Saturday, June 9, 2012

Recipe: Quasi-Niçoise

Baby Red Potatoes, sliced into 1" pieces, steamed
Fresh Green Beans, cut into 2" pieces, steamed
Capers, drained
Olive Oil
Kalamata Olives
Dijon Mustard (I love Kopps for this)
1 tsp Thyme, freshly chopped
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
French gray sea salt *optional
1 clove Minced Garlic *optional

Using a wire whisk, combine the olive oil and dijon mustard, then add the thyme and garlic.

In a large bowl, combine the olives, capers, potatoes and green beans.  Toss with the olive oil-mustard mix and season with freshly ground black pepper. 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Must It Come to This?

Following college, I gained weight much as I suspect everyone does.  Since walking to classes and hitting the dance floor around closing time had been my sole forms of exercise, the pounds slowly crept on as I travelled constantly for work.  Who ever thought I'd tire of endless restaurant meals and free hotel cable?

By hitting the gym a couple mornings a week and paring down my diet, I was back to my ol' fighting weight in no time.  Seriously, the food journal I kept at the time lists dinosaur vitamins as my supplements (recorded by amount and color, of course) and every weekend records an accurate count of how many calories I drank in beer.  It also had this great column for you to record why you ate- let's just say "bar time" was listed more than once.

Eventually, old age crept up on me and I could no longer rebound so easily from the hangovers.  (It's much more difficult to nurse a hangover when you have stuff to do.)  I added actual food back into the rotation to make up for the lost liquor calories, but stayed slim and trim.

Then I started dating my awesome husband.  Dinner would start with drinks and appetizers, move on to a full main course and finish with desserts.  Movies required soda and candy.  Being of German heritage, I guess I expected weight gain to make me look like a cue ball with legs.  My stomach kept getting bigger and bigger while the rest of me stayed thin.  You can guess where this is going... two highly-invasive abdominal surgeries later and I was declared healthy-ish.

The surgeries gave me two things: no more extra stuff to blame (at least for now) and the perfect excuse to never, ever, ever even think about doing a crunch ever again.

Then I quit smoking.  And discovered sugar.  And learned to cook so I could make everything exactly how I wanted it.  And learned to bake so I could make as much as I wanted.  (A friend asked me, "What's the difference between learning to cook and learning to bake?"  The answer is about 30 pounds.)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Recipe: Saturday Night on the New Deck

This Saturday, I plan to wow the World's Most Awesome In-Laws with an authentic steakhouse meal that I've prepared many times to the shock and amazement of non-Vegans everywhere:

Steakhouse Chopped Salad
Steakhouse Baked Potatoes

Steakhouse Creamed Spinach

Grilled or Broiled Tenderloin Steaks
Vegan Ice Cream (store-bought)
Fresh Strawberries
Steakhouse Chopped Salad

The key to a steakhouse chopped salad is maximum crunch, lots of ingredients that drown any pretense of health, and everything chopped just this side of purée.

So that each person can select what they want and in what quantity, chop all of the ingredients separately, set them out as a build-your-own buffet, and put out two mixing bowls (one vegan, one non-vegan) for tossing the ingredients together with 2T-¼ cup of my homemade "ranch" dressing.

Salad Bar: (per person)

1 large boneless skinless chicken breast, baked and chopped in ½ -1" pieces

2 gardein Chick'n scallopini, prepared according to package, chopped in ½ -1" pieces

1-2 hearts of romaine, chopped in ½ -1" pieces

2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded and diced into ¼ - ½" pieces

½ small bunch of green onions, diced into ¼" pieces

½ Hass avocado, diced into ½" pieces

8-10 grape tomatoes, diced small

3-4 T Real Bacon Bits

3-4 T Bac-Os

You could also add:

1 hardboiled egg, diced

Crumbled blue cheese

"Ranch" Dressing:

1 cup lowfat plain kefir OR plain soy yogurt thinned with a little unsweetened soy milk

3T Tofutti Cream Supreme mixed with plain soy milk

2 T dried parsley

2 T dried dill

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp garlic powder

Steakhouse Baked Potatoes

Pour olive oil to cover the bottom of a pie plate and with large granule sea salt (freshly-crushed black pepper and garlic powder optional). Roll Yukon Gold potatoes (1-2 potatoes/person) to coat the skins in the oil and pierce them with the salt, then bake as you would a regular baked potato. Serve with real/vegan sour cream and butter, but they're honestly good enough to eat without!

Steakhouse Creamed Spinach

Spinach at a steakhouse is smothered in cream. To about 1 cup of plain soy creamer, add ¼ - ½ tsp grated nutmeg and ¼ - ½ finely chopped white onion... depending on how strong the onions are, I'll add just a dash of garlic powder. Heat the mixture, but do not boil. Mix with one prepared package of frozen spinach (the kind in the box). Put in an oven-safe baking dish and cover with vegan shredded mozzarella cheese. Place under the broiler until cheese is melted and slightly browned (can go in with the steaks).

Grilled or Broiled Tenderloin Steaks

If serving non-vegans, use the rest to coat the tenderloin steaks (6-8 oz./person) before throwing them on the grill. Hand them off to your designated carnivore for grilling and they'll come back with a steakhouse-worthy crispy crust that seals in juices. It's important to ensure this lean cut stays tender... and not just because vegans rarely have steak knives ;)

Cheesecake, Vegan Ice Cream, Strawberries and Coffee

The only possible authentic steakhouse dessert is cheesecake- I like to serve New York style with strawberries and coffee. *Please* let me know if you find a passable vegan version of cheesecake!!!

Since vegans can only have the strawberries and coffee, I always serve vegan ice cream. Vanilla sprinkled with cinnamon is perfect!

Recipe: Banana Oatmeal Crisp

The holiday season brings with it brunch events and breakfast with family while opening presents under a big tree. This easy recipe is the perfect vegan-friendly item for your buffet as well as a healthy (well, healthier) replacement for the obligatory high fat donuts and coffeecakes. Just be sure to make enough for everyone!

This recipe is also ideal for those whose New Years’ resolution will be to eat breakfast during the week. You can prepare it the night before and refrigerate it, then reheat for approx. 5 minutes.
Mise en Place:

1½ c quick-cooking oats (or 4 packets of instant oatmeal- any flavor is OK)

½ c all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp salt

½ vegan brown sugar (or ½ vegan sugar mixed with ½ T molasses)

¼c vegan margarine, softened

1 banana, mashed

{we never manage to get a picture of this- we can barely wait for the

baking dish to get all the way out of the oven before we start eating it}

Preheat oven to 350˚F.

In a large bowl, stir together oats, flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.

In a small bowl, cream together brown sugar and margarine with a dinner fork, then add mashed banana. It’s OK if the banana is a bit chunky.

Add the brown sugar, margarine and banana mixture to the dry ingredients (this is key if you don’t want flour and oatmeal all over the place) and stir with a dinner fork until just blended.

Press the mixture into a greased 9X9” glass baking dish.

Bake 30 minutes at 350˚F, until knife inserted comes out clean.

Allow to cool slightly before cutting (if you can wait that long).