Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Quinoa Salad

Today started as "one of those days". I had a hard time dragging myself out of bed (as I'm unemployed and not in school until January) and then I couldn't figure out what to eat for breakfast. I settled on toast from the loaf of bread in my freezer with almond butter and raspberry jam. It made my fingers sticky.
Then I proceeded to go out to check out some apartments, none of which would work for me. (They were all tiny, dirty, or sketchy. Ugh.) After viewing apt 1 i headed back home to kill a few hours before my next appointment. I was feeling lazy and uninspired so I heated up some frozen sweet potato fries for lunch. While they were tasty, that's really a poor excuse for a lunch in my world. About an hour before I was to set out to check the next two apartments, I got an email from vegetarian times with this recipe for a spinach quinoa salad with cherries and almonds. That title was enough to set my tired, apathetic brain racing, so before I headed out for another few hours I put some quinoa in the rice cooker. (Best invention ever!) Did you know you could cook quinoa in a rice cooker? I didn't until recently and it has caused even more love and appreciation for my rice cooker than I thought possible.
I also whipped up a quick vinaigrette to let the quinoa soak up it's flavors while I was out. Then when I got home, hungry again I just threw in some chopped veggies and cooked kale, and I had a delicious healthy meal in 10 mins!
This salad was soo tasty. Fresh and healthy, but still hearty and comforting (thanks to the cooked kale) which is oh so important at this time of year. My bad day has ended on a such a great note thanks to this salad. More so, in that I just made it up as I went along, and it was delicious and healthy and satisfying.) I love when that happens.
And that, is why I love cooking.

quinoa salad

this recipe may look really long and daunting, but it's not. it's really so simple, so give it a try!

Quinoa Salad
(clearly all my creativity was used up in making the salad, so i can't name it.)

1 cup quinoa, uncooked

cook the quinoa according to directions. (Or do it the easy way and use a rice cooker! Just like you'd make rice.)

for the vinaigrette:
2-3 tbsp each: red wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar (I found these complimented each other really nicely, if you don't have both use one or the other or white vinegar or whatever you have on hand!)
1 heaping tsp dijion mustard
1 tbsp orange marmalade
5-10 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (enough until it's all thickened)
dash salt and lots of pepper
1/2 tsp mrs.dash (or other seasoning)

whisk the vinegars, marmalade, and mustard together. slowly drizzle in the oil until thickened. add the salt, pepper, and seasonings.

Mix the quinoa and vinaigrette together and let sit. (1/2 an hour or several if you can.)

for the rest of the salad:
1/4 yellow and red bell pepper
1/4 cup dried cherries or cranberries

add the veggies to the quinoa.

1 cup of kale, roughly chopped
1 clove of garlic
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
splash of soy sauce, lemon juice

dice the peppers, and chop the kale.
heat up a medium pan with the oil. once heated, add the kale and stir until it starts to wilt. add the soy and lemon juice, and garlic. keep on the heat for about a min, then remove and add to the salad.

1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
to do this just throw the pine nuts in the heated pan until toasted. watch them carefully! these babies burn fast.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Miso Gravy

Today I woke up and was at a loss for breakfast. I had no tofu for a scramble, and no cold soy for cereal. But what I did have, was a black bean burger left from the other day. And I had potatoes. So rather than treat the black bean patty as a burger, I decided to think of it as a sausage. Which would require gravy.
I ended up with my best batch of miso gravy yet! I only tried my hand at making gravy twice before, and it always turned up too thick. But not this time! Not too thick, and full of flavor, it closely resembles the gravy I grew up with at Sunday dinner, made by my english Grandmother. I always preferred the thin, strongly spiced gravy she made to the thick, milky variety my mother would make. But rather than using roast drippings, this one uses miso paste! Now I can have gravy at my holiday dinners, as I never really bothered to make my own before. But with a recipe like this, i'll make sure to include it in my holidays from now on.

vegan 'sausage' and miso gravy with homefries

(My patty broke in the pan, as I couldn't find my spatula to flip it. So I got little mini 'sausage' pattys)

Miso Gravy
(around two servings)

1 tbsp miso paste (i used red)
1 tbsp margarine
1 tbsp flour
2-3 tsp boullion base
1/4 cup of hot water (or veg. stock - if using omit the boullion base)
2 tsp mrs.dash
1/2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp paprika

In a small saucepan, melt the margarine and combine with miso paste. Add the flour and stir frequently until mixed together. Slowly add the water (or veg stock) and whisk into the miso mixture. Add the boullion and dissolve. Add the spices and whisk until everything is combined. Simmer for 3-5 mins, or longer if thicker gravy is desired.


I also made home fires with some baby potatoes and a bit of leftover sweet potato. If you haven't heard the secret to home fries yet, that's ok. I didn't know until maybe a year ago.

Home Fries
Heat some olive oil in a pan. (Medium heat) Chop your potatoes and add to the pan. Cover and let sit for about 5 mins (if using sweet potatoes, only 3 mins should do as they cook faster) DO NOT STIR. Just let them sit there or they will not be nice and crispy, and if they are not nice and crispy they will be nowhere near as good. Be patient, grasshopper. After they are nicely crisped and browned on one side, give them a stir and throw in some seasonings (i use mrs.dash and a bit of seasoning salt) and cover and cook a few more mins. Repeat until potatoes are crispy and tender.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Easiest Thing Ever - Veggie Burger

Last night I was browsing This Is Why You're Thin when I came across a picture of black bean veggie burgers. The description just said to mash up brown rice and black beans in order to make them. I've tried a few veggie burger recipes in my time, but I have never seen any that simple. And since I just so happened to have brown rice and cooked black beans hangin' out in my fridge, I set to work on mashing them up so I could have burgers today.
And they are delicious! And did I mention the easiest, simplest, recipe i've ever seen? But even with limited ingredients, these burgers do not compromise on taste. I see them becoming a welcome addition to my menus from now on.
I ate my burger with some homemade sweet potato fries. I sliced up the sweet potato thin as I could manage, sprayed em' with some pam, then put them in the oven at 425 for about 5-10 mins. Tossing once. I also ate them on regular whole grain bread since that's what was in my freezer. I didn't have much for fixin's so I just sauteed some mushrooms and scallions to layer in there.

Black Bean and Brown Rice Burgers

Black Bean Brown Rice Veggie Burgers
(measurements are just what I had kicking around, it made 3 burgers.)

1/2 cup cooked brown rice
1 scant cup cooked black beans (or canned)
2 tbsp seasonings (i used mrs.dash)
2-3 tbsp dijion mustard

If you have freshly cooked the rice and beans, mash with a fork until combined. Add spices.

If the ingredients have been sitting in the fridge for a while, you may need to pulse them in the food processor or use an immersion blender. (Which is what I did - if you do this, like me, (because I left my food processor in Alberta) be careful, as little grains of rice may go flying everywhere if you don't have a deep enough bowl and something to cover the sides. And you probably don't want to hunt around your kitchen for an hour trying to find all the little grains of rice that went flying like tiny little birds all over your kitchen.)
You are likely also going to need a binder. I found after blending the beans and rice they just weren't sticking, so I grabbed the first thing I saw in my fridge door- some dijon mustard. It worked perfectly, holding the mixture together and adding a nice spicy bite to the burgers.

Allow to sit in the fridge a few hours (or overnight) then fry up for about 3 mins per side.

Black Bean and Brown Rice Burgers

And am I crazy, or does it almost look like meat? (Except for the full grains of rice, of course.)