Monday, September 28, 2015

Vegan MoFo Day 28: Tacos vs. Burritos

Totes Tacos!!!

I make tacos at least once a week, if not twice! Tacos are way better than burritos. For one thing, flour tortillas disgust me. They just taste weird. I don't like them. Every time I get a burrito, I end up just eating the filling. Tacos, however, usually come in tortillas made of corn. Plus, there's a tortilla factory only a few blocks from my art studio on Santa Fe that makes the best corn tortillas - so fresh and soft! Enchiladas are probably my favorite-favorite, but tacos are quick and easy when one is enhungered. 

Sometimes my tacos are simply spicy black beans with tomato, avocado, and hot sauce. Other times I incorporate leftovers, like the Field Roast kielbasa tacos below. Sometimes I like to get fancy - I'm experimenting with inventing my own "tofish" tacos as seen in the first photo. Tacos also go great with my favorite food group, beer. 

For as often as I make tacos, you'd think I'd blog about them more! But even in my blog posts, tacos are beating burritos 4 - 1, and the burrito post is from 5 years's the evolution of the Tacos vs. Burritos debate on Rubber Cowgirl:

Tuesday, June 22, 2010
black beans, black olives, quinoa, 4 different peppers, sweet corn and cilantro in a pita

Tuesday, September 14, 2010
broccoli, bulgur, garlic, peppers and onions in a whole wheat tortilla

Tuesday, April 29, 2014
sweet potatoes, roasted corn, black beans, rice and guacamole in blue corn tortillas

Tuesday, July 22, 2014
pinto beans and guacamole with cilantro and tiny tomatoes in tiny tortillas

Tuesday, August 12, 2014
tacos almendras - seasoned ground almonds, radishes, green onions, cilantro and lime
tacos aubergine - grilled eggplant dip, baby greens, black olives, garlic and cilantro

Tuesday August 26, 2014
sweet & spicy tempeh with cherry tomatoes and swill chard in corn tortillas

Notice how all these posts happened on Tuesdays? That's not entirely coincidence. I'm a teensy bit miffed that this post is going up on a Monday. I blame it on the burritos. 

What are your favorite taco fillings? Comment below!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Vegan MoFo Day 26: Cupboard Raid!

Scratching up an awesome dinner from what's in my cupboards has been an almost daily challenge for me this month. I've been forced to practice extreme frugality. My cupboards are nearly bare, though not as bad as Old Mother Hubbard's. For instance, there was this big can of hearts of palm that I had no idea what to do with, a sack of red lentils and another of split peas, and in the fridge some fruits & veggies that needed to be used immediately. Natural Grocers will sometimes take their damaged or expiring produce and sell $2 grab bags. I grabbed one with apples, golden beets, and carrots.

So what am I going to make with these random ingredients? Vedge again! I turned to my favorite cookbook for inspiration, and low and behold, there on page 125 a recipe for Hearts of Palm Cakes on Curried's almost like I planned this!

I added the carrots and beets into the lentil curry and used my immersion blender to purée everything together. I topped them with peppers from our Garnish Garden for extra kick. The lentils were tasty, but the hearts of palm cakes rocked my world. Crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside, and a perfect harmony of flavors. I'm really glad someone gifted me that can of hearts of palm! I might actually buy some more next time I go shopping. Apparently they make an excellent vegan substitute for seafood - my omni boyfriend loved the "crab cakes" as much as I did!

How about 'dem apples? Well, dem apples are for dessert! I made an apple galette with raw sugar and cinnamon. It was like eating a giant turnover. This dinner was a great success!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Vegan MoFo Day 23: Happy Autumn Equinox!

It's officially autumn - my favorite season! I can smell it in the air...

My boyfriend and I were invited to camp with friends of friends on their property near Fairplay, Colorado. I'm always willing to camp, and a trip into the mountains seemed like the perfect to way to spend the last weekend of summer. Up near the treeline, the golden glory of the aspens is already at its zenith. What glorious color! What spectacular views! And so cold at night - I swear that when I woke up at 5 and went to revive the fire, the temperature was less than 40 degrees.

I've been participating in a yoga challenge this month, in addition to Vegan MoFo, so I found some tall rocks to climb and did a little yoga up at 12,000 feet. This backbend made feel ridiculously dizzy, even though I was in no danger of falling. Leveling up in yoga is one of my goals this year, and the yoga challenge is helping me revive my practice.

Back in Denver, it still feels like summer, but the nights are growing colder. I decided to take advantage of a cool morning and bake something sweet before I left for work today...

(makes 9 bars)

1/2 cup vegan butter, room temperature
1 cup brown organic sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup soy or almond milk
2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup dried apricots, diced

Preheat oven to 375°F.
Cream butter and sugar together in a large bowl. Blend in vanilla and soy milk.
Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl, then add to the wet mixture. Mix well to form the cookie dough.
Fold in the chocolate chips, almonds, and apricots. Pat the dough into an 8" square baking pan.
Bake 15 minutes, or until golden.
When cool, cut into squares and serve with coffee.


Happy Equinox everyone!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Vegan MoFo Day 21: Stranded on a Desert Island!

If I were stranded on a desert island, and all my nutritional needs were met, what 3 food items would I bring in unlimited quantity? I've deliberated over this question for many hours. I boiled it down into another question - what kind of a meal would I want to eat every day for the rest of my life?

Obviously, my first pick has to be Cold Beer. All my nutritional needs are met! And what's better on a hot beach than a nice cold beer?

To go with that beer, Edamame and Avocado Rolls. If avocado rolls don't count, then I'll skip the edamame and ask for endless avocados and sushi rice. I'm sure that on a desert island I can scare up some seaweed.

I really hope I get to bring some nice fat books with me to this island, and some art supplies. Otherwise I'll just sit around on the beach all day drinking my cold beer.

Hmm. On second thought, that doesn't sound so bad. Maybe I'll make this my retirement plan...

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Vegan MoFo Day 19: Lunch on the Go

I'm always taking my lunch on the go lately, and as I commute via bicycle, these lunches usually take the form of a protein-packed salad.

Perhaps a quinoa taco salad with peppers, avocado, and corn...or a tofu salad with almonds, tomatoes, and grapes. Salads are super versatile - baby greens, sundries tomatoes, hummus, vegenaise, beans, fruit, nuts - the combinations are endless! They're quick to prepare and make a terrific lunch-on-the-go. I usually eat mine in the park.

By the way, I discovered a new way to drain tofu! I'm not sure how I didn't think of this before, but if you're gonna mash the tofu anyway, say for salad or scramble, there's a mess-free way to get the water out. Just poke a few holes along the edges of the top wrapper with a fork, hold the package over the sink, and squeeze.

Now that your tofu is drained, add your veggies and dressing. Here's a recipe for the tofu salad I've been making lately - the frozen peas help keep it cold til lunch time. It's also great in a pita, if sandwiches are more your style.

Green Pea Tofu Salad
makes 4 servings

1 package of extra-firm tofu, drained
1/3 cup Vegenaise
1 cup frozen baby peas
1 yellow tomato, diced
1/2 cup baby arugula
1/2 cup red seedles grapes, sliced
1 Tablespoon Herbs de Provence
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
6 leaves fresh basil, chiffonade

Mash tofu with a fork. 
Add all the remaining ingredients and stir well.
Pack in a reusable container.
Now you have lunch to go!

Calories per serving: 268
Protein per serving: 13g
Total fat per serving: 18g
Carbs per serving: 9.4g

What are your favorite lunches to go? Do you have a favorite combo for tofu salad? Comments most welcome!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Vegan MoFo Day 16: My Favorite Late-Summer Food


Variety is the spice of life, and there's just so much variety to love about tomatoes - especially heirlooms - their flavors, their shapes, their colors! I brought some of these gorgeous almost black tomatoes home from the farmer's market last week. They were bleeding by the time I got them to the kitchen, they were so ripe.

One of my best food memories is the day I learned to love tomatoes. I was hanging with my bestie and we were discussing vegan lunch options. "Let me make you a tomato sandwich," said Miss Austen. "I just brought some heirloom tomatoes back from my family's organic farm in New Jersey." Bread brushed with olive oil, a thick slice of tomato and freshly ground sea salt...I was skeptical until I took a bite. Then my whole world shifted. I realized - I love tomatoes!

I've certainly been enjoying the tomatoes this season, from the farmer's market, from my teensy garden and from my brother's abundant one. My boyfriend and I are growing Early Girls and Green Zebras, as well as your standard Red Cherry. I've been buying black tomatoes and yellow tomatoes from local growers, and my brother is growing all kids of tomatoes, including a topsy-turvy tomato on the back porch.

What are your favorite late summer foods? What varieties of tomatoes have you grown or enjoyed? Comments most welcome!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Vegan MoFo Day 12: My Current Favorite Cookbook, Vedge!

I carried this book around with me for over a year before I tried any of the recipes. I was seriously missing out.

Vedge is a famous "vegetable" restaurant in historic Philadelphia. Vegetables are the essence of seasonal cuisine, and they are the stars at Vedge. Everything they serve is vegan, and this cookbook includes "100 Plates Large and Small that Redefine Vegetable Cooking" straight from chef/owners Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby.

I love this cookbook so much because of the season-centered dishes. It makes eating locally so easy! I just pulled a zucchini, tomato and olive tart out of the oven. I'm at my brother's house and the tomatoes in his garden are especially abundant. Encouraged to use as many as I wanted, I was glad that I had tucked Vedge into my backpack. I turned to tomates in the index, and quickly found a recipe for which all the ingredients were at hand. I even added some capers! 

I was craving pizza or bruschetta, and this tart hit the spot. Cherry tomatoes, zucchini and basil from the garden, on a simple olive oil crust with black olives (and capers). It only took about 20 minutes to prep and 20 to bake. The flavors of basil and tomato are so fresh - look how red the tomatoes are! I'm afraid I might eat the entire tart...

 Made two Vedge recipes for the "Recreate a Restaurant Meal" challenge, and I will make at least one more before the Vegan Month of Food comes to a close. My copy is riddled with bookmarks. Besides the large and small plates, there are breads and desserts and cocktails. I believe I sense some zucchini French toast in the very near future.

Happy MoFo! What are your favorite cookbooks? Do you also have a copy of Vedge? Comments are most welcome!