Back to Work – White Beans Two Ways

June 9, 2013 § 6 Comments

It’s Sunday. The last day of my maternity leave – well, technically Friday was but you get my drift. Tomorrow a new adventure begins. It’s hard to believe 3 months have already passed.

I had high hopes for my leave – hah, naive hopes at that! Sure, I wanted to bond with my daughter and relish in all things baby – that goes without saying. But I also thought I’d have time to read, organize my house (finally clean out those drawers that have been eyeing me for years), cook and blog about all kinds of new delicious vegan treats, join some mommy groups, and last but not least – exercise. Well, none of the latter happened! I did get to relish in all things baby – but as for the other stuff, forget about it! To be fair, I did clean out one drawer (woo hoo!) and I was able to blog once – but as for any other dreams I had about maternity leave, they were delusions. Had I told any moms about my plans, they would have silently rolled their eyes – and rightfully so!

But in the end, none of that matters – even though my drawers remain cluttered and books are left unread, most importantly, I had the fortunate opportunity to be home with our daughter for 3 months. Three months that I will forever treasure. Days on end of lounging around and watching her expressions change from one moment to another. Watching her discover her little self bit by bit – learning to suck her thumb, to smile, to hold on tight to my finger (my favorite). These are days I wouldn’t trade for anything – and it is beyond sad to leave as she is just starting to coo and smile.

And so as I soak in every last moment of this week – I’m filled with mixed emotions. Excited to return to work, to my colleagues, and to my projects – but devastated to leave my daughter. Excited to continue to develop myself and my career so that she will have a strong woman to look up to when she’s older – but scared at what I may be missing out on. I now know the pain that every new working mother feels.

Ironically when I started this blog, one of the things I wanted to share was how to make great, quick meals. As a working woman, this was important. As a working mom – this will be critical! Having a baby is no joke. It’s a 24-7 job. Something I could never have understood before her arrival. And as I wonder how I’ll do this job, and the job I’m paid to do – I rest upon the reassurance that this is doable – that millions of women around the world do this – all in their own way. I’m extremely fortunate to work with many of these women and I’m sure I’ll be relying on them heavily in the coming months as I set out on this adventure.  Not to mention I have THE best husband, so I’m hardly in this alone.

As I prepare myself to return to work, I’m focusing on ways to find balance in the new chaos – particularly when it comes to food. Having a newborn means lots of takeout – and we are SO over takeout! No more we beg! Homecooking is what we need. But that takes time – sometimes lots of time. So I’m looking for quick fix options that pack all the nutrition and flavor needed.

I shamefully have had these Rancho Gordo beans in my pantry for over a year. Anyone who has ordered from them will understand why this is shocking. We spent Memorial Day weekend with one of my best friends in North Carolina. Not only did we get to soak up the most amazing views at her family’s lake house – but we indulged in the most delicious home cooked meals. Watching her work her magic in the kitchen – including a pot of Rancho Gordo black beans – reignited my passion for good quality home cooking and the desire to be just a bit more of a planner. Whenever I want beans, it’s at the moment and I reach for a can. Soaking and slow cooking can seem oh-so-daunting. But it really needn’t be so – and the end product far outshines any old can of beans.

For these two dishes I used Rancho Gordo’s Runner Cannellinni bean. I cooked them in the traditional Rancho Gordo method – soaking all night in a bowl of water, then adding the drained beans to the crock pot with sauteed onion, garlic, and new water. They cooked on high for 5 hours. The resulting bean is huge and buttery – a perfect blank canvas for any pairing. We enjoyed them with spinach the first night and as a tasty salad for leftovers.

vegan spinach and beans, Rancho Gordo, cannellinni

Cannellinni Beans with Sauteed Spinach

This dish is delicious with spinach but would work well with any cooked green – kale, collards, etc. I used one box of fresh organic spinach as that’s what I had on hand but this dish would have been great with several as the spinach cooks down so much. Prepare beans according to package instructions. If using crock pot method – cook beans throughout the day so they’re ready when you get home to make dinner. Pulling this together once beans are cooked takes just minutes! Simply heat oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add spinach to hot oil and garlic if desired. Season with salt and pepper. Saute spinach until bright green and wilted, about 5 minutes. Add desired amount of beans and a little liquid the beans cooked in. Season dish with salt and pepper and serve with crusty bread broiled with vegan butter.

vegan bean salad, white bean salad, asparagus

Cannellinni Bean Salad with Asparagus

This dish is a cinch to pull together if the beans and asparagus are cooked. I had both on hand as leftovers. While we ate this right after preparing, it would be even better if it sat and marinated for an hour, or overnight.

Prepare beans according to package instructions. Roast asparagus at 400 with coconut or olive oil, salt, and pepper for 30 minutes or until tender and slightly golden on tips. Cut asparagus in one inch strips and set aside. Prepare the dressing in the serving bowl by mixing together the juice of one lemon, equal part olive oil, a few splashes of red wine vinegar, a bunch of chopped parsley, one minced garlic clove, salt, pepper, and a few dashes of red pepper flakes. Add chopped red pepper, onion, the cannellinni beans, and asparagus. Mix and enjoy!

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Garlicky Zucchini Noodles with Chickpeas and Tomatoes – A Perfect Raw Vegan Lunch

February 25, 2012 § 9 Comments

zucchini noodles with garlic lemon chickpeas

Don’t worry, I’m not about to tell you that I’ve gone all raw or anything. While I fully admire people who eat raw food all the time, I need some warm food here and there. But I never thought I’d eat vegan, so who knows. Raw food doesn’t exactly scream tastiness to me, but I guarantee this recipe is absolutely bursting with flavor! And you have to admit, any no-cook recipe with flavor is a winner.

This raw vegan zucchini recipe is not only full of fiber and essential vitamins, but it is seriously good. I served this to my hubby one day for lunch and I don’t think he even noticed it was raw at first. It tasted that good. He practically licked the bowl clean and even asked if this was a recipe he could make on his own. Let’s be clear – there aren’t many recipes that he’s asked if he could make. This was a winner.

The tender spaghetti-like zucchini noodles absorb all the yummy goodness of the lemony garlic oil and contrast nicely with the hearty chickpeas and sweet tomatoes.  This is one of those recipes that’s good after 30 minutes and fantastic after hours of chilling out and marinating.

tomatoes and chickpeas with zucchini noodles

A few notes on this recipe. The zucchini noodles with olive oil, lemon, salt, pepper, and garlic makes a great base. You could add anything you want. Basil and pine nuts make a nice addition. I recently added boiled cut potatoes and arugula to the mix which was just delicious. If you don’t love raw garlic we can’t be friends just reduce to either one clove or opt for slicing it into larger chunks so you can pick it out with your fork. Likewise, if you’re not a big lemon fan you may opt to try half the lemon first.

No matter how you slice and dice it, I guarantee you’ll love it.

tomatoes and zucchini pasta

Garlicky Zucchini Noodles with Chickpeas and Tomatoes
Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 2 large zucchini, peeled using a julienne peeler
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed well
  • 1 pint tomatoes, halved
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Make the zucchini noodles using a julienne peeler. This may take a few tries to get the hang of it. I find it’s easiest by placing the zucchini flat on the cutting board and applying pressure with the julienne peeler and pulling down the length of the zucchini. You may have to clean the peeler from time to time.
  2. Add the halved tomatoes and rinsed chick peas to the zucchini noodles. Toss with the olive oil, minced garlic, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Let marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes and ideally several hours before serving.

Hearty Vegan Chili – Healthy Game Day Food

February 3, 2012 § 4 Comments

vegan, vegetarian, dairy free

A year ago I posted a chicken wing recipe for the superbowl. My how things have changed!

I’ve never made chili. To be honest, I’ve never liked chili. I was never a big beef eater so a meaty bowl of beef and beans was not on my to-do list. Becoming vegan has made me have a new appreciation for beans too. I’ve really tried to explore new ways of eating and cooking beans, expanding my palate. Everyone talks about how easy chili is to make, so this week I figured I’d give it a try. It was one of those long work days and I was craving an easy, healthy, and warming bowl of yumminess. Boy did I find it! This recipe makes a lighter chili focused on the tomatoes and beans and finishes with a nice heat from the tabasco.

What I love about soups is that you don’t need a hard fast recipe. You can experiment or work with what you’ve got on hand.  You can definitely add more beans or other veggies depending on your tastes. If you like spicy, go for it with the tobasco. If you’re not sure, add it gradually.

vegetarian chili, vegetable and bean soup, recipe, superbowl food, party food

Hearty Vegan Chili 
Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 can white beans, rinsed well – I used Navy beans
  • 1/2 can 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup vegetable stock, optional
  • 1 can 14 oz. diced tomatoes – I used diced tomatoes with onions and garlic but you could use fire roasted, plain, basil, whatever you like
  • 1/2 green pepper, diced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • several dashes of tobasco to taste

Directions

  1. Heat oil in a large saute/stock pan over medium heat. Add 1/2 the onion, garlic, and carrots and cook several minutes until onions are tender. Add cumin, chili, and bay leaf and cook another few minutes.
  2. Turn heat to high and add rinsed white beans, crushed tomatoes, and diced tomatoes. Add vegetable stock if desired for a more “soupy” chili. Reduce to low-medium once boiling.
  3. Cook another 10-15 minutes to allow flavors to develop. Add several dashes of tobasco depending on taste. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Serve with remaining minced onion, green pepper, and optional extra dash of tobasco.

Vegan “Arroz con Pollo”

January 13, 2012 § 1 Comment

vegetarian, yellow rice, arroz

I think this might have been the first time I’ve ever made a version of arroz con pollo which is surprising given that it is one of my all time favorites. Even before going vegan I was never a huge meat eater. Chicken was about it for me when it came to meat. So whenever we would go to a cuban restaurant, I always opted for arroz con pollo. My mom would often make it at home too.

rice, peas, onion, green pepper, red pepper

In simple terms it is basically rice with chicken – but it was so much more than that. Tender moist chicken, creamy yellow rice, and sweet peas cooked together to create a comforting bowl of yumminess. Since becoming vegan I never thought about eating this again. I figured surely without the chicken and chicken stock it would be no good. No way could it have as much flavor.

But I was wrong! I poured myself a glass of sangria (amazing by the way) and sought out to try and make a vegetarian version. It proved to be just as satisfying as a meat version, maybe even more!

This is an easy one pot meal. Always good for a busy night’s cleanup 🙂 And, if you prep your veggies over the weekend, this actually cooks in about 35 minutes total, making it an easy weeknight dinner.

yellow rice, vegan rice recipe, vegetarian

I opted to keep this traditional and stuck with onions, red and green peppers, and sweet green peas. I don’t know what it is about the smell of onions and peppers cooking but it has got to be one of the best combos out there. You can definitely get creative with what you have on hand, adding other veggies to the mix – mushrooms and asparagus would make delicious additions.

Also, I used Vigo yellow rice which already has the saffron and some spices mixed in meaning you don’t have to worry with buying saffron separately which can be expensive and hard to find.

I’m calling it Vegan Arroz con Pollo because let’s face it, Arroz con Vegetales just doesn’t have the same ring to it 🙂 Pour yourself some red wine or sangria and get to cooking! Enjoy!

vegan vegetarian arroz con pollo

Update: Sadly, I must report this is not a fully vegan dish upon discovering that Vigo rice uses chicken. You can continue with the recipe as is for a meat free dinner. If you want to ensure it is full vegan, use 2 cups long grain white rice instead of the Vigo rice and add 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads to the vegetable stock while heating up.

Vegan “Arroz con Pollo”

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma’s “Essentials of Latin Cooking”
Makes about 6 bowls

Ingredients

  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 2 green peppers, diced
  • 4 plum tomatoes, diced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cups Vigo yellow rice (note update above)
  • 1 cup frozen sweet green peas
  • 1 jalapeno, minced (optional)
  • lime or lemon wedge (optional)

Directions

  1. Mix minced garlic, vinegar, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes together and set aside. Note: if you like spicy, you can add up to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper. If you like salt, go ahead and add it in. If not, wait until the end and add salt to taste.
  2. Heat stock in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until boiling then reduce to simmer. (If you’d rather not wash another pan, you can definitely just add the cold stock to the rice later).
  3. Heat oil in a large heavy deep saute pan that allows for lots of stirring (I use my all-clad 6 quart). Add chopped onions, red and green peppers for 5 minutes or until onions are translucent.
  4. Add in rice and stir until rice absorbs all the liquid from the veggie mixture – several minutes. Add in the vinegar garlic mix.
  5. Add in heated stock, mix, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a low simmer and cover. Let sit for about 25-30 minutes until rice absorbs all liquid. You’ll need to stir several times as the rice will begin to stick to the bottom. If it does, just aggressively scrape the bottom with a steel spoon to remove.
  6. In the last 5 minutes of cooking, add the frozen peas and cover. I like my rice on the wet side. If you prefer your rice dry, keep the lid off here and stir until rice reaches consistency you’re looking for.
  7. Serve with a lime or lemon wedge and diced jalapeno if desired.

Zucchini with Fresh Tomato Sauce and Olive-Portobello Relish

January 8, 2012 § 1 Comment

candle79, vegan zucchini recipe, vegan mushroom recipe, fresh tomato sauce

I have been thinking of re-creating this dish ever since visiting Candle 79 last October. The dish was a live zucchini manicotti stuffed with a mushroom olive mixture and topped with a raw tomato sauce and parsley pine nut salad. At the time, I still was not liking mushrooms very much. Boy has that changed. Mushrooms have been the star of many meals since including my Christmas Eve dinner with vegan mushroom bourguignon.

At Candle79, I thought the mushroom olive combination was delicious. I’m a big olive fan and love their briny, salty bite which masked the mushroom flavor I didn’t like at the time. Instead, what remained was just a chewy almost meaty texture which I welcomed. I thought the dish would be great to make at home with store-bought olive tapenade. So that’s what I did.

how to make fresh tomato sauce

Since Luis wasn’t a fan of the “live” part of this dish, I decided to roast the zucchini.  What I didn’t realize though is that then you can’t roll them into a manicotti. They become way too flimsy cooked. So I just laid them flat but it still worked. I wanted to make this elegant dish as easy as possible to make so I made a point of making it with one baking sheet. I was looking for easy cleanup here and it worked.

The resulting dish was elegant and tasty – but it was on the small side. It did feel like a little gourmet meal though 🙂 I’d suggest doubling this recipe or serving with a side or salad. I also want to try it one day with pasta. I think it would be great.

Zucchini with Fresh Tomato Sauce and Olive-Portobello Relish

Makes 4 small servings

Ingredients

  • 2 zucchini, thinly sliced (about 6 slices per zucchini)
  • 2 portobello mushrooms, chopped
  • 4 tomatoes, sliced
  • 4-6 garlic cloves, roasted or raw
  • 3 tbsp. pre-made olive tapenade
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • dried rosemary (optional)
Directions 
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. If roasting the garlic, you can put it in now. Just slice the end of it off so you have a flat top, place in a small oven safe dish, cover with olive oil and foil.
  2. Slice zucchini using a knife or mandolin. Slice tomatoes. Chop portobellos. Arrange all vegetables on a cookie sheet or in a roasting pan and drizzle with enough olive oil to coat all veggies. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and rosemary (optional).
  3. Place veggies in oven to roast about 10-15 minutes. Keep an eye on the mushrooms and zucchini as the cook quickly. You may need to pull them out early. The mushrooms will release a lot of liquid so don’t be alarmed. You can finish the tomatoes and give them a little char by turning the oven up to broil – just watch very closely.
  4. Once you’ve pulled out the mushrooms, mix with the olive tapenade. Use as much as you like. Add in a few chopped garlic cloves to the mix if you like and set aside.
  5. Remove tomatoes and place into a food processor with a few garlic cloves. Do not add in liquid from the pan unless you need to thin out the sauce. If you have fresh herbs on hand you can add basil or parsley. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. To assemble place some sauce on the plate. Top with a few zucchini slices and the olive-portobello relish.

Enjoy!

A Vegan Christmas Eve Feast

December 28, 2011 § 8 Comments

I think I’ve just had the best Christmas ever. It was definitely the best Christmas of my adult life. One reason it was so special is it was the first time that my mother-in-law spent Christmas with us. To have her here and share the holiday with us meant so much.

We played up the Christmas celebration with non-stop gatherings and food. While most Americans celebrate Christmas day as the holiday, my husband’s family celebrates Christmas Eve. For whatever reason, my family always celebrated both. Since being married, we’ve hosted Christmas Eve at our house and always do Christmas day at my parents. This Christmas Eve started with a wonderful surprise though. We got to have our good friends from Miami over for brunch. Starting Christmas off with my friends at the table, enjoying pancakes and coffee was definitely the way to kick off the celebration.

I gave my friend two options – pumpkin waffles or orange pancakes. She chose the latter so I prepared this recipe. I followed it exactly with the exception of throwing in  sliced almonds instead of grinding them which added a really nice crunch. These pancakes were very cake like, and almost had a muffin texture. Everyone at the table was impressed to know they were vegan.

When all was said and done, I figured I could take a nap. But alas, I still didn’t know what I was making for dinner. I can sometimes be the ultimate procrastinator and the holidays are no exception. I didn’t make up my mind until about 2 hours prior to dinner. Sure, I’d spent countless hours picking out recipes but couldn’t actually decide until the last minute. Searching for vegan Christmas recipes was no small task, and the outlook was frankly grim. But I’m pleased to say we had a delicious feast – fit for vegans and omnivores alike!

To start I prepared these amazing butternut squash empanadas. They might have been my favorite food all night long, I’ve since enjoyed them as leftovers and they are equally delicious. Crusty pastry on the outside and a sweet and savory butternut squash filling. The thyme and caramelized onions add lots of depth and cut the sweetness. I love anything yummy inside pastry, don’t you?

The only changes I made to this recipe was almond milk instead of dairy and vegan butter instead of regular. I also was able to find empanada discs that were vegan friendly at my grocery store. Next time, I’ll definitely be doubling the recipe and putting half in the freezer to make at a later date – yum!

Along with our empanadas, we had vegan stuffed mushrooms for a starter. I have to admit the mushrooms were tricky to stuff – perhaps I should have used larger caps. Without egg or cheese its challenging to get the stuffing to stick together, but they were delicious and delicate. If I make them again, I’d brush the mushrooms with a bit of garlic infused olive oil before stuffing to give them a bit more flavor.

As for the dinner, the one certain item I knew I’d prepare was roasted potatoes at the request of my husband. We picked up a lovely variety full of vibrant colors. What to put with them was the question. In the end I decided on Smitten Kitchen’s mushroom bourguignon without pasta since we’d have the potatoes. I added roasted onions and carrots to bulk it up. Alongside, I served it with some nicely roasted asparagus.

No one, I repeat no one at the table said anything about the lack of meat. They were too busy dishing up seconds of savory mushroom bourguignon. The dish was full of dense flavors from the wine, thyme, and vegetable stock. The one problem I had with this recipe is it says to sear the mushrooms. Mine didn’t sear but rather released all their liquid immediately. I was a bit worried I’d ruined the dish but it turned out great. And what was better – with my carrots and onions already roasted, I was able to prepare this while everyone finished their appetizers. With the exception of cutting the mushrooms, I think it qualifies as a 30 minute meal. I was more than happy with the flavor given the short cooking time.

As if all this wasn’t enough, dinner was completed with the most decadent vegan cupcakes my sister brought and trembleque. I’d never made this dish before but a friend brought it to my mom’s Christmas brunch a few weeks earlier. When I learned it was vegan I was in love. It’s made with coconut milk and cornstarch and almost is like a flan but with a lighter flavor – it is simply divine.

After our never ending meal, we all relaxed and watched Christmas Vacation, a family tradition. To sit with both sides of our family laughing together was the best gift.

We all slept like babies that night, with full bellies and not a care in the world…Until the next day, when we woke up and ate even more! 🙂

Hope you all had a wonderful holiday!

Roasted Cauliflower and Sweet Potato Soup with Curry Spiced Almonds

December 21, 2011 § 5 Comments

I’ve spent the better part of my evenings this past week looking for vegan Christmas recipes. Unfortunately, I haven’t found as many as I would have liked, but have found a few promising recipes. I do have to say as a side note that I’m new to Pinterest and it’s becoming slightly addicting! 🙂

In my quest for amazing vegan Christmas recipes, I stumbled across this sweet potato cauliflower soup recipe from Manifest Vegan. The recipe called my attention with it’s sweet orange color and roasted cauliflower. I made a vegan corn chowder with roasted cauliflower and loved the creamy texture the cauliflower lent. I’m usually not a big fan of sweet soups and as I was making it was a bit worried I wouldn’t like it – but boy was I wrong.

This soup was divine! Silky and creamy with just a slight sweetness from the potatoes balanced by earthy Mexican oregano. The roasted cauliflower provides nice texture and the almonds add a spicy crunch.

This is the perfect soup for a rainy or cold winter night. The spices are warming and the soup is more filling than you think. Two bowls and I was stuffed! Serve with crusty garlic bread for dipping.

Roasted Cauliflower and Sweet Potato Soup with Curry Spiced Almonds

Serves 4-6

Recipe adapted from Manifest Vegan

Ingredients

  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 3 sweet potatoes
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 5 cups filtered water
  • 1 tsp – 1 1/2 tsp Mexican oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp slivered almonds
  • 1 tsp curry masala

Directions

  1. Rinse and cut cauliflower into small bite-spiced pieces. Toss with 2 tbsp olive oil or enough to coat lightly and season with salt and pepper. Roast at 400 degrees for 25-35 minutes until tender.
  2. Finely dice one onion. I used half a sweet onion and half a purple onion. Add to stockpot with 2 tbsp oil and 2 minced garlic cloves. Saute on medium heat until tender and onions are translucent.
  3. Peel and cut sweet potatoes into 1 inch pieces and add to stockpot. Add 1 tsp to 1 1/2 tsp Mexican oregano depending on your taste. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Add the stock and water and turn heat up on medium-high to bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium and cook until potatoes are tender. Once potatoes are cooked, add half the cooked cauliflower and blend with an immersion blender or transfer to a blender. Adjust seasonings as needed.
  5. To prepare the almonds, drizzle with a touch of oil and sprinkle curry masala. Roast at 350 for 10-15 minutes until golden.
  6. To serve, top soup with the remaining roasted cauliflower pieces and spiced almonds. Serve with crusty garlic bread on the side.

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