This is how we roll.
Rob and I have been hosting non-stop gatherings this summer and we finally had a weekend to ourselves.
We continued our summer grilling. The only difference is that this time I took a photo of my plate of food before I dug in.
A plate of bountiful vegetables.
Mojito-inspired tofu skewers, sin rum. Perhaps better rechristened as lime-mint grilled tofu.
Mojito-inspired zucchini coins, sin rum as well.
Mesquite grilled plantains.
Mesquite grilled corn.
I really enjoyed everything. It seems a tad busy but they were all very good.
I liked the lime-mint marinade for the tofu. I used my newest favourite tofu (especially for grilling). However, since the package was only 350g, I supplemented with zucchini. They were grilled and then topped with the extra marinade for a bright minty lime flavour.
The plantains and corn also shared the same mesquite-spiked oil (Mesquite seasoning and melted coconut oil). Instead of making plantain coins for the skewers, Rob found it easier to grill slabs of the plantain instead. They were equally sweet and smoky as last time but we didn’t lose any into the insides of the barbecue.
Rob’s mom gifted us some incredibly sweet corn from Woodstock and we wanted to keep things simple. We returned to keeping the husk on the corn while grilling to help it keep its moisture. We’ve made it with rosemary and garlic before, but this time, we kept it simple with the mesquite seasoning.
A fabulous meal, indeed.
The mojito-inspired tofu comes from a fabulous cookbook, Vegan al Fresco. I have been working my way through it this summer and absolutely loving it. The theme of the cookbook is “happy and healthy recipes for picnics, barbecues and outdoor living” and it definitely delivers on its byline.
The cookbook is broken down into finger foods and appetizers, sauces/dips, sandwiches/spreads, salads, foods to grill, baking, desserts and drinks. Plus, it also has tips for packing picnics and hosting meals outdoors.
All recipes are vegan. Most are creative vegan spins on traditional American fare. Samosa spring rolls, caper and edamame dip, chipotle and peanut butter hummus, peanut butter adobo barbecue sauce, cilantro barbecue sauce, jalapeño and cherry jam, quinoa and avocado ‘slaw, peanut potato salad, lime and ginger tahini tofu skewers, strawberry and basil scones, chilled blueberry chocolate pie and vanilla ice cream with cherry pie filling. Also, let’s not forget drinks like ginger lemonade. Trust me, there are a ton of fun recipes here.
Just look at Tracey’s photography of the tofu!
I will be sharing a few of my favourites from the cookbook but wanted to share this one prior to Labour Day. Enjoy!
Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to giveaway the cookbook to a reader living in the US or Canada. To be entered in the random draw for the book, please leave a comment below telling me what you like to bring to a picnic or barbecue. The winner will be selected at random on September 4, 2015. Good luck!
I am sharing this with Meat Free Mondays.
Even a tofu salad
I’ve been missing my beans.. and then all of a sudden, I had a craving for a mixed bean salad.
My last mixed bean salad was Symphony in a Can aka My 5-Minute Symphonic Mixed Bean Salad which has a more classic flavour profile: lemon, mustard and onion for the mixed beans.
This time I went with a Southwestern inspired bean salad with a chile-lime dressing. Lots of vegetables including bell peppers and tomatoes along with fresh cilantro. I worked with a medley of beans and then added in extra red kidney beans. They are perfect for salads and I don’t use them nearly enough.
I think my chile powder has been losing its freshness/spiciness so my newest trend (you may have already spotted it) is adding some Sweet Mesquite Seasoning which has plenty of oomph. Either that or my palate is warming up… Probably the former.
In any case, this salad received a lot of praise during my last barbecue. I think you will like it, too. Enjoy!
Even though we have had the BBQ on in full force since it arrived, it is (mostly) limited to the weekends. However, I love bulk cooking on the weekends, so we’re trying to keep things simple mid-week.
Here I multipurposed leftover portobello carpaccio (just as good with a longer marinade) into a glorious summer salad with strawberries, fresh (not grilled) tofu, all over a bed of baby spinach, doused with a balsamic dressing.
Jessica asked about mosto cotto in my previous posts. It is a sweet balsamic reduction and a simple 1-ingredient dressing. A balsamic vinaigrette could easily be substituted, so I decided to make my own and use it all week. I made a glorious full cup to share with Rob.
Except the world was against me, and I tipped 75% of my dressing. Onto my shorts, onto my slippers and behind my stove. I am not sure if bird poop or balsamic vinegar makes a worse stain, but I quickly disrobed and cleaned my shorts and next my slippers. My black shorts fared better than my slippers which may now look a bit more brown than white. Oops….
Anyways, the salad was fabulous. I hadn’t planned to share it but the mushrooms added a wonderful earthy contrast next to the sweet strawberries and savoury balsamic vinaigrette. Delicious. Enjoy!
I am sharing this with Meat Free Mondays.
This may very well turn out to be the summer of potatoes and mushrooms. While not everyone likes the mayo-heavy potato salads, everyone seems to like the non-mayo salads from this summer so far.
Rob said this was his favourite potato salad yet.
His Polish roots may be particularly partial to fresh dill.
The dressing is a creamy, but not heavy, lemon-tahini sauce with a touch of mustard which I tossed with salt-and-pepper roasted potatoes and fresh dill. The recipe makes a lot of dressing, which was great throughout the week to dress up some of the leftover grilled vegetables. The dressing was also great when I added in some extra chickpeas.
What is your favourite recipe for potato salad?
As Rob and I hone our BBQ hosting skills, we have divvied up the work. Rob tends to the BBQ and I work on the sides. I have never liked the stress of cooking while guests are over so I have gravitated to the make-ahead salads. And guys, this potato salad is wicked awesome. Seriously.
I took some small potatoes and roasted them with paprika (the regular stuff works – I was all out of the smoked variety) along with dried tarragon, onion and garlic granules. When they came out of the oven, Rob and I had to peel ourselves from the pan. We could have eaten the whole batch together before our guests had arrived.
In the back of my mind, I was worried about ruining the most perfect roasted potatoes by adding more dressing, but I continued with the potato salad recipe which called for a white balsamic dressing with a touch of fresh dill and marjoram. Only a touch because my plants were just seedlings. I tasted again. A bit hesitant. Fabulous. No need to worry, I stashed it in the fridge to marinade even longer. We all loved it.
This gem of a recipe comes from Joni and Celine’s latest cookbook, Complete Guide to Even More Vegan Food Substitutions. I don’t have the first of the series, Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions, but this is a fabulous resource for people who want to create their own spins on vegan foods. Joni and Celine explain (with examples) how to replace meat and dairy from other recipes with the latest advances in vegan cuisine with an emphasis on whole foods based ingredients (barring aquafaba).
At the heart of the book are recipes for kitchen staples. Milk substitutes and vegan butter (different than Miyoko’s homemade vegan butter). There are countless recipes for different kinds of cheese (American Cheese, Cheese Balls, Chia Seed Cream Cheese) and even how to replace eggs in different scenarios
They explain how to replace eggs while in baking versus in a dish such as shakshouka, where the eggs are prime and centre, as well as in baking. Meat substitutes, including chicken broth powder, are included.
However, in addition to the staples, there are applications of the recipes. There are examples of how to veganized a recipe, comprehensive lists with substitutions but also recipes that have taken the guess work out of it for you. Personally, I prefer recipes that do not try to mimic dairy/meat recipes which is why I gravitated to this potato salad. Mayo-free, it is perfect just the way it is, without any substitutes at all.
Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to giveaway the cookbook to a reader living in the US or Canada. To be entered in the random draw for the book, please leave a comment below telling me what you find the hardest to make vegan. The winner will be selected at random on July 20, 2015. Good luck!
Recipes from Complete Guide to Even More Vegan Food Substitutions spotted elsewhere:
This is another great dish to come out of our cottage escapades.
It was a true pleasure to know that I did not have to worry about vegan options. I brought a few veggie burgers for the grill, but otherwise, the vegetables were plentiful. And avocados. All avocados at the cottage. When you get tired of guacamole (is that possible??), this is a fun dish.
I had been thinking of trying to make chimichurri for a while but hesitant with the amount of parsley in most recipes. Parsley is possibly my least favourite flavour, right up there with celery which is slightly more tolerable. This was great, though. A nice amount of spice that was not overrun by herbs. Chuimichurri is a green typically used for grilled meats but here, the chunks of avocado substituted to make a fabulous dip. The original recipe suggests using it as a bruschetta topping but everyone simply lapped it up by the spoonful. Because it is simple to prepare the chimichurri sauce in advance, this is a fancy looking dip but also very portable and simple to make. I can see this becoming a staple around the barbecue this summer. Enjoy!
What do you like to make with avocado?
Other dishes avocado fans will love:
I recently finished reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. Rob put it on hold at the library in December and we finally made it to the front of the list. Just in the knick of time, too, as we start to pack our house again for our (hopefully) last move ever. Have any of you read it and started tidying? I have seen a few reviews around the blogosphere (example), so I knew the premise to declutter was to only keep things that brought you joy. I am waiting for Rob to finish reading it (at least the first part on purging) prior to beginning to tidy. It will be easier if we are on the same page (said the one that has been slow to adopt the minimalism).
Rob has already packed my cookbooks, and I wouldn’t want to undo his efforts, so we’ll keep them all for now (HA!). Honestly though, one of my favourite cookbooks (definitely one I would keep) is Isa Does It (see my review here). Quick and simple, creative recipes that deliver loads on flavour. This is one such example. This was definitely more than the sum of its parts. Mushrooms and corn are pan-fried with soy curls and then spiced with chilies, lime and cilantro. Isa uses seitan but I think chickpeas could work well, too. She also recommends black beans which would fit with the Mexican theme.
So, please tell me, which cookbook brings you the most joy?
What a weekend, guys! Rob always complains the May long weekend is fraught with rain but this year, the rain was pushed away by all the sun. (We even managed to dry some clothes outside!)
It was a glorious long weekend and it was nice that my body was as eager to move around too. Rob and I spent a lot of time visiting family and friends, and the majority were stopping by our friends unannounced simply because we were in the neighbourhood. The stars were aligned because someone was always home for our impromptu visits. Score!
I finally have my cooking mojo back although my blogging mojo is still lagging behind. With the nice weather, I am drawn more to walking in my ‘hood instead of sitting in front of my computer. One thing that has helped to get me cooking again is the multitude of fabulous vegan cookbooks hitting the shelves. One of them is Annie Oliverio’s new cookbook, Crave, Eat, Heal. You have probably met Annie through her blog at An Unrefined Vegan where we she shares plant-based recipes without refined ingredients. Her cookbook has the same philosophy and aims to show that there should be no deprivation. All of your cravings are answered.
Annie’s cookbook is broken down into 13 chapters, each focusing on a different craving: carbs, chocolate, comfort, cool, creamy, crunchy, green, junk, salty, spicy, sweet, tart and warm. I am used to the traditional setup of cookbooks organized by course or season, but this was unique. Oftentimes, I do have cravings for something with chocolate, or something crunchy, and this would be a different way to find something satisfying to eat. With this warm weather, of course, I ventured into the “cool” cravings. There were coolers, smoothies and popsicles. Even a sweet potato pie and apple pie spice ice cream that looked phenomenal (and totally happening next weekend). But I decided I needed something a little more substantial and dove into the butter wedge salad.
After my surgery, I was on a liquid diet for nearly a week and when I finally improved, all I wanted was to bite into something. Here I was biting and actually cutting into my meal. It has been a long time since I actually used a knife and a fork for a meal, and of all things, it was to cut my wedge of lettuce.
Perhaps Annie missed out on potential “cut into your meal” cravings, because I could understand missing this not-so-fun meal normalcy. In any case, the knife and fork allowed me to experience every part of the salad with each bite: crisp lettuce, subtly sweet/soft pear, salty/meaty tempeh bacon, creamy avocado and a creamy/cool sunflower peppercorn dressing. I used a peppercorn dressing base which made for a very intense dressing but it was well balanced with the remainder of the salad.
The recipes in Crave, Eat, Heal span sweet and savoury and most are accompanied by Annie’s photographs. Her recipes are nearly all oil-free (not necessarily low-fat), mostly gluten-free, and without processed foods like white sugar. Her photo of the salad can be seen below.
Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to giveaway the Crave, Eat, Heal cookbook to a reader living in the United States. My international readers are eligible to win a copy of the ebook Crave. Eat. Heal. Outtakes. To be entered in the random draw for the book or ebook, please leave a comment below telling me what you crave most often (and please let me know if you are not from the US). The winners will be selected at random on May 30, 2015. Good luck!
Recipes from Crave, Eat, Heal spotted elsewhere:
Roasted Garlic and Fresh Herb Cream Cheese (aka Vegan Boursin)
PS. There is still time to enter the giveaway for Superfood Juices here.
I must admit that I was drawn to making this because it had the word “summer” in its title. With frozen corn, canned tomatoes and fresh produce available even now (zucchini, spinach, red bell peppers and cilantro), you could almost imagine was made in the summer. This is probably one of most colourful curries, due in part, to all the rainbow of colours from the vegetables.
Rob and I (very briefly) considered taking our bikes out this weekend (we skipped right over snowshoeing) but while the temperatures are nice, the roads are littered with salt, sand and even some small snowbanks.
I am kind of hoping that once we return from our trip, spring will be here for real. Especially since I am already planning/imaging what I want to plant in my garden pots for the summer. I have missed my forest of fresh herbs.
Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.
~Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Even when you think everything is ready to go for the wedding, little things keep popping up. Rob needs to buy a belt; maybe I should get my nails done before we leave; we should pick some readings for the ceremony; we each need to write our vows. So while I have been silent on the blog, life has been anything but.
Rob and I want a short and sweet ceremony. We didn’t even discuss readings until I sat down to write my own vows. I was inspired by some absolutely fabulous quotes. So much so that I wanted them a part of my ceremony. So now we have readings.
I kind of want to tell you all about our choices (I am that excited about them) but I don’t want to ruin the surprise for my guests who also read my blog. So, you will have to wait (sorry for the tease). If you want some vegan wedding porn, this one looked super cute (eco friendly on a farm!).
Otherwise, as we try to eat the remainder of our perishables before we leave, this is a perfect way to chow down. I consider these as almost non-recipes since it is basically roasted vegetables, beans, rice and a sauce. Here I returned to our staples, sweet potatoes, broccoli, chickpeas and brown rice. We love steamed broccoli but since I was roasting the sweet potatoes, in went the broccoli as well. The sauce is a lovely pantry-friendly creation (ignoring the ginger and garlic) with a heavy dose of miso and toasted sesame oil with a tahini base (although certainly not overpowering). Humble or not, this is a great meal to have on hand.
Miso and/or tahini dishes shared here previously:
I am sharing this with Bookmarked Recipes.
You guys are too kind. Based on the responses from my last post (and my post earlier this year about non-recipes), here’s to sharing some of my simpler eats. I will share my blog sabbatical during my honeymoon and hopefully come back rejuvenated. This is actually an easy recipe to share and I could not wait to share it with you.
I have made this two weeks in a row. Its first debut was when my parents came down last weekend and I threw it together for a late Sunday meal. Everyone devoured it, returning for seconds soon after polishing off their first bowl. After one bite, my Mom declared she loved it and proclaimed I could serve it for her anytime. Big win! YEAH!
While there have been glimmers of sun before and after work, I decided to continue to deliciousness into this week. It is rather a humble bowl of vegan goodness (brown rice, pan-fried tofu and kale) but the star of the bowl is the glorious peanut sauce. Sweet, spicy and saucy with a hint of curry powder. Mix it all up for a delicious meal.
Our veg staple in the fridge is broccoli and our protein of choice are chickpeas, which I contemplated for my second iteration. Worried it would be a tad repetitive (broccoli + chickpeas + peanut sauce is a common occurrence on this blog), I stuck with kale and tofu. To be honest, I don’t think I have ever made simple steamed kale and I was surprised how sweet it was. It was also ridiculously easy to make, so I definitely consider this meal a kitchen success.
What is your go-to simple meal?
Peanut sauces and dressings spotted here previously:
I have been lucky to be able to cook from so many fabulous cookbooks. I always try to share my favourite recipe for you to try as well, but sometimes there are so many good recipes. This dish was simplified, slightly from the Buddha Parcels in Keep It Vegan (as reviewed originally here).
Instead of making parcels (cute but not too practical), I put all the vegetables in a big glass tray and roasted them with a sheet of aluminum foil overtop. The sauce from toasted sesame oil and sriracha was spot on perfect, and I wonder whether the vinegar was the best part. Not that I tasted it, but it was a lovely marinade.
I used sweet potatoes and sweet red bell peppers and it complemented the spicy sauce. Because of the lid, the kale gets steamed from the juicy vegetables. Not that kale chips would be bad, because I think they were fabulous on this roasted vegetable and kale chip pizza.
There is a nice (albeit small) side of cardamom-lemon infused rice in the cookbook, but I ended up tossing the vegetables with chickpeas and brown rice. Enjoy it with your favourite protein.
I am sharing this with Shaheen’s Eat Your Greens.
Oddly enough, these last few months have been the hardest for me to blog. My new normal is scrambling the night before to cobble together a post. The recipes and photos are ready to go but I just don’t know what to say.
It isn’t that I am getting bored with my eats (I am most certainly not) but they are certainly fitting a similar theme each week. What can I say? I know what I like and I like to eat it.
Here, I took Gabby’s recipe which took an Indian-spiced tomato sauce with some (leftover, in my case) roasted spaghetti squash and cooked chickpeas. It did not disappoint in the slightest. Something a bit different than my bean-centric curries, loaded with strands of spaghetti squash. Totally a winner.
What are your oft-repeated meals?
I am sharing this with Bookmarked Recipes.
As I told you earlier, this weekend Rob and I completed the pool portion of our PADI scuba certification. Amidst Toronto’s cold, donning bathing suits in an 86F pool (and all the scuba gear) was a pleasant adventure, as we each described our plans for wanting to learn how to scuba dive. Some of the participants were going to head to Grenada for an ecological mission, others to Indonesia and Thailand but the majority, like us, were preparing for Caribbean destinations in a few short weeks.
The interesting thing about PADI certification, is that while yes, you learn how to scuba dive, the majority of the training is how to work your way through different challenges and how not to inflict harm on yourself. Lung overexpansion injuries, decompression syndrome, and contaminated air, it was actually kind of neat and definitely not anything we learned in medical school. If anything, Rob and I will probably be very happy spending more time in shallow waters than using more air in deeper depths. But we’ll see what it is like when we get there.
If you are at all interested in water ecology and environments, I highly recommend this excellent article all about jellyfish. Fascinating look at how they are taking over the waters.
However, I am willing to bet you are here for some good food. This is a basically a noodle topped with stir-fried veggies (broccoli, mushrooms, and even some edamame) and fried tofu then doused in a miso-ginger sauce. I used kelp noodles here but soba would work equally well. I also think this would work great with a quinoa or brown rice base, too, but it is nice to mix things up. Enjoy!
How are you keeping warm during this blast of cold? My thoughts are still with those digging out in Atlantic Canada (see the impressive photos here).
This is my submission to this month’s Pasta Please.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
While the blogosphere blows up with desserts, here is a fun way to add even more chocolate to your meals. Cocoa jerk tofu tacos. No stranger to brightly flavoured jerk foods (e.g. Jamaican Jerk Plantain Soup and the ever classic Jamaican Jerk Tempeh Wraps), I have never seen it with the addition of chocolate.
The recipe is courtesy of Superfoods for Life, Cocoa which is a vegan cookbook devoted to adding more chocolate to your meals. The book explains the health benefits of chocolate and shows you ways to incorporate it into your breakfast, lunch and dinner, including desserts (obviously). Sweet and savoury.
This has been my favourite recipe so far, and I probably would not have tried it had Sayward not raved about it. The perfect balance of tangy, spicy (not too spicy) with flavourful spices (allspice, oregano, cinnamon) and the raw cocoa powder merely lent a deeper flavour. This did not taste like chocolate. It was also really simple to put together, with a quick marinade mixed in a baking dish which was then baked altogether. I served it as tacos with a spoonful of mashed avocado but Matt also recommends eating it with a side of rice, beans and/or plantains. Rob doesn’t like onions too much, so if you are like him, reduce or replace the onions with more bell peppers.
It took me awhile to review this cookbook because I quickly realized it is hard to eat chocolate so often. Even with the savoury meals, sometimes I got tired with my leftovers prematurely so I had to space them out. I will also admit was not that adventurous to try all of Matt’s suggestions yet (bana ghanoush with cocoa powder, cocoa coleslaw, choco-spinach lasagna). However, it just goes to show you how novel some of these recipes truly are.
I wish the cookbook was organized more intuitively for finding the recipes, but I cannot determine the method to their madness. I think they are organized based on health benefits (ie, preventing stroke, diabetes, etc). The chapters are labelled as such: Heart-Healthy Cacao: Little Bean, Lots of Benefits and Cacao on the Brain: From Stroke Prevention to Cognitive Function.
Here is a sample of the recipes shared elsewhere:
Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to giveaway the cookbook to a reader living in the United States or Canada. To be entered in the random draw for the book, please leave a comment below telling me about your favourite unusual way to enjoy chocolate. The winner will be selected at random on February 22, 2015. Good luck!
PS. I am sharing this with Vegetable Palette.