Chipotle Seitan: Dish 1 and Dish 2

Two great dishes made using that chipotle seitan recipe from Don’t Eat off the Sidewalk! Baking seitan in foil was a first for me and I liked the results. This recipe is quicker and easier than the ingredient list makes it look.

Chipotle Seitan Pasta with Tequila

1 red onion, diced
1 red pepper, chopped
1 jalapeno, diced finely
1/2 recipe (1 tube) chipotle seitan
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/4 – 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp thyme
2-3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup tequila
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
juice from 1/2 lime
1/2 cup corn
1 15 oz can fire roasted tomatoes (or crushed, whatever)
1 Tbsp nooch
salt and pepper

3/4 box small penne, cooked (or the pasta you happen to have on hand)
3/4 cup pasta water (or so)
toppers as desired (see below)

You can probably figure this out.. it’s a typical pasta saucy recipe so I’m going to keep it kinda brief. Really, this is the kind of dish you can make in your sleep. Saute the veggies in oil, add the seitan chunks, after a few minutes, add the garlic and other spices. Deglaze with the booze. Add the tomatoes, corn, nooch, balsamic and lime juice. Let cook a while then toss with pasta and some pasta water. Always do those spices to taste, of course.

We topped this with a dab of tofutti sour cream, some scallions, chopped tomatoes.. and this is the essential topper: some crunched up chips. They give it a really cool textural boost.

Now.. these are amazing! It makes 2 huge quesadillas. Serve them with lettuce, avocado salad, a little sour cream… yummy! Again, up the spices if you like it hot. I’m thinking it will make great party food.

Chipotle Seitan Quesadillas

1 Tbsp oil
1/2 onion, diced small
1/4 recipe chipotle seitan, shredded or cut thinly
1 red pepper, cut in thin strips
1/2 jalapeno or more, diced small
bag ‘o baby spinach (it’s green and I’m feeling Irish while I type this Mexican recipe)
1/3 cup corn or so
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 Tbsp worcestershire sauce
juice from 1/2 a lime
1/3 c. shredded carrots
soy cheese, optional, just a little bit

Grill seitan a little in the oil, add the onions, peppers then the seasonings and garlic. Cook a little, add the spinach and carrots. Cook until the spinach wilts then add the rest of the ingredients and cook a little bit longer. Spray the outside of the tortillas and place 2 of them spray side down on a cookie sheet. Divide the ingredients between the two, sprinkle with cheese if you’re using it. Then top with the other sprayed tortillas (sprayed side out). Press down a little and bake at 425 until browned.

This post is made possible by the delicious chipotle seitan recipe in Don’t Eat off the Sidewalk #2. I can’t rave about it enough. So I’m plugging it again. Get it while you can! Thanks so much for the seitan recipe, Katie!

War in the Time of Pop Rocks

At the risk of dating myself, I’m going to write about some childhood memories…and no, I’m not going to tell you about how I had to walk uphill both ways to school in a raging snowstorm or anything like that. Maybe I did, but this is going to be food related.

My mom was a stay-at-home mom and we were a family of five. She baked bread (by choice) and made about 4 or 5 batches of cookies a week. She hated to cook, but loved to bake and we all reaped the benefits. To this day, I will rarely eat a manufactured cookie (not just because I’m a vegan) but because I was so spoiled as a child. But things were different back then in a lot of ways.

I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s. It was a time when radiating food wasn’t even considered, but microwaves were all the rage. With signs for No Nukes everywhere, we happily munched on popcorn that cooked with Jetson ease. Space age food, specifically what the astronauts were eating, was big news. When Tang hit the shelves, you’d think the world had shifted on it’s axis. That was followed by the astronaut ice cream: awful tasting but such a novelty item. Later, but just as novel were Pop Rocks. According to the popular rumors of the time, if you ate those while drinking Coca Cola, you’d die. Guess that means I’ve cheated death.

Closer to home, I can remember getting an Easy-Bake Oven around my 6th birthday! Of course, we had the Incredible Edibles, too. The most incredible thing about them was that we actually ate them. Remember the introduction of the No Bake Cheesecakes? Thankfully, those would never appear in our house, but I’ve heard stories. I’m talking really scary stories. I remember being in Arizona in 1969 after my first plane ride. They had this crazy Jell-O that separated into layers that was being test marketed in their area. I didn’t like to eat the stuff, but thought it was such an amazing thing to see happen, that my parents even brought a few packages home. One of my other big amusements on the trip was my Aunt’s computer. She was an early geek (professionally) and had a computer that took up a whole room! I was in awe at picking grapefruit from a tree, too.

One of my most vivid food memories is the day in 1973 when the American withdrawal from the Vietnam War was announced. Growing up in Ohio within driving distance to Kent State, as well as being the first generation to see a war play out on the Nightly News increased our awareness of the War and it’s protesters. Of course, we heard the announcement on the news right after dinner. My mom had made cupcakes that day and in celebration we put candles in them and spent some extra time thinking about the horrors of war, which all seems worth mentioning on Veteran’s Day.

Pop Rocks hit the scene the same year that Saigon fell and officially ended the Vietnam War. We were all wearing POW bracelets as we guzzled our Cokes and chomped on Pop Rocks, living our very sheltered existence.

Support the Troops. End the War.

“Would You Like to Take a Survey?”

Just for something different, I’m answering the cool questionnaire posted over at Food Snobbery is My Hobbery.

Grab a cup of tea, coffee or your beverage of choice. You’re about to be enthralled. Here it comes…then you can get the blank copy over at Food Snobbery and answer, too. It’s fun, do it! You’ll also see why that picture of the cool guy chowing down is at the top of my page.

Thanks a lot, Liz, for coming up with it.

1. Favorite non-dairy milk?
Silk, I know.. .way too corporate, but I don’t really have many choices.

2. What are the top 3 dishes/recipes you are planning to cook?
Something with chipotle seitan (I’m thinking a pasta) from DEOTS
That’s the firecracker pic of it on the right, fresh out of the oven.
A Frecklefoot tester recipe when she posts
Hot and Sour Soup

3. Topping of choice for popcorn?
Salt and lots of it.

4. Most disastrous recipe/meal failure?
I’m going to blog about this in more detail, so I’ll keep you in suspense. It was a Thanksgiving dinner.

5. Favorite pickled item?
Black olives, baby!

6. How do you organize your recipes?
Badly. I print out the most likely to be made and keep them in notebooks. The notebooks are topical, as in “tried”, “mains”, “desserts” and “potential” for anything that doesn’t fit one of those subjects. Then I have a pile of recipes that I need to put where they belong, which includes scrap pieces hand scrawled with ‘recipes’.

7. Compost, trash, or garbage disposal?
Trash and recycling. (oooh…I threw a curve ball and made up my own option.)

8. If you were stranded on an island and could only bring 3 foods…what would they be (don’t worry about how you’ll cook them)?

9. Fondest food memory from your childhood?
My family always made gazillion batches of cookies and did these elaborate trays at Christmas time for all our neighbors, friends and my dad’s work people. The gazillion is no exaggeration. If I ever find a picture of the table loaded down, I’ll post it.

Bonus info: my worst memory, which sort of involves food. At least it was in the kitchen. We had a range that was built into the counter. I’m sure there is a better name for that, but think the 1960’s and that beautiful avocado green, and you’ll get the idea. I was sitting on top of the stove and my leg bumped the burner on. I had a toasted buns.

10. Favorite vegan ice cream?

11. Most loved kitchen appliance?
My Kitchenaid Mixer. I use it more than I ever imagined.

12. Spice/herb you would die without?
Garlic, this is an easy one.

13. Cookbook you have owned for the longest time?
The Farm Cookbook. My picture above shows a cleaner page. It’s missing the front cover and looks very loved. By loved, I mean splattered.

14. Favorite flavor of jam/jelly?

15. Favorite vegan recipe to serve to an omni friend?
Seitan kebabs. They can’t help but love them. Or BBQ tempeh.

16. Seitan, tofu, or tempeh?
Seitan, tempeh then tofu, in that order. It took me about 20 years to learn to like tofu.

17. Favorite meal to cook (or time of day to cook)?
Probably dinner. This one is really hard though.

18. What is sitting on top of your refrigerator?

19. Name 3 items in your freezer without looking.
Chickeny seitan, beefy seitan, adobo peppers

20. What’s on your grocery list?
Not much right now, but I need to get more cumin and fire roasted tomatoes.

21. Favorite grocery store?
My choices are Wegmans, Giant Eagle, Heinens (a local chain) and Whole Foods about an hour away, and Whole Foods Co-op, about an hour away. Wegmans usually covers the most bases.

22. Name a recipe you’d love to veganize, but haven’t yet.
Those freakin’ cookies that I can’t get right.

23. Food blog you read the most (besides Isa’s because I know you check it everyday). Or maybe the top 3?
This one is just too hard to answer. Especially with the VeganMoFo thing.

But I’m curious, do people actually read Isa’s blog? Only when the boards are down, right?

24. Favorite vegan candy/chocolate?
Tropical Source Chocolate Chips. I don’t really eat candy. Not because I’m virtuous or anything, it just doesn’t do it for me.

25. Most extravagant food item purchased lately
Does wine count? Oh yeah, of course it counts. For a nonfood extravagance, we got those cool spice racks.

That was fun! I learned something about myself, too. I basically had no life before becoming vegan. It’s good to know.

Now for a recipe! Last night’s dinner was Seitan Cacciatore. There are loads of recipes for this and my concoction is probably a melding of most of them and not the least authentic. They all seem to use the same basic ingredients with just slight modifications, so I kind of feel like I’m copying half the planet here, but you know what? I (almost) don’t care. It tastes great and that’s what counts. Any kind of seitan will work in here but I happen to like it with a chickeny seitan. It’s also great with tempeh.

Seitan Cacciatore

8 oz seitan cut in strips (or tempeh in cubes)
1/4 cup flour
salt and pepper
2 Tbsp oil
1 onion, sliced in half moons, then into quarters
1 red pepper sliced in strips
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
2-4 cloves garlic (you be the judge)
1/8 cup black olives, chopped
1 Tbsp capers
1 can diced tomatoes, not drained
1/2 cup white wine
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano (say OH rayg AH no…like Simon Pegg. It makes you happy.)
1 tsp parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Mix the flour with a little salt and pepper and toss your strips (or cubes if you’re dong tempeh) around a bit. Brown them in a frying pan with the oil, then remove.

Saute onions, then add red peppers, then mushrooms, cooking a a few minutes between each. Add garlic and herbs, then deglaze with the wine. Add the can of tomatoes, olives and capers. Add the seitan back in and let simmer about 15 minutes or so. This kind of magically thickens up a little to make a nice sauce. Season to taste and serve over pasta. After eating, rub your tummy and pat your head. Then pat your tummy and rub your head. Then clean up.

I hope at least one person gets the Animaniacs reference in the title of this post. I knew everyone would get “Survey Says…” but it’s more fun to be obscure. Besides, it’s the Animaniacs!

I’m a Quitter

I’m a Quitter. There, I said it, with a capital Q even. That cookie recipe has gotten the best of me. I’ve been pulling my hair and letting my mind race about this recipe. What if I baked it hotter? What if the dough were colder? What if I used cornstarch instead of arrowroot? What if I totally dropped the brown sugar? I swear I’ve even heard my husband muttering under his breath about me being a Bordeux Ho, insinuating I’d do almost anything to get this recipe right. Well, I’m done. This is version 4.0 and it is a dud. I used 3/4 cup cornstarch in them and they still aren’t crisp. Texture is off, taste is weird and I’m a Quitter.

I was on the phone with my mom while I was taking them out of the oven, complaining they didn’t seem right. She told me that old wives tales say you can blame cookies failing on 3 things and hardly ever be wrong:

1. You’re having your period.
2. The kitchen is too cold.
3. You’re just having a bad day.

Welp, two out of three apply. But I still don’t think that’s why the cookies are a flop, it’s just not a well-tweaked recipe. Or an impossible mission. But clearly my mom loves me.

So now you know I’m a Quitter, I’ll let you in on this, too. My mind is still on them. What if I used some vinegar? (I have no idea why… I just remember it was included in a pie crust I made ages ago). There has to be some magical mystery ingredient and while I’m not mixing up any cookies, these damn cookies still have a hold on me.

Since those cookies sucked, I made some rice crispy candy to drown my sorrows. We’ve been making this forever in my family. Nothing tricky, nothing splashy, just yummy. It was originally on the box probably some time in the 1970’s.

Peanut Butter Rice Crispy Candy

1/2 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
3 cups rice crispies

Stir the corn syrup and sugar in saucepan, over medium heat until sugar dissolves and mixture is bubbly. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter til smooth. Stir in rice crispies and spread in a greased 8 inch square pan. Let cool before cutting, or wad some into balls when you’re spooning it out of the pan and enjoy. That’s always fun, just don’t burn your mouth.

You can also make a quick topping for these by melting 1/2 cup chocolate chips and 1/2 cup butterscotch chips. Yeah, I said butterscotch chips. But considering that vegan butterscotch chips are just as elusive as eggless egg roll wrappers, you might want to just use 1 cup of chocolate chips.

We were out of chocolate chips and I didn’t feel like leaving the house to get some more, so we’re eating them naked.

The original recipe is double that for a 9 X 13, but if you make it in this 1/2 recipe version you don’t have to feel so guilty when you eat the whole thing. Bet they didn’t teach you that trick in Weight Watchers, did they? Oh yeah, I quit Weight Watchers, too…. but that was years ago.

I did a good deed yesterday. I finally saw Veganomicon on the bookshelf in Barnes & Noble. The second to bottom shelf, so I moved it right up to eye level with the front cover facing out. Some lucky shopper is bound to grab it now.

Eating Out When You Live in the Middle of Nowhere

We live in a rural area halfway between Cleveland and Erie, so we don’t have a lot of options when it comes to eating out. Today we were making a trek to a decent grocery store in Erie and went to our cozy little co-op in Erie for lunch. Humorously, the name of the place is the Whole Foods Co-op. They must not get any flack from Whole Foods because Whole Foods doesn’t even know they exist. The closest WF is probably 90 miles from the co-op. Any thing on their menu can be ordered vegan and I opted for the tempeh reuben (surprise!). Then we had to stop at a grocery store, too, since the co-op is kind of limited. The grocery store in our previous town (2o minutes away) is also the deer processing station and they even sell guns, ammo and fishing gear. Needless to say, we never shopped there. That leaves us with a Giant Eagle (Generic Eagle, not in the literal sense) unless we are willing to drive a ways.

But… my intention was to talk about other places to eat besides our kitchen. The Co-op is a great alternative. But it is about an hour away. Every one knows P.F. Changs with their wonderful lettuce wraps and for a chain, it’s wonderful. There is also a new Thai restaurant in Beachwood (about an hour away) called Ricky Lys that we tried about a week ago. It was good, not great. Interestingly, it’s about 2 minutes from P.F. Changs. If we head into the Cleveland area, there are some terrific ethnic food options and of course, Tommy’s. While we can eat out, it always takes some planning ahead. Really, it’s more fun to cook and eat at home anyway. Things may be looking up with Chrissie Hynde’s new restaurant VegiTerranean in Akron, especially since there is talk of PPK invasion there the day after Thanksgiving.

All that backstory brings me to this: I’m making my husband’s favorite ever soup for dinner tonight. For years he wanted it to be his deathbed meal when the time came. This was before discovering the PPK which truly changed our lives for the better. I think the soup is just ok, so I’m also making the Caesar Salad (again) from V’con. And we’re happier to be eating at home. If you ever happen get hungry while traveling on I-90 through this part of Ohio, let me know. We’ll happily share our dinner and I promise it won’t be the same soup recipe we’re having tonight.

Jim’s Pasta and Bean Soup

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 bunch scallions, sliced
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chop finely
6-8 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp basil (dried)
1 tsp parsley (dried)
1/2 – 1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 can chick peas, drained
1 can navy beans, drained
1/4 cup red wine
6-8 cups stock
1/4 cup tomato paste
10 drops hot sauce
salt and pepper to taste
3/4 of a box of ditalini, cooked

Heat oil in a soup pot, add scallions, parsley, garlic and dried herbs. Cook a little, then add the beans. Cook a few more minutes, then add the rest of the ingredients except the pasta. Bring to a boil, then turn down to simmer for about 1/2 an hour (this is just to let the flavors work together). Add pasta and adjust seasonings before serving. If you ask me, this is just an OK soup, but it does help clear out your sinuses which is definitely a plus. Look at the picture, it doesn’t even look photogenic!

Tomorrow’s menu includes a couple of batches of seitan for the freezer and maybe another go at those damn cookies.