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Vegetable Love 2009

Susan from The Fatfree Vegan Kitchen challenged bloggers to create a vegetable filled Valentine’s recipe for Vegetable Love 2009!  I decided to create a delicious dinner that would be perfect for a Valentine’s day dinner. For the Challenge I made Cashew Crusted Tofu and served it with a Mixed Vegetable Israeli Couscous, a bed of sauteed kale, and a Red Pepper Coulis. The whole dinner was delicious! The Cashew Crusted Tofu was so tasty! I really liked the rich flavor the cashews give to the Tofu. I am always looking for ways to crust Tofu. For the next part of the dish I wanted something more interesting so I made some Israeli Couscous with sauteed leeks, carrots, olives, and capers! I really liked the Israeli Couscous with all the delicious add ins. I usually eat plain Israeli Couscous, so this was a nice change. I always like to have lots of greens in a dish so I made some delicious Kale! To add some more flavor to the dish I made a really tasty Red Pepper Coulis. The Red Pepper Coulis was so rich in flavor, a little went a long way. I am always looking for sauces to serve with Cashew Crusted Tofu and I am glad I learned to make this Red Pepper Coulis!  This dish sure has a lot of Vegetable love! This dinner has a few steps to it but its worth it! 

Cashew Crusted Tofu, Cous Cous, Kale

Cashew Crusted Tofu, Vegetable Israeli Couscous, Sauteed Kale, Roasted Red Pepper Coulis

Cashew Crusted Tofu
Serves about 4
This Tofu is packed with flavor! The mariade makes the tofu extra tasty. And the cashew crust makes it perfect! You can cook this many ways,  I  perfer the panfry bake method as it yields the best texture.

 1 pound of Extra  Firm Tofu drained and pressed for 30 mins to one hour
Marinade
3 Tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup white wine (I use Ariel Non Alcoholic wine) or vegetable broth
3 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 garlic cloves chopped
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1/4 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Crust
1 1/4 cup raw cashews or roasted cashews (If using raw toast them a bit)
1/2 cup flour
A dash of Thyme, Oregano, and Paprika or any of your favorite herbs/spices (Optional)
Salt and Pepper to taste

Oil for frying

Cut your tofu diagonally to form two triangles. Take those two triangles and cut them into 4 triangles. You should get about 8 triangles.

Mix the Marinade ingredients together and marinade the Tofu for a minimum of one hour. The more you marinade the better.

After one hour grind the cashews finely until tiny pieces form. You don’t want to grind it into a powder. In a small bowl mix the cashews, flour, salt, pepper, and herbs.

Take the Tofu and dip it in the marinade and then in the cashew mixture.

I cooked these by pan-frying them until golden and then I finished them by baking them for a few minutes and then I put them under the broiler for 2 minutes or so. To make them more healthy for you, you can bake them and then finish them in the broiler.

For Pan-frying/Baking

Preheat your Oven to 400 degrees.

Heat a large pan to medium high heat with a thin layer of oil.

Pan fry the Tofu until golden. Make sure you don’t burn them! When they are done put them on a baking sheet and bake them for about 8 minutes depending on how much you cooked them on the pan. If you want them to me a bit more chewy you can put them under the broiler for a couple of minutes until you get your desired texture.

For Baking
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Bake the tofu for about 10 minutes per side until golden.
If you want finish it off in the broiler.

Serve!

Roasted Red Pepper Coulis
This Roasted Red Pepper Coulis is so flavorful! A coulis is basiclly a fresh sauce and it is great on crusted tofu, seitan, and tempeh!  You will find yourself making this easy flavorful sauce often.  The sauce is very rich tasting with the olive oil and if you watching your calories or don’t like olive oil that much,  I suggest you use half olive oil and broth to make it a bit ligher. You may want to double the recipe if you like a lot of sauce! 

Ingredients
2 red peppers, roasted
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil or a mixture of broth and olive oil
1-2 garlic cloves minced
Salt and Pepper to taste

I like Roasting my own peppers. I don’t have a gas stove so I roast my peppers in a 400 degrees oven until nice and charred! If you have a gas stove feel free to roast them over the burner. I then put them in a bag to make it easier to peel the skins.

In a food processor add the peppers and garlic. Process the mixture until smooth. Add the olive oil or broth/olive oil mixture until a nice creamy smooth sauce forms. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Heat the sauce slightly over medium heat or in a microwave.

Vegetable Israeli Couscous
Serves about 4
A nice way to dress plain Israeli Couscous!

Ingredients
2 cups Israeli Couscous
2.5 cups water or vegetable broth
1 leek thinly sliced
1 carrot chopped into small pieces
2 garlic cloves
A couple of Tablespoons fresh parlsley fienly chopped
A nice handful of olives( I used Kalamata olives)
A couple of tablespoons of capers
Salt and Pepper to taste
2-3 tablespoons of Olive Oil

Heat a medium pot over medium heat. Add the olive oil. Then add the carrots and sautee for 2 minutes. Then add the leeks and sautee until the leeks have reduced in size about 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for a minute until fragent. Season with salt and pepper. Now add the Israeli Couscous and toast it for a minute. Then add the water or vegetable broth and bring it to a boil and then to a simmer. Simmer it for 10 minutes, until the water has been absorbed. Add the capers and olives. Add the parsley. Reseason if neccasary.

Sauteed Kale
About half a pound of Kale or more chopped
About 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
Two Garlic Cloves
Salt and Pepper to taste

Heat a pan to medium-high heat. Add the olive oil. Sautee the garlic until golden. Add the kale and cook until slighty wilted depending on your desire.

To serve you: Put a generous layer of kale on the plate, and then top the kale with the Israeli Couscous.  Place two tofu triangles over the Israeli Couscous.  Top the Tofu with the Roasted Red Pepper Coulis.

Hey everyone!  This weekend was really fun in terms of cooking!  So here is what I cooked/baked this past weekend.  After looking at so many blogs especially Sweet Eats and Another One Bites the Crust, I was really craving some cake.  These two amazing foodies are so fun to read, they go to various vegan restaurants and blog about them.  I spent so much time reading these blogs as I am obsessed about going to Candle Cafe.  Hopefully I can go this month!  I really want to go there and Erica of Sweet Eats and Nicole of Another One Bites the Crust both went to Candle and write countless posts about Candle and many more vegan restaurants!  They have posted so much cake that they eaten so I decided to make a cake of my own.  I saw that they had eaten a Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake which looked really good.  I set out to make my own version which sadly I didn’t complete more on that later. 
Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake
I doubled the Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World chocolate cupcake recipe and made two round cakes.  I then also used the recipe from Vegan Cupcakes to make a tasty Peanut  Buttercream Frosting which was really good!  I baked my cakes for about 23 minutes and I took them out when the knife came out clean.  I let them cool and then when I lifted them they were so fragile!  This has never happened to me and I blame myself for not baking them a couple minutes more.  It was slightly under-baked so this stopped me from completing my mission for creating an amazing cake that I had seen on those two amazing blogs!  I just frosted my cake with the Peanut Buttercream and wasn’t in the mood to make the Ganche.  The cake was so fragile in fact one of it fell apart but lucky I was able to fix it with frosting.  The cake was also lacking in the flavor dept.  which I think is because of my cocoa powder.  I bought a big bag of Hershey’s Cocoa powder from Restaurant Depot and it has been living in my freezer for one year and has not been producing quality chocolate desserts.  The flavor does come out strong, I think it has went stale.  The best part of the cake was the frosting!  It was so Peanut Buttery and Awesome!  Hopefully one day I will be able to create that amazing cake from Vegan Treats that was featured on Sweet Eats and Another One Bites the Crust. 

Moving on to Saturday.  On Saturday my dad’s cousin came so I wanted to make some brunch!  I made her some Banana-Nut Waffles from Veganomicon.
Banana Nut Waffles
I have been eating a lot of waffles this best month which I think is awesome because I love them so much!  These waffles were sweet and tasty and very banana tasting, it was like eating dessert because I decided to add some brown sugar along with the recipe’s maple syrup.  I tasted the batter and the first waffle and it didn’t seem sweet so I just added the brown sugar but I think it was two much.  Next time I will add the brown sugar and leave out the maple syrup.  I had these waffles with just some maple syrup, these waffles really didn’t need any syrup since I already made them sweet enough.  I also served them with some blueberries and bananas and put a nice healthy shake of powdered sugar!  These were amazing!

Seitan Picatta
That same day I was craving seitan!  Thanksgiving was the last time I had seitan!  I don’t know how I lived so long without seitan!  I had an extreme craving for seitan where I though about it for about half a period in school!  After looking at so many pictures of seitan on Sweet Eats and Another One Bites the Crust I had to make it again!  Me and Seitan have had a couple of bumpy roads but we are finally learning to accept each other!  Sometimes I make seitan and it comes out rubbery, one time I made it and it was so so so chewy!  I had a couple of nice times with seitan but Saturday was the best experience  that I had with seitan!  I used the Veganiomicon recipe for the Simple Seitan.  My only addition was chickpea flour.  I find that chickpea flour makes seitan nice and tender.  I divided the seitan dough into two equal pieces.  I then set up the broth and put the raw seitan in there.  I made sure to stay right there and make sure it didn’t boil.  As soon as it started to boil I turned the heat to simmer.  I simmered it for one hour and the result was amazing.  The texture and flavor was the best yet.  It was slightly chewy, tender, dense in the middle and very meatlike.  I looked at a lot of Candle Cafe pictures and I really like how they cut their seitan.  It looks really nice to the eye.  So I took the two even pieces and cut them into slightly thin slices.  It was as close as I get to Candle Cafe.  I have been wanting to make Picatta for so long so I made it from the recipe from V’con.  The recipe was really tasty but I though it had a too many shallots.  The only changes I did was use a non alcoholic wine in place of the wine and I finished the sauce with some Earth Balance and lemon slices.  I also made some awesome mashed potatoes with lots of Earth Balance of course and some awesome Kale!  The sauteed kale came out really good better than ever.  I did this my accident but I let my pan get really hot and added the oil.  When I put the kale in it charred slighty at the bottom so I kept turning it so it wouldn’t burn.  The result was some delicious Kale with a nice slightly charred taste. I really felt like I was eating at some fancy restaurant it was so good!  The seitan flavor was the best that I have ever had yet.  I really want to get more experimental with seitan and try to create some interesting recipes!

Lastly after looking at another amazing blog, Vegan Yum Yum I saw the pancakes that she blogged about a while back. 
Pancakes
These pancakes looked so good so I gave the recipe a shot.  I normally use the VWAV recipe which is very similar.  The Vegan Yum Yum just has one teaspoon less baking powder which made flatter pancakes.  These pancakes were really good! I was really bad at making pancakes but now I am getting the hang of them.  I really want to get a griddle so I can get perfect browned pancakes like on the boxes that you see.   Does anyone know if a griddle will get the job done?  What do you use for your pancakes? 

Alright everyone, I guess that’s it.

Hey everyone!  The past three days I have been eating my Spinach-Mushroom Lasagna that I made! 
Spinach-Mushroom Lasagna
I made it on Tuesday and it’s delicious!  So I started making a tomato sauce for the lasagna but it ended up wrong.  I wanted to make an Italian sauce with onions, carrots and celery.  My dad who owns a pizzeria makes this all the time.  The problem with mine was when I pureed it it turned orange!  I think the problem was because I didn’t puree the carrots and celery in the beginning of the cooking process.  I tried to fix the sauce by putting some jarred tomato sauce that I found in the fridge.  Not reading the ingredients, I poured the jarred tomato sauce to my orange tomato sauce in hopes of making it redder.  Bad idea the jarred tomato sauce had cheese in it!!!!  I was so upset when I did this!  I didn’t know weather to eat it or throw it out.  I hate throwing out food and I almost never do but I didn’t want to feel guilty eating a sauce with dairy in it so sadly I threw it out.  I felt so bad because I had spent about one and a half hours cooking the sauce and it went wrong!  

Luckily I had some vegan jarred tomato sauce in the fridge.  I almost never use jarred tomato sauce for lasagna.  I thought my lasagna turn out bad with the jarred tomato sauce but thankfully it turned out really good!  Now lets talk about the filling I used for it.  I used the awesome Cashew Ricotta from Veganomicon!  This is so so good!  I would have liked it a bit more richer tasting like I made it before but the problem was that I used a bigger amount of tofu and didn’t add more cashews.   When it cooked it firmed up just like dairy ricotta.  It’s amazing!  My filling also consited of spinach and mushrooms.  I made a four layer lasagna and baked it for about an hour.  Now I have been eating lasagna since Tuesday.  After I finish writing this post I am going to freeze it so I can have a quick dinner when I don’t feel like making something. 

I also made some Sweet Potato Blondies from Isa and Terry’s upcoming cookie book!  These were really tasty and really gooey! 
Sweet Potato Blondies

Well that’s about it.

Hey  everyone!  It’s been a couple of days since I last blogged. 

Last week I made a very tasty and healthy Lentil & Escarole Soup from the Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen Cookbook. 

Lentil and Escarole Soup
 I have been wanting to try this soup for so long and I am glad I did.  It had a very nice taste to it and the lentils created a nice thick broth which I loved.   I don’t usually cook with lentils that much but this soup inspired me to use more lentils in my cooking!  I recently got these awesome vegetable broth concentrated packets from Trader Joe’s and I must say they rock!  They will definitely be used a lot in my kitchen!  They made this soup taste really good without the trouble of making a vegetable broth from scracth.  

On Saturday, I made another awesome dish that I have been wanting to make for so long!  I made the awesome Tofu Florentine from Veganomicon!
Tofu Flourentine
I though this was very fancy in my option from what I normally eat for breakfast/brunch.  The cheesy sauce rocks, I made mine with extra lemon.  I just love lemon, I always find my self using more than the recipe says.  I like how it gives food a nice light taste.  The broiled tofu used for the Florentine was really good, next time I would probably reduce the water for the basting liquid so the tofu is more concentrated with the soy sauce-lemon flavor.  I am so glad I found vegan English muffins!  I looked for them in my regular supermarket and they had milk in them, but when I went to Trader Joe’s I found some awesome ones.  This is definitely going to be a brunch regular! 

Here are some tester blondies from Isa and Terry’s upcoming cookie book!   These were really tasty! 
Blondies

Here’s my awesome and healthy green smoothie that I made tonight!
Green Smoothie
I have just gotten into the whole green smoothie thing.  The first one I made was awful, as I was low on fruit. Then I started experimenting and made a great tasting green smoothie!  This one was really good!  For this one I used some leftover Escarole from the lentil soup that I made earlier, spinach leaves, a carrot, a banana, a couple of strawberries and blueberries, celery, parsley, pears, orange juice, and flax seeds.  This blend makes a great tasting green smoothie and it is super healthy and makes you energized! Some of them may not look that good but the amount of vitamins you get from these is worth it! My family thinks it weird drinking green smoothies but I just tell them that you don’t know what your missing!  It’s so good as long as you have a perfect balance of fruit and vegetables.  I suggest everyone try a green smoothie, you’ll like it.  Just try different combinations and see which one you like.   Your body will thank you for sure!   

Alright everyone, blog to you soon in a few days!

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