Taco Tuesday: DIY 10-Ingredient Taco Seasoning + Lentil Tacos

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I make tacos every Tuesday! They are fun with whatever is in the refrigerator – literally anything can be a taco. The most important part is the seasoning and so, I put together my own mix to have on hand because it is way easier than measuring each spice every time.

It’s all the usual suspects and then two surprises: chipotle powder for smokiness and cinnamon for that x factor, sort of sweet and sort of “what is that?” I recommend using 1/8 teaspoon each in your next batch of tacos to see if you like the mix and then adjust your mix accordingly!

10-Ingredient Taco Seasoning

2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons coriander
2 teaspoons oregano
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon chipotle
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

Place into a small container or jar. Shake. Store and use at will. Enjoy!

For this particular Taco Tuesday, I topped these little corn tortillas with lentil taco meat, crispy shredded Brussels sprouts, shredded purple cabbage tossed with cashew cream and lime and a dollop of guacamole.

1 cup cooked lentils
1 small onion
2 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons taco seasoning
1/4 cup water + more, as needed

Sauté the onion in water or oil. When it is translucent, add the garlic. When that is fragrant, add the lentils, tomato paste and taco seasoning. Add the water and mix to combine. Cook on medium until the lentil meat looks like it is together and delicious. Add more water if it is too thick.

Top with crispy shredded Brussels sprouts, shredded purple cabbage tossed with cashew cream and lime and a dollop of guac. Enjoy!

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How to Make Ketchup

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OMG! I have finally found a ketchup recipe that we LOVE. I have tried a few and this one hits the mark. The secret? Simmering. The base is tomato paste and it really needs to be cooked to bring out the flavor and take the edge off of the raw intensity of it.

Now, we have homemade, organic, vegan ketchup that even a 7 1/2 year old can love! I make it a little sweeter than the original recipe from An Oregon Cottage and it is so good, all I want to do is eat it straight up but I just keep making things to dip into it!

So, I will not be buying store bought ketchup again. This takes all of 20 minutes and I know exactly what is in it. And if you stock your pantry well, you should have everything on hand that you need to make it.

6 oz. tomato paste
1/4 cup coconut sugar
1/4 cup agave
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons + 2 more tablespoons filtered water, if too thick
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce to a low simmer. Cover and cook for 15 to 20 minutes.

Transfer into a glass jar and cover. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use. Enjoy!

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Book Report: The Plant Pure Kitchen + Bonus Recipe

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This is Kim Campbell’s new book: The Plant Pure Kitchen! I had a chance to preview it – it’s coming out next week, on January 24th, and if you are into oil free plant based cooking, this book is for you.

There are 130 recipes! They are creative, clean, and easy to make. This book has it’s own vibe, which is different than a lot of the other vegan cookbooks I have been reading lately. It is simple and I love it. I think you will too.

There are tons of breakfast ideas – the usual plant based suspects like chia seed pudding and plant milk. There is a whole list of quick breads but ones I have never even thought of  – rosemary garlic bread, beer bread, and oatmeal raisin muffins. You won’t believe how many salad dressings Kim has come up with and sauces for everything including enchilada and hoisin sauce. (Finally, homemade hoisin sauce!)

Of course, there are lots of soups, salads and appetizers. And then entrees from pasta, carrot loaf and pad thai to enchiladas, stuffed peppers, and quiche. And amazing sides like scalloped corn (love this!), polenta fries, and onion rings. And no book is complete without dessert. Think cobbler, cookies and pies.

This book is truly a joy to cook from. I have already made a few recipes including this Bourbon Mushroom dish. But when I made it, I used white wine! This will be a well worn cookbook before long. If you are looking for new and different ideas, this book is for you!

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BOURBON MUSHROOMS

Bourbon mushrooms are traditionally prepared with butter, cream, and beef broth and served with a side of steak. In this recipe, it’s the mushrooms that absorb the unique flavors of the savory sauce, while also adding a chewy texture. These mushrooms are especially delicious served over brown rice, mashed or baked potatoes, barley, or whole-grain pasta.

Yields: 4 servings   Prep Time: 15 minutes   Cook Time:  20 minutes

Vegetables

1 pound button or other mushrooms or a combination, sliced
1 onion, halved then thinly sliced
6 garlic cloves, minced
¼  to ½ cup low-sodium vegetable broth

Sauce
½ cup low-sodium vegetable broth, or more as needed
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
¼ cup tomato paste
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons low-sodium tamari
2 tablespoons bourbon, dry white wine, or pineapple juice
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1½ tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, sauté the mushrooms, onion, and garlic in a little of the vegetable broth until the mushrooms are tender, about 8 minutes. Add more vegetable broth as needed to keep the vegetables from sticking.

In a small bowl, whisk together the sauce ingredients until well combined. Add the sauce to the skillet, reduce the heat to medium, and cook until bubbly and thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and continue cooking for another 10 minutes. If you like your sauce thinner, add more vegetable broth, 1/4 cup at a time. Serve warm over rice, potatoes, barley, or pasta.

Kim’s Hint: I like to use a mix of sliced portobello and shiitake mushrooms for an especially meaty texture. This makes a wonderful addition to a baked potato bar!

Little Raw Chocolate Bars

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My son and I have been trying to make homemade chocolate bars for a long time. We have not had any luck. Until now. I learned a formula in my Essential Vegan Desserts course and now we are love with these two-bite little treats. They don’t have the mouthfeel of a tempered chocolate bar but they do have everything you could possible want/need in a bite of chocolate.

I made these for my mini dessert party for my Essential Vegan Desserts and so for this batch, I used a silicone chocolate mold. But use any fun shaped mold you like!

A few notes. These are super easy to make and can be made by simply whisking the ingredients together. If you wish, you can use a blender but I don’t think it is necessary. Also, raw cacao comes in blocks and discs. I think the discs are easier to measure – they pour right into a measuring cup – since I measure them before melting. So, I use Sunfood discs. If you can’t find them, cut a chunk of a cacao block and melt it and try to get as close to 1/2 cup as you can.

Unlike melting chocolate chips or already made chocolate bars, you don’t need a double boiler here. Just drop the cacao butter into a small sauce pan over a low flame. It will melt slowly – you don’t even have to whisk it.

I add superfood powders to my chocolate because I love the flavors they impart. Try lucuma or mesquite!

Makes 9 chocolate bars

1/2 cup raw cacao butter
1/2 cup raw cacao powder
2 tablespoons coconut palm syrup
1/2 teaspoon ground vanilla
2 teaspoons superfood powder like lucuma or mesquite, optional

Melt the cacaco butter. Let cool for a few minutes.

Set your molds on a small baking tray and be sure it can sit flat in your freezer.

Whisk the ingredients together and pour into molds. Place the chocolate into the freezer to set.

Once set, pop the chocolate out of the molds and place them into an airtight container. Store in the refrigerator and eat at will. Enjoy!

Portobello Reuben Sandwich

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That little leaning tower of portobello sandwich is about to fall over! And it almost did but after I put my iPhone down, I caught it and devoured it.

Ok, so I love a Reuben. In fact, it has beens said that I make the best Reuben in town…but that was when I only thought tempeh was the main ingredient. But, who says a reuben has to be tempeh?  After seeing a few portobello recipe variations in a few of the new cookbooks I’ve been reading lately, I got hungry and decided to make this!

It’s not really even a recipe – it’s a marinated portobello, smothered in sauerkraut, topped with homemade Russian dressing in between two pieces of toasty bread.

Lunch is ready!

Makes 1 sandwich

1 portobello mushroom
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic
The juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 tablespoon tamari
1 small clove of garlic, pressed
2 pieces of bread
Sauerkraut
Russian dressing (homemade is best: mayo + ketchup + relish)

Take the stem off the portobello. Use a spoon to clean out the “gills”. Whisk the marinade together. Pour the marinade over the portobello and be sure to coat the whole thing. Marinate for 30 minutes (up to 24 hours!)

Bake the mushroom at 350 for about 20 minutes.

Use tongs to lift the mushroom out of the baking dish. Save whatever is left of the marinade for extra dipping – if you are a dipper like me.

Let it rest for a moment. Meanwhile, toast the bread and make the Russian dressing.

Build your sandwich. I sort of cheat here and cut the portobello in half and the two pieces of toast in half and build them one half at at time.

Place the bottom toasts on a plate. Lay the portobello halves on each one. Top with sauerkraut. Slather the top toasts with Russian dressing and close the sandwich.

Enjoy!

Stuffed Artichokes

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I am a little shocked that I made this all by myself! I love artichokes but I have never made one at home. I first discovered artichokes when I went to college in California and used to eat them out. But there are not many vegan options out in restaurants and I have been craving them. So, when I saw organic artichokes at the health food store, I decided it was time. It was not nearly as complicated as I thought it would be! If I can make this, so can you!

2 artichokes
2 lemons
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 cup nutty parmesan
Small bunch of fresh chives, 6 or 8, thinly sliced

Cut the stem off the bottom of the artichokes and pull off any dark or unhealthy looking leaves at the bottom. Then, using a serrated knife, cut the top 1/4 to 1/3 of the artichoke off. Use kitchen scissors to cut the little spiky points off of each leaf. Gently pull the artichoke open a little between the leaves and rinse under cold water.

Fill a big pot up with boiling water and cut one of the lemons in half. Drop the lemon halves and artichokes into the water and bring to a boil. Put the lid on the pot but not all the way and cook the artichokes for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a knife is easily inserted.

While the artichokes are cooking, mix the breadcrumbs, nutty parm, and chives with the fresh lemon juice until it kind of clumps together.

When the artichokes are done, lift them out of the water with tongs and let them sit until cool enough to touch. Use a big soup spoon and scoop out the inedible part of the choke – it will be spiky and hairy. Clean out the center until you see the beautiful choke.

Gently pull the leaves apart and stuff in as much of the mixture as you can. Drop the rest into the center. There may be some stuffing leftover. Eat and enjoy!

Baked Cheesy Pasta Casserole with Wild Mushrooms

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Who doesn’t love macaroni and cheese? This version is absolutely decadent. I use my favorite vegan cheese – Kite Hill –  and add wild mushrooms to make this extra decadent. I bake the macaroni and cheese in individual oven safe bowls but you can easily  make this in a small baking dish if you prefer. This recipe makes 2 nice size servings.

1 cup of mixed mushrooms (I use shiitake and cremini)
1 clove of garlic
1 cup uncooked macaroni
1 cup homemade cashew milk *
1/4 cup Kite Hill ricotta
1/4 cup Kite Hill cream cheese
1 cup breadcrumbs + 1 teaspoon olive oil

*To make cashew milk, blitz 3/4 cup filtered water and 1/4 raw cashews in the Vitamix. If you don’t have a Vitamix, soak or boil the cashews.

Start the macaronis cooking in a big pot of salted water. Cook until al dente!

Sauté the mushrooms until just soft. Press the garlic and add to the mushrooms. Toss around. Add a spoonful of pasta water to deglaze the pan.

Preheat the oven to 375.

Drain the macaronis. Add back to the pot and combine with the cashew cream, ricotta and cream cheese. Stir in the mushrooms. It might be a touch loose but that is okay because the cashew milk with thicken up in the oven.

Portion into individual baking dishes. Top with breadcrumbs and drizzle of olive oil over the top. Bake until the top is golden, about 15 minutes. Enjoy!

Quick & Easy “Inauthentic” Vegan Ramen Noodles

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A while back I spied beautiful fresh artisanal ramen noodles at Whole Foods by a company called Sun Noodles. And of course, I had make some ramen but since I have (a) never had ramen and (b) never made ramen, this probably totally inauthentic. It’s super delicious though!

I use one of my go to tofu/tempeh marinades – miso, maple syrup, tamari, and a dash of umeboshi vinegar – to pan fry the tofu and then as the basis of the soupy sauce. Now, my inauthentic ramen is in the regular rotation. It makes a great lunch/dinner/snack!

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Makes 2 small bowls (or 1 big one), enough for 1 really hungry person or 2 sort of hungry people

Sauce
1 tablespoon chickpea miso
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon tamari
1 teaspoon umeboshi vinegar

Whisk the sauce together and set aside.

1/2 package ramen noodles (i.e., one ramen noodle cake)
6 pearl onions
6 mushrooms
1 scallion
1/4 small carrot
4 small squares of tofu (pressed for as long as you ave time for)

Get the water boiling for the ramen noodles. Set a nonstick skillet on medium.

Thinly slice the scallions and use a vegetable peeler to make a few slices of carrots, enough for 2 small bowls.

Drop the tofu in the sauce and coat each side. Place into the skillet. Let the tofu cook for a minute on the first side and then flip over. When the second side is brown, take them out of the skillet and set aside.

Cut the pearl onions in half and slice the mushrooms thinly. Add them to the pan and pour the rest of the sauce over the onions and mushrooms. Toss around and coat with the sauce.

When the water is boiling, drop the noodles in and let them cook for a minute until al dente. Scoop out 1 cup of the liquid and add to the onions and mushrooms and thin out the sauce. Use more water if necessary, but the sauce should be thick-ish.

Use a spider strainer to lift the noodles out of the water and drop half into each bowl.

Use a big slotted spoon to place onions and mushrooms on top of the noodles. Then use a ladle to equally distribute the sauce over the top of each bowl.

Decorate with 2 pieces of tofu each, a handful of scallions and carrots. Enjoy!

Book Report: But My Family Would Never Eat Vegan + Bonus Recipe

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Another vegan cookbook! Kristy Turner of Keepin’ It Kind has done it again. She as written a follow up to her first book, But I Could Never Go Vegan. That book addressed many of the common excuses people have when resisting going vegan like “Vegan cooking is too hard” or “I could never give up cheese!”

Now,  in her second book, she addresses the issues that arise when cooking vegan for friends and family members. The new book, But My Family Would Never Eat Vegan, has 125 easy and stress free recipes that will satisfy everyone – from teens to those who say they just love their bacon. (Grrrrrr…)

Anyway, the book is organized around 20 familiar objections like, “My brother thinks there is no such thin as a ‘meatless’ sandwich” and “it’s just not the holidays without Aunt Betty’s pumpkin pie!” There are fun recipes for breakfasts, sandwiches, holidays and of course desserts. Most of the ingredients are totally recognizable so there not a lot of unusual or “overly vegan” ingredients that might turn people off. Kristy does use tofu, tempeh and jackfruit – staples of the vegan kitchen – and veganizes familiar meals like maple peanut butter pancakes, oatmeal, and vanilla french toast. She has recipes for chickpea and dumplin’ soup, shiitake stroganoff, no tuna casserole, fillet o’ chickpea sandwiches. There are scones, muffins, cookies, hash browns, fondue, gravy, even a marbled pumpkin cheesecake and deviled potato salad. I am excited to make the beer marinated portobello tacos (recipe excerpted below), the roasted carrot wild mushroom ragu and my favorite idea, cauliflower parmesan!

I feel simpatico with Kristy – so many of her recipes are dishes that I already make and have posted my own versions of. And, it seems to me that Kristy is influenced by Isa Moskowitz, my vegan hero, as well as recent vegan culinary trends, so this book is really on point. I really like this book, and I think it is great for someone who doesn’t have a lot of vegan cookbooks or is looking for some good dishes to go with the excuses people make!

And But My Family Would Never Eat Vegan is going to be our vegan cookbook for our January cook along. Hop on over to Instagram, follow me @lisasprojectvegan, and see what recipes we are making. We will be using #BMFWNEV and #vegancookalong and posting on Sundays (and sometimes other days.) You can join in too – start with the recipe below. It will be the first one I make!

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Beer-Marinated Portobello Tacos with Avocado Corn SalsaMakes 8 tacos // Prep Time: 25 Minutes // Active Time: 35 Minutes // Inactive Time: 15 Minutes

Guess what? Marinating food in beer isn’t just for meat anymore! Woohoo! What that means for us is that we can drench meaty chunks of portobello mushrooms in beer and other spices, pan-fry them, and throw them in tacos, smothered in avocado-corn salsa. Sound too good to be true? It’s not. Get over your astonishment, pop open a bottle of beer, and after you’re done drinking it, pop open another bottle and start cooking!

1½ cups (360 ml) vegan pale or blonde ale (Ground Breaker Brewing IPA No. 5 and Brunehaut Bio Blonde are both vegan and gluten-free)
Juice of 1 lime
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon garlic powder
4 portobello mushrooms, stemmed, gills scraped, cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) slices
Sunflower oil, for cooking
6 to 8 corn tortillas (or small flour tortillas)

Avocado-Corn Salsa
2 avocados, pitted, peeled, and diced
1 cup (140 g) corn kernels (fresh or thawed frozen)
1 cup (50 g) chopped fresh cilantro
½ cup (135 g) chopped red onion
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon chopped jalapeño
Salt to taste, optional

Combine the beer, lime juice, cumin, and garlic powder in a shallow baking dish. Add the portobello strips and toss to fully coat. Marinate for 30 minutes, moving the strips around every 10 minutes.

While the portobello strips are marinating, make the salsa: Combine all the ingredients in a bowl, cover, and chill until ready to use.

Heat a large frying pan, preferably cast iron, over medium heat. Add a couple of teaspoons of oil and tilt the pan around to evenly coat the bottom. Add about half of the portobello strips and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, turning every few minutes, until tender and slightly charred, and most of the liquid has been absorbed. Transfer the strips to a plate or bowl and cover with aluminum foil. Add another couple of teaspoons of oil to the pan and repeat with the remaining strips.

Heat a griddle or frying pan over medium heat (or just clean the pan you cooked the portobello strips in and reuse it). Cook the tortillas for 30 to 60 seconds on each side, placing them on a plate and covering with aluminum foil when they’re done.

To serve, place a few portobello strips in a tortilla and top with the avocado-corn salsa. Leftovers will keep in the fridge in separate airtight containers for up to 4 days.

Recipe from But My Family Would Never Eat Vegan!: 125 Recipes to Win Everyone Over © Kristy Turner, 2016. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, The Experiment. Available wherever books are sold. theexperimentpublishing.com

Penne in Creamy Sun Dried Tomato Sauce with Sautéed Lemony Sun Dried Tomatoes & Artichoke Hearts

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When it comes to sun dried tomatoes I like to add a lot of other stuff to make them more dynamic and interesting. In this recipe, I used them two ways – in the cream sauce and sautéed on top of the pasta.

This two part recipe is really versatile. Use just the cream sauce over pasta. Use just the sautéed sun dried tomatoes and artichoke hearts over pasta, rice or as a little side dish all by themselves. You might have sauce left over to experiment with – it could be used over tofu or tempeh. If you don’t use it within a few days, freeze it.

Note: I use organic sun dried tomatoes packed in oil.

Creamy Sun Dried Tomato Sauce, makes about 1 cup
1/2 cup cashews
1 cup filtered water
6 sun dried tomatoes
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1/2 tablespoon miso paste
1 clove of garlic
Pinch of salt

Drop all of the ingredients into the Vitamix and blend until creamy and smooth. Add more water, if necessary.

Sautéed Lemony Sun Dried Tomatoes & Artichoke Hearts, makes 2 bowls
8 sun dried tomatoes
1 can artichoke hearts, halves or quarters, drained
The juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup breadcrumbs, homemade or store bought
Pasta, enough for 2 people, about 1/2 a box of penne

Get the pasta going.

Drain and thinly slice the sun dried tomatoes. Add to a skillet and heat through on medium heat.

Drain the artichoke hearts. If you got halves, quarter them. Add to the skillet. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and toss around.

Add the lemon juice and continue to cook until the breadcrumbs get nice and charred.

Drain the pasta, reserving some cooking water. Add the sauce to the pasta and toss to coat. If too thick, add some pasta water.

Turn out into two bowls. Divide the sun dried tomato/artichoke heart mixture between the two bowls. Enjoy!