Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Every Little Bit Counts

"I celebrate everyone who makes steps toward a cruelty-free lifestyle, whether they are vegan, vegetarian, flexitarian, or even eat meat sparingly. Every bit counts." - Melissa Morgan, Vegan Baker

Whether you're saving the environment by eating organically/ethically, reducing animal cruelty, or improving your health by incorporating more vegetables, every little bit counts. It's discouraging to see so many all-or-nothing messages about vegetarianism. It's okay not to be perfectly vegetarian, especially when you're starting out and aren't sure what to eat. Just keep trying new things. Every little bit counts.

Click Here to read the VegNews article.


Monday, August 26, 2013

Meatless Monday: Garden Fresh

Summer has turned into a hiatus from recipe writing and for good reason. Everyone has been giving me grocery bags full of home grown, garden fresh vegetables all summer long. Just this afternoon I got a bag of squash, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, and green beans. Home grown vegetables are so much more flavorful than what we typically find at the grocery store so rather than cooking I've been sprinkling home grown tomatoes and cucumbers with a little sea salt or eating green beans and new potatoes fresh from the pressure cooker.

Lima beans are a perfect example of the difference between home grown and store bought veggies. Garden-fresh limas taste rich and buttery - a bit like a buttered potato. Store bought lima beans taste...well...mealy and mushy by comparison. If you're new to vegetables. (Yes, some people grow up without eating vegetables) I highly recommend stopping by your nearest farmers market and trying veggies you may have previously overlooked.

The other reason I've taken a recipe writing hiatus? My dining room looks like this:

The Great Built-In Cabinet Project of 2013


Although garden fresh veggies are a much better excuse than a trashed dining room.

Monday, July 29, 2013

No-Crab (Vegan) Rangoons

Crab rangoons were one of my favorite Chinese restaurant treats prior to going vegetarian. I have no idea if rangoons are in any way authentically Chinese, however. I wanted to create a vegan version of this favorite for the Chinese New Year themed potluck I held a few months ago. Vegan wonton wrappers can be difficult to find. I found mine at a local Asian food store. Most wonton wrappers contain a small amount of egg. Both the typical and egg-free varieties freeze well so vegans, stock up when you find the egg-free variety.


No-Crab (Vegan) Rangoons
1 container of Tofutti brand cream cheese
1t sugar
1/2t garlic powder
2t lemon juice
3 scallions, diced
24 wonton wrappers
olive oil spray

Instructions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium-large bowl combine all ingredients (except the wonton wrappers and oil spray of course).

2. Spoon 1t of filling into each of the wonton wrappers like so:
I use 2 spoons. 1 to scoop the filling and another to scoot the filling into the wonton wrapper. 


3. Fold the wonton wrappers like this:
Bring 2 flat sides of the wrapper together and pinch.
Bring the remaining 2 flat sides together and pinch.
Poof! You have a fancy looking rangoon there.

4. Place the folded wontons on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and spray lightly with olive oil. Spraying (or brushing) with olive oil helps the rangoons stay crispy rather than becoming tough and dry while baking
Note the lack of parchment paper in the photo below. 
Don't make the same mistake. 
Parchment paper is your friend and will keep the rangoons from sticking to the baking sheet.
Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until the edges of the rangoons are golden brown.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Lebanese Lentil Stew

Lebanese Lentil Stew
For most in the northern hemisphere, it may be too hot outside to consider this savory, tangy stew for dinner. However here in Roanoke, VA we've had one rainy day after another. With lots of time indoors and cloudy skies causing cooler temperatures, this stew hit the spot.

Lebanese Lentil Stew

Ingredients
2C lentils (the type of lentil found in bags in most American grocery stores)
9C water
2 medium potatoes, diced into cubes
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2-4T olive oil 
2t citric acid (found in the canning or spice section)
1-2t salt to taste
1t pepper
1T dried mint

Instructions
1 - Wash and drain lentils because eating dirt or tiny stones is bad news.
2 - Add lentils and water to a large pot, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes (or until lentils are soft) stirring occasionally.
3 - Add the diced potatoes, salt, pepper, mint, and citric acid. Simmer for another 20-30 minutes (or until the potatoes are soft) stirring occasionally.
4- After adding the potatoes, add 2-4T of olive oil to a medium frying pan and fry the diced onion to a golden/medium brown.
5. During the last 10 minutes of cooking, stir the onion into the stew.

The desired color of the onion in question.
Enjoy!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Not-Food Friday: Where Have I Been?


Let's see...Where have I been?  Philadelphia, Washington DC, and working on my house in addition to taking care of the animal herd and holding down the fort at work.

Today's Not-Food Friday is brought to you be the pets I've been pet sitting during my hiatus. Basque in their adorableness:

Jango the German Shepherd mix puppy. So silly. He's laying across my purse in this picture.

Azreal the naughty escape artist ninja kitty who is in love with my hair.

I also celebrated my 31st birthday. (And, no, I do not mind admitting my age.) Two of the highlights were this nifty ice cream cake from the boyfriend and my 2 favorite kids and these tasty local chocolates from the owners of Hellow Yellow.
Ice cream cake time!

Amazing local chocolates from Baylee's
What have you been up to during my hiatus?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Culinary Highlights from a Madison, WI Business Trip

What I have been up to lately? A better question is what have I NOT been up to. Business trips, lawn projects, and home repair...Oh my!  All this hasn't left me much time in the kitchen, but hey, I guess it goes to show that I am a normal person with a busy schedule just like most of you. 

Here are some culinary highlights from my recent business trip to Madison, WI:


HuHot
Rest assured it is tastier than it looks in this photo discreetly snapped at the table with an iPhone.
If you're ever in an area with a HuHot, I highly recommend stopping in. It's a Mongolian grill style restaurant where you pick your dish and sauce then your dish is grilled by spatula flipping stir fry artists. It's definitely child and vegan friendly. 

Brennan's Market

Sierra Soups Mix...I also should have snapped a photo of the fancy cheeses. You know what they say about hindsight...

Anyway, Brennan's Market is a pretty cool place for lacto-vegetarians to pick up some delicious, local, specialty cheeses. Although I don't consume vast quantities of cheese myself, I picked up quite a bit to take home to my boyfriend and his kids. Everyone has enjoyed the 5yr aged cheddar and the adults enjoyed the chipotle jack.

For the vegans, Brennan's offers Sierra Soups mixes which are also largely allergen free.

Please visit the TSA's guidelines before making your cheese selection. Soft cheeses are prohibited...I guess people could hide things in the cheese??? Not sure on that one. Also be prepared to whip out your cheese during the screening process. It will typically be run through the xray machine separately.

Wicker Park inside the Chicago Airport

It's really quite challenging to take a good picture of sushi with a phone in an airport.


I had a really REALLY long layover on the way home. (Something like 4hrs of roaming the airport). With time to burn, my business associate and I decided to have a relaxed sushi lunch at Wicker Park. "Sushi" refers to the roll rather than the raw (or cooked) fish typically incorporated into the roll. In my experience, veggie rolls are available at most sushi restaurants. I was pleasantly surprised by this vegetarian roll which offers an array of different veggies (in addition to the usual cucumber and avocado) and a tender bright green soy wrapper instead of the traditional seaweed wrapper. Surprisingly tasty find for airport fare.

Other highlights from the trip:

This giant banana, made of bottle caps, designed to be ridden.
A banana...made of bottle caps...that can be ridden.

Flying over the great lakes
Gorgeous view
Discovering that most everything in WI is still frozen in April

I did not walk across the ice because showing up to meetings soaking wet is typically frowned upon.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Grocery Store Lo Mein

Last week, I was in the mood for lo mein. It seems everyone else in my neighborhood had the same idea because the grocery store was sold out of almost everything I had planned on adding to the dish.  Good thing I just make stuff up as a go along.

Here's what I came up with given the extremely limited selection at the grocery store:

Grocery Store Lo Mein

Grocery Store LoMein
4 Shiitake Mushrooms, cut into match sticks
4 Green Onions, diced
1 Red Pepper, cut into match sticks
1 large handful angel hair (finely shredded) Cabbage
1 package of Spaghetti Noodles
1" ginger root, peeled and shredded
1/2C Soy Sauce
1T Sesame Oil
1T Vegetable Oil
1/2t Red Pepper Flakes

Assorted veggies prepped and ready to cook.

Step 1: Cook spaghetti noodles according to the package directions. Drain the water from the noodles, put 1T of sesame oil in the bottom of the pot used to cook the noodles, add the drained noodles back to the pot and stir. This keeps the noodles from sticking together.

Step 2: Break out the wok. That's right. A wok. I have an electric wok and it is the most useful kitchen gadget ever invented. (I'll extol the virtues of woks another day.)  Heat the wok to 350 degrees, add 1T of vegetable oil and shredded ginger. Stir fry the ginger until it begins to brown around the edges.  (About 5 minutes)

Step 3:  Next, add a large handful of shredded cabbage, and the red pepper cut into match sticks. Stir fry until the peppers start to soften just a little. (About 3 minutes)
The Wok: Most useful kitchen gadget ever.
Step 4: Add Noodles, shiitake mushooms, 1/2C soy sauce, 1/2t red pepper flakes, and green onions. Stir fry for another 3-5 minutes so the noodles are evenly coated with soy sauce and red pepper flakes.

MMMM. Lo Mein.
Also, I need some new props for food photography.

Monday, March 11, 2013

(Super Easy) Tomato Macaroni

Whew! What a week!  This week looks like it's going to be just as busy. What's your favorite thing to eat when you're running around like crazy?

I'm not sure I have a favorite, but tomato macaroni is simple, inexpensive, and fast. I dare say it's even kid friendly given the sweet mild flavor of stewed tomatoes. My grandmother used to fix this when I was a kid...except she used one big jar of canned tomatoes from her garden.

Tomato Macaroni
Tomato Macaroni: Fast simple and <gasp!> kid friendly
1. Pour 2 cans of stewed tomatoes, including the juices, into a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil then turn down the heat to medium.

Mmmm. Tomatoes.

2. Cook macaroni according to the directions on the package. The instructions on my box indicated to boil for 8-10 minutes so I boiled the macaroni for 7 minutes. I left it a little too al dente purposely.

3. While the macaroni is cooking, use a wooden spoon to chop up the cooking tomatoes. (Unless you want great big whole tomatoes in your tomato mac)

4. Once the slightly under cooked macaroni is done, drain the cooking water and transfer to the pot with the tomatoes.

5. Take the tomato macaroni pot off the burner and stir well. Allow to to cool uncovered for about 10 minutes so the macaroni can soak up the yummy tomato juice.

If you're not making this dish for spice-phobic kids, feel free to dress it up with basil, oregano, and garlic or toss in some nutritional yeast and chili powder instead.  Tomato mac makes a tasty side dish or can be served as a big ol' bowl of comfort food when you're having a week like the one I had last week.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Corn and Black Bean Enchiladas

Enchiladas are delicious. I could eat these at least once a week and not tire of them. They're spicy, but in a flavorful way. Another awesome comfort food to brighten up a dreary winter day. Did I mention these are omni approved? 

Corn and Black Bean Enchildas

Enchiladas
1 medium red onion, diced
1T coconut oil
1 can of corn, drained and rinsed
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2t chili powder (or more to taste)
1/4C fresh chopped cilantro
juice from 1/2 lime
8 corn tortillas (or about 6 flour tortillas)

Enchilada Sauce
1 - 16 oz can chunky salasa (I used medium heat)
1t cornstarch

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

2. Spray a 9x11" pan with oil.

3. In a large skillet, add oil and diced onion and saute over medium-high heat until the onion softens and begins to brown around the edges.

4. Add corn, beans, chili powder and cilantro to the skillet. Stir that sucker up over medium heat and squeeze the juice from 1/2 lime into the skillet. Mix well and heat through until the cilantro begins to wilt. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. (Don't want to burn your hands stuffing the enchiladas!)

5. Make a tortilla-size envelope out of aluminum foil and wrap the tortillas in it. Put it in the preheating oven for about 3 minutes. This softens the tortillas so they don't split as you wrap them around the filling.

6. While the tortillas are warming up, puree the can of salsa in food processor, add cornstarch and mix well. If you're in a rush, just use 2 cans of store bought enchilada sauce.

7. The fun part: Filling tortillas. I admit, I should have taken pictures of this step.  Place about 2 serving spoons of filling in a row in the center of the tortilla and fold the tortilla like a letter but without the creases.

8. Place the tortillas in your oiled 9x11" pan with the fold side down.

9. Once your pan is full of filled and folded tortillas, pour the sauce over your delicious enchildas.

10. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

11. Serve!  I topped my enchiladas with Toffuti sour cream and guacamole. Soooo delicious.
Tofutti Sour Cream - Best vegan sour cream in my opinion.
Wholly Guacamole. I pick these up at Sam's Club and freeze whatever I don't use right away. Freeze guacamole? Yep! As long as it's in an air tight container.


Monday, February 18, 2013

Red Bean Chili with Cinnamon and Cocoa

Cinnamon and Cocoa in chili? Yes! It's delicious. The cinnamon adds spiciness and a pleasing aroma while the cocoa adds an almost smoky richness. The absence of sugar keeps this chili from tasting like candy. This is a great comfort food dish for a day like today when it's a windy 21 degrees (-6C) outside.

Red Bean Chili with Cinnamon and Cocoa topped with Tofutti Sour Cream

Red Bean Chili with Cinnamon and Cocoa

1 medium red onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2T olive oil
2 cans red beans, drained and rinsed
2 cans petite diced tomatoes
1t ground cinnamon
1t unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2t cumin
1/2t chili powder (or more to taste)

In medium sauce pan add olive oil and onion. Saute on medium-high heat until the edges of the onion begin to brown. Add minced garlic and continue to saute for 3 additional minutes. Add remaining ingredients to the sauce pan and simmer on low heat for 30 minutes.

A friend suggested serving this dish as Cincinnati chili over spaghetti noodles. Perhaps I'll try that next. This time, I topped it a dollop of Tofutti (vegan) sour cream and ate it with a spoon. Yum!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Barbecue Tofu

Valentine's Day is coming up and I've received a couple requests to post a recipe for barbecue tofu. BBQ tofu sounds complex or even fancy but it is actually super simple. I promise. Impress the vegan/vegetarian love of your life with this tasty dish. I've even served BBQ tofu and this vegan mac and cheese to omnivores with rave reviews.

BBQ Tofu

Barbecue Tofu with extra BBQ sauce for dipping and vegan mac and cheese

1. Purchase a block of extra firm tofu and your favorite BBQ sauce. The type of tofu that is packed in a tub of water. (Do NOT buy the hermetically sealed silken tofu in the shelf-stable box because it will fall apart and turn into mush.)

2. Take the unopened tub of tofu and stick it in your freezer for a day (or longer). Freezing the tofu will give it a chewier "meaty" texture. In my opinion, freezing helps the tofu absorb more of the sauce.

3. Thaw the tofu by putting the unopened pack in your refrigerator. It takes about 24hrs to thaw completely. If you need it to thaw faster, you can set the package out on the counter.

4. Press tofu. This is very easy. Take 2 plates, line the bottom plate with paper towels, put tofu on top of paper towels, then put the second plate on top of the tofu. Place a heavy book on top of the top plate. Pressing removes some of the moisture from the tofu which allows it to soak up more sauce. I usually press the tofu for 30minutes while I'm prepping other dishes.

5. Slice the tofu into whatever shape your heart desires. I like triangles that are about 2in long and 1/2in thick.

6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

7. Place the tofu on a well oiled cookie sheet and brush with your favorite BBQ sauce.

8. Bake for 15min.

9. Remove tofu from oven, flip each piece, and brush with BBQ sauce so that both sides are coated in sauce.

10. Bake for 15min.

Finished Product. The tofu will have a lightly crispy layer where the BBQ sauce has carmelized and a chewy texture that my omni friends compare to chicken nuggets.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Spicy Thai-Inspired Man-Noodles

Spicy Thai-Inspired Man-Noodles

Sometimes I cook in a kitchen other than my own...with only the ingredients I have on hand...with scant equipment. This recipe originated in one such kitchen owned by 4 men thus the playful name Spicy Thai-Inspired  Man-Noodles. No men were harmed in the making of this dish.

Be forewarned, in traditional man-kitchen style, I did not measure anything for this recipe. Everything is an estimate and all ingredients are based on things I had on hand. Feel free to take liberty with this dish. This is how I cook 90% of the time.

Spicy Thai-Inspired Man-Noodles 

1 package whole wheat linguini noodles
1 large handful of snow peas
1 bunch of cilantro
1 bunch of green onions/scallions
1/2C Peanut butter
1/2C Water
6T Hot Sauce
1t Soy Sauce
1T oil

Boil noodles according instructions on package.

Dice the bunch of green onions, and cop the cilantro. I added about this much cilantro which was slightly less than a bunch.
Cilantro!
 In a saucepan, add 1T oil, snow peas, and green onions. Saute over high heat for about 5 minutes until the snow peas are tender crisp.

Why a sauce pan? It's what I had on hand. You can be all un-man-like and use a skillet if you prefer.
 Since I only had 2 pots, I scooped the snow pea and onion mixture into a bowl and re-used the same pot to make the sauce.

Next, the sauce: Add approximately 1/2C peanut butter, 1t soy sauce, and 1/2C water to saucepan over medium heat. Next, I added about 6T of hot sauce. This is the part where you should add hot sauce to taste. Stir until your sauce begins to bubble and looks about like this:
Mmmmm. Sauce.
 Add veggies and sauce to noodles, stir, top with cilantro and chow down!

What brands did I use?
Kroger creamy peanut butter, Frank's RedHot Wings Sauce, and a packet of soy sauce swiped from the grocery store sushi counter.

Why didn't I measure anything? 
This was the one and only measuring device in the man-kitchen.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Meatless Mon...erm...Tuesday

It's Tuesday. I completely missed Meatless Monday. Last week turned out to be such an all consuming disaster of a week that I didn't have time to compose yesterday's post let alone write a recipe, cook, and photograph something delicious. I'm going to post food pR0n instead so haters will be forced to hate.



Susan V is pretty much my hero. Not only is she an excellent photographer, but everything on her blog is absolutely flavorful and nutritious. This "chicken" salad being no exception. I highly recommend her blog to veg*ns and omnis alike. There really is something for everyone.

Meanwhile in the Radical Cabbage kitchen, the busted faucet o' doom has been replaced by this resplendent masterpiece which perfectly matches the light fixture, door hardware, and shelf brackets already in place in my kitchen.

 Here's an un-edited picture of the fabulous replacement faucet for your viewing pleasure:
Nice faucet, huh?
Did I think to photograph the light fixture, door hardware, and shelf  brackets? 'Course not.Oh well.



Tuesday, January 15, 2013

If Indoor Plumbing Doesn't Make You Happy: The Sink Saga

So...I said I would update more regularly this year...Yeah, about that...

My kitchen looks like this:
Note the epic levels of counter top clutter
The faucet broke. One minute we were rinsing off dishes and the next we were being showered with blast of freezing water spurting out of the side of the sink. After a quick look, it was decided that I needed a new faucet. Cool. I've never liked that faucet, but it came with the house and, being frugal, I haven't invested in a replacement.

Exhibit A: Big ol' hole in the side of the faucet that hosed down everything within a 3' radius of the sink:

Faucets are easy to replace, so I picked up a faucet on lunch hour figuring I'd spend something like 30 minutes digging everything out from under the cabinet and replacing the offending faucet.




Exhibit B: New faucet. It will look better when it's installed. Promise.

Meanwhile, the faucet started to leak slowly, this time without being turned on, soaking everything in the cabinet below and puddling in the basement. Yay. (That's sarcasm, btw.)

I've owned a home for years. I'm a weekend warrior. I literally fix things all the time. I am also cursed in all things related to plumbing. The faucet replacement project turned into 2hrs of lying on my back with the top half of my torso awkwardly crammed into one side of the cabinet, trying in vain to loosen the nuts holding the faucet to the sink with a pile of wet slimy wrenches at my side while water dripped from the supply line and onto my face.

The valve that *should* shut off the cold water broke. (I'm cursed, I say.) Angry, drenched, and spewing profanity,  I called a friend to help me seal off the pipe avoid further water damage to the cabinet, floor, and basement. He temporarily patched the leaking valve with water proof tape.

Everything looks so clean and dry in this photo. In reality, it was the home repair equivalent of spiders: dark, wet, cold, and fairly disgusting.
Meanwhile, the cats supervised from the dining room.

Right to left: Giant Storm Kitty and Yeowy

Moral of the story: If indoor plumbing doesn't make you happy, what can?  (Also: It's hard to cook without a functional sink.)

Monday, January 7, 2013

Yummy Yogurt Ranch Dip

Kids love ranch dressing. That might be the under statement of the century because I've met kids who like to have a few vegetables with their ranch dressing.  Recently I was tasked with throwing a child's birthday party and, being the veg*n health conscious type, vegetables had to be included amongst the orange colored munchies and decadent vanilla cake with chocolate frosting. After watching numerous Youtube videos on baking and frosting cakes, and consulting The Joy of Vegan Baking, I felt slightly more confident in my cake baking abilities and made this cake at the request of my favorite 8yr old. It had been about 10yrs since I last baked a cake, so I'm unnaturally proud of the unimpressive looking cake pictured below.


Then, I moved on to making Yummy Yogurt Ranch Dip featuring fat free Greek yogurt and natural ingredients. My dear sweet friend Hanna asked me to post this recipe about a year ago but then 2012 happened and the recipe didn't get posted. After I set the table for the party I had an "aha" moment: I could snap a picture of the yogurt dip and post the recipe! Much to my surprise, the veggies with yogurt ranch disappeared faster than the orange munchies.

Yummy Yogurt Ranch Dip

6oz Greek Yogurt (I used a fat free store brand single serving container)
1tsp diced dried onion
1tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp dried parsley
1/4 tsp salt (or salt to taste if you're cutting back on salt)

Add spices to Greek yogurt and mix well. Store in an airtight container in the fridge over night, or for at least 1hr if you're making it on the spot,  so flavors can mingle.

Serve with bite size veggies for dipping (I recommend grape tomatoes), spread on crackers, or use as a dipping sauce for falafels.

Mmm! Tasty. And so much more nutritious than your average store-bought ranch dressing too.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Starting 2013 with a bang...and a potluck or two

Back in the day (which was about 2 years ago) I met some cool vegetarians at a Vegan and Veg Curious Meetup hosted on Meetup.com. The leader of the group stepped down and that Meetup group has since been removed. Thankfully, I woke up this morning thinking that I should create another meetup group for Roanoke area vegetarians. :-)

If you're in the Roanoke, VA area you can join here: 

Roanoke Vegetarians Meetup Group 

Happy 2013 everyone!

<3 Courtney