Friday, June 27, 2014

Easy Taco Salad

 The other day, I very maturely texted my mother with, "It's too hot. I don't know what to eat." The summer heat can really make me unmotivated to do anything, let alone prepare food; and turning on appliances in my small apartment is not an option on those hot, humid days. My mother suggested salad, to which I countered that I could not subsist on just lettuce. Then, she reminded me about taco salad, something I used to eat often when I still lived at home. It is quick, healthy, adaptable and filling. It's basically dip with the addition of lettuce. We used to add thousand island dressing to the salad, but I find it perfectly seasoned with just the "taco" ingredients. Perhaps someday I will try it with one of these recipes.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Early Summer Tofu Scramble

As I mentioned earlier, I spent the past few days on Martha's Vineyard, enjoying time with some of my favorite friends. We were very lucky to have a house that fit thirteen humans and a dog. Vacationing with a large group could cause some difficulties, especially at breakfast time, when everyone is still there and hungry. My solution was to throw together a giant tofu scramble, a food with one of the highest easy to delicious ratios on the planet. I am so happy to have omnivorous friends with no qualms trying what is often reserved for the veg set. I am also happy to report that the breakfast was a hit with all parties.

After breakfast, we went exploring. We checked out Chappaquiddick Island, bike trails along forests and beaches, Mytoi Gardens and the sunset at the Aquinnah Cliffs. As you can see by the pictures below, beauty abounds on the Vineyard.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Blueberry Lemon Cornmeal Muffins (Vegan)

The Summer Solstice is upon us. Come tomorrow, we in the Northeast can officially stop complaining about the non-existent New England Spring and embrace warm weather. This weekend, I also happen to be going on a very New England summer trip to Martha's Vineyard. Between the official change of season and my very summery weekend away, only the most summery of foods will do.

What is the summer of food to a Maine-raised vegan, you ask? The short answer: blueberries! At least for me, the ubiquity and simple sweetness of blueberries makes summer happen. We find them everywhere-- in breads, wine, books (!), jams and everything in between.

Yes, as I said just this week, I don't like raw, whole fruit; so I'm not one to snack on these treats like a bear. If they are baked though, oh goodness, blueberries win the prize. They also, to my taste, enjoy a complementary friend. This friend is lemon. Lemon and blueberry is the ultimate summer pairing. The combinations of lightness and sweetness, citrus and earthiness bring the joy with one bite of a hundred beach days and a thousand picnics straight to one's tastebuds.

Here, you find lemon paired with blueberry, along with the grit of cornmeal, in one of the most portable snacks or breakfasts in the culinary repertoire -- the muffin. Take these to the beach, to a picnic, to a hike in the woods; or, like me, take them for a weekend away with your friends.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Everyday Berry Protein-Rich Smoothie

I'm going to tell you something shocking. Brace yourself. Ready?

I don't really like whole fruits. There, I put it out there for the whole world to hear. I, a food lover and vegan, don't enjoy chomping on fruit. I love the idea of them-- so luscious and colorful, naturally sweet and packed with flavor; I just don't like chewing them. They are so very cold and my teeth don't like cold. They have skins and seeds and all sorts of different textures. My mouth just isn't a fan.

The way to fix fruits, for me, is to pulverize them. Juice them, jam them, and best of all, smooth them. I love smoothies. They are luscious and colorful, sweet and packed with flavor. Best of all, they don't require chewing. They are a tasty way for a picky texture-conscious eater like me to get all the health benefits of raw fruit.

My smoothies combine fruit with protein for a healthy and filling meal. The following recipe is the first vegan recipe I ever created, developed years before I switched to a fully vegan diet, in fact. Easy to make in large batches, it's been a staple in my diet ever since.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Che Farro Porcini Soup and Veggie Pesto Panini

When starting today's dinner, I fully intended to follow recipes I had on hand. I swear I did. It's a dreary day in Boston, rainy but not too cold. Soup and a sandwich sounded like a perfect match. So, I found a soup in one of my many cookbooks and a sandwich from one of my many Pinterest pins. I started making my shopping list and discovered I already had too many easy replacements for what I would otherwise buy. Here is where we find the happy crossroads between following and experimenting-- adaptations of circumstance.

I decided to use farro, a grain I found on sale once and still had in my cabinet, rather than the barley called for in the original soup recipe. This decision led me, of course, to hum the Gluck aria, "Che faro senza Eurydice." Hence the soup's new name.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Vegan Fettuccine Alfredo

Here it is, my grandmother's fettuccine alfredo, vegan style. Earlier, I hit upon a nice fettuccine recipe, but this is the one I was seeking.

As I have cooked various vegan versions of common cheesy, creamy recipes, I have really come to question what is the essence of dairy. Recently, I discovered that blue cheese flavor is perfectly achievable. Now, I find that vegan alfredo sauce can be made at home without any magic tricks. It turns out, dairy as we know it clearly has nothing to do with a cow. It's all about the taste, texture and ultimately, how the food makes us feel.

This fettuccine alfredo not only feels and tastes the same as my grandmother's original, made with cream, eggs and dairy parmesan cheese; it is a healthier version. Using beans to make the cream cuts calories and adds all those bean-y nutrients. The beans themselves hide innocently within the sauce-- my mouth still doesn't really believe they're there!

So, around these parts, if it tastes like dairy, smells like dairy and feels like dairy, it must be... a darn good vegan recipe.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Vegan Fettuccine con Funghi

This recipe is not my grandmother's fettuccine. This one is more like a friend I met along the way-- the sort of friend I'd like to bring to a dinner party. I would like to bring this friend to a dinner party more than I would the one I was looking for, in fact. I will still find that original fettuccine, and we will reminisce together. This one, though; with this fettuccine, I will have new, flavorful conversations.

My first attempt at my grandmother's fettuccine was a flop, you see, but not a grand failure. The flavor of the coconut milk was too strong, and the dish was too oily. The base was nice, though, and I couldn't stop thinking about it. Finally, as I was falling asleep, a voice came upon me and said, "Amanda, make the dish again and add mushrooms." The mushrooms not only took care of both issues, but added a sort of elegance of substance. I hope you enjoy it as well.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Some Stir Fry Inspiration

I have no recipe for you today; only inspiration. My beau made the above stir fry for us last night. It was as delicious as it is beautiful. I wish I could give you precise instructions on how to recreate the masterpiece; but that's just not how he works. It has peppers, fiddleheads and tofu, along with lemon juice and plenty of spices-- that's all I know. 

If you feel like taking advantage of spring's bounty with a dish of your own, here are some recipes to get you started:

You can find more recipes I've found on my Pinterest Board.