Sunday, October 31, 2010

Indian Night!

     My partner's father is from northern India, so my partner's palate is, of course, seasoned by a life of delicious Indian food. Before I met him, I enjoyed Indian food but was completely paralyzed by the thought of even attempting to make it. Now, however, Indian dinners are a weekly staple for us, and the most exciting night of the week. So, after becoming acquainted with commonly used spices in north Indian food, and watching him and his mother cook up Indian deliciousness I now can safely make most curries (though I'm still working on koftas and haven't touched the paneer making). Below you will find recipes for Channa Masala (chickpea curry), Bhindi Masala (okra curry), and Aloo Gobi (potato and cauliflower curry).

Channa Masala

2 cups of dried chickpeas, soaked in water overnight, or 2 cans of chickpeas
1/4 cup of oil
1 teaspoon each of: cumin seeds, cumin powder, turmeric, garam masala, tandoori powder, salt
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 medium to large sized tomato, diced
1 green chili, diced
1/2 cup onion, diced
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Heat the oil in a pan, add onions, cumin seeds, and ginger, let cook for about 5-6 minutes on med heat
Add chickpeas, all of the spices, and chili pepper, let cook for about 5-6 minutes
Add tomatoes, you can add red pepper flakes or more garam masala if you want it to be spicy, bring this to a boil over med-high heat, let cook for about 20 minutes
Add lemon juice, let cook for about 5 more minutes.
You can add more or less of the spices, depending on your taste.

Bhindi Masala:
Note: even people who claim to hate okra always love this curry 

 2-3 green chili peppers, diced
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
1/3 cup of shredded coconut
2-3 cups of sliced okra
1/2 cup each of cashews (minced) and raisins
1/4 cup of oil
1 teaspoon each of: cumin powder, turmeric, garam masala, salt, cardamom powder
1 tablespoon of cinnamon

Heat oil in pan on med heat, add chili peppers, coconut, and ginger, cook for about 5-6 minutes
Add okra, cashews, raisins, and spices, cook for about 7-10 minutes on low-medium heat
You can add more spices if you need to (I tend to add more cardamom and cinnamon)

Aloo Gobi

2-3 potatoes, washed and cut into cubes
1-2 cups of cauliflower (chopped)
1/4 cup of oil
1 teaspoon each of: cumin seed, cumin powder, turmeric, salt, garam masala
2-3 tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup of onions
about 1/2 cup of water

 Heat oil in pan on med-high, add onions and cumin seed, let cook for about 5 minutes
Add tomatoes and spices, cook for about 3-4 more minutes, stirring frequently
Add potatoes and cauliflower, carefully add water until it almost or just barely covers the vegetables
Cover and let cook on med heat for about 20 minutes, or until potatoes and cauliflower are soft, stirring about every 5 minutes
You can add more spices if you need too.


Saturday, October 30, 2010

Strawberry Cupcakes with Lemon Buttercream Icing

For one of my dear friend's birthdays, I decided to make her up something tasty. I remembered when, long ago, in a fit of needing some sweet treat, I had made some strawberry cupcakes with lemon icing (from store mixes and pre-made icings that I had laying around in my cabinets). I had loved these haphazard cupcakes and decided that they would be a good birthday cake for my friend, thus, this recipe was born:

Strawberry Cupcakes with Lemon Buttercream Icing

1/2 cup room temp. butter
2/3 cup white sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6-8 strawberries, diced
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place cupcake liners in cupcake pans (I didn't have liners so I just used butter baking spray to thoroughly grease the cupcake pans)
Cream together sugar and butter
Add eggs, one at a time, beating each egg completely into the mixture before adding next egg
Add vanilla extract
Add diced strawberries, beat well (you can also add red food coloring if you want, as just using real strawberries will not change the color of your baked cupcakes)
In a separate bowl mix flour, baking powder, and salt
Add 1/2 of flour mixture to butter mixture, mixing well
Add milk
Add rest of flour mixture, beat until smooth
Place cupcakes in your cupcake pan, evenly filling each slot, and bake for 18-20 minutes (until a toothpick inserted in cupcakes comes out clean)

1 cup of softened butter
1 package of softened 8 oz cream cheese
3 cups of confectioners' sugar
3 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla

Cream together butter and cream cheese with mixer
Add sugar, one cup at a time, mixing each cup thoroughly before adding next
Add lemon juice and vanilla, mix thoroughly
(note: if mixture is to thick add milk by the tablespoon to thin it out enough to ice your cupcakes, I found that the consistency without milk worked perfectly, though)

Ice your cupcakes once they have cooled =)


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

New York Apples and Carolina Peppers

So, I have had some left over peppers from my dad's garden, along with a couple of my own for a while now (since making this hot sauce), and they were starting to dwindle, so I felt I needed to do something with them. Along those same lines, I have also acquired a whole bunch of organic apples from my partner's sister in NYC, and while they look nice sitting on my table, they were also in desperate need of use. So, today I have been utilizing both peppers and apples in the following recipes:

Sweet and Spicy Apple Hot Sauce:

4 cloves of minced garlic
1 tablespoon of minced ginger
1 cup of diced onion
3 cups of diced tomatoes
3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
4 medium chili peppers
2 jalapenos
2 medium sized apples (diced)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup of distilled white vinegar
1/3 cup of lemon juice
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup agave nectar, or 2 tablespoons of brown sugar

peppers and apples cooking
1. Over medium heat in a large saucepan, heat oil and add the onion, peppers, apples,ginger and garlic. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the onions begin to brown. Stir continuously.
2. Reduce heat. Add the vinegar, lemon juice, tomatoes, and salt. Stir until the tomatoes break down. Roughly 6 minutes. Add agave nectar/sugar and cinnamon and stir well.
3. Place mixture in blender and blend until a puree is formed.
4. Pour mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a container. (note: I saved the chunks in a separate jar to use for salsa later)
5. Let mixture cool for an hour.

Spiced Apple Sauce
 (recipe taken from:
This recipe makes your house smell really nice and is perfect for fall.

4 apples – peeled, cored and chopped
3/4 c. water
1/4 c. sugar/brown sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
dash of ginger and cardamom


In a saucepan, combine apples, water, sugar (if using), and spices. Cover and cook over medium heat for 15-20 min., or until apples are soft. Allow to cool, then mash with a fork or potato masher.

apples cooking

finished applesauce


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I'm tired of Morning Star

     So, I do my best to avoid genetically modified and over processed foods (read more about the GM foods issue here). Morning Star (a corporation owned by the giant Kelloggs) doesn't necessarily have sustainable and healthy food practices in mind, and has admitted to usage of gm products in its food (this is biased, but read it anyway). Thus, I try to not buy Morning Star brand and have been sticking to Earth Fare brand organic veggie burgers. However, this still entirely removes me from the food process and makes me feel slightly uneasy, so, to correct this problem, I have decided to start making my own veggie burgers. Below, you will find my tasty recipe for homemade vegan veggie burgers.

(Slightly Spicy) Vegan Black Bean Veggie Burgers

1 can of black beans (16 oz)
1 tablespoon veganaise
1 tablespoon flour
2 tablespoons hot sauce
1 tablespoon each of cumin and Indian curry powder
1-2 dashes of liquid smoke
1 tablespoon peanut butter or 2-3 dashes peanut sauce
1/2 onion
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup of Italian seasoned bread crumbs

Mince up the onion and garlic thoroughly and set aside. Empty black beans into a bowl and mash them with either a fork or potato masher until they are well mashed and have a sort of paste consistency. Mix together the onions and garlic with the mashed beans.
In a separate bowl mix veganaise, flour, hot sauce, liquid smoke, cumin, curry powder, and peanut butter/sauce and blend well.
Mix veganaise mix with black bean mixture, then add bread crumbs slowly, mixing well and until your black bean mixture sticks together.
Heat oven to 375, and pat out burgers on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes on each side.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Tandoori Buffalo (not) Wings

     Tempeh has always been a fascinating food for me. Fascinating in the way that I never, in my life, could imagine cooking with it and could never understand how anyone else could either. As a child I had a pretty bad experience with tempeh, and swore it off until the tempeh Reuben at Rosetta's Kitchen (which is pretty amazing). However, after having their tempelo wings for the first time a couple of weeks ago, I have decided that I really need to learn to cook with tempeh, specifically to make buffalo (not) wings.
    I was determined to make these last night, even when my partner announced that he was making Indian food (post to come later on north Indian recipes), so to make them fit with the evening a little better, I added a little tandoori spice to the mix. Thus, Tempeh Tandoori Buffalo (not) Wings were born!
    Now, I have been busy this week making other things that I used with the wings, so you can utilize my other recipes or just buy wing sauce and ranch (but really, making your own is best if you have the time).

First I will begin with some HOT habenero hot sauce (made with beautiful peppers from my dad's garden):
(recipe tweaked from

4 cloves of minced garlic
1 tablespoon of minced ginger
1 cup of diced red onion
3 cups of diced tomatoes
3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
4 medium chili peppers
4 habanero peppers, seeded
2 jalapenos
2 hot banana peppers
1 cup of distilled white vinegar
1/3 cup of lemon juice
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup agave nectar

1. Over medium heat in a large saucepan, heat oil and add the onion, peppers, ginger and garlic. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the onions begin to brown. Stir continuously.
2. Reduce heat. Add the vinegar, lemon juice, tomatoes, and salt. Stir until the tomatoes break down. Roughly 6 minutes. Add agave nectar and stir well.
3. Place mixture in blender and blend until a puree is formed.
4. Pour mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a container. (note: I saved the chunks in a separate jar to use for salsa later)
5. Let mixture cool for an hour.

 Next, some delicious vegan ranch!

6 tablespoons Veganaise
8 1/2 tablespoons tofutti vegan sour cream
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3-4 teaspoons of each: thyme, parsley, lemon zest, garlic powder, onion powder
1-2 teaspoons of celery salt
black pepper to taste

Mix in blender, blend well. (Check taste to make sure it is to your liking, add more of whatever you feel necessary). Place in container and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Tandoori Buffalo (not) Wings!
(recipe tweaked from: Buffalo Tempeh "Wings")
1 (8 oz) pkg tempeh
⅓ c soy or rice milk
⅓ c flour
½ tsp salt
1 tsp thyme leaves
2 tablespoons tandoori powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 cup panko crumbs

Wing Sauce
½ c hot habenero hot sauce (recipe above) or Louisiana style hot sauce
2 tbsp vegan butter
1 tbsp ketchup
1 teaspoon agave nectar

  • Bring 4 cups of water to boil over high heat. Meanwhile, remove tempeh from package. Slice into 8 strips. (If you are a first time tempheh eater and have texture issues, I recommend slicing into 10-12 strips) Once water is boiling, lower heat to medium high, add tempeh, and boil for 15 minutes. Drain and rinse with cool water.
sliced tempeh
  • Set out 3 bowls. In one, pour in soy/rice milk. In the second, combine flour and seasonings. In third bowl, add panko crumbs. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Place each strip in milk. Coat in flour mixture, then briefly re-dip into milk. Toss with panko crumbs, coating well. Set on slightly oiled baking sheet. Repeat with remaining tempeh strips. Once all are coated and on baking sheet, lightly spray all “wings” with cooking spray. Place into oven and bake for 10 minutes. Flip “wings” over and bake for an additional 10 minutes.
coating tempeh with milk, flour, and panko crumbs
  • While they are baking, place wing sauce ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Cover with Saran wrap and heat in microwave on medium high setting for a minute and a half. Remove from heat and whisk ingredients together.
  • When wings are finished baking, toss with sauce. Serve immediately.
finished "wings"!

    Thursday, October 7, 2010

    Pumpkins make me happy.

    For some unexplainable reason pumpkins make me really happy. Additionally I have concocted the idea that October is officially pumpkin month. All this said, at the town of Erwin, TN's Apple Festival last weekend I picked up an adorable, locally grown pumpkin for the purpose of making an autumn couscous stuffed pumpkin . So, below find the recipe that I made up with some items I had in stock and enjoy the beginning of pumpkin month!

    Autumn Couscous Stuffed Pumpkin

    1 pumpkin, "lid" (top w/stem) cut off, if you are serving 2 people you can use another pumpkin or cut your pumpkin in 1/2 to make two small bowl shapes
    2/3 cup of couscous, toasted
    1 cup of vegetable broth
    1 can of mixed beans of your choice
    1/2 cup each of cashews and raisins
    2 tablespoons of butter or vegan butter
    2 teaspoons each of cardamom and cinnamon and sage

    Heat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare your pumpkin by cutting off the lid (and if serving two with the single pumpkin cut in 1/2), place in a baking dish with about 1 inch of  water on the bottom, rub the inside of pumpkin with butter, cardamom, and cinnamon. Bake pumpkin until flesh is soft (about 45 min to 1 hour)

     In a saucepan on the stove bring vegetable broth to a boil, mix in couscous, cover and remove from heat, let stand 5 minutes. Fluff couscous lightly.
    Simultaneously, heat your mixed beans on the stove, in a saucepan over med heat, about 7 minutes
    Mix beans with couscous, add cashews, raisins, and sage. Heat this mixture up over med heat for about 5-7 minutes.

    When your pumpkin is soft and finished baking, remove from oven, let cool, and scrape flesh from the inside (leave it in the pumpkin still), add couscous mixture, mix with the pumpkin flesh (still inside the pumpkin), you can sprinkle a little more cinnamon/cardamom over the top of the mixture, maybe add a little agave nectar if you want it sweeter, and place back in the oven to bake for about 10-15 minutes (until mixture is slightly browned on top).


    Monday, October 4, 2010

    Growing up eggplant

    So, I have honestly never cooked with eggplants. I have had eggplant curry and eggplant parmesan, and enjoyed them both, but never have I attempted to utilize those intimidating veggies. Yet, during my visit to the Asheville farmer's market (read more about it here) I picked up some nice little locally grown eggplants. Thus, I have forced myself to cook something with them. I have chosen a simple Eggplant Parmesan recipe, as I have been in an Italian mood this week. And while Ursula K. Le Guin may be inclined to believe that eggplants lack imagination (referencing "Why are Americans Afraid of Dragons?" from her book Language of the Night where she claims "Now, I doubt that imagination can be suppressed. If you truly eradicated it in a child, he would grow up to be an eggplant), I am going to confess to the contrary-they come in purple and taste so delicious! (I, in fact, would not really mind growing up an eggplant).

    So below, disregarding eggplant insults, growing up and such things, enjoy my version of delicious eggplant parmesan.

    2-3 eggplants, sliced
    3 cups of Italian seasoned bread crumbs (in a zip-lock baggie)
    1 cup of vegetable broth
    1 jar of pasta sauce (of your choice, homemade or store bought)
    2 cups of parmesan
    2 cups of mozzarella

    Preheat oven to 350, dip your sliced eggplant in warmed up vegetable broth, then place the slice in the baggie with the bread crumbs, and thoroughly coat the slice. Place on a cookie sheet, in a single layer, and bake for about 7 minutes on each side.

    In a baking dish, layer the bottom with sauce, add slices of eggplant, sprinkle cheeses over this, add sauce, and repeat layers, ending with cheese
    Bake for about 35-40 minutes