Fried Potatoes…sort of

Not that I was ever a big fried foods fan, there were, and still are a few foods I really enjoy that are fried.  Now ‘fried’ takes on a totally different meaning. Well, maybe not ‘totally’.  These days, when I say fried, I mean a teaspoon or so of olive oil in a skillet and a lower heat.  Sometimes I add veggie broth to keep things from sticking or burning, but I find the end product is softer than I like.  I try to stick to just oil and as long as I don’t use much, I don’t feel guilty about it being a ‘fried’ dish.  Today I made fried potatoes and I used new potatoes from the Farmer’s Market in town.

Fried Potatoes

10-15 new potatoes, halved or quartered               1 sweet onion, med. sliced

1-2 frying peppers, chunked                                          6 mushrooms, quartered

2 cloves garlic, minced                                                     1/4 tsp black pepper

1 tsp ea. fresh parsley, basil, rosemary, chopped  (use less if dried)

1 tsp olive oil

Pour olive oil in a large skillet and heat on medium heat. Add potatoes, onions, garlic and peppers. Stir and cover, cooking for 15 minutes, and stirring occasionally. If potatoes start to burn, turn the heat down a little.  Add a little water if needed.  After another ten minutes or so, add mushrooms and fresh herbs and cook for 7 -8 minutes more, or until done. 

This makes the kitchen smell really yummy.  Sometimes if I want this to be a more complete meal without cooking anything else, I will add a boca burger crumbled into the pan during the last few minutes.  I like when the potatoes turn out a golden crunchy light brown.  Sometimes I make this for Sunday breakfast and if I don’t have new potatoes, I’ll use any potatoes.

By veganforthemeateater

Zucchini Medley and Weight Loss

This past weekend, at the Farmer’s Market, we got a lot of zucchini, among other veggies.  For the first time I bought yellow zucchini. I know it’s been around for a little while, but not having much sunlight in our yard, I don’t try to grow it.  Anyway, when we got home I made a medley of the green and yellow squash.  Here’s the recipe I used:

Zucchini Medley

3 green zucchini, sliced                                                 3 yellow zucchini, sliced

1 candy onion, or sweet, sliced                                  1 tsp olive oil

3-4 fresh basil leaves, cut in small pieces               2 sprigs curly parsley, minced

2-3 cloves garlic, minced                                               black pepper to taste

Heat oil in fry pan and sauté onions and garlic for a few minutes over medium heat. Add the squash and fry over medium heat, covered, for 2-3 minutes, stir and add 1/4 cup of water. Cover and cook for 3 minutes, stir, and add the fresh basil and parsley. Cover and cook for a few minutes more or until cooked but still slightly crunchy.  Sometimes I don’t stir this dish too frequently because I like the squash slices to be browned. 

Even though we don’t have much of a garden, I do have a few pots of herbs on the back porch. I love it because when I’m cooking I’ll think,” This could use some basil or parsley or rosemary,” and all I have to do is go out the back door and snip, snip.  I also have a small herb garden down by the patio with the same herbs plus one gigantic sage plant that’s at least 2 years old. 

For lunch I’ll have a bowl of squash. For dinner I’ll have a salad and another bowl of this squash.  The fresh herbs really lend a nice flavor to what might otherwise be bland.  It’s very satisfying.   Eating a lot of this dish has an unexpected benefit.   I did this for 4 days and lost 4 pounds!  I’ve also been walking and taking zumba and having my regular breakfast. I wouldn’t recommend eating this dish for any longer. I think my breakfast of peanut butter on whole wheat flatbread toasted, or oatmeal supplies me with enough protein for the day. 

I just love summertime and all the veggies and fruit available. I can eat a lot and not worry too much about weight gain.  Hmmm, speaking of food, I wonder what we’re eating tonight.

 

Chili, Crock Pot Style

    One of my favorite things to experience is coming home from a long day of whatever and opening the door to a wave of wonderful aromas rushing over me.  I appreciate it more during the winter months, but it’s welcome anytime.  I like using the crock pot because you throw everything into it in the morning, do nothing with it all day and voila!  A dish anyone would think you slaved all day over.  You can adjust the seasonings to your own preference as I don’t always use measuring spoons when I add spices.  I like making Chili because you can have so many variations of it depending on your mood or your supplies.  In my pre-vegan life I had the opportunity to attend a chili cook off in Poultney, Vermont.  It was so much fun! For a small fee you were given a little cup and a plastic spoon and you went to the different stands set up on Main Street, tried their samples and judged their chili.  I can’t remember if all the stands were representative of local businesses only or businesses and private citizens, but each stand had their own version of chili.  When we first started I thought, ‘Gee, this cup doesn’t hold much. I’m still going to be hungry when we’re done’, but I was sorely mistaken.  They had meatless chili, venison chili, smoked chili, tongue melting chili, and more.  I like hot chili but after that tongue melting chili, I was useless.  I’ve never forgotten that day and I try to be creative with my chili. I hope you enjoy this version and feel free to experiment with your own choice of ingredients.

Chili: Crock Pot Style

2 cans beans, dark kidney, light kidney, or your choice                                    

1 onion, lge, chopped                                      1 green pepper, chopped

1 red pepper, chopped                                    3 cloves garlic, minced

1 pkg mushrooms, chopped                          1 28 oz can tomatoes, diced, or crushed                                                                   1 14.5 can tomatoes, diced or crushed                                                                   2 tablespoons chili powder

1/2 tsp cumin                                                        1/2 tsp black pepper

olive oil                             1/4 tsp red pepper, powdered or crushed (optional)

1/2 pkg Boca Crumbles, (optional)

Wipe a thin layer of olive oil on bottom and part way up the sides of the crock pot.  Layer ingredients starting with some tomatoes, then beans, then veggies, then spices, and repeat until everything is used up, leaving about 1 inch head space for bubbling.  Add water until just below food level.  Veggie broth can be used if you want. Cook for 4 hours on high or 6-10 hours on low. 

Enjoy with some nice warm corn bread.

Farmer’s Market Booty!

Here in Delta, PA, the Farmer’s Market starts up in May and ends in October. It’s every Saturday morning, 9-1, and you can find us there every weekend.  I’m like a kid in a candy store! There are maybe 5 or 6 Amish families who sell their produce and plants, and then there are a few other entrepreneurs who sell their handmade, homemade or home grown goods.  We pretty much have a routine. First we go to a stand where a young couple sells their veggies and we get washed, cut and bagged spinach, washed, cut and bagged lettuce, green onions, beets, strawberries, radishes and rhubarb.  Later in the season they’ll have other veggies.  We also go to an older couple and get home made potato chips (small baggies) and sugar snap peas. Sometimes I will get a few plants at another stand. Plants are one of my weaknesses. I might not need them or even have room for them, but like men who have to get one more tool, or women who love shoes, I have to stop and get something. 

Finally, we stop and get 2 pretzels with no butter. We are usually lucky in that there always seems to be a pan of pretzels just about to come out of the oven, so we can get them before they get buttered.  We sit at one of the picnic tables and enjoy them and just being outside.  It’s a nice sense of community. It’s not crowded, at least when we get there it’s not. It’s a small scale event and I like it like that.

Anyway, Saturday, when we got home, I put our veggies on the counter and looked at them thinking, ‘Now, what will I make first?’  And I thought, gee, this would be a good topic for discussion.  So, here’s my pic, and here’s what I came up with.

The Sugar Snap Peas get sautéed with veggie broth, soy sauce, beans and minced garlic, and served over brown rice.

The lettuce, radishes and green onions will go in a monster salad.

 

 The zucchini will be sautéed with sweet onions, garlic, and a touch of olive oil. 

 

The beets will be roasted with red or white new potatoes, rosemary, black pepper, olive oil and garlic. 

 

Of course we won’t have it all at once but I like to think of their purposes as soon as I get them so nothing withers away in the fridge.  (Yes, I have to admit there are times when things don’t always make it to the table, but I am improving.)

 

Baked Fries

Good Morning all.  One of our goals is to eat healthier and you might think,  ‘How much healthier can you get than being vegan?’ Well, you can over do the olive oil and technically, you can fry with vegetable shortening, even though shortening has a few multi-syllable ingredients in it, but we try to avoid using these too often. 

Since we both love French fries, I decided to see how good baked fries would be.  Now, we treat ourselves to these potatoes a couple of times a month.  We share them with people who stop by to visit whenever I make them, and they love them. 

Baked Fries

8 potatoes, cut into fry wedges                         1 tsp oregano

1/2 tsp black pepper                                              1/2 tsp sea salt

1 tsp garlic powder                                                  1 tsp onion powder

ground red pepper, to taste (optional)           olive oil

Preheat oven to 400′.  In a medium plastic bag, put all spices in.  Shake to mix;  add potato wedges and shake to coat.  I use the bottom of a broiler pan, cover it with foil and apply a thin layer of olive oil.  Put the wedges on the foil and spread evenly.  Place in oven and bake for 45 min to an hour or until golden and crispy. 

If children are here for dinner, I go light on the spices, otherwise for us, the hotter the better.

Have a great weekend!

By veganforthemeateater

Baked Ziti

Okay. Here’s a dilemma.  You are going to an outing, say a family or friend’s picnic.  What to bring?   Hmmm.  Now you can bring the old stand-by…a green salad, which is fine, but what if all the rest of the dishes are meat or otherwise non-vegan?  While you be satisfied with salad?  I like to bring a Baked Ziti dish which is not all that far from a regular Baked Ziti.  I was going to wait until I had a picture of this dish to put out my recipe, but I just made a big batch and thought you might need to make it with the holidays and all.  It’s not your standard picnic fare, but who doesn’t like pasta? 

Baked Ziti

2 boxes Whole Wheat Ziti or Penne                1 24 oz jar of Tomato Sauce, your choice

1 can diced tomatoes, 28 oz                           1/2 green pepper, chopped

1/2 red pepper, chopped                                  1 medium onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced                                    1 -2 10 oz pkg mushrooms, white, or baby bella

1 pkg fake sausage, or crumbles or both           1 pkg frozen veggies, optional

Olive oil                                                           1 teaspoon each: basil, parsley and raw sugar

1/2 teaspoon sea salt and black pepper 

Prepare pasta as directed for al dente pasta, (or not quite fully cooked). Fry onions, garlic, mushrooms, and peppers in a small amount of olive oil until onions are translucent. Add fake sausage and or crumbles and fry until heated sausage looks golden or heated thoroughly.  If you are using frozen veggies, thaw them and heat until warm. Get a large lasagna foil pan, and spread a thin layer of olive oil on the bottom.  Spread a thin layer of tomato sauce on oil layer.

Add your pasta, fried onions, garlic, peppers, sausage and/or crumbles and optional veggies to the pan. Add the remainder tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, basil, parsley, sugar, salt and pepper. Thoroughly mix everything in the pan, cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes at 350′. 

When we take this dish anywhere, we don’t tell anyone it’s a vegan dish. They don’t know until one of us says something and even then they don’t believe it. 

There are variations of this dish. Sometimes I add tofu, just out of the package, crumbled like ricotta cheese.  Experiment with your own preferred veggies.

I guess this is why we call this the vegan for meat eaters blog. We are still trying to imitate dishes that contain meat. I can live with that as long as we don’t go too far with what we use.  We don’t use the ‘fake’ stuff often because even though there is no meat or dairy products in these products, there seems to be a lot of processing and we are trying to get away from that.  So for now, this is a happy medium, and we can be satisfied with one dish we know we can eat when we go visiting. 

I hope you all had a nice weekend. Here on the East Coast I think we all enjoyed the hot weather.  I am looking forward to a summer full of healthy and tasty veggies. We go to the farmer’s market every Saturday and pick up what ever our Amish friends have grown.  We have enjoyed a plentiful harvest of spinach, which I simmer with veggie broth and garlic. Sometimes I will use olive oil and garlic. We also use the spinach in our salads.

Until tomorrow…. 

 

Travel Treats

We do a lot of traveling in the car so I like to pack treats for us to enjoy en route.  There’s nothing worse than going to a rest stop and seeing all the fast food restaurants and gas station mini marts filled with not much for us to eat, so I plan ahead and get special treats for us to enjoy.  The day before we head out, I will cut up into bite sized pieces, green, orange, yellow, and red peppers (depending on the cost), celery, carrots, and mushrooms.  I add cherry tomatoes to the mix and put them in baggies. 

Another nice treat is crackers and peanut butter.  We use natural peanut butter, and try to find whole grain only crackers. 

If I’m feeling ambitious enough I’ll make hummus and cut some veggies into small dipping sized pieces, and we’ll pull over and enjoy this too. 

Peaches, apples and bananas also make their way into our cooler.  If you plan ahead, living the vegan lifestyle is not that much of a challenge. 

Happy trails!

By veganforthemeateater

Veggies on Rice

  Good Morning All.  I’ve gotten into the habit of keeping fresh vegetables on hand at all times. It can get costly during the winter months, so I stock up on items that go on sale and freeze them barely steamed and in small freezer bags for handy access.  One of my favorite dishes is veggies on rice.  I make a batch of brown rice and keep it in the fridge for use later in the week, so when I don’t know what to make I whip up an assortment of veggies and put it on the rice.    Place some of the veggies around the rice to make it look pretty. 

 I start by putting a small amount of olive oil, probably 2 teaspoons, in a fry pan, and fry a mixture of chopped onions, peppers, garlic, and sometimes celery.  I don’t always measure amounts, just cut up what looks like a good amount, so I will give you approximate quantities, and unless I say otherwise, you can adjust quantities as  your taste dictates.   Now, back to what I was saying, fry 1 medium to large onion, chopped, 1 green pepper, chopped, 2 cloves garlic, minced, 1 stalk celery, chopped, over medium high heat, until onions are translucent, 5 minutes or so.  Add 2-3 cups of veggie broth (or water), 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of maple syrup,  chopped mushrooms, 1  8 oz pkg, any kind, and other veggies you may like, like corn, beans, asparagus, green beans, etc., 1/2 – 1 cup each depending on how many different veggies you choose to use.   Cook for 5-7 minutes.  Serve over hot rice. 

I love this recipe because you can use whatever is season or whatever you have on hand. It’s very versatile.  If you don’t care for soy sauce, you can make the same basic dish and omit the soy sauce and maple syrup, and replace with cilantro, or basil and parsley.

Enjoy!

By veganforthemeateater

Pizza

Now what person could imagine going through life without having pizza!  Being the all American Italian that I am, that would be out of the question. It was only a couple of months before I started looking for recipes for pizza dough. I had my ‘old-life’ recipe and between that and a few others I came up with a whole wheat dough recipe that we both like.

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

2 cups whole wheat flour                               1/2 cup wheat germ

1 pkg active dry yeast                                      1 cup warm water

1 teaspoon sea salt                                             1 tablespoon honey

Preheat your oven to 375′. In a large bowl dissolve the yeast in warm water and set aside for 10 minutes. In another bowl mix flour, wheat germ and salt.  Make a well in the mixture and pour the yeast, water and honey. Stir well and let rise for a few minutes.  Sprinkle flour on the counter and roll out 3/4 of the dough.  Spread a thin coating of olive oil on a round pizza pan and place dough on it.  Prick the dough with a fork in several places (to avoid bubbles forming). Edge the dough if you want by pressing a fork to flatten the edges.  Bake for 5 minutes and remove from oven. 

While you’re waiting for the dough to par-bake, slice thinly any veggies you would like to have on the pizza.  You can really get creative with this. I have used:  onions, green, red, yellow, or orange peppers, mushrooms, and black olives.  Being the meat eaters we were, we like to use ‘fake’ meat, and so we use Crumbles, which looks like ground beef, or ‘fake’ sausage, and ‘fake’ cheese.  When you have all your ingredients ready, spread a good layer of tomato sauce (sometimes I make a large batch of my own sauce and use it for several dishes, and other times I use a can of pizza sauce. As always, check the ingredients to ensure it accommodates the vegan diet.)  Then start spreading the veggies and fakes evenly. Top with a sprinkling of oregano, pop the pie back in the oven for 7 minutes or until the crust is golden. 

You will probably have dough left over.  What I do with my extra dough is roll it out in a rectangular shape, put sauce and veggies on it and roll it lengthwise.  I seal the edge and curve the roll to fit on another pizza pan. After the pizza is done I bake this pizza roll for 15 minutes or until golden and have this the next day for lunch, or breakfast if we’re really hungry.

The first time I tasted the crust I guess I expected it to taste exactly the same as white flour dough.  Wheat dough definitely has that wheaty flavor, but by my third pizza my tastes adjusted to the new flavor and I love it. We both love it and Friday night pizza is a big hit here.  I have served it to many non-vegans, with great results. 

This is one of my favorite recipes, and after I made a few times it get easier and faster to make it. I have this recipe handy and try to stock the ingredients,  so that a spur of the moment craving can be met without having to run to the store.  I hope you enjoy this as much as we do.

By veganforthemeateater

Tofu Secret

My first few experiments with tofu were not very successful.  I understood that tofu took on the flavor of the rest of the dish being prepared, so I crumbled tofu into a vegetable stirfry as if it were feta cheese.  Well, I guess I put too much in and not enough seasoning and the dish was a bland failure.  I tried again another day and added it to a tomato and whole wheat pasta dish, again with the same results, too much tofu and bland and mushy. 

Well, one day we ate out for lunch at a Thai restaurant and they served some vegan dishes that featured tofu and it tasted great.  I vowed to master the art of cooking tofu. When we got home I went online and looked up ways to prepare tofu. I got a nice surprise when I discovered it can be fried.  Nicer than that was the idea that it can be fried without oil! 

The first thing you do is slice your tofu into 1/4 inch slabs and place them on some paper towels, sprinkle some sea salt (or omit this step if you are trying to decrease your salt intake), and cover with more paper towels.  Press to soak up moisture and replace towels if neccessary.  Although it was recommended a cast iron fry pan be used, I opted for my (sshh) teflon pan.  Heat your pan on a medium heat until the pan is heated and place the tofu slices on it.  Let slices cook a few minutes and check the bottom of slices. When they are golden brown, flip them over and fry the other side.  Remove slices and add more to be cooked.  Sometimes I sprinkle lite soy sauce and serve with vegetables. Sometimes I serve them plain. They almost resemble fried egg whites.  What I love about these is they hold their shape, and taste great. Sometimes I cut the slices into quarters, add them to a veggie medley and add Montreal Steak seasoning which has black pepper, garlic and some Italian spices. I toss the whole batch and serve it with brown rice. 

I still sometimes add a little to my tomato and pasta dishes but I don’t go crazy with it, and I let it simmer in the dish for a while so it has a chance to pick up flavor.  With unfried tofu, less is more. 

In the future I plan on trying tofu as a base for some dessert dishes, and maybe some dips. Can you tell I’m a little on the cautious side? I will experiment though and keep you posted on the results.

By veganforthemeateater