Friday, September 26, 2008

Leftover Magic (Recipe: Stuffed Peppers)

Tonight I created a real winner: a nutritious, tasty meal that was also quick and simple to make, not to mention easy on the wallet.

I got fresh bell peppers on sale a few days ago, and they've been sitting in my crisper while I contemplated how to use them.

Last night we got treated to Chinese food, and we had a full quart of leftover brown rice. Peppers + Whole Grains = Stuffed peppers!

I also had 2 Tofurkey Sausages in the "meat" drawer of the fridge, 1/2 onion, 1/2 jar of leftover tomato salsa, and my usual collection of seasonings. You see where this is going!

Here's one of my recipes for stuffed peppers. Use what you have on hand to make them your own. I'll give suggestions for substitutions for each ingredient:

Fabulous and Frugal Stuffed Peppers

  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp olive oil or vegan margarine
  • 4 whole peppers (for fun, use yellow, green, red, and orange)
  • 4 cups cooked brown rice (or any whole grain, such as quinoa, millet, or wheat berries)
  • 2 large vegan sausages, such as Tofurkey, chopped (if you're going soy-free, try 2 crumbled Sunshine Burgers)
  • 1/2 jar tomato salsa (or more or less to taste) (you can also use ketchup, BBQ sauce or teriyaki, depending on the flavor you're after)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
  • 2 tsp chili powder, or to taste
  • 2 tsp cumin powder

(Feel free to use other spices in place of the ones I used, especially if you're going for a different dominant flavor.)
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Slice each pepper in half lengthwise , cut out the stem, and scoop out the seeds.
  3. In a small frying pan, saute the onions in the oil or margarine until translucent.
  4. In a big bowl, stir together brown rice, sausage, onions, and remaining ingredients until well-blended.
  5. Stuff each pepper half with the mixture, pressing down firmly. Place each pepper on a baking sheet, filling side up.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes, then cover with foil and bake another 30 minutes.
  7. Serve with vegan sour cream and a big salad.

Bon apepperitit!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Comfort food goes vegan

My 3-year-old recently started asking me to make "mac 'n cheese." I'm not exactly sure how he knows what mac 'n cheese is (he's never seen a single TV commercial to my knowledge... well maybe at Grandma's house). My best guess is that he was exposed to it at his daycare, where he used to attend part-time. (They made lunches for the kids there -- not vegan friendly, as you can imagine). I'll never know whether he actually tasted the stuff, but he evidently saw other kids eating it.

Anyway, I took the opportunity to introduce him to Road's End Organics Mac 'n Chreese. I was pretty psyched about it too, because they have brown rice penne, a nice break from wheat pasta. I paired it with the two healthiest foods on the planet: greens and beans. As usual, I took a shortcut; I used a bag of frozen turnip greens and canned organic white beans. I simmered both in roasted vegetable broth and drizzled on a bit of liquid aminos and olive oil.

The result? A quick and delicious, nutritionally complete meal that everyone enjoyed.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Chicken tonight?

Go ahead, do a double take. It looks like chicken. It tastes like chicken. But my version has no hormones, antibiotics, animal protein, animal fat, cholesterol, or cruelty.

I get a lot of my recipes from non-veggie sources. Mind you, I don't actually purchase cookbooks that feature flesh, but I do find great recipe ideas from my mom's chicken cookbook collection, the library, and the web (I'm just careful not to click on any ads!). After all, the flavor of meat dishes comes from the sauce and/or seasonings. So find your favorite (from another life) beef, chicken, lamb, and fish recipes, and simply substitute ingredients for a health-supporting, compassionate, yummy meal.

Tonight I made May Wah cutlets Piccata. (May Wah gets my vote for the tastiest faux chicken ever). The recipe was so easy, I really didn't deserve the accolades I got from my hubby and son. But I'm glad they enjoyed it. I made it even easier than the recipe specified (I used organic lemon juice in place of freshly squeezed lemons and jarred garlic rather than fresh, and I skipped the capers and fresh parsley). Since the recipe is so changed, it's now mine, and I can post it here without having to provide a reference! (But if you want to find the original, simply google "easy chicken piccata.")

Veggie Chix Piccata
  • 1 package May Wah faux chicken steaks (you can use another brand or type, of course)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup dry sherry
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons non-hydrogenated vegan margarine

Season the "cutlets" on both sides with salt and pepper. Dredge them in the flour.

In a big skillet, heat the 4 tablespoons oil over high heat until hot. Add the "cutlets" and sauté about 2 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Transfer the "cutlets" to a plate.

Add the garlic to the pan and cook, stirring, 30 seconds, being careful not to let it brown. Add the sherry and lemon juice, reduce heat to medium-high, and stir while it simmers. Reduce the sauce by half, stirring occasionally.

Add back the "cutlets" and mix with the sauce until everything is hot.

Serve with brown rice and veggies.

By the way, here's proof that this meal passed the kid test (he is 3):

Yes, he ate the green beans FIRST (so you're probably wondering how I prepared them). I steamed fresh green beans for a few minutes while whisking together a jarred mandarin marinade with some agave nectar and canola oil. Tasted like something you get at a takeout Chinese restaurant (a good one of course!). The brown rice was compliments of Seeds of Change Organic Nuke and Serve Basmati Brown Rice (I know, a terrible waste of packaging and ridiculously expensive, but I keep it on hand for days like today, when DS was starving and I had to get din din on the table pronto).

Anyway, this one gets added to my permanent collection for its simplicity, yumminess, and broad appeal. It's also the answer to the ever-persisting comment by many: "I could never give up chicken." Of course you can!!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Web Site of the Week: The Vegetarian Channel

Got some time to browse? You'll love The Vegetarian Channel. This site covers everything vegetarian: food (of course), with over 1000 recipes; shopping; lifestyle; environment; news; and organizations. Use their handy search function to find other specific veg-related sites. If you enjoy a sense of community, you can connect with other vegetarians who share your interests and passions.

The site is easy to navigate, allows you to rate everything and read others' ratings, and covers pretty much everything you can think of, from veg travel to religion to listings of vegetarian-related events.