Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Baked Ziti

Tucson, AZ

Baked ziti is a traditional Italian-American family dish.  Basically it is a casserole of pasta, sauce, and cheese.  Most often it is served on special occasions, probably because it requires some time and some love. It is one of my first food memories,  and it reminds me of family gatherings, my mother, my grandparents,  and the comforts of home.  It was very important to me to recreate this dish keeping those nostalgic flavors intact.  Taking years to perfect, I believe this recipe can fool anyone,  (including your Italian grandmother!) into thinking they are eating the traditional dish.



Baked Ziti
Kid Friendly, Vegan
serves 4-6

1 lb Ziti Pasta (Penne or Rigatoni would make good substitutes)
1 Tbsp olive oil
3 cups Homemade Tomato Sauce (recipe below)
1 cup firm tofu, pressed of most liquid and crumbled by hand or with a fork
1 ½ cups Homemade "Moxarella" (recipe below)
½ Tbsp fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 375º.
Cook pasta until just before al dente.  Drain and stir in olive oil immediately to keep pasta from sticking.  Add 2 ½ cups of sauce and the crumbled tofu.  Stir well to combine.
In a glass 9x13"casserole dish, ladle ½ cup of the sauce on the bottom.  Spread to coat the bottom of the dish with sauce.  Add half of the pasta/tofu/sauce mixture and spread out evenly in the casserole dish.  Spread of half of the "Moxarella" evenly across the top of the pasta.  Add the rest of the pasta mixture.  Spread the rest of the "Moxarella" across the top.  Cover the casserole dish with foil.  Bake 35-45 minutes.  Sprinkle parsley on top.  Serve hot.

You can make the cheese and sauce a day or two in advance to save time.

For the Sauce:
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup onion, diced
1 cup fennel, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
⅓ cup red wine
½ cup water
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp oregano
½ tsp fennel seed
½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp garlic powder

In a pot, over med/high heat, heat oil.  Ad onion and fennel.  Sauté for 5 minutes.  Add garlic and sauté another 3 minutes.  Stir in remaining ingredients.  Reduce heat to low and simmer 20-30 minutes stirring occasionally.

For the "Moxarella"
This recipe is not mine, but i've made it multiple times and it is great!  

¼ cup raw cashews (soaked in water for several hours and then drained IF you don’t have a high powered blender)
1 cup hot water
2  tablespoons + 1 teaspoon tapioca starch
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (optional)
1 small garlic clove, minced
¾ teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Blend all ingredients together in a high speed blender or food processor until completely smooth, about 1 minute. Pour into a small saucepan and cook, stirring constantly over medium high heat. After a couple of minutes the mixture will start to look like it’s curdling or separating. This is totally normal, reduce heat to medium and KEEP stirring so you don’t burn the cheese to the bottom of the pot. Keep cooking and stirring til really thick (about 2–3 more minutes) and the mixture becomes like a cohesive mass of melted dairy cheese that stretches. Remove from heat and let cool a bit.

Click the link below for the
Original "Moxarella" Recipe




Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Chili Dog Cheese Fries

Tucson, AZ

Aside from all things pumpkin and pie related (I seriously have a problem with all the pumpkin pie I've been eating!) , October is a very inspiring month for cooking.  I joke that it feels like fall here in Tucson, but after the hottest summer I've ever experienced, like over 100º every day since friggin' May! The upper 80ºs are truly refreshing.  Like a crisp autumn day, haha.

One of the first things I start to think about in the fall is a big pot of  chili.  My chili recipe has changed many many times in the past few years.  This one is my newest recipe.  It is kind of a comfort food extravaganza, and is straying a little from my usual food rules, as it is not completely from scratch.  BUT what if I used (veg) hotdogs as the "meat" in my chili?  Answer: Chili dog chili.  So now, what if I want to take it a couple of gluttonous steps further, and put it on fries?  With cheese?  Boom.  Chili Dog Cheese Fries.

Chili Dog Cheese Fries

These homemade, oven-roasted, fries are delicious on their own, so be sure to give them a try!

For the Fries:
Kid Friendly, Vegan, Gluten free (the fries only, not the chili)
serves 4

6 yukon gold potatoes
2 Tbsp olive oil
½ -1 tsp sea salt
½ tsp black pepper
1 tsp paprika
½ tsp garlic powder

Preheat oven to 425º.  Peel and cut potatoes into shoestring fry shape. In a bowl or plastic bag, coat fries with oil and all seasonings.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.  ( For an RV oven, half the recipe, or bake each sheet separately.)  Spread fries in a single layer on the parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake 30 minutes, turning fries every 10 minutes.

For the Chili Dog Chili:
Kid Friendly, Vegan
serves 4

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped (optional)
4 vegan hotdogs*, chopped small
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp liquid smoke
1 can kidney or black beans, drained and rinsed
2 plum tomatoes, diced
½ tsp sea salt (or to taste)
1 tsp paprika
½ tsp garlic powder
1 cup Daiya** cheddar

*Vegan hotdogs can be easily found in most grocery stores, usually in the refrigerated part of the produce section.

**Daiya is a brand of vegan cheese.  You can sub with any vegan cheese of choice.  I like Daiya because it is non GMO, it melts, and tastes better than most store bought vegan cheeses.

In a large nonstick pan, heat oil over med high heat.  Sauté onion for 5 minutes.  Add peppers, hotdogs, chili powder, and liquid smoke.  Sauté another 5 minutes.  Add beans, tomatoes, salt, paprika, and garlic powder.  Sauté another 5 minutes, stirring often. Stir in the cheese until it melts.

Spoon chili over fries, and garnish with cilantro and more cheese if you like.







Sunday, October 5, 2014

Acorn Squash Boats


with Gluten Free Apple Pecan Stuffing


Happy fall!  This is one of my favorite seasonal dishes.  Guilt free and packed with plant-based protein in the form of quinoa stuffing.  So tasty!


Acorn Squash Boats


ACORN SQUASH BOATS
serves 4
gluten free, vegan

Cut 2 small acorn squash in half lengthwise. Remove seeds.  Cook halves in boiling salted water for 5 minutes.  Place squash cut side down in a shallow baking dish.  Bake at 350º for 30 minutes.  

For the stuffing: 

Gluten Free Apple Pecan Stuffing
serves 4-6
gluten free, kid friendly, vegan, easy

¾ cup quinoa, rinsed with cold water
¼ white rice  (I used basmati) *can substitute brown rice, but add 15-20 minutes to cook time
1 ¾ cup water
1/8 cup tamari (can sub soy sauce though not gluten free)
1 tsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup onion, chopped
⅓ cup pecans
1 apple, peeled, core removed, and chopped
¼ c raisins or dried cranberries
1 Tbsp fresh parsley
1/8 tsp dried sage
½ tsp dried parsley
¼ tsp thyme
¼ tsp celery seed (or 1-2 stalks of celery, chopped)

In a large pot, bring water, tamari, and olive oil to a boil.  Lower heat and stir in all other ingredients.  Cover and simmer on low, 40 minutes.  Make sure rice is tender and liquid is absorbed.

Turn squash cut side up.  Spoon in stuffing.  Bake at 350º about 20 minutes more.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Tofu Scramble

Tofu Scramble
 

  People are always asking me what I eat for breakfast.  Though cereals and smoothies might be the easiest breakfasts for most vegans,  living in the RV limits me a bit more than it does others.  I have no room for an awesome blender.  I don't buy soy milk, almond milk, etc, because basically, i cannot fit large containers in my tiny RV fridge! We are talking about 6 cubic feet here.  Not much to work with.  The RV fridge is packed with fresh produce, a few condiments, maybe some tempeh, tofu, and well....that's it. So I usually go with a super fast and easy veggie and tofu scramble.

  Tofu texture is very similar to the consistency of scrambled eggs.  It takes on the flavor of whatever you season it with.  If you are new to tofu, here are a few tofu tips.  Tofu comes in a block.  There are options of firmness.  If you like your eggs softly scrambled, go with a soft tofu.  If you like eggs scrambled well, go with extra firm.  And if you are somewhere in-between, go with medium or firm.  Silken tofu is best for smoothies or blending into liquid.  I always make sure my tofu is certified organic to avoid GMO soybeans.  Tofu is very easy to find.  Usually in the refrigerated produce section of any grocery store.  If you don't use the whole package at once, store opened unused portion in a covered container filled with water in the refrigerator.  It will last a few days, but water should be dumped and changed out each day.  It can also be patted dry, cut up, and frozen.  Thawed out tofu has a spongier texture than tofu that hasn't been frozen, so keep that in mind.


This is a very fast and simple recipe!  I recommend prepping everything in advance (measuring, washing, crumbling, and mincing) before turning on the stove.  Cook time is only a few minutes.  
 

Tofu Scramble
serves 2-4
Easy, gluten free, Kid Friendly, nut free, dairy free, One pot, Quick Meals, vegan

veggies of your choice- I used broccoli and mushrooms  (lightly cooked and set aside)
1 package of tofu (12-14oz) drained, patted dry, and crumbled with your hands
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
¼ tsp ground turmeric
¼ tsp onion powder
¼ tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
¼ sea salt
4 Tbsp water
 
Sauté veggies on medium heat for no more than 3 minutes.  Overcooked veggies are never good!  Undercook (or use raw), remove from heat,  and set aside.

In a pan on medium heat, add olive oil & garlic.  Sauté 1 minute.
Add sea salt, crumbled tofu, turmeric, onion powder, red pepper flakes, and nutritional yeast.  Stirring with a spatula, slowly add water to combine.
Add cooked veggies. Stir continuously for 3 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Serve immediately.


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

A Brief Chat about Nutrients, Carbs, and Gluten

Strawberry Salad 
Organic strawberries, spinach, arugula, carmelized onion, fennel, walnuts, daikon radish, fresh herbs, homemade balsamic dressing



All food is made up of 3 macronutrients: protein, fat, and carbohydrates.   Our bodies need all three.  Protein for growth, muscle, and tissue repair.  Fat for absorbing vitamins, energy, and maintaining cell membranes.

Carbohydrates are our main source of fuel.  They are necessary for proper function of the muscles, kidneys, brain, nervous system, immune system, and intestines.   Fiber is an important type of carb to aid in digestion, decrease risk of disease, and lower cholesterol.  

Avoiding carbohydrates for weight loss or disease prevention such as diabetes and heart disease is dangerous.  It can make the body ill due to nutrient deficiency.  Choosing healthy carbohydrates is easy, and should be the bulk of every meal.  Choose whole vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains.  Always avoid highly processed and refined foods and stay away from refined sugar.  This will keep your body healthy and maintain a healthy weight. 


Gluten is NOT a carb.  It is a protein found in wheat.  Some bodies do not respond well to gluten and develop allergies to it.  This is not a reason to avoid carbohydrates, it is a reason to avoid wheat, if your body has a negative reaction to it.  Whole grains such as wheat berries contain gluten, but often don’t affect people with gluten allergies.  Avoid refined wheat products (even wheat bread!) and choose whole grains and sprouted grains.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Lentil Arugula Panzanella Salad

Tucson, Arizona

Lentil Arugula Panzanella Salad





Spring is in the air!  The desert is in bloom.  It's a beautiful day in Tucson.  Weather like this makes me crave panzanella.  An Italian-style bread salad with peppery arugula and hearty lentils, combined with a lemony, feta-like tofu cheese.

Lentil Arugula Panzanella Salad
vegan, nut-free
serves 2

4 cups arugula
wedge of lemon
Lentils (recipe below)
Bread (recipe below)
tofu feta (recipe below)

Split arugula onto 2 plates.  Drizzle with lemon.  Add lentils, bread, and tofu feta.


Tofu feta:
½ cup firm tofu, drained and pressed, crumbled
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/8 tsp sea salt
dash dill
dash oregano

Add all in a small bowl, stir to combine.  Set aside in the refrigerator to chill and marinate.

For the Bread:
2 slices of thick cut bread
1-2 tbsp olive oil
¼ tsp garlic powder
salt & pepper

Let slices of bread dry out on a paper towel for about a ½ hour (or use day old bread, bread going stale).  Cut bread into 1inch squares.
Drizzle each square with olive oil, and sprinkle garlic powder, salt, and pepper.

Toast in oven or toaster oven, turning once until crispy and golden brown.  You can also opt to pan fry them over med-high heat until crispy and golden brown.

For the lentils:
1 cup green lentils, rinsed
4 cups water
1/8 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp olive oil

In a pot, boil water.  Ad lentils and cook until tender, about 20 minutes.  Drain well.  Transfer to a small bowl.  Stir in garlic powder, salt, lemon juice, and olive oil.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Dal Makhani with Basmati Rice

Tucson, Arizona
Stormy sunset and rainbow in Tucson


Well we have had quite the mild winter here in Tucson, compared to the rest of the country, (polar vortex) oh my!!  My RV as of now is not made for cold weather, so the southwest is where I will call home for awhile.  We did have 1 stormy day since I've been here where the temps dropped a little.  Immediately, I got excited for this warm comforting dish.  As a vegetarian, Dal Makhani was my go to Indian food choice.  I figured it was surely time to veganize the recipe, as it usually contains cream and ghee.  This is a much healthier version without losing the flavor.  Containing lentils, beans, and nuts, this is a plant powered, protein packed, bowl of deliciousness.  Enjoy!


Creamy Vegan Dal Makhani with Basmati Rice


Dal Makhani with Basmati Rice
serves 4-6
gluten-free, vegan

1 onion, chopped
4 clove garlic, minced
1 chili pepper, sliced
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 ½ cups water, divided
½ tsp chili powder
½ tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp garam masala
½ cup black lentils
½ cup raw cashews
½ cup kidney beans
3 plum tomatoes, diced
½ cup basmati rice
½ cup cashews
1 tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp unrefined sugar
handful fresh cilantro

First, soak cashews by covering them in very hot water.  Let them soak while you prepare everything else.  About an hour.

In a large pot over medium heat, add ½ cup water, olive oil, garlic, chili pepper, onion, and ginger.  Sauté about 10 minutes. 

 Add 2 ½ cups water, chili powder, garam masala, cumin seeds, and lentils.  Cover & cook 10 minutes.  

Add tomatoes and rice.  Cover, cook 30 minutes. 

While that is cooking, Process or blend cashews (soaked and drained) with ½ cup of water. Blend until smooth. 

 After the 30 minutes of cooking, add cashew creme. Stir in sea salt and sugar.  


Serve hot, garnished with fresh cilantro.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Spicy Rice & Beans

Tucson, AZ

A delicious, easy, healthy, and spicy one pot meal. 



RVegan Spicy Rice & Beans
serves 2
gluten free, vegan

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 yellow onion chopped
1 tsp minced habanero pepper (substitute chile pepper of your preference)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup beans, drained and rinsed (i used black and kidney mixed)
¼ cup chopped tempeh (optional)
2 plum tomatoes, chopped
1 cup cooked rice
1 lime
handful of fresh cilantro
generous pinch of the following: chili powder, smoked paprika, paprika, oregano, cumin, cumin seed, salt



Cook the onion and habanero in the oil 5 min over medium high, lower temp to meduim & add everything else, except rice, lime, and cilantro. Cook 10 more minutes. Stir in cooked rice. Squeeze juice of 1 lime over top and stir. Serve hot. Garnish with fresh cilantro.

Bloody Maria

Tucson, AZ

My all time favorite cocktail, the Bloody Mary, just took a southwestern vacation!  Hola, Bloody Maria!

RVegan Bloody Maria

Bloody Maria mix
serves 4

32oz tomato juice (I use Knudson organic tomato juice, it's the best!)
2 Tbsp grated fresh horseradish
¼ cup worcestershire (I use Whole Foods brand, its vegan & organic.  Always check labels)
½ tsp habanero hot sauce (Spicy Hot! Substitute with any hot sauce of your choice, or omit for mild)
½ tsp ground chipotle powder (Spicy! Omit for mild)
½ tsp onion powder
1 Tbsp BBQ sauce OR 1 tsp liquid smoke
Juice of 1 lime + more for garnish
salt & pepper to taste

Combine and mix well.

4 shots Tequila


Fill 4 glasses with ice.  1 shot of tequila each glass.  Pour Bloody Maria mix over iced tequila.  Stir.  Garnish with a wedge of lime, olives, hot peppers, cilantro, or all of the above!

Creamy Buffalo Wing Spread


Dip EVERYTHING in it.  Great for parties!



Creamy Buffalo Wing Spread 
gluten free, soy free, vegan

½ cup hot sauce
1 cup sunflower seeds
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic
¼ cup water
1Tbsp lemon juice

Process sunflower seeds to a fine powder, add remaining ingredients. Process until smooth.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Quinoa Crispy Treats

Seaside Park, NJ

Happy holidays from RVegan!  Did you know quinoa pops like popcorn?  It becomes a tiny, crunchy little treat.  Perfect texture for this sweet and salty dessert.  Watch out, they are very addictive.  Don't say I didn't warn you!

Quinoa Crispy Treats

Quinoa Crispy Treats
(approximately 25 balls)
vegan, gluten free, soy free, no bake

3 Tbsp flax seed meal
1 cup pitted dates
1 cup raisins
3 tbsp peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp coconut oil (optional)
1 1/2 cups quinoa crispies (see recipe below)
dash sea salt

In a food processor, combine and process all except the quinoa.  Scoop processed mixture into a bowl.
Stir in 1/2 cup of the quinoa and mix well.  Form into 1 inch balls.  Roll each ball in remaining quinoa to coat. Ready to serve.


For the Quinoa Crispies:
2 cups water
1 cup quinoa
1 tbsp coconut oil (or vegetable oil)
dash sea salt

In a pot, bring water to a boil.  Reduce heat to low, and stir in quinoa.  Cook quinoa 5 minutes and strain immediately.  In a pan, ove medium heat, heat oil.  Add strained quinoa and salt, stirring constantly with a spatula to prevent burning.   The quinoa will start popping like popcorn.  It appears to get smaller when it pops. After about 5 minutes the quinoa should be popping like crazy.  Turn heat to low, continuously stirring until golden brown and crispy.  Taste for desired crispyness.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Gluten Free Apple Pecan Stuffing

Sedona, AZ

Well it's the day after Thanksgiving.  I am thankful for my family, friends, nature, health, travel, and adventure.  I work in the hospitality industry, so unfortunately was not able to spend this holiday with family.  I did however, find it quite necessary to make some stuffing!  Work has been quite time consuming, so I didn't grocery shop specifically for any items for this recipe.  It's straight from the RVegan pantry and produce I had on hand.
I've cut back on bread quite a bit this year, due to not being able to easily find quality bread made with unrefined flour, organic wheat, and non GMO ingredients.  It's a full time job finding real food sometimes that meets my standards, a strict list of rules about food that I abide by.  I digress... I am not intolerant of gluten at all, in fact gluten makes me very happy haha, but I had no bread.  Suddenly comes the inspiration to make a bread-free stuffing.

Gluten Free Apple Pecan Stuffing


Gluten Free Apple Pecan Stuffing
serves 4-6
gluten free, kid friendly, vegan, easy

¾ cup quinoa, rinsed with cold water
¼ white rice  (I used basmati) *can substitute brown rice, but add 15-20 minutes to cook time
1 ¾ cup water
1/8 cup tamari (can sub soy sauce though not gluten free)
1 tsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup onion, chopped
⅓ cup pecans
1 apple, peeled, core removed, and chopped
¼ c raisins or dried cranberries
1 Tbsp fresh parsley
1/8 tsp dried sage
½ tsp dried parsley
¼ tsp thyme
¼ tsp celery seed (or 1-2 stalks of celery, chopped)

In a large pot, bring water, tamari, and olive oil to a boil.  Lower heat and stir in all other ingredients.  Cover and simmer on low, 40 minutes.  Make sure rice is tender and liquid is absorbed.  Serve hot.