Tortilla Soup. Who said it’s hard to be vegan?

Sopa de Lima is a wonderful tortilla soup. I have made it twice in the past week. It is easy, fast cooking, and a complete meal in a bowl. A small serving of this would also be a pretty nice prelude to a Mexican dinner.

Sopa de Lima
Lime and Tortilla Soup

This recipe makes two very large bowls. And, trust me, you are going to want a large bowl. So double it for four servings.

In 2 T of oil, cook 1 medium onion and 1/4 cup chopped, peeled and seeded Poblano pepper.
See my post on Chiles Rellenos for how to peel the Poblano.
Or, you could cheat and use 1/4 cup canned green chilies.
Sauté until the onion is soft, but not brown.
Add 1 chopped large plum tomato and sauté another 5 minutes.
Add 4 cups vegetable broth, salt to taste and cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
If you are using tortilla chips with salt, or bouillon with salt, you probably don’t need any extra.
Then add 1 T lime juice.
Into each soup bowl put about 1/4 cup broken up tortilla chips. Very traditionally, you fry your own tortillas. I tried this, and they were really bad. Tortilla chips work just fine.
On top of the chips, add about 1/4 cup cooked, and warmed up, black beans.
Traditionally, this soup has chicken. The beans are the protein here.
Add the soup and top with some chopped avocado. This soup is delicioso.

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Vegetable Plate with Peas and Cornbread

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Vegetable Dinner with Peas and Cornbread
Serves 4

This meal was inspired by a lovely plate I had at Rolf and Daughters recently. I have changed it a bit and added the cornbread. Personally, I think cornbread adds a bit of magic to any meal. You can vary it as well. Fred thinks it’s one of the best meals I’ve ever cooked. In fact, he was thrilled when I cooked it two nights in a row because I didn’t get a good photo the first time.

Cook a pot of peas. You want to have left-overs, so cook plenty. Fred found some fresh ones at the market, but you can use frozen ones in a pinch. Crowder peas, Lady Peas, Black-eyed peas; any of these would work. Start by sautéing one large sweet yellow onion in 3 T olive oil. When the onions have cooked for about 5 minutes add 4 cloves of chopped garlic and continue to cook in the oil over medium heat. Then put in the peas and add enough vegetable broth to cover about 2 inches above the peas. Cook over low heat for about 1 1/2 hours. You want the peas to be tender and the liquid to have thickened, or as us Southern cooks say, “cooked down.”

Next come the roasted vegetables. The trick is to keep a close eye on them. They can over cook pretty fast.

Roast at 450 degrees, 5 large plum tomatoes that you have cut in half and brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with salt, until they are starting to brown a bit. This will take about 20 minutes. In a sauce pan take 1 cup of liquid from the peas and thicken with 3 T tomato paste. Coarsely chop the roasted tomatoes and add.

On a cooking sheet put about 28 pods of okra, which you have washed (and dried with paper towels) and cut just the hard tops off of. Split the pods longways and shake in a bowl with olive oil. I count on about 7 pods per person. Roast about 15 minutes. They will get a bit brown, and that’s not a problem.

On another cooking sheet put 6 (1 1/2 eggplant per person) of those long skinny (sometimes called Japanese) eggplants, which you have cut longways in half, brushed with oil and salted. These will need to roast for about 20 minutes. You could also use regular eggplants here, cut into thick slices. These need to roast about 20 minutes. You want them done.
I use two separate cooking sheets because the eggplants need to roast a bit longer than the okra. They both fit into my oven, which is handy.

Remember that pancake recipe I posted last week? You are using those for the cornbread. You can warm up leftover pancakes, or start from scratch.
To assemble the plates, start with the pancake, add some of the tomatoes, then the peas, the roasted eggplant and okra, and top with a bit of the tomatoes.

Chow down!

Fred’s Continental Potato Salad

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Fred’s Continental Potato Salad

The Sunday before Labor Day we had a few close friends over. I decided to relax a bit and allow salmon to be grilled, much to Fred’s delight. (I picked up a mock crab cake for myself at Whole Foods to stay in the seafood spirit). So, Andrew, Kyle and Fred were the grillmeisters, adding some skewered vegetables, and Andrew came through with some grilled peaches for dessert. Candace and Keith brought some lovely wine, and Keith walked in with a centerpiece of flowers from his garden. Thanks to a rainy day, the temperature on our porch was perfect as the afternoon drifted into evening.
Fred and I spent a couple of hours making some side dishes before people arrived. We had the coleslaw that I usually make for tacos, the stewed tomatoes that I told you about a few days ago (which I knew Andrew would love), and potato salad. Fred had volunteered to help with the cooking, and the potato salad was his assignment. He researched a recipe from Julia Child, but put some of his own spin on it. It was fabulous. The perfect potato salad, and I’m glad we have some left over for lunch.
So, without further ado, here is

Fred’s Continental Potato Salad
About 2 lbs of red potatoes. Trim the eyes out, but don’t peel. Cut into chunks, and boil until tender, but don’t overcook.
Drain the potatoes and allow them to cool.
In a small bowl mix with a wire whisk
2 T apple cider (or white wine) vinegar
1 1/2 T good French grainy mustard
2 tsp salt (you might want to add a little more salt to your own taste)
Ground black pepper to taste
1 T sugar
Now slowly whisk in
6 T olive oil
Chop very finely and mix with the potatoes
6 small green onions (remove most of the green stalks)
3 small celery stalks
Add the dressing.
This will serve 6 to 8 people.
Bon appetit!

Tacos, Family Style. Part 1, the Fillings.

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TACOS FAMILY STYLE. Part 1, the Fillings.

Here is a wonderful vegan/wheat-free meal; a perfect dinner party for six. I am cooking this for a Saturday night supper for Fred and me to share with four friends on our back porch. A perfect meal for a summer evening. I will try to get most of the cooking done early in the day. I always like to shop the day before I cook, so that my energy can stay focused. And, here’s a thought about housecleaning before having people over: don’t do it. Just tidy up and don’t worry. Nobody really cares. Save your energy for the fun stuff. There will be plenty to clean the day after the party.
Over the past few years our home has earned the name Casa Ellis, because usually when we have people over the meal takes a trip south of the border, with tequila being the featured house spirit. This menu will fill your house with wonderful aromas by the time your guests arrive. I plan to serve this meal at the table family style and let everyone build their own tacos. I have become fascinated with making my own tortillas, and after a little practice I am getting the kinks out. I will include the recipe and instructions in my very next blog post, with more photos to be extra helpful. If making your own tortillas seems a bit too much, you’ll be perfectly fine with “store bought” corn tortillas. Shop around for good ones. So, here we go–Tacos Family Style Part 1, the Fillings.
There are several things to prepare for this meal. I would estimate about 2 1/2 hours for preparation time, not counting the tortillas. They will take about 15 minutes to make the dough, 15 minutes to rest the dough, and another maybe 30 minutes to cook. I usually do them at the last minute. One or two of the guests are usually intrigued enough to keep me company in the kitchen, because let’s face it, you don’t get to hwatch someone make tortillas every day.

First….MEXICAN STREET CORN OFF THE COB.
Kernels from 6 ears of sweet corn
1 T olive oil
1 orange bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeno, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup mayonnaise (I love Vegannaise, the best vegan version)
1/2 teaspoon chili powder or Tajin, if you have it. (Tajin is a prepared mix of chili powder and lime, hopefully available at Mexican grocery stores).
salt and pepper to your own taste
Toss the corn, garlic and peppers with the olive oil. Roast in a 425ºF oven until corn starts to brown a little, about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mix mayo,cayenne and salt and pepper with the corn. Serve warm.

Second….CASHEW AND TOFU CHEESE
I got this idea from my dear friend, Edward Tomlin, and I use it so much. Great for anything that needs cheese. Creamy and delish. I also use this on my pizzas.
In food processor blend
1/2 cup raw cashews
1T lemon juice
2 T olive oil
2 cloves fresh or roasted garlic
When these ingredients are all blended and nuts are well chopped add and blend well
1 package firm tofu, drained and crumbled. My favorite is Mori Nu (12.3 oz.) if you are using tofu packed in water place it between paper towels and press out the water.
1 1/2 tea dried basil
1 tea salt.
Taste and see if you’d like more salt.
Visit Edward’s blog, http:/inthekitchenwithedward.blogspot.com He is a marvelous vegan cook.

Third….REFRIED BEANS
Well, this couldn’t be easier. I really cheat here and use canned ones. Just make absolutely sure you get the vegetarian version. Of course, I do my own spin on them, as follows:
2 15 Oz cans refried beans. I like Amy’s
1 large yellow sweet onion
4 cloves garlic. I really do prefer fresh, but you can buy it in a little jar, already chopped.
2 T olive oil
1/2 teas hickory smoked salt
1 T adobo seasoning, or chili powder
1 T smoked vinegar
You can buy the smoked salt and vinegar at blvd if you live in Nashville. You can use regular salt and cider vinegar in a pinch
Chop the onion and add to hot olive oil. Sauté about 5 minutes over medium heat, then add the garlic and continue to cook for another 5 minutes.
Add the adobo and salt and cook until it starts to stick to the pan
De-glaze pan with the vinegar and cook low heat for a few minutes.
Add the beans and stir

Fourth…..GUACAMOLE
I hate to boast, but I think I make the best guacamole in the world, and I have tried quite a few. Personally, I don’t like my guacamole spicy. I think it should be smooth avocado wonderfulness, with just a little bit of a tweak. When I’m making it in advance, I do everything but the avocado, which I peel and add at the last minute. This is fast and simple, and is great before a meal with chips (and a Corona). Yes, beach food at it’s finest. This recipe is for 4 to 6 people.
In a bowl mix together
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
1 bunch finely chopped green onions, or 1/2 large yellow onion finely chopped
1 teas sea salt
Set aside a lime to add after you peel
2 ripe avocados, mashed. Leave them a little chunky
Mix it all together and add the juice from the lime.
You want to serve this as fresh as possible.

Fifth….COLE SLAW
There are so many ways to make cole slaw but this simple version is my favorite.
1 small head of cabbage, finely sliced.
For the dressing:
4T rice vinegar
4T sugar
1/2 tea salt (to taste)
4 T Veganaise

Mix with the sliced cabbage. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Sixth. TOMATO SALSA
Makes 1 1/2 cups

1/2 medium white onion, chopped
1 small jalapeño, stemmed, seeded (if you wish) and finely chopped
12 ounces (about 2 medium-small round or 4 to 5 plum) red-ripe tomatoes, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces. Take out the seedy part, and squeeze out the juice. You don’t want watery salsa
1/2 cup (loosely packed) chopped fresh cilantro (thick bottom stems cut off)
Scoop the onion into a strainer, rinse under cold tap water, shake off the excess and transfer to a medium bowl. Add the green chile, tomatoes, and cilantro. Stir well, taste and season with salt, usually about 1/2 teaspoon. Cover and refrigerate until you are ready to serve.

Stewed Tomatoes

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Stewed Tomatoes

I really couldn’t figure out what to call this. It was a favorite dish of mine as a child. But, since I grew up in the Deep South, it was a Paula Deen-type concoction with loads of butter, lots of white sugar, and tons of white loaf bread. And a few tomatoes. In Nashville it was standard fare at the Elliston Place Soda Shop and Sylvan Park Cafe. It was usually called “stewed tomatoes.” Fred and I started reminiscing about this tomatoey, bready, buttery, actually puddiny, concoction this morning and I felt called to come up with a vegan, wheat-free version. So tonight I did just that and it was absolutely divine. I decided to make it into a main dish, mainly because I was too lazy to cook more than one thing. So, I would say, add the soysage if you want a main dish, leave it out if you are going for a side dish. This recipe should feed four, but Fred went back for seconds, so you might want to double it, cook it in a bigger skillet, and plan on leftovers. I just kept life simple and served it with a green salad, and a Petit Chablis. This recipe will provide a total pig-out feast for two. We did have left-overs as I am a model of restraint.
(True Confession: Right after I wrote this I, too, went down to the kitchen for a second helping.) This dish is dangerously delicious. We may have the two remaining small portions for breakfast. While I served this for a simple dinner, it would be great for brunch, served with eggs. You could definitely prepare this one a bit ahead of time,

Preheat oven to 450 degrees on bake, or convection bake if you have it.
The Tomatoes
In a skillet that can go from stove-top to oven, brown in 2 T olive oil
4 slices of your favorite soysage. (Whole hog soysage–the hog stays whole). Drain on paper towel and set aside.
In same skillet add 1 more T olive oil and
1 medium Vidalia onion, chopped. When this has cooked for about 5 minutes over medium heat add
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped. ( You may have noticed that almost everything I cook starts with olive oil, onion, and garlic.)
Cook together until onion starts to brown and caramelize. Then add
4 very ripe, chopped, large, tomatoes. There should be lots of juice. Add
1/4 tea salt and a little black pepper to taste.
1T turbinado sugar ( light brown sugar) While I try to seriously limit my consumption of sugar, I sometimes use a small amount of it as a seasoning. One tablespoon is all you need.
Let this cook together while you make the biscuits.
Stir in the cooked soysage, crumbled up, at the end, right before you put the biscuits on top and pop it in the oven.

The Biscuit Topping
Position rack in center of oven.
Whisk together in large bowl:
1/2 cup gluten-free flour. I like King Arthur all purpose. It comes n a blue and white box.
1/2 cup Masa. If you want regular biscuits, use all flour. We love the texture of Masa.
1 1/4 tea baking powder
1/4 tea salt
Add
4 T Earth Balance, cut into pieces. Because I am a Southern girl I musch it in with my finger. Mix it around until the mixture is like coarse breadcrumbs. Earth Balance needs to be cold when you start.
Add
1/3 cup soy milk
Mix this around until the dough is all stuck together.
Make the dough into a ball and knead about 10 times in the bowl.
Put the dough on a board lightly dusted with flour or Masa. Roll or pat out the dough until it is about 1/2 inch thick. Cut into rounds. This should make about 8 biscuits.
Before putting the biscuits on top of the tomatoes, brush them with melts Earth Balance on the tops and bottoms.
Cook in oven until biscuits are golden brown on top. About 12 to 15 minutes.

A Mid-Summer’s Night’s Dream of Pasta

I Dream of Pasta on a Mid-Summer’s Night

I must confess. Just because I’ve given up wheat doesn’t mean I’ve gotten over my lifelong love affair with pasta. It just means I’ve found some great wheat-free versions. There are several available and one of my favorites is Ancient Harvest Quinoa Pasta. It comes in a green box. I find it at Whole Foods. It is a corn-quinoa blend. The only restaurant I’ve found in Nashville that has a great gluten-free pasta is Porta Via, so I usually just scratch my pasta itch at home. Tonight I’m doing just that with

Perfect Summer Pasta. Everything here is fresh.
This makes 4 sort of medium servings. If you are feeding 4 hungry people I suggest doubling this recipe and planning on a bit of left overs.

Start by sautéing in about 1 1/2 T of olive oil heated on high heat in a large skillet
1 cup of chopped mushrooms. I don’t wash mushrooms because I don’t want them to get waterlogged. I wipe them off with a damp paper towel.
You want them to absorb the oil and cook over low heat for about 10 minutes. I cook them separately because I want them to retain their personality. When they are done, put them in a bowl and set aside.
In the same skillet, now empty, add 2 more T olive oil and sautée
1 large onion that you chopped while the mushrooms were cooking.
After about 5 minutes add 4 cloves chopped garlic.
While this continues to cook over medium heat chop
3 very large tomatoes. Add to the onions and garlic. Chop about
1 cup fresh basil. Add to the mixture.
After about 5 more minutes add
1/4 cup nice red wine. Bring to boil, then turn to low heat. Add
1 tea salt
1T brown sugar
Now add the mushrooms
Let this simmer over low heat until it thickens up a bit.
Just sit on the porch and have a glass of that red wine while you wait.

The Pasta
I cook according to the directions on the box.
Just put some pasta in a bowl, add the tomato sauce, and you could also add a scoop of that great tofu/cashew cheese that is mentioned in the pizza receipt. ( There’s a reason I keep a batch of this stuff in the fridge.). You can buy vegan “cheese” in the store, but this version is so much better.
Get ready to have a wonderful mid-summer’s night pasta dream.

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Vegan. Thinking About It? Part II. Spring Rolls

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Vegan. Thinking About It Part II

If you want to read this later, or not at all, skip on down to the recipe for these great rolls. This is a summer dinner that requires no cooking and will make your friends think you are into magic.

When I left off yesterday I was just about to tell you what caused me to get serious about taking my own diet from vegetarian to vegan. I bet you’re thinking it’s because of the horrible lives that dairy animals and egg-producing factory-farmed chickens lead? Or perhaps because I sincerely believe that your health is directly connected to what you eat. Right? Actually, no, although those factors are certainly important. Some depressing photos of myself 30 pounds ago is what got me to a place of radical change. Everything I read and heard about the vegan diet pointed out one great result: weight loss. One of the first books I tried was “Skinny Bitch”. It is so hard-core about animal suffering that I just couldn’t read parts of it, but the title definitely stuck with me. I coupled this with knowing that I needed to give up wheat. Not because of allergy but because of reading the book “Wheat Belly”. I was a bread and pasta junky. Everything in that book rang true to me. Since making these dietary changes I have lost 30 pounds, gone down 3 sizes, and am not grossed out when I see photos of myself. My hair and skin are also better. I am sure that eliminating wheat from my diet at the same time I switched to vegan has made the weight loss easier. But the good news here is that there are some perfectly good wheat-free breads. I’ll get into these as this blog goes along. Just look forward to cornbread, pancakes, biscuits, tamales, tortillas, etc., etc. This is not about depriving yourself.
Now, time for a confession, and this keeps me from being a true, 100% vegan. I haven’t given up farm eggs. I am very particular about what eggs I eat, but if the chickens are free to roam, scratching in the dirt, and not being horribly abused, I feel okay about eating eggs. I visited Wild Acres Farm, the home of Carolyn Truscott (the delightful lady who puts “Carolyn’s Eggs” on the shelves at the Turnip Truck), and I just don’t feel bad about adding a well-produced egg every now and then to my meal. But if you do, I support you. We all have to figure out what works for us.
I had never had a weight problem until I hit my fifties. But for the last 20 years my vast consumption of cheesy pasta had been no help in my battle. I tried the Zone Diet with good success but ultimately it was just too much work to count everything I ate. Once I made the commitment to wheat-free and vegan I honestly don’t have to think about it so much. Of course, I am mindful of the size of my portions, and have to be careful of those pesky carbohydrates in a glass of wine. I really limit sugar in my diet and use maple syrup as my main sweetener.
But, that’s it in a nutshell. I know that one of the keys to looking my best and feeling my best is eating healthy and keeping my weight down. And it’s a lot more fun to shop when you aren’t limited to the Lots to Love section.
I should mention that I am married to a guy who loves what I cook. He eats just like me when he’s home, and when we go out he orders whatever he wants. He knows that he is healthier because of what he eats at home and has pretty much lost interest in red meat. It would be much harder to do this if he was difficult to cook for. But one thing most people don’t realize about vegan cooking is that it can be wonderfully delicious. And that’s how I would like to be helpful to anyone who is interested in making this change; by showing you some delicious ideas for meals that are easy to prepare. You’ll be lighter, and I promise, you’ll amaze your friends.

Now here’s a recipe for a quick, light summer meal. Spring Rolls.

Easy Dipping Sauce for Spring Rolls
This sauce will show up on another post for sesame noodles.

3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup dark tamari soy sauce, or Bragg Liquid Aminos
2 T maple syrup
3 T creamy peanut butter
3 T sweet chilli sauce–Thai style. Not hot, sweet.
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
Mix with a whisk

Spring Rolls, makes four
Slice into long skinny pieces (julienne)
4 baby carrots
3 green onions, trim off most of the green stems
1/2 red bell pepper
1/2 cucumber, with seeds scooped out.
About 1/4 a piece of soft lettuce per roll, torn into small pieces.
4 ozs firm or extra firm tofu. Press water out of tofu between paper towels, and slice it into strips the same size as the vegetable strips. (If you have some of the tofu cheese left over from the vegan pizza recipe, you can also use that. 2 teaspoons per roll. )
Prepare mung bean vermicelli, also available at Thai groceries. In the package I buy there are 10 small packs in the 14oz total bag. You are going to want about 2 T per roll.
I put one small pack of the noodles in hot water to soak for 7 minutes. Stove free cooking! After soaking, rinse with cool water and drain. You don’t want warm noodles here.
When you are ready to make the rolls have all your ingredients ready. This is a real assembly line project.
Rice paper rounds are available at Thai markets. I get all my Thai ingredients at International Market on Belmont Blvd here in Nashville, where my friend Patti Myint has been serving up Thai foods and supplies since 1975.
To make a roll, immerse a rice paper round in hot (not boiling) water for 5 seconds, then quickly remove it and lay it out. After I lay it out I quickly blot with a paper towel. Moving fairly quickly (because the rice paper will start to get stickier and stickier as it sits), put your ingredients in a neat long pile on the edge closest to you of the rice paper round. I start with the lettuce, then tofu, then cucumber, then onion, then carrots, then bell pepper. Top it off with the noodles.
On top of the pile, put a generous sprinkling of black sesame seeds.
When you’re ready to roll, pull the edge closest to you over the ingredients to wrap and roll tightly. Pull in the sides towards the middle, fold over, and finish rolling, the tighter the better.
Cut the rolls in half at a slight diagonal. Serve on plate with the dipping sauce.

Vegan. Thinking About It? Part I

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Vegan. Been Thinking About It? Part I

(Disclaimer. Fred says you probably won’t like this post. You can skip to the bottom and get right down to business with the pizza.)

I am a little amazed at how much buzz there is right now about changing one’s lifestyle to a vegan diet. I don’t even need to explain what that means, right? Switching to a way of eating that is totally plant-based is no longer a concept that is unfamiliar. I also realize that changing to a vegan diet is not an easy path for everyone. There are many books to read on the subject. The one that I really love is The Veganist, by Kathy Freston. It is available on Amazon. Her basic premise is that sometimes a gradual change is easier to make. Her attitude is non-judgmental, and this book was very helpful to me as I made my own personal transition from vegetarian to vegan.

I started out 45 years ago, when I was 25 years old, by becoming a vegetarian. There was a moment in time when I made this decision. I was driving my car and got behind a truckload of pigs on their way to the slaughterhouse. I could literally emphasize so much with their fear that I felt it in every part of my being. When I opened my mind to what the death of animals for food really is I felt I could no longer participate in it. I saw that when you eat a dead animal, you are taking death and fear into your own body, as well as supporting that fear and death. I gave up all meat. That was not a challenge for me. I was never a big fan of eating meat, but I did love me some fried chicken, shrimp cocktails, and tuna salad. At this point I was a real cheesehead, and could seriously put away some pasta. Off and on, about four times, I think, I lapsed into eating fish. This was usually provoked by travel, especially to fishing villages in Mexico, where I partially justified my lust by “supporting the local economy.” I was also traveling a lot for work, going to restaurants, and by the time I was in my 50’s, battling with my weight, which made fish a form of protein preferable to cheese.

I always felt better about myself in the strict vegetarian phases, and what would usually end a fish phase was a good episode of food poisoning. The thing that got me cured of fish permanently was watching the struggle a fish put out to hang on to its life. It was impossible for me to deny the fear and suffering I witnessed from the beach as I watched people fish. I also became more and more informed about the health hazards associated with eating so many fish, and how endangered the ocean has become from overfishing. And, let’s face it–a hunk of flesh is a hunk of flesh, whether it’s lamb or tuna.

I used to think that being a vegetarian was easy but that being vegan would be incredibly difficult, if not impossible. I tried in once a few years ago, and lasted for three days. Just too many changes to make. Let’s face it; in order to make a radical change in your lifestyle you have to be highly motivated. To stick with that change requires the ability to make a quality decision and not veer from it. Tomorrow I’ll tell you what finally made me go vegan, what that change was like, and why I wouldn’t go back. If this is a change you’ve been thinking about I’d really like to help you on your journey.

Now, how about some vegan comfort food in the form of Vegan Pizza.

I have also gone gluten-free. That’s another subject all together, but for this pizza I use Udi’s Frozen Gluten-Free Pizza Crust, available at Whole Foods. You can use any crust.
I also use a jar of marinara sauce, I like Paul Newman. This pizza is an simple Sunday night supper at Casa Ellis. I keep it easy.

In 2 T of olive oil sautée
1 medium onion, chopped for 5 minutes on medium heat. Add
4 cloves chopped garlic
1 chopped red bell pepper
1 cup chopped mushrooms. Continue to sautée for 5 more minutes.
This is enough topping for 2 Udi crusts.
Coat the crust with marinara sauce and then half the vegetables.

Top with homemade
Vegan Ricotta Cheese
I got this recipe from my dear friend, Edward Tomlin, and I use it so much. Great for anything that needs cheese. Creamy and delish. I just keep a batch in the refrigerator.
In food processor blend
1/2 cup raw cashews
1T lemon juice
2 T olive oil
2 cloves fresh or roasted garlic
When these ingredients are all blended and nuts are well chopped add and blend well
1 package firm tofu, drained and crumbled. My favorite is Mori Nu (12.3 oz.)
1 1/2 tea dried basil
1 tea salt.
Taste and see if you’d like more salt.

Bake according to instructions on the Udi package. You are going to LOVE this. I just serve it with celery sticks. Like I said, keep it easy.

Easy Summer Dinner

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Easy Summer Dinner

My friend Sybil shared some of her garden with us this week. One of the contents of the basket of delights was yellow squash. I haven’t been cooking much lately but I really got inspired and was craving some home cooking. Fred has been helping me out in the kitchen and together we got this one going in about 15 minutes. The cooking took another 20 minutes, so by the time we sat on the porch and had a glass of wine, dinner was ready. I am going to give you a general recipe, but you can change it depending on what you have–the yellow squash could be zucchini, the garbanzos could be any kind of bean you have in the cupboard, and you can feel free to add some fresh corn to the mix. Or, whatever. Usually, when you are cooking it is better to be a little loose about it. Throw it in the pot and have some fun. Measurements aren’t important here, just trying to give you a starting point.

Into a skillet with about 3 T. Of olive oil add
1 large chopped onion. I like Vidalias. With the heat on medium high cook the onion..
After the onion has cooked for about 5 minutes add 4 cloves chopped garlic.
Some fresh chopped basil would be nice here. About 4 T.
Let this cook over medium low heat while you coarsely chop
4 yellow crookneck squash.
Stir the squash around and add
2 cups vegetable broth. Leave the heat on medium. The objective is to let the liquid cook down. Let this cook for 10 minutes then add
1 can garbanzo beans which you have drained and rinsed. I usually just use canned beans for things like this, because it is so easy.
Let the mixture continue to simmer until liquid is almost cooked off, probably another 10 to 12 minutes.
Add 2 coarsely chopped ripe tomatoes. You only want them to heat, not cook.

I had some mashed potatoes on the side with this one, and it was perfect.

Vegan Mashed Potatoes serves 4
I started boiling the potatoes at about the time I added the vegetable broth to the skillet vegetables. Everything timed out great.

Boil 6 good-sized Yukon Golds (my favorites) chopped into fairly large chunks over med heat until soft when poked with a fork. Whether or not you peel them is up to you.
Drain off the water and set back on heat for just a minute to evaporate any extra water.
Add 3 T Earth Balance. (Better than butter)
Salt to taste.
Start mashing with a potato masher.
Add 1/4 cup soy milk to make them creamy. Could be more or less, depending on how you like them.
Mash until fluffy. ( you can also use a mixer, but for small amounts, I usually do by hand.)

So, there you have it. It is the season of great bounty, and a perfect time to lighten up, eat healthy, and know that no animals were harmed in the preparation of your dinner.
When you eat, love yourself and love your planet.