Monday, January 28, 2013

Chipotle Lentil Burgers and OMG Onion Rings!

I have owned the Appetite for Reduction cookbook for at least a year and I just never got around to making anything from it! That might sound pretty crazy as there are so many awesome looking recipes in it. I do tend to collect vegan cookbooks and then I find all kinds of amazing recipes online that I end up trying...and then I forget about the cookbooks I own! Well, I am very impressed these two recipes out of Appetite for Reduction - the Lentil Chipotle Burger and the OMG Onion Rings! The burgers are healthy, tasty, and all sorts of spicy. The onion rings are baked, not fried, and totally crispy!

The only substitutions that I made included using Panko bread crumbs in place of the whole wheat bread crumbs that the recipes call for. I couldn't find whole wheat bread crumbs at the grocery store, and the regular bread crumbs contained all sorts of icky ingredients...including milk! So, I went with the Panko bread crumbs that are vegan. They worked wonderfully for the onion rings in place of regular bread crumbs. For the burgers, I ended up adding more bread crumbs than the recipe called for because the burgers weren't quite sticking together at first. This is likely because the Panko bread crumbs are airy and lighter than regular ones. Adding more Panko crumbs definitely solved the problem as I was able to form the lentil burgers into patties without any issues.

Also, I would definitely omit the salt next time I make the onion rings. They ended up being a bit too salty. Otherwise, they are super delicious and crunchy.  Here are the recipes!

Lentil Chipotle Burgers (Makes 6):

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 small red onion, cut into medium dice
1/2 pound zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/2 inch thick
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro, chopped (stems and leaves)
1 (15 ounce) can cooked lentils, drained and rinsed (1 1/4 cups)
1 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup chipotles, seeds removed, with adobe sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons red vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons smoked paprika

Preheat a large pan over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Saute the onion for about 3 minutes. Add the zucchini, garlic, cilantro, and a pinch of salt, and saute for 7 to 10 minutes, until the zucchini is soft.

Transfer the zucchini mixture to a food processor. Add all the other ingredients except for 1/2 cup bread crumbs. Pulse until mostly smooth, but there should still be a little texture. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.

Preheat the pan (the same one you already used to saute in is fine) over medium heat. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of bread crumbs to the burger mixture and use a fork to thoroughly combine.
Divide the burger mixture into six equal pieces.

Form the burger portions into patties and cook for about 12 minutes, flipping the burgers often, until they are nicely browned on both sides. Add more olive oil as necessary. Do three at a time for best results.

OMG Onion Rings:

2 vidalia onions (about a pound), or other sweet onion
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 tablespoons corn starch
1 cup cold soy milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons olive oil

Slice onions into 3/4 inch thick rings. Separate the rings and place in a bowl.

Preheat oven to 450 F. Line a rimmed 12×18 baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Now you’ll need two bowls for batter and breading. In one bowl, dump in the flour and cornstarch. Add about half of the almond milk and stir vigorously with a fork to dissolve. Add the rest of the almond milk and the apple cider vinegar, and stir to incorporate. Set aside.

In the other bowl, mix together the bread crumbs and salt. Drizzle in the oil and use your fingertips to mix it up well.

Get a conveyor belt going. From left to right, have the onions, the flour mixture, the breadcrumbs mixture and lastly the baking sheet. Dip each onion slice into the the flour, letting the excess drip off. Transfer to the breadcrumbs bowl and use the other hand to sprinkle a handful of breadcrumbs over the onion, to coat completely. This may take a bit of practice. Carefully transfer each onion to a single layer on the baking sheet. Make sure you use one hand for the wet batter and the other for the dry batter, or you’ll end up with club hand.

Spray rings lightly with cooking spray and bake for 8 minutes. Flip, and bake another 6 minutes. Rings should be varying shades of brown and crisp.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Baked Falafel and Hummus

I made this over the summer but didn't get around to posting about it until now! I was sorting through some old photos and remembered....hey, those falafels! That hummus! That was a delicious meal. I will definitely have to make this again sometime soon.

There are some vegan falafel balls that I'm able to buy at my local grocery store, but these ones blow them right out of the water. Plus, they are baked, making them healthier than other fried versions out there. (Feel free to fry these up if you'd prefer, of course!)

Baked Falafels (recipe originally posted on Epicurious):

1 cup dried chickpeas (2 1/2 cups cooked)
1/2 large onion, roughly chopped (1 cup)
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 tsp salt
1/2-1 tsp red pepper flakes
4 cloves of garlic
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp baking powder
4-6 tbsp flour

1.  Soak the chickpeas for 8 hours or overnight.
2.  Drain the chickpeas well, and put into the food processor with onion, parsley, cilantro, salt, garlic, and cumin. Pulse the mixture until well chopped and blended, but not pureed. Sprinkle in the baking powder and flour; pulse. If the chickpea mixture doesn't stick together, you might need to add more flour.
3.  Move the mixture to a bowl with a lid and chill for several hours or overnight.
4.  Form patties out of the mixture and bake at 400 degrees F, turning once, until lightly browned on both sides (22-26 minutes).

What would a falafel  be without hummus! I made a small salad with baked falafels and hummus on the side to dip the falafels in, or to mix with the salad. Or, you could take the greens, falafels and hummus and put it into a wrap or pita bread.

The hummus recipe I used is from the amazing cookbook, Veganomicon (a must-own for anyone interested in healthy cooking!). At the time that I made this hummus, I had lots of fresh herbs growing in my garden. I added some fresh Zaa'tar leaves in this mixture, since it can be used sprinkled on the top of hummus. It was my first time ever growing zaa'tar and I hadn't even really heard of it until I bought it! It is a wild type of oregano that grows in Israel. It has a flavor similar to oregano, thyme, and marjoram.

Hummus (from Veganomicon):

2-15 oz cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed (or 3 cups of soaked chickpeas from dried)
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 tbsp sesame tahini
3 cloves garlic (or 1 head roasted garlic)
1/4 cup water (more or less for desired thickness)
ground cumin, coriander, and paprika, to taste
salt and pepper, to taste

Mix everything together in the food processor except for the water. Slowly add the water to the desired consistency.

I sprinkled zaa'tar and smoked paprika on top of the whole mixture! Yummmmm!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Vegan S'mores! Yummy Graham Cracker, Marshmallow and Chocolate Mmmm....

Here are some of the Christmas treats that I baked up for the holidays! I went a little less traditional this year and skipped the typical Christmas cookies. While I do love those kinds of cookies, I wanted to challenge myself to something completely new - making S'mores from scratch!

First, I made the graham cookies that make up the base of this treat. I researched a couple of vegan S'mores recipes online, and ended up combining the ones found at Vegan Yum Yum and Manifest Vegan to create my own recipe! If you do need to make them gluten-free, the recipe at Manifest Vegan looked great to use.

To make the graham crackers, you'll need:

2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup Earth Balance (or other vegan margarine)
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup soy milk
1/4 cup agave
1/4 cup molasses

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the whole wheat flour, all purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
3. In a separate bowl, cream together the Earth Balance and the sugar until smooth. Add the soy milk, vanilla, agave, molasses, and cinnamon. Mix everything together.
4. Gradually add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture until everything is incorporated. A stiff dough should form.
5. Divide the dough into two sections and pat into disks. Chill each disk briefly for about 5 minutes in the freezer, and then roll out between two pieces of parchment paper until it is about 5mm thick.
6. Using a pizza cutter or a knife, cut the dough into squares that are approximately the same size. Using the tip of a chopstick, poke holes into the top of each square.
7. The dough will be flexible and it will be easy to pull off the parchment paper. Place each square on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 12-14 minutes until they are firm and a little bit darker around the edges. Let cool completely.
8. Repeat with the remaining dough. I ended up with a TON of graham crackers, but remember that you'll need one for the top and one for the bottom of each s'more!

Now, to make the marshmallow part of the S'mores:

1-oz bag vegan marshmallows (Dandies is the brand I used)
1 tbsp Earth Balance

In a small saucepan, combine the Earth Balance and marshmallows over medium heat. Stir constantly until they melt together. Stir until smooth. Add a little bit more Earth Balance if the mixture starts to stick to the pot.

Put a spoonful of marshmallows between two graham cookies. Warning - this can get a bit messy! I also needed to double the marshmallow recipe to use up all of the graham crackers that I made.

Next, the chocolate topping for the S'mores:

You'll need one bag of non-dairy semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used Camino brand). Melt the chocolate over a double broiler, or in the microwave in 30 second increments (stirring between each 30 seconds). Coat each S'more with chocolate.

They're also good without the chocolate for those who don't care for chocolate. I love chocolate so of course I added lots of chocolate on top of each one!

The other sweets that I made for Christmas are two Post Punk Kitchen favourites of mine: Peanut Butter Blondies (pictured above) and Banana Everything Cookies (shown below).

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Pineapple and Sweet Chili Stir Fry

Paul had the idea for this dinner from an episode of Chopped that he saw on Food Network. The idea was to take a sweet chili stir fry that we make on a regular basis and to add pineapple for a sweet and sour taste. The pineapple really does add a whole other dimension to the dish! I wouldn't have thought of adding a sweet tropical fruit to our stir fried vegetable meal like this, but it really does taste great!

We used the Mae Ploy sweet chili sauce, as I blogged about in the past for another stir fry post. Instead of using tempeh or tofu like we usually do, we used Gardein chick'n strips for the protein.

To make this meal, I cooked up some brown rice for the base. Then, I fried up the vegan chick'n strips in some grapeseed oil until they were lightly browned. Then, I added a whole bunch of vegetables (red pepper, onion, green beans, sprouts) and small cubes of pineapple. Add the Mae Ploy sweet chili sauce on top and fry it all up together.

Serve the veggie mix over the brown rice and you're done!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Perogies for Christmas Dinner

For Christmas dinner this year, we decided that it would be a real treat to make perogies from scratch! I have fond childhood memories preparing perogies with my family near the holidays. Half of my family heritage is Ukranian (the other half is Scottish!), so eating perogies around Christmastime was a family tradition. We would make large batches and it would take all afternoon to make them! This Christmas was my first time making them in my own kitchen. It did end up taking all afternoon to make the perogies (and the pasta that we made), but it was definitely worth it. We also ended up having several batches to freeze for future lunches and dinners.

We also baked this pasta for Christmas dinner - Tofu Baked Pasta - it was a favorite from when we first made it and it went perfectly with the perogies. This was definitely a warm and hearty holiday meal!

The recipe for the perogies came from the Post Punk Kitchen website. I followed the recipe exactly, except I didn't make the caramelized onions that were suggested. Instead, we decided to go with our own sauteed spicy onions and mushrooms to put on top.

We also didn't fry them after boiling them, we just served them boiled as a healthier option. You are welcome to fry them up after boiling them for a crispier fried taste!

We doubled this recipe to make approximately 60 perogies - the recipe below makes 30 perogies.

For the Dough:
3 Tablespoons canola oil
1 cup warm water
3 cups all purpose flour (plus a little extra for sprinkling)
3/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 lbs yukon gold potatoes, peeled and sliced, cut into 3/4 inch chunks
1/4 cup canola oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoons salt
Make the filling:
In a medium sized pot, cover potatoes in water. Place a lid on the pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower heat to simmer and cook for about 15 more minutes or until potatoes are easily pierced with a fork.

Meanwhile, in a large pan, sautée the onions in oil over medium heat for about 7 minutes. Turn the heat off but stir occasionally even when the heat is turned off because they could still burn from the hot pan. When the potatoes are done boiling, drain them well and add them to the pan with the onions. Just mashed them right in there with a potato masher, that way you are sure to get all the flavor. Add the salt and pepper. Make sure potatoes are mashed well and fluffy. Set aside to cool a bit.

To make the dough:
Pour the water and oil into a large bowl. Add 2 cups of flour and the salt, keeping one cup aside. Use a fork to stir the flour in, and as it starts to come together, use your hands to knead until a loose dough forms (about 3 minutes.)

Sprinkle your counter with flour, then turn the dough out onto it and knead. Add the reserved cup of flour a little bit at a time, working it into the dough, until it is very smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. If it’s too sticky, you can add a little bit more flour and knead it in, sometimes up to 1/4 cup extra. Conversely, if you get a good- feeling, smooth, elastic dough that isn’t tacky with less less than the extra cup of flour, then that’s okay, too.

Now we roll the dough out, and also bring a salted pot of water to boil to cook the perogies.

Divide the dough in half and make sure your counter is clean and sprinkled with a dusting of flour to prevent sticking. Roll half the dough out to about 1/16 of an inch thick, which is to say, very thin but not see through. Sprinkle the top with a light dusting of flour.

To make the circles: I use the top of a glass that is 3 1/2 inches, but somewhere between 3 1/2 and 4 inches is perfect. Have ready a lightly floured plate to place the finished circles on, and go ahead and firmly press your glass or cookie cutter into the dough, as close together as you can. Pull the excess dough up and set aside. Place circles on the floured plate. Combine the excess doughs and see if you can get a few more wrappers out of the deal.

Fill the dough with the filling: Make sure your pot of water is rapidly boiling. Have a small bowl of water for wetting the edges of the wrappers. Place about a tablespoon of filling into the center of a circle and dab water around the circumference of the circle. Fold the edges of the wrapper over filling and pinch in the middle to hold together. Pinch down the sides so that you have a sealed half moon. Don't stuff them too full or else the filling will come out of the edges.

Cook the perogies: Gently lower the perogies into a pot of boiling water. When they float they are ready. If for some reason they aren’t floating, it takes about 5 minutes for them to cook.

Make the topping: Slice an onion into thin slices and cut up some mushroom. Put a little bit of oil in a frying pan and let it heat up. Put the onion and the mushroom into the frying pan, and shake on some cayenne pepper (or other hot spice). Mix it all together and saute for 5-8 minutes, until the onions are soft and translucent.

Top the perogies with the spicy onions/mushrooms and you're done! You can also serve with vegan sour cream if you'd like!

This recipe turned out great and brought all of those great childhood memories back for me! I think it will become a new Christmas tradition of mine...and maybe other times of the year when I feel up to making them! It is always nice to have a quick go-to dinner ready in the freezer, especially something as yummy as perogies!