Friday, September 28, 2012

Prepare for an onslaught

October is the vegan month of food on the interweb when over 700 blogs commit to posting at least 20 entries each on vegan food. All the blogs are linked at Vegan Mofo which was an inspiration to me during and after my pledge to be veg last year. It's actually what inspired me to start this blog....all in the goal of being listed on the Vegan Mofo blog roll. Well, this year.... I'm going to be!

My general theme next month is going to be Fall favorites and Halloween inspirations free of animal products. Expect to see slow cookers, stews and hearty meals with the fruits of the Fall harvest.

Hosting a Fall gathering at you house? A simple and delicious vegan menu that meat-eaters will love is chili with all the fixings and cornbread. Trust me, we had 20 people over last week and no one missed the meat and dairy. The trick is to make really flavorful and hearty food people recognize. So, opt for the beans instead of a fake meat. And give them options to make it their own. Double down on the toppings: onions, cilantro, pico de gallo, guacamole, soy sour cream, cabbage, limes, tortilla chips, cornbread.

We made the chipotle black bean chili from Fresh from the Vegan Slow Cooker which is a thick, flavorful soup that can be used as taco or burrito filling. I used Fred's cornbread recipe from Native Foods cookbook which was a huge hit because it's moist with undertones of maple and citrus.

So stop back often in October and celebrate hearty Fall classics and encourage me to be a vegan mofo. :)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Summer Harvest and the Mother of All Grains

It's that glorious time of year when you can't keep up with the fruits (and vegetables) of your garden. This weekend we had friends over and grilled veggies galore for tacos. There was zucchini and yellow squash, poblano and anaheim peppers, onions, mushrooms. We whipped up some homemade salsa because we are literally swimming in tomatoes still. It was really tasty stuff, but we had a ton of grilled veggies leftover. What to do? Drawing on my sturdy Midwestern roots, I did what any self-respecting Minnesotan would... I made a hotdish. Being a bit of a foodie and interested in something a little healthier, I substituted quinoa for elbow macaroni and opted for more of an italian theme with fresh basil instead of chili powder.

Were you with me until the quinoa? Quinoa (prounounced keen-wah or Qin-wah) is a really easy "grain" to work with that has the special status of being the only "grain" that is also a complete protein. That's not its only nutritional claim to fame. Quinoa is also a good source of dietary fiber, calcium, and iron. Oh, it's also gluten-free. No wonder the Incas considered it the "mother of all grains."  Now you're in the know, and just in time for 2013 which has been deemed by the United Nations as Year of Quinoa.

Michelle's Quinoa Hotdish

10-12 roma tomatoes (or a 28oz can)
1 medium onion
1 T oregano
1 T olive oil
1 T balsamic vinegar
4 cloves of garlic
1 t salt
2 t pepper
3/4 - 1 c quinoa
1 can black olives
2 c. leftover grilled veggies (or your choice of sauteed veggies)
1/2 c. fresh basil

Use a 2 quart pot and heat the olive oil on medium high while cutting the romas in quarters and dicing the onion. Add onion to the pot and let brown lightly then add in tomatoes. Add balsamic vinegar, diced garlic and oregano, salt and pepper. Turn the heat down to medium and let simmer for 30 minutes, stir occassionally. If you are using canned tomatoes, you can cut down on the simmer time to 15 mins. Add in quinoa and let cook 15-20 mins, check on it and if necessary add 1/4 c. water or veggie broth. When the liquid is gone (like with cooking rice), stir in veggies, olives and fresh basil.