Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Moroccan Tagine


menu du jour: MOROCCAN TAGINE
a savory stew of seitan with apricots, grape tomatoes, ginger, and spices

I've been experimenting with my weekly dinner menu and adding a bit of flair to my regular repertoire. My vegan Jambalaya was a big win, so I thought I'd try my luck again and transmogrify a Moroccan-style recipe for lamb tagine. By power of seitan, - I think I'm on a winning streak! This dish came out so tasty that I might have to buy a lottery ticket. 

First of all, dried apricots have got to be one of my favorite treats. I also love them in savory dishes, where their tangy sweetness can balance strong spices. 

Second, I had a batch of seitan that came out a little on the juicy side (I probably let the broth get too hot) and figured it would be just perfect for a stew. 

Third, there was this sack of amaranth in my cupboard that I'd been meaning to try. Never having made amaranth before, I figured it would be similar to quinoa. It's actually more like grits. I missed the fluffiness of couscous, so next time I'll make a version of my cauliflower couscous to serve alongside. 

Fourth, and finally, I've been meaning to try a Moroccan curry for years. Ever since I discovered what a tagine is. I absolutely love the spice combination in this dish. Especially with apricots. Next project: homemade harissa.


Moroccan Tagine with Seitan and Apricots
Serves: 4
Time: 45 minutes (preparation 15, cooking 30)

Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ginger root, grated
  • 1 batch seitan, torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • juice of one lime
  • 1-2 cups vegetable broth
  • 3/4 cup dried apricots, quartered
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • harissa or chili sauce for garnish
Method
  1. Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat; add the onion and ginger and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the seitan and spices and sauté for 5 more minutes.
  3. Add the apricots, tomatoes, broth and tomato paste. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes.
  4. Serve over amaranth couscous, garnished with cilantro and harissa.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Happy Glamper - Vegan Weekend Getaway


"Glamping is the act of sleeping in nature with all the creature comforts of home."

- www.glamping.com

Glam? I love glam! Camping? Can't get enough! Glamping? Sign me up. I couldn't wait for summer, so my sweet boyfriend took me on a weekend trip to southwestern Colorado, where we camped in this retro-glam '57 schoolbus named Elouisa.


Once I have a the correct gear, I totally plan to do some wilderness camping. The kind where you carry everything on your own back, hike up a mountain, sleep on the ground under the stars...but in the meantime, I'm perfectly fine with throwing some groceries and beer in the back of a truck, sleeping in a real bed and cooking in a kitchen.  


Besides, just look how adorable this bus is! I loved cooking on the tiny stove and eating at the tiny dining table. I think I used every dish in the kitchen. For dinner, a quick meal made from Trader Joe's ingredients: gnocchi in marinara with broccoli rabe and fresh basil


You really can't go wrong with pancakes, whether they were cooked over a campfire in a cast iron skillet, or made from a mix in an old schoolbus. Just look at this beautiful breakfast: strawberry pancakes with agave syrup


I fried the pancakes with Earth Balance vegan buttery spread while warming up some coffee. OMG! So this was the first time I've ever had instant coffee. The jar of coffee I found in my early-morning fogginess was all in Spanish, so I was just like coffee...need coffee...and did my usual thing with the French press and hot water. I was mystified when I poured out the coffee and there were no grounds in the press. Wtf?!? None in the press, none in my cup...where did it go?!? I guess I'll just drink it all and make another pot. Oh. It's café instantáneo. (I'm totally blonde sometimes.)

makin' pancakes in the school bus

I met Elouisa on Airbnb. This was my first ever Airbnb, and I will totally do it again! What a great way to travel! I'd much rather stay in a local home with its own personality than some boring old hotel. Airbnb has everything from luxury villas to private islands to tree houses. I, obviously, am more of the treehouse type. I've been searching for tipis and yurts, cabins, covered wagons, teardrop trailers and tree houses, and building a Cross-Country Glamping wish list - I'm so into it.

getting a fire started...

Glamping rocks! It was the campfire that really did it for me. That's all I care about on a camping trip. I must have a campfire! Solitude, fresh air, spectacular scenery, and a campfire.



We were visiting during National Parks week, because Mesa Verde is nearby. Did you know that this year is the 100th anniversary of U.S. National Parks? I plan to visit all 4 national parks in Colorado this year, but Mesa Verde was at the top of my list. I've wanted to see this place since I was a wee child and my bestie sent me a postcard from her summer vacay.


The ancient Pueblo people of Mesa Verde built cities into the sandstone cliffs along the tops of the mesas, with buildings up to four floors high! Thousands of people lived in cliff cities in this region until a great drought forced them to migrate; by 1285 the cities were abandoned. When we hiked out to the petroglyph site, we encountered several groups of scholars who were studying the ruins to try to learn more about the people who inhabited them and how they lived. I would have loved to stay and study them, myself.

But it was growing late, and it was time to go home. This weekend adventure had drawn to a close.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Happy National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day!



Grill me a cheese!

So, grilled cheese has got to be my #1 favorite sammich! I've been making myself toasty gooey cheddar cheesy sammiches all week in preparation for today. I made some with beefsteak tomato. I made some with beefsteak tomato and herbed seitan.

They were delicious.


These ingredients were purchased at Whole Foods. I don't shop there very often, but it so happened that my love and I were apartment hunting in the neighborhood. As we all know, Whole Foods can be pricey, but it's an easy place to find vegan ingredients. This sammich was built with Daiya cheddar cheese, organic beefsteak tomato, Dave's Killer Bread, and Smart Balance Light buttery spread, and some of my homemade seitan. 

3 key tips for making grilled cheese sammiches:

1. butter both sides of both slices of bread - this is very important!
2. heat your skillet a bit before you throw your sammich in there - this keeps it toasty!
3. trust in Daiya - it actually melts!



Don't you love grilled cheeses? I have a craving for a grilled mozzarella tomato basil cheese sammich, so this post might be getting an update next time I go shopping...for now, check out my other grilled cheese posts below. Did I mention that I love grilled cheese?

If you love grilled cheese, please leave a comment! Bye for now.



Chow Down on a Vegan Grilled Cheese










Best MoFo Sandwich Ever!



Monday, March 28, 2016

Where Vegans Eat: Root Down, Denver


During my transition from Lambertville to Denver, I spent some time researching my vegan options for dining out. Root Down was one of the first places I bookmarked...that was 2 years ago!

I finally tried Root Down for the first time last weekend. I can't believe I haven't been here yet - it's a perfect date spot. It was crowded (Friday night) but there was bar seating, which is my preference anyhow. The lights were nice and low, and despite the full house I could still carry on an intimate conversation.

The first thing to cross my lips at Root Down was an ethereal, angelic, sublime Coconut Gin Fizz. 


Root Down made my list because they cater to the trendiest epicureans and have options for vegans as well as our paleo & omnivorous kindred. For instance, they have two kinds of sliders - Lamb or Vegan.  

Obviously, I ordered the vegan sliders. (My date had the other kind.) The vegan sliders were absolutely great - nice grilled flavor, a bit of crunch on the outside, served on a soft bun with ketchup, mustard, and a side of sweet potato fries. My sole complaint was that I wanted more. I was also a little jealous of my date's aioli. Chef, can you make a vegan spicy mayo next time, pretty please?

For dessert, we had a dark chocolate truffle each. I paired mine with an espresso, because if I see espresso on a dessert menu, I'm ordering it. I love an after-dinner espresso.

Root Down is the sister restaurant of Linger, another Denver eatery I love. These two sisters resemble each other. I was a little confused while I was looking over Root Down's cocktail menu. I kept searching for the Marrakesh Express, until I finally remembered, oh right! I'm at Root Down and I've never been here before!

Root Down is over in the Highlands at 1600 W 33rd. I think they're also out at the airport. You can visit them virtually at: www.rootdowndenver.com or call 303.993.4200 to make a reservation. I've heard tales of a brunch with bottomless blood mimosas...


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Vegan Jambalaya



Sometimes I get a little stuck when it comes to everyday dinners, so I was super stoked when my man requested Jambalaya!

I had never made jambalaya before, so I did a bit of research via Pinterest, and asked a vegetarian friend who hails from Baton Rouge how he makes jambalaya. According to Alex, the secret of jambalaya is "the holy trinity of cajun food: onions, bell pepper, and celery."


So I invoked that holy trinity and made my jambalaya and it was heavenly! 

Here's how the prep went down...first, lots of chopping. Choppity-chop-chop. I made a quick veggie broth out of the ends of the celery & carrots, the onion skins, water, salt and vinegar. I just let it all simmer on the back burner while the chopping and sautéeing went on (there's a lot of sauté time, too). But once the veg and sausages are nicely fried, you just pour the broth into your skillet through a strainer, add the rice and seasonings, stir, cover and leave it alone.

scraps = broth
Saute
Season & Simmer


Vegan Jambalaya 
serves 4

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons oil, for frying
1 yellow onion
1 red bell pepper 
4 celery stalks
4 carrots
3 Tofurkey sausages
2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning*
3 cups vegetable broth
1 cup white rice
dash liquid smoke

Method:
  • If you want to make your own broth, set some water to boil now and get those ends of veg simmering in there.
  • Chop the veggies and slice the sausages.
  • Heat the oil in a large, deep skillet.
  • Sauté the veggies until tender, then add the sausage and sauté for a few more minutes.
  • Add the vegetable broth, liquid smoke, rice and Cajun seasoning. Stir.
  • Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 30 - 45 minutes, or until rice is done.

My jambalaya came out darker than I expected, but that's probably because I put too much seasoning in...

Be careful with the Cajun seasoning! 

Add more if you want to, but watch out. I was all like, "I love spicy food, so I'll put in 3 tablespoons." Mistake! The first ingredient is black pepper. The second ingredient is cayenne. My jambalaya was hella good, but I had to put some sweet BBQ sauce on my portion to tame the heat. 

*If you decide you need more than 2 tablespoons, proceed with caution!


So now I have a new favorite dinner! I will definitely be making more jambalaya, and if it comes out a little more colorful next time, I'll be sure to share the photos.

What's been cooking in your kitchen lately? Any tips on Cajun cuisine? Please comment below!

Oh, and before you go, be sure to check out Alex Chappo's newest music video, MAD MAGIC:




Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Vegan Shopping Tips for King Soopers


How to Shop Vegan at King Soopers

Okay first off, I have to say, who in the heck named this store? Who is King Sooper and why does he spell it that way??? I don't understand! I'm going to have to research this a bit and get back to you at the end of this post...it's bothering me.

I went to King Soopers to get lunch stuff and snacks for work. Lara Bars are on sale 10/$10 so I got two of each of my fave flaves. I got some sammich stuff - fresh bread, heirloom tomato, hummus, arugula, and vegan turkey slices. Sriracha Kettle chips on the side...I'm eating well! Just look at that scrumptious sammy - mmm.


So anyway, King Soopers is a big-big supermarket like a Safeway. I'm pretty sure they're only in Colorado. To the residents and visitors to this glorious state, here follows my advice on:

How to Shop Vegan at King Soopers

Tips:
+ Half-gallons of Simple Truth organic soymilk are only $2.79 regular price!

+ Watch for the 10/$10 sale on organic canned beans!

+ Corn tortillas are super cheap here. So is hot sauce. For all your enchilada needs.

+ If junk food is what you crave, get your chips or Ritz or sweet breakfast cereal here, just make sure to read the ingredients.

~ Vegan Finds ~
Check the end caps in the dairy section for vegan variations like
• Vegenaise vegan mayo
• Tofurkey sausages and slices
• Lightlife tempeh bacon
• Daiya cream cheese
...and, of course, tofu! (I❤️TOFU)

You can find vegan energy bars in the health food section, mixed up with all the other energy bars. Plant power, activate!!

There are lots of organic options, including fresh produce, cereal, chocolate soymilk, and peanut butter. You can also find essentials like olive oil, sushi nori, and vital wheat gluten at King Soopers.

...and finally, for any who were wondering, here's the Sooper King himself:


Lloyd J. King founded King Soopers in 1947 with Chuck Houchens. According to Here Lies Colorado: Fascinating Figures in Colorado History, "Curiously, to this day, no one seems to know why King and Houchens decided to spell 'Soopers' the way they did." I guess that settles it. The mysterious origin of Sooper will remain unsolved.

If you've read this far, please comment below! I'd like to say hi.


Monday, February 29, 2016

Happy Leap Year!

Here's a quick Leap Year reminder to look for the
leaping bunny
when choosing shampoo or cosmetics!


The leaping bunny symbol shows that no animals were harmed 
in the making of this product.

Happy Leap Year!
I'm taking advantage of this "extra day" to add some back-dated posts for February.
Get your banana bread here...Go Bananas