used red chard, but I bet that green would be OK too.  I wonder if there is a taste difference? 
I was very grateful to have this dish around, because I had it for lunch five days straight with another sweet potato casserole that I made.  A very warming lunch, to say the least.

Chickpea Stew

Serves 4-6

Adapted from the Vegetarian Bible

Generous 2 ½ cups dried chickpeas, soaked and simmered for 50 minutes, until tender (save some of the cooking water)
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 bunch red swiss chard, stems removed and cut into ribbons
2 large sprigs fresh rosemary, finely chopped
28 oz can diced tomatoes
1 tbsp Better Than Bullion Vegetarian Beef Flavouring
1 cup water
Freshly ground salt and pepper, to taste

Mash 2/3 of the chickpeas with a masher, or whatever happens to be available, adding water (preferably cooking water), to get the desired consistency.
Heat a large dutch oven over medium heat with a bit of water. Sauté the onion and garlic until the onion is translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the swiss chard and rosemary, and cook for 3-4 more minutes. Add the tomatoes and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and season with salt and pepper. Cover and simmer until ready to serve.


"Bacon", Chard, and Potato Gratin

A while back I bought some vegetarian bacon, but for some reason the recipe that I was going to use it for just kind of disappeared into the blue.  So this is the dish that I ended up creating to take its place. 
I had actually intended to add caraway seeds and liquid smoke, but that kind of fell by the wayside... I was just to eager to get the thing in the oven.  M and I were hungry.  This smelled so good in the oven too, because of the bacon.  It's really important, I have found, to have fake meats that actually taste good, because they can really make the dish spectacular.  I honestly wish that they were cheaper though, like tofu.  But, like I was telling M the other day, if you get adjusted to these fake meats then it's hard to deal with bland tofu.
That was a really random tangent.  About this gratin.  It's got lovely layers, and I called it "teirs of goodness" (pun intended).  What's kind of odd is that I really don't like crimini mushrooms all that much, until now, it seems.  I have had a fear of them for quite a while now, because I ended up totally ruining a dish with them.  But, like I said before, this gratin is really good, with quite a simple list of ingredients.  Not to mention it's loads of fun putting it in the dish, because the layers are cool.  The only thing is to slice the potatoes wafer thin, otherwise they will not cook through.  For something that appears this elagent and tastes this good, I was surprised with how easily this came together.

Canadian Bacon, Potato, and Swiss-Chard Gratin

Adapted from Delish

Serves 6
1 bunch green Swiss chard, large stems removed, cut into ribbons
1 lb crimini mushrooms, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, pressed
Freshly grated salt and pepper
3 medium red potatoes, sliced as thinly as possible (1/8 inch)
2/3 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 pound sliced vegetarian bacon

Heat a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and garlic, and sauté for 6 minutes. Add the chard and sauté until the chard has wilted. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Preheat the oven to 425. In a casserole dish, layer 1/3 of the potato slices on the bottom. Top with half the cheese, and then half the bacon. Spread all of the swiss chard mixture on top. Add another third of the potatoes, and then the rest of the parmesan. Add the rest of the bacon, and then the remaining potatoes.
Bake, covered, for 15 minutes. Remove the covering, and bake for 30 minutes more, until the potatoes are browned and tender.


Sweet Italian Stir Fry

Yay!  It's Friday, and I am about to die.  One more week until finals.  But it's the weekend, so I can put all of that behind me.  Sometime soon, M and I are going to stop shopping for dishes and actually buy some- probably from the Asian Market.  They are so pretty.  The shop has these really cute tea kettles that have clocks on them and say "tea time"!  I love it!  And Target has some pretty cool dishes, too, which is awesome. 
This stir fry is unique for several reasons, and turned out really good.  One thing that was kind of weird was that I actually didn't mind the whole tomatoes in there.  I used to hate non-crushed tomatoes, but I guess I'm getting over that.  That was one different thing.  The other was the cheese on it, which, I've never had cheese on a stir fry before.  It was rather good.  And, of course, the Italian aspect was unusual too.

Sweet Italian “Goose” Stir Fry

Serves 4-6

Adapted from I Eat Food

2 tbsp Italian seasonings

1 tsp chili sauce
1 ½ tbsp “chicken” bullion
2 tbsp stir fry sauce
½ cup mirin
1 ½ tbsp corn starch
1 large onion, chopped
24 crimini mushrooms, sliced
1/3 large head cabbage, shredded
5 cloves garlic, pressed
1 lb giant green onions, or regular green onions, or leeks
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1 lb smoked vegetarian goose, cubed
1 cup edammame
1 bunch spinach, stemmed and washed
Freshly ground black pepper and salt
Grated vegan cheese
Mix together the Italian seasonings, chili sauce, bullion, stir fry sauce, mirin, and corn starch in a small bowl and set aside.
Heat a wok over high heat with a bit of water. Add the onion and sauté for 2 minutes, and then add the mushrooms. After a minute add the cabbage and garlic. When that shrinks a bit, about another minute, add the green onions and bell pepper. Keep sautéing for another 7 minutes or so, until the veggies are pretty much tender. Add both fresh and dried tomatoes, “goose”, edammame and sauce. Heat through and add the spinach. Sauté until the spinach wilts.
Serve over udon noodles or other noodle, and top with salt and pepper and cheese.

Gourmet "Chicken" Noodle Soup

I have five tests-like things tomorrow.  That's so not cool.  And I'm getting so ready for the holidays.  I can really tell that everyone is, because tempers are getting so high and I, for one, am likely to explode.  Not to mention I have not been keeping up with this blog.
And so, I have been striving to look for the most efficient and quick recipes possible, that will keep us fed.  Because I'm getting REALLY sick of a baked potato every single day.  I love them, but still. 
And so this soup was such a welcome surprise.  It turned out really good, and was quite easy to pull off in the limited time that I have.  Actually, "good' does not do it justice.  It's amazing.  A-mazing.  I really think it's that chicken bullion stuff.  It was kind of pricy, but totally worth it, because every dish that I have added it to has turned out really good.
This soup makes enough to feed an army, too.  It's really thick, especially as leftovers, but (get this), it got soupy again when heated up.  Weird.

Gourmet “Chicken” Noodle Soup

Serves 8

Adapted from Practical Pasta and Italian by Fiona Biggs
1 ½ cups broken whole wheat spaghetti
1 onion, diced
1 ½ cups carrots, coined
2 ½ cups cauliflower florets
4 cloves garlic, pressed
6 cups water
2 tbsp “chicken” bullion
2 tbsp Italian seasoning
2 cups cooked garbanzo beans
1 vegetarian chicken, chopped
½ large bunch spinach
2 tbsp corn starch + 2 tbsp water
Freshly ground salt and pepper
Parmesan cheese

Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook pasta until al dente. Drain and set aside.
Heat a large dutch oven over high heat. Add the onion, and carrots with a bit of water and sauté for two minutes. Add the cauliflower and garlic, and sauté for five more minutes or so.
Add the water, bullion and seasonings, and bring to a boil.
Simmer for at least 10 minutes. Add the beans, chicken, spinach, pasta, and cornstarch 10 minutes before serving.
Serve, topped with salt, pepper and parmesan cheese.