Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Vegan Banana Bread

I happily stumbled upon this vegan banana bread recipe last Fall, and it's been a staple ever since. The funny thing is, I've never been really successful with banana bread. I've made it dozens of times, non-vegan with eggs and milk and such, but it's never turned out quite right. Then I tried this vegan recipe, and to my surprise and delight, it's the best banana bread I've ever made! It always turns out beautifully, with a nice, slightly crispy crust that is a great contrast to the soft bread. I also love the addition of allspice. It lends a fantastic flavor to the bread that I love. Try it! I'm sure you'll love it, too.

Banana Bread

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup margarine, at room temp
3 very ripe bananas, mashed well
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup vanilla soy milk, mixed with 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a 8x4 bread pan with non stick cooking spray, or lightly coat with margarine.

Sift together flour, baking soda, salt and spices.

Cream together the margarine and sugars. Add bananas, soy milk and vanilla.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry. Mix well. Pour batter into pan. Bake for an hour to an hour 10 minutes.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Easy Garlic Knots

When Brad and I visited some friends in Clemson, SC earlier this year, we had dinner at a great little Italian restaurant. Nothing fancy, just cheap, good Italian food. The best part of the meal were the baskets of garlic knots they brought out to the table...lovely little bite-sized knots of french bread, dripping with garlic sauce. I won't lie...we ate an embarrassing amount of them. Tonight I set out to recreate them.

I intended to use this recipe, but it didn't occur to me until too late that I didn't have yeast on hand since we just moved into our house. So instead I ran to the store and bought a tube of Pillsbury french bread dough. I know, I know, that's not cool, but it worked. But if you find yourself in a similar bind, or you aren't a good bread dough maker, or you just want a really easy side dish, try this recipe. They were to die for, and once again, we ate an embarrassing amount.

Easy Garlic Knots

1 tube Pillsbury refrigerated french bread dough
1 large garlic clove
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup olive oil or melted butter

Heat oven to 375.

Open dough, and cut into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rope about 6 inches long, and tie in a simple knot. Place on a baking sheet while the oven preheats.

Peel and chop the garlic clove. Using a mortar and pestle, or the flat side of a chef's knife, mash the garlic and salt together until it forms a paste. Stir it into the olive oil or melted butter. Using a pastry brush, liberally brush the garlic mixture onto the knots. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, then remove from oven and baste again with garlic mixture. Return to oven for a few more minutes, until golden brown.

If desired, serve with remaining garlic sauce for dipping.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Taco Night and Nasty Nachos

Last night was Taco Night. I adore Taco Night. It's such a cinch to put together, yet so satisfying. And I love all the pretty colors in a taco bar. It just makes me happy!

Our taco bar consisted of flour tortillas, Morningstar veggie crumbles with taco seasoning, refried beans, homemade pico de gallo, and roasted corn (just a drained can of corn sauteed in a hot skillet until brown and toasty, and spiked with a little chili powder). It doesn't get better than that.

I used the leftovers to make a modified batch of Nasty Nachos, by layering crushed tortilla chips, the veggie crumbles, drained and rinsed black beans, the roasted corn, and pico de gallo. And repeat. I covered it with foil and stuck it in the fridge until this evening, then popped it in the oven when Brad called to say he was on his way home. Yum! I'm not a fan of leftovers in general, even the "on purpose" kind of leftovers, where you cook something with plans to use it in another recipe later in the week, but this really hit the spot.

The original Nasty Nachos recipe is far better, using canned cream style corn instead of regular kernel corn, and saucy salsa instead of pico de gallo, but this was an excellent way to use up the leftovers. Sadly, Meg dropped her full plate TWO TIMES on the way to the table, so there aren't any leftovers, but accidents will happen, and at least we have two always hungry dogs to clean up the mess. ;)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Minestrone Soup

Here's a very simple and delicious soup for a cold day. The weather here in Syracuse has been cold and snowy for much of the past week, but seems to be warming up now. I wish I had made this a week ago when we were shivering!

It's a variation on the minestrone soup my mom always made when I was growing up. The only big difference is that I leave out ground beef, but outside of that it's the same. Everyone should have an easy, hearty soup in their repertoire. May I recommend this one?

Minestrone Soup

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3 carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
3 stalks celery, sliced
1 can green beans, drained
1 can wax beans, drained
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 large can diced tomatoes
2 Tbsp Better Than Bouillon vegetable base
8-10 cups water
1 Tbsp oregano
1 Tbsp basil
salt and pepper, to taste

Heat oil in a large stock pot over medium high heat. Add onion, carrot and celery. Stir and cook until vegetables begin to soften. Add all remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer 1 hour.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Weekly Menu - week of April 12 (and before)

Thursday - the eve of Brad's first day off in 4 weeks, so we're getting take-out and relaxing

Friday - minestrone soup, french bread

Saturday - going to a hockey game

Sunday - taco night!

Monday - taco pie, using taco night leftovers

Tuesday - spaghetti with rustic tomato, basil and kalamata olive sauce, garlic knots, salad

Wednesday - African Peanut Potato Stew, flat bread

Thursday - leftovers

Friday - lobia curry, naan, cucumber peanut salad

Saturday - dinner out

Monday, April 6, 2009

Spicy Black Bean Tamale Pie

This dish kicks ass! I first made it last December when I was too busy to blog, so it's been sitting amongst my drafts for the past 3 months, patiently waiting to be posted until I made it again today.

I based it on this recipe from the eggs on sunday blog. I left out the garlic, upped the chili powder, omitted the cinnamon, subbed a can of Ro-tel for the jalapeno, added a can of black eyed peas (because I love them so), omitted the cheese, and used a vegan cornbread recipe for the topping instead of the more polenta-like topping in the original recipe. I also like to brown the corn with the onion and bell pepper, to get it toasty and delicious. And I use what may sound like an insane amount of cilantro, but I'm kind of crazy about cilantro, and it does lose some of its flavor when it cooks.

The filling is to die for. Each time I've made it, Brad and I have hovered over the stove, scooping up big mouthfuls with tortilla chips. If you wanted, you could add another can or two or Ro-tel, and you'd have yourself a kick ass salsa. The filling would also be equally as delicious served over rice as it is in tamale pie form. It just depends on what you're craving.

I love this meal. So very, very much.

Tamale Pie

1 tsp olive oil
1 medium red onion, coarsely chopped
1 green bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 15-oz can corn, drained
1 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 15-oz can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1 can Rotel (I like to use the extra spicy variety)
1 8-oz can tomato sauce
2 cups coarsely chopped cilantro
1 Tbsp cumin
2 Tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt

1 cup almond milk mixed with 1 tsp vinegar
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add onion, bell pepper and corn. Saute several minutes, until onion and bell pepper begin to soften, and all vegetables are somewhat browned. Add remaining ingredients, cooking and stirring until heated through. Pour into a 9x9 baking pan.

In a small bowl, combine almond milk and vinegar. Stir together and set aside while you measure and combine the dry ingredients. Whisk together cornmeal, flour, salt and baking powder. Add milk and vegetable oil. Stir thoroughly. Spread over bean filling. Bake 20-30 minutes, until cornbread topping is cooked through (you can test it with a toothpick).

If desired, sprinkle 1 cup grated cheddar cheese on the filling before adding the topping.