Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Tiny Tacos Tuesday

I've said it before - anybody can make tacos! Yesterday, when I was shopping at Natural Grocers, I found these super cute tiny tortillas made from organic corn. Today I whipped up some easy guacamole and refried beans for tiny tacos! Because today is Tuesday, and I love eating tacos. I also enjoy smashing foods with a fork.

For the guacamole:

3 ripe avocados
3 (or more) cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup cilantro, minced
1 lime
sea salt to taste

Smash up the avocados in a bowl. Add the minced garlic and cilantro, and squeeze in the juice of that lime. Add salt to taste. Done.

For the beans:

1 can pinto beans
1 tablespoon oil, for frying
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon chili powder
dash of cinnamon
dash of cayenne, if you like it hot
dash of salt

Heat the oil over medium flame, add the cumin seeds and onion, and sauté until the onion is translucent. Add the pinto beans, salt and spices, and stir until the beans are warmed. Turn off the burner. Smash the beans roughly with a fork. Done.

Taco time!

You might also like my other taco-related posts:

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Paleolicious Cauliflower Couscous

Last night I succeeded in making a dinner that was both Paleo and Vegan - as well as delicious.

Lots of people are eating "Paleo" these days and enjoying better health because of it. Cutting all processed foods, sugar and dairy from your diet can only be good for you. But what if you don't eat meat or eggs?

For vegans, a Paleo diet gets a little tricky. Quite a few of my vegan staples are not allowed: no grains, no beans, no potatoes and no grain-like seeds, not even quinoa. I've been doing my best to stay gluten-free, and rely pretty heavily on cornmeal and rice. I also love my beans; what would I do without hummus and tofu? Or lentils? I love lentils! Especially with rice.

As far as I can tell, a Paleo Vegan diet isn't much different from a Raw Vegan diet, except that you're allowed to heat things up. Think about it - can you eat grains, beans, or potatoes raw? No way. Seems logical...so okay, just replace all those yummy rice carbs with veggies like cauliflower or yams, eat lots and lots of nuts - is fresh ground peanut butter allowed? - swap soy milk for coconut or almond, and make hummus out of zucchini.

I am staying with my brother, who has been following a Paleo diet for some time, and I challenged myself to come up with a meal that we could share. First, I searched Pinterest for Paleo/Vegan recipes. The results were mainly raw desserts, interspersed with a few salads and smoothies. I wanted some ideas for a hearty and satisfying dinner, and quickly realized I would have to invent one myself. To the refrigerator!

I knew that I had to do something with my baby bella mushrooms; fungi need to get eaten right away, so I decided to make a new version of my Cauliflower Couscous, with raw almonds for extra protein and red grapes for sweetness. Cauliflower Couscous is one of my favorite dinners; it's easy to make, versatile, and doesn't take much time. If you have a food processor, dinner is ready in 20 minutes or less. Paleos and Vegans, please enjoy:

Paleolicious Cauliflower Couscous
(serves 2)

1 head cauliflower
8 ounces baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1 cup red grapes, sliced in halves
1/2 cup fresh cilantro or parsley, minced
1/2 cup raw almonds
2 or 3 cloves garlic
2 or 3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-low flame. Sauté the sliced mushrooms with a little black pepper until tender and browned.

While the mushrooms are cooking, roughly chop the cauliflower into florets. Put the cauliflower and garlic into a food processor and pulse several times, until it looks like couscous. Add to the skillet of mushrooms and sauté for about five minutes.

Pulse the cilantro and almonds in the food processor. Slice the grapes. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and season with sea salt and black pepper. Serve warm.

I know there weren't any food processors in the Paleolithic Era; you can use a knife (or a rock?) to pulverize the ingredients if you prefer.

R Cowgirl

This recipe is now part of Virtual Vegan Linky Potluck #4! Hop over to visit An Unrefined Vegan and check out this week's round of recipes.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Ruthless' Black Bean and Corn Salsa

Summer is the season for picnics and parties, and there are plenty of vegan foods that everyone can enjoy. Just take a look at this delicious salsa:

I was snacking on some salsa that my sister made, and couldn't stop, so I begged her for the recipe. Here's my version of...

Ruthless' Black Bean & Corn Salsa

2 cans black beans
2 ears corn (raw or roasted)
2 avocados
2 hot peppers
1 small red onion
1 cup chopped cilantro
Juice of 2 limes
1 teaspoon salt

Drain the beans and dump them into a large bowl.
Cut the kernels off the corn - do this right over the bowl.
Dice the avocados, chop the peppers and onion and mince the cilantro and throw them in.
Slice the limes into quarters and squeeze their juice over everything.
Sprinkle a teaspoon of salt on top.
Stir it all together and serve with tortilla chips.

I made a big bowl for the Fourth of July to share with my neighbors. They loved it.
Ruthless knows how to make some kickin' salsa.

This post is part of the 2nd Virtual Vegan Linky Potluck! Bon appetit!

Friday, July 4, 2014

American Classics: Perfect Potato Salad

Happy Fourth of July! On this all-American holiday, I'm dishing up another American Classic that's ideal for a picnic or a potluck. Here's some Perfect Potato Salad to bring along to your neighbor's next barbecue.

Perfect Potato Salad
Serves 12

12 Yukon Gold potatoes
1 small red onion, minced
3/4 cup Vegenaise
1/4 cup capers, with brine
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
4 sprigs dill weed, minced
1 teaspoon salt

Boil water in a large stock pot. Chop potatoes into 3/4"cubes. Boil potatoes until easily pierced with a fork. Drain, transfer to a large bowl and chill. (If you're in a hurry, stick the bowl in the freezer and stir occasionally.)

Add the minced red onion, Vegenaise, Dijon, capers, dill and salt. Stir until all the potatoes are coated with dressing. Serve cold. Share with friends.

Leave the skins on! Wash your potatoes well and remove any blemishes. The skin of a potato is the most nutritious part, with iron, calcium, potassium and B and C vitamins.

Red potatoes and fingerling potatoes are also great for potato salad.

For those with soy allergies, try the soy-free version of Vegenaise or substitute olive oil and apple cider vinegar.

Nutrition Information:
Calories per serving: 201
Calories from fat: 8.9g
Saturated fat: 0.4g
Carbohydrates: 25.9g
Protein: 2.9g

This recipe is a party-size version of my Best Potato Salad Ever.

Here are some more picnic-perfect recipes:




This post is also part of Virtual Vegan Linky Potluck #3!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Cowgirl Goes West

Greetings from Colorado! June has been a month of travel and transition, but I am now happily settled in Colorado Springs and will be resuming work on my American Classics series, so expect more recipes in July. 

I am loving Colorado so far. People are friendly, the views are breathtaking, the weather is sudden and beautiful. I've lived here two weeks now and I'm having a blast. My first week was full of craft beer and backyard barbecues and exploring my new neighborhood. Within walking distance are all kinds if bars and restaurants and 5 different yoga studios! I've been to three classes at Pranava Yoga, and I joined the Colorado Springs Vegetarian & Vegan Meetup Group at Coquette's Bistro for a vegan lunch - hi JL! Some of Coquette's scrumptious chocolate and coconut cupcakes came home with me. I attended a life drawing session downtown and I visited the Bemis Center for the Arts. There is so much to do!

Over the weekend I finally made it up a mountain! My friend had plans to watch the Pike's Peak International Hill Climb and invited me along. We arrived at the foot of the mountain on Saturday afternoon to queue up and made the ascent at 3am; I could see the city of Colorado Springs sparkling in the dark below, and the lightning of a thunderstorm far away on the prairie. We parked at The Devil's Playground, approximately 1000 feet below the summit, and set up camp on the mountainside. There were billions and billions of stars to gaze on - the Milky Way above and Uranus shining bright in the southeastern sky. We watched the sun rise and basked in its warmth - at 13,000 feet it is still cold and some snowdrifts remain unmelted.

Here I am outside the tent making peanut butter sammiches for breakfast:

The race was exciting; we had an excellent vantage point alongside a straightaway from which several hairpin curves were visible. I don't know a thing about motorcycles or race cars, but it was quite thrilling and I was impressed by the number of electric models. After staying up all night, I enjoyed a blissful nap lying in the grass in the warm rays of the sun, listening to the radio coverage of the race, the voices of the spectators around me and the revving of engines below.

I climbed around on the rock formations to see more of the view and in every direction found spectacular beauty. The Devil's Playground is so named because of the lightning that frequently strikes and ricochets from rock to rock. Fortunately, I was there on a calm day devoid of sudden storms. The wind was very strong and very cold; I was bundled up in long underwear, three pairs of socks, scarf, bandana, sweater and hoodie and my friend's winter coat. I did not experience altitude sickness, but I did find it more difficult to breathe; even minor exertions made me feel winded. Perhaps the panoramas took my breath away, or maybe it was the gusting winds...regardless, the air is incredibly pure and the heights are intoxicating. I can't wait to get back up there.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Pizza Party

Today, apparently, is Vegan Pizza Day, so I am sharing some photos from my recent visit to Michigan. Whenever my sisters and I get together, there is bound to be a pizza party - it's a family tradition.
Ruthless, Faye Babe and I opened a couple of bottles of wine and made pizza together. We started with a gluten-free homemade crust and our special family sauce recipe from scratch. We always make "supreme" pizzas, loaded with toppings. This one had chopped onions, two kinds of peppers, mushrooms, tomatillos, black and green olives, tofutti cream cheese, herbs and spices.
I learned from my sister Jo that you can make pizzas on the grill!! She grilled her homemade crusts a little first, then loaded them with toppings and grilled them again. Grilled pizza - who knew??

When the sisters get together there's lots of recipe swapping and taste testing. We spent one long afternoon sipping cider. First we visited Northern Natural Cider House in downtown Traverse City. Their menu has several vegan options, including pizza! I tried a tart cherry-apple cider and we snacked on a trio sampler of organic salsa, hummus and guacamole. Then we all drove up onto the Leelanau Peninsula to visit Tandem Ciders. Their "Smackintosh" was our all-around favorite. We brought a growler and a few bottles home for pizza party #2.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

American Classics: Red Apple Pie

Pie is one of the ultimate American classics. Apple, cherry, pecan...there's nothing like a slice of pie for dessert or for breakfast with a strong cup o' Joe.  Friday was Pie Day. I baked a red apple pie from scratch. If you want to impress your friends with your DIY skills, try this recipe. It's easy as pie...

Though it may seem complicated in this age of premade frozen pie crusts, it is really easy to make one from scratch. I used gluten-free flour and coconut oil to construct a simple crust that is as flaky as any pie crust should be. Here's a short stop-motion movie to demonstrate:

Red Apple Pie
  • For the crust
  • 3 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup solid (chilled) coconut oil
  • 8 tablespoons ice water
  • For the filling
  • 4 red apples, chopped
  • 1 inch ginger root, grated
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon

Combine the flour, salt and nutmeg in a large bowl.
Cut in the coconut oil with a fork or two knives (or pulse in food processor).
Add the ice water and divide dough in half.
Roll dough into two balls, wrap in plastic and chill for at least 1 hour.
Combine apple slices, grated ginger, cinnamon, maple syrup and cornstarch in the large bowl.
Roll out one ball of dough for the bottom crust and place in pie pan.
Pour filling into pie crust.
Roll out the second ball of dough for the top crust.
Trim crusts and crimp edges. Cut a few vents in the surface.
Bake at 375°F for 40 minutes.

Tips and Tricks:
You can roll your crust out on any well-floured surface, in the traditional way, but if you want to make it easier to pick up the crust, here's a trick I learned from my mom: wet your counter top and stick a sheet of plastic wrap to it, then roll out your dough on top. You can lift the sheet of plastic wrap and easily transfer your crust to the pie plate.

Somehow I never seem to have a rolling pin. In a pinch, an empty wine bottle works quite well.

This crust recipe works for savory pies and quiches as well. If you like it sweet, just add a couple tablespoons of sugar to your crust for dessert pies.

Use the tines of a fork to crimp the edges together, or just use your thumb to indent some ridges.

Vents can be cut in any clever design. I made an "A" for apple.

I shared this recipe in the first Virtual Vegan Linky Potluck!