Zippy Lime and Burger Crumble Soup

Wow, this soup has such a different flavour from anything that I have ever tasted.  The lime is what does that.  It's such a hearty, warming, tangy soup.  Which a person really does not expect when they go to take a bite of soup, but this one quickly rose up among my ranks of favourites.  The boca crumbles were really cool too.  A very nice change of pace.

Tangy “Beef” Soup

Serves 8- 10

Adapted from Kalyn’s Kitchen

1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, pressed
3 yukon gold potatoes, chopped
1 medium head cabbage, chopped
1 T ground cumin
1 tbsp Spike seasoning
2 tbsp oregano
4 cups water plus bullion (vegetarian chicken is what I used)
2 T tomato paste
28 oz can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup sliced green onions
2 tbsp corn starch mixed with 2 tbsp waer
3 cups cooked beans
12 oz vegetarian burger crumbles, defrosted
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (or more)
2 T fresh squeezed lime juice

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium high heat with a bit of water, and sauté the onion and garlic. Add the cabbage after 3 minutes, and sauté until tender, about 5 more minutes. Add through the diced tomatoes, bring to a boil, and simmer for 35 minutes. Add in the remaining ingredients, mix well, and serve with salt and pepper, and parmesan cheese.

Coconut, Potato, and Veggie Stir Fry

This is rather an interesting dish, one that I would never have dreamed up. It has a kind of sweetness that is a very nice surprise, and makes a nice change from the normal pace of stir fries. I love the little fingerling potatoes in here too, which really add a lot of punch to the dish. Since M is not such a big fan of the “ham”, I just had mine on the side of the plate, which made me squeal because it was so pretty. Another great stir fry. There never seems to be two of a kind with stir fries.

Sweet, Potato and “Ham” Stir Fry

Adapted from Wok
Serves 4
1-2 tbsp masaman curry paste
1 cup reduced fat coconut milk
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground cardamom
3 tbsp vegetarian oyster sauce
3 tbsp tamarind juice
1 tbsp corn starch
1 smallish onion, chopped
2 carrots, sliced
1 head broccoli florets
1 bell pepper, chopped
12 oz fingerling potatoes, boiled until tender (about 8 minutes)
3 cups vegetarian ham, chopped
Rice and almonds, to serve

Mix together the curry paste through corn starch in a small bowl. Set aside.
Heat a wok over medium high heat with a bit of water. Add the onion and carrots, and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the broccoli and bell pepper, and sauté for another 4-5 minutes. Add the potatoes and sauce, then the ham. Cook until heated through, about 1 more minute, and then serve over rice with almond slivers.


Spicy Peanut Asparagus Plus Soft Mutton Soup

These two dishes went very well together because they are both pretty easy to throw together.  The asparagus was some of the best that I have ever tasted, and I would make it over and over again.  Five million times.  Not really, but it was still one of those quick dishes that are nice to take advantage of asparagus season.  The soup was not exactly what I had hoped but it was good in its own right.  If nothing esle, I always love the mutton.  I thing that my beans and pasta were a bit over cooked, but the soup still tasted amazing.  It had spinach, too, which I had been craving for quite some time now.

Simple Peanut Chili Asparagus

Serves 3

Adapted from Chinese and Thai 400

Juice of 1 lemon

1 tsp chili sauce, or to taste
2 tsp corn starch
2 tbsp vegetarian oyster sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp agave nectar
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 tbsp grated ginger
Scant 1 lb asparagus, trimmed
2 tbsp chopped peanuts
Mix together the lemon through agave in a small bowl. Set aside.
Heat a wok over medium heat, and add some water. Stir fry the garlic and ginger for a couple seconds and then add the asparagus. Stir fry for another 3 minutes and add the sauce. Cook until asparagus is done, about another minute. Remove from heat and stir in the peanuts. Serve.

Pasta, Bean and Mutton Soup

Serves 8

Adapted from 330 Vegetarian Recipes

1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, pressed
3 carrots, coined
3 cups cabbage, chopped
5 cups water
1 tbsp vegetarian chicken bullion
1 cube vegetable bullion
4 yukon gold potatoes
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 1/2 cups white beans, cooked
1 1/2 cups pervuano beans, cooked
1 cup soy milk mixed with 2 tbsp corn starch
1 1/2 bunches spinach, stemmed
2 cups dried penne pasta, cooked
4-5 cups vegetarian mutton, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium high heat with a bit of water.  Saute the onion and carrot for a minute and add the garlic.  Saute for 2 minutes more and then add the cabbage.  Saute until tender, about 4 minutes.  Add the remianing ingredients though coriander, bring to a boil, and simmer for 30 minutes, covered.  Add the beans and corn starch mixture, cook for 5 more minutes, and add the spinach, pasta, and mutton.  Serve with salt and pepper.

Simple Mini Mutton Stir Fry

It was kind of funny making this dish because I had no clue what was going in it.  Thankfully, it turned out better than I could have possibly hoped, and I would certainly be making this combination of veggies again.  So easy to make, and so versatile.  Largely due to M too, becasue I kept asking her what she wanted in the stir fry because my brain was so fried that all I could do was chop.  But, here's the amazing recipe.

Simple Mutton Stir Fry

Serves 4

Adapted from Chinese and Thai 400

2 tbsp agave nectar
1 tbsp corn starch
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup soy sauce
3/4 lb snow peas, trimmed
1 red bell pepper, chopped
3 carrots, chopped on the diagonal

3/4 lb mushrooms, quatered, halved, or left whole
3 green onions, chopped
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
3 cups vegetarian mutton (more or less is good too)
Sesame seeds to serve (I forgot in the pictures...)
Salt and pepper, to taste

Mix together the agave through soy sauce in a small bowl.  Set aside.
Heat a wok over medium high heat with a bot of water.  Add the carrots and mushrooms, and saute for a minute.  Add the bell pepper and saute for another 3-4 minutes.  Add the snow peas andn green onions, saute for a minute, and then add the sauce, mutton, and cilantro.  Cook unitl all veggies are tender.
Serve over rice with sesame seeds and salt and pepper.

Tofu And Coconut Noodles

I really don't think that there is anything spectacular about this dish that really makes it stand out.  But, it's still really good.  Not to mention so simple to make, like most things similar to these types of dishes.  And it has coconut milk, which I still seem to be addicted to.  This is another dish that goes well with pretty much any veggies, and is a good fridge cleaner-outer.

Coconut Noodles with Tofu and Veggies

Serves 4

Adapted from Chinese and Thai 400

1 tbsp masaman curry paste
1 tbsp vegetarian oyster sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp corn starch
1 cup reduced fat coconut milk

1 onion, thickly sliced
3 carrots, chopped
1 large head broccoli florets
3/4 lb green beans, chopped into 1/2 inch lengths
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
12  oz package fried tofu
2 servings frozen egg noodles, cooked in boiling water until thawed, and drained

Mix together the curry paste through coconut milk in a small bowl.  Set aside.
Heat a wok over medium high heat.  Add the onion and carrots, and saute for 2 minutes, and then add the green beans.  Saute for another two minutes and add the bell pepper and broccoli.  Saute until almost tender, about 4 minutes.  Add the remaining ingredients and sauce, and cook until heated through and well mixed, about 2 more minutes.  Serve.

Lots of Lasagne!

I feel kind of bas about the simple name for this dish becasue it's not at all simple make.  It actually is quite time consuming, but well worth the effort because lasagne is such a treat.  This really just your typical lasagne for vegetarians, and has quite a good flavour.  Similar to soups, it gets even better the next day.  I ended up making ramkins out of the leftovers, because my casserole dish wasn't big enough to fit everything in....

Adapted from I Eat Food
Serves 9-12
12 lasagne noodles, cooked
1 ½ bunches spinach, washed and stemmed
½ lb vegetarian roasted duck, thinly sliced
¾ cup chopped sun dried tomatoes
Mozzarella, to serve

Tofu Ricotta

1 lb tofu, crumbled
1 Tbsp miso
1 tsp salt
2 tsp Italian seasonings
2 tbsp parmesan cheese

Marinara Sauce

1 onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
4 cloves garlic
2 tbsp chopped parsley
2 28 oz cans diced tomatoes
1 tbsp oregano
1/2 tsp chili sauce
freshly ground salt and pepper, to taste

For the sauce, heat a Dutch oven over medium high heat and sauté the onion and carrots in a bit of water for a couple minutes, and then add the garlic. Sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, and simmer until ready to use.
For the tofu ricotta, mix together all the ingredients well. Set aside.
Wilt the spinach in the microwave: put in a bowl and microwave on high for 2 minutes. Do in batches if necessary.
Preheat the oven to 375. Grease a deep baking dish. Then add the layers in this order: sauce, noodles, sauce, noodles, sauce, duck and sun-dried tomatoes, noodles, sauce, spinach, noodles, ricotta , sauce, noodles, sauce, Cover with foil
Bake for 40 minutes.
Serve topped with cheese
Add shredded vegan mozzarella and/or parmesan
Return to the oven, uncovered, and bake for an additional 20 minutes. Remove and let sit for 10 minutes before serving


More Soups - Cabbage, Potatoes, Etc...

This soup is rather interesting, but still really good.  I think the addition of the lime really livens things up, and this is certainly not your average winter soup.  Of course, it's chock full of veggies and other healthy things.  That's what I love about cooking healthy.  Nothing unhealthy.  No duh.  But still.  The burger crumbles were rather different too, and added a differnet flavour than what M and I are used to.  This is certainly something out of the ordinary as to what a person expets when they taste a winter soup, but it fits the bill of being warm and filling.

“Beef” and Bean Cabbage Stew

Adapted from Kalyn’s Kitchen
Serves 10
3 cups cooked white beans
1 tbsp. Spike seasoning
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, pressed
½ head cabbage, shredded
3 yukon gold potatoes, chopped
2 tsp. dried oregano
1 T ground cumin
4 cups water plus vegetarian chicken bullion
¼ cup tomato paste
14.5 oz can petite diced tomatoes
2 tbsp corn starch mixed with 2 tbsp water
1 lb. fake burger crumbles
1/2 cup sliced green onions
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Juice of 2 small limes

Heat a Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the onion and garlic with a bit of water, and sauté for 4 minutes. Add the cabbage, and saue until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients through cornstarch, bring to a boil, and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the corn starch, and cook for another couple minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, and then serve with salt and pepper and parmesan cheese to top.

Asparagus and Tofu Soba Stir Fry

I went to the grocery store yesterday, and oh my gosh.  They had the most beautiful veggies that I have ever seen in my life.  I had such a hard time holding myself to just getting what M and I could manage to eat, or else those beautiful veggies would have gone bad.  But, oh- the bell peppers were so big and red, and the asparagus was so tall and thin.  I was falling over with excitement, and M was just rolling her eyes at me the whole time.  Who cares, though, because they were so pretty.  I really wish that veggies would always be that pretty, but a person really has to take advantage of moments like this when they can, lest the pretty veggies disappear without a chance for them to appear on their plate. 
Which is what happened to a bunch of asparagus in this dish, which tastes stellar for the minimal 20 minutes of time it requires to make.  I loved the sauce, which way almost too spicy, but just right in this case.  The veggies were so fresh and excellent quality, that they really shone in the stir fry.  Not to mention that the long matchstick shapes were absolutely beautiful on a plate.  The sesame seeds nicely round things off.  Not to mention the ever popular tofu made an appearance in this dish once again.

Tofu, Asparagus and Carrot Soba Stir Fry

Serves 4

Adapted from 330 Vegetarian Recipes

1 lb asparagus, trimmed
Equal amount of carrot matchsticks
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1/4 cup each soy sauce, dry sherry, and mirin
1 tbsp corn starch
1 tbsp agave nectar or honey
Chili sauce, to taste
12 oz pakcage fried tofu, cut in half if large
2 servings soba noodles, cooked
Black and white sesame seeds, to serve

Heat a wok over medium high heat coated with nonstich spray.  Add the asparagus, carrots and green onions, and stir fry until almost tender, about 6 minutes.  Meanwhile, mix together the soy sauce through chili sauce in a small bowl.  Add to the wok, with the tofu.  Cook for another minute and add the noodles.  Saute until heated through, and serve with sesame seeds.

A Lovely Lentil Soup

I went outside early this morning, and it was so pretty.  I suppose that dew had come overnight, and so everything has a sparkly surface over it.  The grass and sidewalks were shinning like diamonds.  I was so... thrilling with how pretty everything was, because I don't think that I have ever seen anything as pretty as that before.  I think that that sort of dew is just as pretty as snow, especially because it's not as messy.  But, oh!  I don't think I will forget that for a long time, because everything just had a coating of diamonds. 
Which obviously means that it's REALLY cold over here.  I pointed out to M that we are pretty good for marching around outside when it's 20 degrees out with shorts on.  Go us.  But, anyway, this lentil soup was another perfect thing to fit the bill for cold days.  It's another one of those harty dishes that will warm a person right up, and does wonders to make you feel better.  I am usually pretty hesitant to use lentils in cooking, but here I decided to give it a go.  The original recipe called for brown lentils or Mexican lentils, but all my grocery store had was red and green, so I went with the green.  I think that this is one of the best lentil soups that I have ever made- foolproof goodness.

Fancy Lentil Soup
Adapted from I Eat Food and I Eat Food
Serves 8

1 large onion, chopped
3 carrots, coined
1 red bell pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic, pressed
6 cups water plus vegetarian chicken bullion
1 1/2 cups lentils, brown, soaked overnight
3 yukon gold potatoes
1/4 cup tomato paste
14.5 oz can tomato sauce
1 tbsp smoked paprika
2 tbsp molasses
1 bay leaf
4 cups vegetarian ham
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp chili sauce
freshly ground sea salt and black pepper, to taste

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the onion and carrot, and sauté for 3 minutes. Add the bell pepper and garlic, and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the water through bay leaf, bring to a boil, and simmer for 35 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, and simmer for 10 more minutes, until the lentils a cooked and heated through. Serve, topped with parmesan cheese if desired.


Shepard's Pie Take 2

I love these types of dishes- the pies or quiches.  So does M.  The thing is, they are kind of a bit of trouble to make the crust and the dish all in one night, but I had lots of time that night, so I was able to pull this dish off.  Actually, it was fairly simple as far as pies go, and really good, too.  What made me really happy was that I actually found a use for the bag of TVP sitting in my pantry that has been in  there forever and a day, which has got to be one of my pet peeves.  And so this pie was born.  The really funny thing, though, while I was making the crust I was thinking about how I had developed such a foolproof recipe for a pie crust.  Then, when I went to serve the finished dish, I had such a hard time getting the crust to detach itself from the pan.  The I realised that I had forgotten to spray the pie plate with Pam.  Stupid me.  But this still turned out really good, and I still love that pie crust more than any I have ever tasted.  I ended up filling six more ramkins along with the pie plate, and I'm rather grateful for that, because they are something good I can take to lunch.  A really filling and warming dish, to say the least.

Shepherd’s Pie with Mashed Potato Topping

Serves 8 plus extra ramkins

Adapted from I Eat Food

1 large or 2 small onions, chopped
3 large carrots, chopped
2 tsp dried thyme
1 cup water
1 tbsp Better Than Bullion Vegetarian Beef Flavouring
14 oz tomato sauce
2 tbsp bbq sauce
2 ½ cups cooked pinto beans
1 ¼ cup frozen peas
3 tbsp corn starch mixed with 1 cup water
1 cup TVP
1 oatmeal sesame pie crust
3-4 cups mashed potatoes (Yukon gold + Silk + garlic powder)
parmesan cheese, to serve
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Heat a Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add a bit of water, and then toss in the onions and carrots. Sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the thyme, water, bullion, tomato, bbq sauce, beans, peas, and corn starch, and cook for a couple minutes. Add in the TVP, and simmer for 5-7 more minutes, until the TVP has pretty much soaked up the better part of the liquid.
Preheat the oven to 375.
Remove the veggies from heat, and pour in the pie crust. Any extra filling can go in ramekins. Top with potatoes. Bake for 30 minutes, until the potatoes are browned and the filling is bubbly. The ramekins might need less time.
Serve topped with pepper and parmesan.

A Monster Batch of Soup

 I really cannot believe how fast paced my life has become in these past few days.  It seems like I barely have any time for blogging any more, and I am getting rather concerned that I will just be forced to stop.  But for now, I really am trying my best to stay caught up with blogging and life in general.  Which is rather impossible, but there you have it. 
As for this soup, well... it made so much that I had to use two kettles, and then still all of the ingredients would not fit.  But the funny thing is that the soup was gone in about 5 days, because I have been eating two bowls a day almost.  That's how good it is.  I mean, this soup is really, really thick, and so filling.  And it has setian, which I seem to be getting more and more addicted to.  And this soup is rather easy to make too, for the large amount of leftovers it produces.  I just needed a bigger kettle...

Setian, Bean, and Cabbage Stew

Adapted from Fat Free Vegan
Serves an army, 12-ish

1 large onion, chopped
2 portobellos, chopped
2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 head cabbage, chopped
4 carrots, slice
4 medium Yukon gold potatoes, chopped
1/3 cup pearl barley
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon thyme
2 tsp caraway seeds
1 tbsp dried rosemary
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
6 cups water plus vegetarian chicken bouillon to match
3 cups cooked white beans
14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
2 tbsp corn starch mixed with 2 tbsp cold water
4 cups vegetarian ham, chopped
salt to taste

Heat a Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the onion with a bit of water, and sauté for a minute. Add the carrots and garlic, sauté for another 2 minutes, and then add the cabbage and portobellos. Sauté for 5 minutes, until tender. Add the potatoes, barley, seasonings, broth and bullion, and tomatoes. Bring to a boil and simmer for ½ hour, until the potatoes are tender. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for 10 more minutes. Serve.


Wild Rice Stuffing

I feel like for the past few weeks, ever since school started again after Christmas break, all I have been focusing on is GPA.  It's king where I live, and life seems so cutthroat lately.  Obviously I still cook, but it seems like that's all I have time for- cooking, excersise, and schoolwork.  Which kind of stinks, but I guess things could be worse.  So lately I have been very grateful of anything that is easy to cook, and will get dinner on the table faster, and will get me an extra ten minutes of sleep or so.  Because it's getting to where I fall asleep standing up.  I feel so pathetic.  Some people I know can run on 6 hours of sleep a night, but I need more than that... Ugh.  My excuse it that I work out, but still.  Life is ruthless.
But anyway, as I was saying, this casserole is certainly easier than pie to make.  It involves a bit of chopping, but can be ready to go in the oven in about 20 minutes, depending on chopping experience.  What I really love about it, though, it the cranberries.  I love their sweetness and the zip that they add to any dish.  I really wish that I could find more recipes that used cranberries, but they don't really seem all that common.  Another bonus that I got out making this casserole was to use up the little bag of wild rice that has been in my pantry for ages now, taking up space.

Wild Rice Casserole
Serves 8

Adapted from Nourishing Meals

1 cup wild rice cooked in broth
2 tbsp mirin
2 tbsp dry sherry
1 large red onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons dried sage
Freshly ground salt and pepper, to taste
1 lb sliced mushrooms
3 large carrots, chopped
1/2 cup almond slivers
¾ cup dried cranberries
Scant 1 lb green beans, chopped into 1 inch lengths
1 bunch parsley, chopped

Heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add a bit of water, and sauté the onion and carrots for 2 minutes. Add the green beans, sauté for another minute, and then add the mushrooms. Sauté until tender, about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350.
Mix in the remaining ingredients with the sautéed veggies, remove from heat, and put in a casserole dish. Bake for 30 minutes, until heated through.

Another Attack on the US Government. Crazyness.

I am very, very stunned by what happened last Saturday in Tucson, Arizona.  I don't feel very politically passionate, but I think that everyone in the US is very stunned by what Loughner did.  What I find incredible is that someone would have the guts to do something as outrageous as what he did.  What is really sad is that so many people died, and it seems like that these types of attacks have been more and more frequent in the past few years.  Sometimes I get the feeling  that Americans are just reallu agitated from some reason.  But, I am nonetheless very sorry to hear about the shootings.  I think it's so cool to know, though- not to mention really inspiring- that some people tried to come to the rescue.  I read an article about how two men wrestled the attacker to theh ground, and then a womab grabbed his ammunitiuon.   Another government intern tried to help the bleeding Congresswoman Giffords.  It's so nice to hear the good side of humanity sometimes, and I just take comfort in knowign that not al people are rude and are willing to help.
A nuch more plesant topic would be cooking.  Tonight I made a risotto, which is a type of creamy Italian rice.  I can't tolerate eating very large quantities of this surff at one time, but it's really good.  This recipe for risotto has actually been my favourite of all that I have very tried, which is saying something.  Although it's not really all that easy to make, the end results are worth it ten times over.  The lemon taste is so different from normal disheds, I found that to be a nice change of pace.

Leek, Mushroom, and Lemon Risotto

Serves 6

Adapted from 330 Vegetarian Recipes for Health

2 medium leeks, washed well, cut in half, and chopped
Scant 1 lb white button mushrooms, sliced
2 tbsp dry cooking sherry, plus a little extra
3-4 cloves garlic, pressed
1 large onion, roughly chopped
1 ½ cups Arborio rice/risotto rice
3 ½ - 4 cups water
1 ½ tbsp vegetarian chicken bullion
Rind and juice of 1 lemon
2/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
¼ cup chopped parsley, plus extra sprigs for garnish
Salt and pepper, to taste

Heat the sherry in a large pot, and then add the garlic. Stir for a couple seconds, and then add the leeks and mushrooms. Cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes, until tender. Remove from heat and set aside, saving the liquid.
Meanwhile, in a separate small kettle, add 3 ½ cups water with the bullion and bring to a light simmer.
Reheat the pot with a bit more sherry, and sauté the onions until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the rice for a couple seconds, and then add a ladleful of the water and bullion. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring, until most of the liquid is absorbed.
Continue adding liquid a ladleful at a time, until the rice is done, about 20-25 minutes. Add the reserved leeks and mushrooms with their juice, and cook until most of that liquid is absorbed. If the rice is not tender, add the extra ½ cup water. Just before serving, add the lemon juice and rind, the cheese, and parsley. Mix well, and serve with the salt and pepper and garnish with parsley.


Coconut Tofu Stir Fry and Snow

It actually snowed.  It actually snowed!  That never happens.  M and I were, as usual, pretty skeptical when the weather man said  that there was going to be snow because he is usually wrong, but it actually did snow for once.  And we got several inches too, from the looks of it.  All the little kids went out to play in it, but I just stayed inside for the better part of the day, and M and I  ran our usual errands.  What was really funny was that I needed apples, and there hadn't been any good ones in the stores that I had went in over the weekend, so M and I went on a search for my essential breakfast food.  We ended up at Whole Foods, and I saw a pile of nice-looking apples laying in a display outside the front door.  I was sure that there would be another display of them inside the store, but oooh nooo.  So I ended up digging through the apples in the freezing cold, with M shivering beside me.  But it was all worth it, because they did taste really good.
This stir fry is another cold weather dish, and I was excited that it had coconut milk in it, which seems to be M and mine's favorite ingredient of late.  This recipe is quite good.  The only thing I would do differently next time would be to add a bit of corn starch to the sauce because it was not very clingy to the veggies.  Other than that, I loved it, and M agreed.  The only thing was that we were kind of short on tofu, so we ended up adding that to our individual servings.  I think a stir fry deprived of proteins is really depressing.  For the leftovers, we used part of a giant log of "ham" chopped up, which I also really liked.  Like most stir frys, this one is pretty easy to make, after the washing is done.  When I was mixing up the sauce, it looked soo good, too.  I'm just waiting to try it with corn starch, because that would be even better.

Tofu Stir Fry with Peanuts and Coconut Sauce

Serves 4-5
12 oz fingerling potatoes, cut in half
1 lb button mushrooms, quartered
3-4 cups green cabbage, shredded
2 lbs fried tofu
1 medium onion, sliced
3 cups broccoli florets
3 large carrots, cut on the diagonal
2 cloves garlic
1 red bell pepper, chopped
¼ cup soy sauce
2/3 cup light coconut milk
1 tbsp honey or agave nectar
1 tbsp chili garlic paste
3 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 tbsp corn starch
Peanuts, to serve

Bring a large pot of water to boil, and cook the potatoes until tender but firm, about 8-9 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, mix together the soy sauce through coconut milk in a bowl. Set aside.
Heat a wok over high heat with a bit of water. Add the onion and carrots and sauté for 2 minutes, and then add the cabbage and bell pepper. Sauté for two to three more minutes, and then add the mushrooms and broccoli. When they are a few minutes away from being tender, about 4 minutes, add the bok choy, tofu, and sauce. Cook for 2 more minutes and then add the potatoes. Cook until heated through, and serve over rice topped with a generous amount of peanuts.


Moo Shu Tofu Wraps

Now that school has started again, I am completely overwhelmed with the amount of homework.  It's really not cool how much work can be piled on a person.  One of the things that I have to do is participate in National History Day, which is a competition where we have to research a topic and present it somehow.  I decided to research the spice trade, and ended up reading Nathanial's Nutmeg, which is really a spectacular book about how the British and Dutch East India Companies fought over control for the Spice Islands.  The book was really well written too, especially for a nonfiction.  It's not dry at all.  In fact, when I finally reached the end of it, I nearly cried because of what happened.  But on the whole it was a very facinating story about what the two companies did to keep their hold on the spice trade.  I will never use nutmeg or cinnamon with the same attitude again, because so many thousands of lives were fought over just those little Spice Islands.  That's so facinating, what went into getting control of some of the smallest islands in the world, and just how much spices used to cost back in the 17th century.

 I did not use any of those sorts of spices in this dish, but I still think of Nathanial every time I reach for the cinnamon.  These wraps are more Asian, and are really quite good, if quite messy to eat.  And, as usual, the pictures for wraps are not all that pretty.  I have yet to figure out how to take decent pictures of a wrap.  But despite all of that, these taste amazing, especially for the 15 minutes of total labour that went into making these.  I probably spent the most time trying to find the wraps at the Asain Market.  Every time I go for something new there, I end up spending quite some time deciphering what the packages contain, and even then I usually end up subsutituting something else.  I suppose one could just use normal wraps, too, but that wouldn't be as fun...  As for the tofu, I have always wanted to try marinade tofu before broiling it, but I have never had the chance.  Well, now I have done that, and turned out really good. The only thing I would do differently next time would be to broil it for longer, to get more of a hard outside.  But other than that, these were perfect.

Moo Shu Tofu Wraps

Adapted from Chinese and Thai 400

Serves 4

19 oz tofu, cut into 1 ½ strips and pressed for 30 minutes
4 carrots, cut into strips
1 bunch green onions, cut into pieces the same length as the carrots, halved if large
8 Moo Shu wraps, warmed

2 green onions, chopped
1/4 cup soy sauce
½ tbsp fresh grated ginger
¼ cup hoisin sauce
¼ cup dry sherry
2 tbsp honey or agave nectar
2 tsp Chinese five spice powder
3 large cloves garlic, pressed

Mix together the chopped bell pepper through the garlic in a medium bowl, and add the tofu strips. Marinade for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, preheat the broiler, and spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray. Remove the tofu and place on the baking sheet, reserving the marinade. Broil the tofu for 15 minutes or so, until nice and firm.
Heat a wok with a bit of water over medium high heat. Add the carrots and green onions, and stir fry until tender, about 8 minutes. Add the leftover marinade, reduce the heat, and cook for another minute.
Serve, dividing the tofu and veggies among the wraps, taking care to not get any extra sauce on the wraps because they will break more easily.


A Tale of Two... Soups

Last semester, we read A Tale of Two Cities in english.  I know that that was several weeks ago, but for some reason that topic just appeals to me right now, and so here's my opinion on Mr. Dickens.  He's way too wordy.  I mean, seriously, just get to the point.  Most of the other people that I have talked to also agree with me.  Sometimes I wonder how Dickens manages to write that much about so little.  The really funny thing is that when I read A Christman Carol, the reading did not at all seem bogged down by wordy discriptions.  But when reading A Tale of Two Cities, that seemed to happen all the time.  I remember I spent a good 20 minutes trying to figure out what had happened on a single page.  And this guy was one of the best authors of all times?  Um, ok.  I guess I'm just not sophisticated enough to really appreciate the finer points of life.  Because a chef is just such a lowly position in life, and not artsy at all.  Sure.  Whatever. 
I'm jsut really glad ATOTC is over.  And really hope that I will not have to read Dickens much more, because I think I would like to find his grave and punch him in the face for torturing us students with way too many complicated plots and words, with long and winding discriptions.  Meant sarcastically, of course.
One of the soups, which I created after an aweful day, was spectacular.  And the other soup, which I made tonight after a spectacular day, was spectacular.  The first soup was a light concoction, and I got to use my new asian bowl and spoon, which you can see in the pictures.  That was really exciting... And the soup itself was so good and full of flavour.  And it has very few calories for being so full of flavour, which is always a nice bonus.  The egg was, I thought, very creative and original, and something that I would normally never even dream of.  But there you have it. 
The other, more hearty winter stew was rather good too.  When eating it tonight, my eyes were watering for quite some time, because the soup was so hot (not spicy).  And then, when I was making it, the soup nearly did not fit into our kettle, it was that big.  But, oh my gosh, it was really good and filling and full of flavour.

“Mutton” and Coconut Stew

Serves 8-10

Adapted from Kalyn’s Kitchen

1 onion, roughly chopped
2 cups cauliflower, cut into small flowerets
4 cloves garlic, pressed
1 tbsp grated ginger
1 14 oz can petite diced tomatoes 1 14 oz can crushed tomatoes
2 tbsp honey
2-3 tbsp chopped cilantro
1 tbsp masaman curry paste, or to taste
3 medium red potatoes, chopped
1 cup light coconut milk
2 tbsp corn starch mixed with a couple tbsps water
4 cups “mutton”, cut into bite sized pieces
1 ½ cups frozen sweet peas
A few drops coconut extract
More cilantro, to garnish
Salt and pepper, to taste

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium high heat with a bit of water. Add the onion and cauliflower, and sauté for 3 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and continue sautéing for 5 more minutes or so, until the onion is tender. Add the tomatoes through potatoes, and simmer for 30 minutes, until potatoes are almost tender. Add the remaining ingredients, and then serve with additional cilantro and salt and pepper.

Omelet Soup
Serves 6-8
Adapted from Chinese and Thai 400
1 egg for every 2 bowls being served at the time
1/2 tsp peanut oil
7 cups water plus equivalent bullion
4 carrots, chopped
2 baby bok choy, shredded
¼ cup soy sauce
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp corn starch mixed with ½ cup water
½ bunch spinach
Salt and pepper, to taste
Chopped cilantro and green onions, to serve

Beat the eggs lightly with a fork in a small bowl. Heat a small frying pan with the oil, and pour in the egg. Swirl to coat the bottom of the pan, and then let cook on medium heat for 3-4 minutes, until the egg is golden. Remove to a cutting board, roll the omelet, and then chop into ribbons. Set aside.
Meanwhile, add the water through bok choy to a pot, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, and then add the soy sauce, through spinach. Cook until the spinach has wilted, about 5 minutes.
Serve garnished with the egg ribbons and cilantro and cilantro.

More Noodles and Veggies

I tried yoga for the first time yesterday for several years, and it was amazing.  I loved it.  I was so relaxed, but it felt like I had actually gotten a decent core workout, and I was actually really tired afterward (admittedly, I had done a weight-lifting class an hour before).  I really want to start doing yoga every week.  I think that will be my new year's resolution.  M wants to do the same thing, only twice a week instead of once a week.  M's old.  She needs her yoga and stretching time.  But really, I enjoyed the yoga more than I thought possible.  My favourite part had to be at the very end, when the teacher sprayed the room with peppermint purfume, and we just sat on our mats for a good ten minutes.  I was so unwilling to leave the room, and just wanted to stay like that forever.  But the depressing part was when I got home, I could feel the tension coming right back on, and it was back to normal life in a matter of seconds.  But, as I said, the yoga was so relaxing, and I am hoping that it will get rid of some of my issues caused by stress from school and life.
Another destresser has got to be cooking.  Even more so when the dish turns out really good, like it did tonight.  This dish was actually supposed to be a noodle pancake sort of thing, and the noodles were to be fried and become a disc.  Well, that didn't exactly work out, so I decided to just go with a plain old stir fry.  It was still really really good, and both M and I loved it all the same. 

Noodles with Vegetables
Serves 4

Adapted from Chinese and Thai 400

3 servings frozen egg noodles
2 cloves garlic, pressed
2 cups broccoli florets
2 cup cauliflower florets
2-3 cups green cabbage, shredded
3 cups crimini mushrooms, quartered
1 bunch green onions, chopped
½ lb snow peas or snap peas, trimmed
¾ cup bean sprouts
1 tbsp cornstarch
¼ cup soy sauce, plus more as needed
3 tbsp agave nectar
¼ cup mirin
1 tbsp vegetarian chicken bullion
¾ cup vegetarian bacon
Boil a pot of lightly salted water, and cook the noodles until tender. Drain, and keep warm.
Meanwhile, mix together the cornstarch through bullion. Set aside.
Reheat the wok, and add the garlic, cauliflower and broccoli with a bit of water. Sauté for a minute and add the carrots, pepper, mushrooms, green onion, and snow peas. Sauté until almost tender, and then add the sauce. Cook until heated through and stir in the bean sprouts and “bacon”. Stir in the noodles, and add more soy sauce as needed.


Coconut Milk - Not All THAT Bad

I have always been shy of using coconut milk because it is so high in fat.  But then I saw it in one of my new healthy cookbooks, and realized that in small quantites, especially the light varieties, it's not all that bad, really.  So I decided to tackle this pretty simple dish with coconut milk.  The only glitch I ran into was adding the milk.  When I poured  the milk straight from the can, the milk was separated.  I ended up getting all the cream in the stir fry, and then all that was left over was a thin, slightly opaque water.  So I spent some time scooping what I could out of the wok, and it seemed to still be ok.  Actually, this dish was way more than ok.  It was one of the best things that I have ever tasted.  I was in love with this dish from my very first bite.  I really have to start to use coconut more, because it is amazingly good.  The funny  thing was that I thought the leftovers were even better.  Probably because the flavours had had time to mix.  Whatever.  It was still amazing, and I could totally live of of this stir fry.

Noodles and Veggies in Coconut Sauce
Serves 6
Adapted from Chinese and Thai 400
1 tbsp, or to taste, masaman curry paste
1 onion, thickly sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
3 cups broccoli
2 large carrots, coined
½ 14 oz can reduced fat coconut milk
A couple drops coconut extract
½ cup Silk
½ cup water
1 tbsp vegetarian chicken bullion
2 servings frozen egg noodles
1 tbsp mushroom flavoured soy sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce
3 vegetarian hot dogs, chopped
1 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
1 small red chili, for garnish (opt)

Heat a wok over medium heat. Add the curry paste and onion and cook for 5-10 minutes, until the onion has slightly softened. Add the bell pepper through carrots. Reduce heat and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Bring the heat to medium, and add the broccoli florets, coconut milk, coconut extract, silk, broth, and noodles. Lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients, stir and heat through, and serve.


Split Pea Soup

I am so sore from excersizing this morning.  I did kick-boxing, which I really love a lot, but wow.  It was a total killer.  My instructor suggested that I try doing yoga, which I think both M and I will make our New Year's Resolution.  I have tried yoga once before, but that did not really work out all that great because I got so bored.  But now I think I will give it another shot, especially because my instructor is so crazy about it.  A lot of my other friends at the gym really like yoga too, and it supposedly does miricals for a person.  I guess I'll be able to tell in a month or so, if it acually does work or not.  But I really don't think yoga is easy at all - not the way that I am planning to do it.  Actually, I know it will be a huge challange and lots of fun.  And it might just improve my balance too.  You never know what could come of doing something new.
And now on to this soup that I made last night.  I haven't had split pea soup in absolutely ages, and then this I spotted this recipe, and decided to give it a whirl, with a few additions.  And then I went on a quest for harissa, but couldn't find any in any of the stores that I went in.  So I kind of ended up making a substitute, and it turned out really really really good.  Split pea soup is such a hardy and filling soup, and this is quite an easy version to throw together.  At first when I had it simmering in the pot, I was rather concerned that the soup would not thicken up and look like real split pea soup.  But then at the end of 45 minutes, it looked amazing and delicious.  Another thing I was rather unsure about was the mushrooms, but they added a nice touch to the soup.  So I am grateful that I went ahead and added them.  The fake bacon added the final nice touch.
Vegetable Split Pea Soup
Serves 6

Adapted from Happy. Healthy. Life. Vegan

2 cups dried green split peas, soaked for at least 6 hours if not more
1 1/2 cups carrots, coined and large coins cut in half
2 cups crimini mushrooms, chopped
4 cups water + equivalent amount of “beef” bullion
2 Tbsp harissa (or a combination of paprika, cayenne pepper, cumin, coriander, and caraway)
3 large cloves garlic, pressed
2 Tbsp agave syrup or honey
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 medium Yukon gold potatoes, diced
2 bay leaves
1 tsp liquid smoke
Just under ½ lb vegetarian bacon, sliced

Heat a Dutch oven over medium high heat with a bit of water. Sauté the carrots for a minute or so, and then add the mushrooms and garlic. Add the remaining ingredients except for the bacon and bring to a boil. Simmer, covered, for 40 minutes, until the peas have broken up. About 10 minutes before you are going to serve, add the bacon, and heat through.