Vegan

Falafel

I love falafel but until now, I’ve never been able to make it. This recipe is perfect.

I got the recipe from The Shiksa in the Kitchen. I hope you don’t mind that I repost it here!

Here is the recipe, but I recommend you follow the above link because she gives a lot of good tips and easy to follow instructions:

  • 1 pound (about 2 cups) dry chickpeas/garbanzo beans
  • 1 small onion, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 3-5 cloves garlic (I prefer roasted)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp flour
  • 1 3/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • Pinch of ground cardamom
  • Vegetable oil for frying (grapeseed, canola, and peanut oil work well)

I didn’t use as much oil as she did, so as you’ll see in the photos below, my falafel are not as evenly fried. I also used safflower oil, because that’s what I had on hand.

My tips:

  • You absolutely must use dried chickpeas. Soak them overnight or during the day while you’re at work. Canned won’t give the right texture.
  • Also, don’t skip the fresh parsley. Just don’t do it.
  • I used my cast iron skillet to fry them, which worked perfectly.

And my photos:

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Crunchy Roasted Chickpeas

I can’t stop eating these.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Use cooked or canned chickpeas. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika. Toss with olive oil and spread the chickpeas onto a cookie sheet.

chickpeas-4

Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until brown and crunchy. (Be careful. They go from crunchy to burnt very quickly!)

These are the perfect protein snack or salad topper. And they are so addictive!

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Banana-Oat Energy Bars

Sometimes before a run or during a long bike ride, I need an energy boost. Store bought energy bars often have ingredients I don’t like to eat, so for the past few years I’ve tried to find various energy bar recipes to make at home. This recipe is based off of one found in the Runner’s Word Cookbook, and it is delicious and gives me enough energy to make it through a run or bike ride. It’s a strange cross between banana bread and a granola bar. The only downside, though, is that it is so moist that I’m afraid it’ll crumble when I store it in the back of my cycling jersey (I haven’t had a chance to try it yet).

The original recipe can be found in the Runner’s World Cookbook, which I highly recommend to any runners. Below is my modified recipe:

energybar-10

Ingredients:

2 very ripe bananas (defrosted if using frozen)
Slightly less than 1/2 cup of safflower or canola oil* 
1/2 cup of pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
4 Medjool dates, pits removed and roughly chopped
1/2 cup of dried cranberries**
1/2 cup of chopped walnuts**

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease or spray a 8×8 baking pan (or a round cake pan works too).

Mash the bananas. Stir in the oil, syrup, and vanilla.

In a separate bowl, mix the oats, flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and baking soda.

Pour the dry ingredients into the bowl of wet ingredients and mix. Next fold in the chopped dates (make sure the pits have been removed!), the cranberries and walnuts.

Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Now you’re ready for the 30+ mile bike ride. Enjoy!

*why slightly less? The original recipe used sugar instead of maple syrup, so I cut back on the oil.

**if you “accidentally” add more than 1/2 a cup, that’s okay. Accidents happen.

 

 

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Simple Vegetarian Chili

I love chili. It’s the perfect cozy-day meal that you can cook all day and watch the leaves or snow fall outside. I grew up eating beef chili, but since I don’t eat beef anymore, I’ve fallen in love with vegetarian chili. (My mom finds this hilarious since I refused to eat chili with beans as a kid.)

Sometimes I get quite fancy with my chili, but this recipe is my favorite. It’s very simple and is all about those delicious kidney beans that I refused to eat as a child. The key to this chili is cooking the dry beans in with the beer rather than just throwing a can of already cooked beans in at the end. You could do that, I suppose, but if you follow this method, the beans will take on the most wonderful flavor.

And yes, you read that right. I use beer. Me, the person who hates drinking beer. I grew up eating chili made with beer, though, and just because I’m not using meat in this recipe doesn’t mean that I’m going to cut out such a key ingredient.

And so to begin:

Start by heating olive oil in a heavy bottom pot or dutch oven. Sauté:

1 medium onion, finely chopped

Saute for about five minutes. Then add:

1-3 jalapenos, seeded and finely chopped*
salt

Cook for another five minutes. Then add:

at least 3 tablespoons of chili powder
about 2 teaspoons of cumin
3 cloves of fresh garlic, minced
1 teaspoon of coriander
a few grinds of black pepper

Let the spices cook for a minute or two. Then add:

1 1/2 to 2 cups of dried red kidney beans, soaked overnight**
28 ounces of crushed or pureed tomatoes

One 12 fl oz bottle of dark beer (emphasis on dark)
1 cup of water (you may need to add more as it cooks if the chili gets too thick)

Give everything a stir and bring the mixture to a boil. Have a lid on the top of the pot, tilted so that it’s still letting steam out. The chili will start to splatter when it boils. Once it’s boiling, turn the heat down to medium low and let it simmer for hours. Taste every few hours in order to adjust seasoning. (This is the best part of making chili!) My family is notorious for adding chili powder by the spoonfuls all day long, so really, in the end, I have no idea how much chili powder I use. Also, if using canned tomatoes, you might want to add:

1 tablespoon of brown sugar (optional)

I like my chili to be really spicy with a slight hint of sweetness in the background.

If you want to add zucchini or corn in at the end, you can. I highly recommend serving the chili with cast iron skillet cornbread (recipe coming soon), Greek yogurt, and gouda cheese on top. Enjoy!

And sorry about the lighting in the below picture. It was sort of an afterthought.

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*If you’re using jalapenos from your freezer, as I do during the winter, be careful! Something about the freezing method seems to make jalapenos hotter (or at least the ones in my freezer seem to get hotter). Mine are so unpredictable that I start with a quarter of a jalapeno and add more throughout the day. I learned this lesson the hard way. One time I put a whole jalapeno in and it was so spicy that I could barely eat it (and I love spicy!). So be cautious in the beginning and keep tasting throughout the day. Also, experiment with other hot peppers. Though I usually just use jalapenos in this basic recipe, there are many others that are quite wonderful in chili.

** I say 1 1/2 to 2 cups because it depends on how beany you want your chili to be. (And yes, beany is a word.)

 

 

 

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Roasted Tomatoes Part Two: Roasted Tomato and Pepper Soup

I love making tomato soup. It is one of the most nourishing comfort foods that I can think of. I grew up eating tomato soup out of a can, so when I changed my eating habits, I had to find a new way to enjoy my favorite soup. I’ve discovered some good recipes that I use throughout the year, but none of them can compare to this recipe. Unlike my fall/winter recipes that use either canned tomatoes or frozen tomatoes, this one is all about fresh heirloom tomatoes. I roast them first to give them even more flavor, and I also include peppers, which you could easily leave out if you wish.

Start by selecting 4-5 heirloom tomatoes. Any variety is fine. I prefer using different colors. The yellow heirlooms are usually sweeter, and I have found that they add a wonderful flavor to the soup.

tomatoes for soup

 

tomatoes for soup 2

Preheat the oven to 400.

Core the tomatoes and cut them into thick slices and place them in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Also add:

4 small or two large bell peppers, seeded and cut in half (as with the tomatoes, use different colors)
1 jalapeno, seeded and cut in half lengthwise 
2 cloves of garlic, peel on

Drizzle all of the ingredients with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for about 20 minutes.

In the meantime, heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add:

4 leeks (white and light green parts only), chopped and rinsed well or 1 large onion, sliced

Season lightly with salt and cook those for at least ten minutes.

Once the tomatoes and peppers have roasted, add them to the pot. Be sure to get all of the juices into the pot and don’t forget to remove the garlic peels! Also add:

4 cups of vegetable broth or water
2 tablespoons of arborio rice 

The rice helps thicken the soup. I like using arborio because I think it gives the soup a creamy texture, but any white rice is fine.

Bring to a boil and let simmer for about twenty minutes. Puree the mixture until smooth and taste for seasoning. If the soup is too thick, add broth or water.

tomato soup

Optional: If you want a creamier soup, stir in a large tablespoon of mascarpone cheese or a touch of cream.

Serve with crusty bread or croutons.

 

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Roasted Tomatoes Part One: Roasted Tomato Salsa

Confession: I didn’t liked tomatoes growing up, unless they were in the form of ketchup (which really doesn’t count) or tomato sauce or chopped up in tiny pieces (and that was questionable). Then, when I got older, I realized something. The types of tomatoes typically found in restaurants (you know, those soggy pinkish things) are not real tomatoes. Of course I didn’t like those (who does?). I still don’t. But a homegrown or locally grown tomato? Now that’s a real tomato, and it is so sweet and juicy that I can’t believe I lived for so many years without experiencing them. During my childhood, my dad always grew his own tomatoes, and him and my mom would rave about the flavor. I didn’t get it at the time. To me, a tomato was a tomato, and it was something to be avoided, unless it was pureed. Now, I’ve seen the light.

tomatoes

This post will begin a three part series in which I feature my current favorite way to prepare tomatoes: roasting. Yes, it means turning on a hot oven in the summer, but it’s a price I’m willing to pay for these delicious dishes.

The first recipe is a simple one: Roasted Tomato Salsa.

This recipe is very similar to my previous recipe (Roasted Tomatillo Salsa). And I’m also going to begin this recipe with the same instruction as I did before: Unhook any smoke alarms near the kitchen. Things are about to get smokey.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Arrange the following ingredients on a cookie sheet:

3-4 heirloom tomatoes, sliced
1-2 jalapeno peppers, cut in half lengthwise
1 clove of garlic, peel still on
Any other sweet/spicy peppers you have on hand (bell, poblano, and cubanelle all work well)

Tomatoes Tray

Drizzle everything with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Stick it in the oven and roast for about 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes. In the meantime, place the following ingredients into the food processor:

1/4 of a red or yellow onion, roughly chopped (red looks pretty, but I don’t always have it on hand, so yellow works too)
1 generous handful of cilantro (optional)

Add the ingredients from the cookie sheet. (Don’t forget to remove the garlic peel!) Pulse the mixture a few times and then puree to desired consistency.

Once smooth, poor the salsa into a bowl. Squeeze the juice of about half a lime into the mixture, stir and then taste to see if it needs more salt and pepper.

salsa

Serve it warm with your favorite tortilla chips. (Check out my recipe for homemade: Homemade Tortilla Chips.)

Note: This doesn’t make a lot, so if you’re serving more than a couple of people, double it.

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