Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Ginger Molasses Cookies

Autumn is my favorite time of the year. The crisp air in the morning. Walking through the crunchy leaves. School buses buzzing by. The smell of baked apples coming from the kitchen. Staring out the car window at the changing leaves. Pumpkin pickin' with children. Ending the night with a toasty mug of spicy chai and what? A ginger molasses cookie of course! I was sad when Starbucks stopped selling them. They were the best! I finally found a recipe, after all these years, that really hits the spot. I made these cookies for some friends I had over. I made a big pot of vegetable stew and a homemade round loaf of bread. They ate all the cookies! I ended up making more dough so there would be enough for everyone. Intrigued? Here's the recipe.. I got it from The Commensense Kitchen
Ginger Cookies
3/4 C. (1 1/2 sticks) plus 1 T. butter, at room temperature
1 C. brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 C. molasses
1 egg
1 t. cider vinegar
2 1/2 C. sifted all-purpose flour
1 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
1 1/2 t. ground ginger
1 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. ground cloves
pinch of salt
granulated sugar for rolling (I also used a mixture of turbinado sugar and granulated)
In a large bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Add the molasses, egg, and vinegar and beat well, about 1 minute. Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and salt, and add to the butter mixture; mix until thoroughly blended. Chill the dough for 1 hour. 
Before baking, heat the oven to 375°F and lightly grease 2 baking sheets. Form the dough into 1" balls and roll in sugar. Place 2" apart on baking sheets. Bake for about 9-10 minutes-DO NOT OVERBAKE! Once they form their crinkly top and are just barely browned, they are done. Remove the cookies to a rack to cool. Keep in an airtight container. 
These cookies are perfectly soft and chewy. When I was grabbing the spices for the recipe, I saw I had ground all spice and tossed a little in to add more spice. I will definitely be making these cookies again! They are easy and amazing! The other night I served a few friends burritos by candlelight. I've been on a burrito kick the past couple weeks. I hope you are enjoying fall as much as I am!
God bless you,
Chef Teebs

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Vegan Lasagna with Roasted Cauliflower Ricotta & Spinach

I'm a huge fan of lasagna. It's been probably my favorite dish all my life besides chicken pot pie (which now I love veggie pot pie, the way my mom makes it!). Since I've been trying to stay away from dairy products, I knew there would be a day coming soon when I would have to make replacements for cheese in dishes instead of just omitting them. I assumed it would be a big hassle and maybe not worth it. But as my craving for lasagna grew stronger, I decided it would be well worth the hassle. Turns out it wasn't so bad! I got this recipe from Isa Chandra Moskowitz's cookbook, Appetite For Reduction. I wanted to make a small portion so I halved it and changed a few things to taste more like my mom's recipe!  

Vegan Lasagna with Roasted Cauliflower Ricotta & Spinach

Roasted Cauliflower Ricotta:
1 medium-size head cauliflower, chopped into 1/2" pieces
2 t. olive oil
1/2 t. salt
1 lb. extra-firm tofu
1/4 c. nutritional yeast
2 T. freshly squeezed lemon juice
several pinches of black pepper

Red Sauce:
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes with basil
2 T. chopped fresh thyme
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 t. salt

To Assemble, you'll need:
8 oz. lasagna noodles, broken in half, cooked in salted H20
1 1/2 c. fresh spinach, chopped (or whole)
1/4 c. chopped black olives (optional)

First, roast the cauliflower. Preheat oven 400°F. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper. 
Place cauliflower on baking sheet and drizzle oil, salt 
and pepper over it. Using your hands, toss to ensure 
it's coated and evenly spread out. Bake for 10 mins, turn over 
pieces with a spatula/toss and bake another 15-20 mins, 
or until lightly browned, tender and toasty.

In the mean time, drain tofu and press with a paper towel to 
remove excess liquid. In a medium bowl, crumble tofu by 
squeezing it with your fingers until it has the consistency 
of ricotta cheese. Add the nutritional yeast, lemon juice, 
pepper and remaining salt. Use a fork to mix well.

When the cauliflower is done, transfer it to the tofu bowl. 
Using a potato masher, mash really well, for a minute or so. 
If it's not mashing enough, a few pulses in the food processor
will do the trick. Set aside. 

To prepare the sauce, mix all its ingredients together and 
set aside. (OR do what I do and read instructions below)

Preheat oven 350. Pour a thin layer of red sauce on the bottom
of an 8" square casserole. Line with a layer of noodles. Spread
with 1/3 of the cauliflower ricotta. Layer with 3/4C. of spinach
leaves. Pour on about 1 C. of sauce.

Repeat the process one more time, creating another identical 
layer, starting with the noodles. For the top layer, it's a little
different: layer with noodles, pour the sauce on first, then 
layer with ricotta. This layer doesn't get any spinach. Sprinkle
with a layer of olives and press into the tofu. 

Bake for 40 minutes, until the top is browned. You can serve 
it immediately or let it cool down for a bit first. 

 So this recipe was way more amazing than I even expected! I did do a few things differently to be more like my mom's recipe. So here goes.. I used Lawry's seasoning salt instead of any salt used in the recipe. When I made the sauce, I used 3 cloves of garlic (even though I halved the recipe) and I made it in a saucepan. I sauteed a little oil in the skillet with onion and garlic, added Lawrys salt, pepper, 2 chopped small tomatoes from the garden, 2 cans of tomato sauce, a sprinkle of oregano and thyme. Then when I layered it, I ended with sauce and sprinkled nutritional yeast on top. No olives. And also instead of cooking the noodles ahead of time, I used raw noodles and put foil on top before baking it. I removed the foil after about 25 minutes or until the noodles were tender and baked it until it was lightly browned.

Be creative and make the recipe your own! God bless you all.

Chef Teebs

Friday, September 16, 2011

Mother's Garden Goulash served with Corn Mashed Potatoes

Apparently my co-workers and I did something right. We earned $500 for a store party! We had a cookout at a beautiful park, played mad libs, baggo, and us ladies took a trip to the swings and played like little girls. It was a blast. The original plan was a pig roast.. oh praise the Lord it was changed! They cooked filet mignons and had a nacho bar. My thoughtful boss made a marinated tofu steak, scrambled tofu for my nachos, and tons of grilled veggies! Wow! What a blessing! It was a really great time. 
Madlibs never get old and you can never be too old for them!
Girls going through my clothes before I take them to Goodwill
Tofu nachos & red bull!! Yes!
Yes, and even cheesecake served in the park
Special tofu steak!
 I get bored of the same side dishes all the time. I found this corn mashed potato recipe from Cooking Light. Very good. Even a co-worker of mine tried the leftovers at work and loved it! 

Corn Mashed Potatoes

2 1/4 C. baking potatoes, peeled & cut in med-sized pieces
1 3/4 C. sweet potatoes, peeled & cut in med-sized pieces
1 C. frozen whole-kernel corn, thawed & drained
3/4 C. coconut milk
1 T. olive oil
1 T. butter (I use vegan)
1 t. curry powder
1/2 t. sea salt
1/4 t. ground turmeric

Place potatoes in a saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until potatoes are almost tender. Add corn to pan; cook 5 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Drain well. Place in a large bowl and mash with potato masher. 

Combine coconut milk, oil and butter in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. 

Stir milk mixture, curry, salt and turmeric into potato mixture. Serve!
I served this recipe with a fantastic goulash recipe I found in Rachel Ray's magazine. Perfect summery garden recipe!

Mother's Garden Goulash

4 T. butter
1 large tomato, chopped
1 leek, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
salt & pepper
2 ears corn, kernels scraped off the cob (about 1 cup)
1 small yellow squash, chopped
1/4 pound green beans
1/4 pound okra, sliced (optional)
2 T. fresh basil, chopped

In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the tomato, leek, & garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender. Season with salt & pepper. Add the corn, peas, squash, beans and okra (if using) and cook until the vegetables are al dente, about 15 minutes. Toss with basil & serve!
I hope you are inspired today. Enjoy your co-workers and those close to you. Share a meal with them. Speak a kind word of encouragement to them. Be a joy to spend life with! And go make some delicious food!

As always,

Chef Teebs

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Sichuan Green Breans

 Having an abundance of green beans and tomatoes in your garden is not a bad problem to have. It gives me a reason to search for new interesting recipes instead of the usuals. Tonight's dinner was spaghetti and tomato confit with toasted bread. Now just to find something to do with these green beans... Ah-ha! I found a perfectly intriguing recipe in Cooking Light! I didn't follow it exactly though. 

Sichuan Green Beans

1 pound green beans, clean & trimmed
1 T. olive oil, divided 
1/4 C. chopped shallots (I used scallions & yellow onion)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 T. fresh ginger, peeled & minced
1/2 t. crushed red pepper flakes
1 T. Chinese black vinegar or balsamic vinegar
1 T. soy sauce
Cook beans in boiling water for 2 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain and pat with paper towels to dry. 

Heat a wok or large skillet over high heat. Add 1 1/2 t. oil to pan; swirling to coat. Add green beans; stir-fry 3 minutes or until browned. Spoon into a bowl. 

Add remaining 1 1/2 t. oil to pan; swirling to coat. Add shallots (or onion of choice), garlic, ginger, and crushed pepper flakes; stir fry 15 seconds or just until garlic begins to brown. Return green beans to pan. Add vinegar & soy sauce, tossing to combine. 
We thought they were yummy! I could really taste the ginger, which is a nice change. They were pretty easy to prepare. I'm not sure if it's really necessary to have that many steps though. Next time I might not remove the beans from the pan before adding the last few ingredients. Like I said, they were good but I wouldn't say they were my favorite. They may taste better with rice and even with some other vegetables. 

God bless you all,

Chef Teebs

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Canning Tomatoes: Easier than you'd imagine!

Step One: Purchase mason jars & lids with seals. Sterilize jars and lids by either running through the dishwasher or in a boiling pot of water. Allow jars to cool and dry. Let the lids sit in hot water until needed. 
Step Two: Pick out your tomatoes. Wash them under running water and get out your best paring knife...
Step Three: Cut out the stem and peel the tomatoes, cutting away any bad spots. *Peel those juicy tomatoes over a bowl to reserve any liquid for later use!
 Step Four: Place peeled tomatoes in sterilized mason jars, pressing them down into jar as you go. Leave about 1/2 an inch of space to add a little of the reserved tomato juice at the end. I used one pint jars which took 3-4 tomatoes (depending their size). 
 Step Five: Add reserved tomato juice, distributing to each jar as needed. Add 1/2 t. salt (per pint) to each jar. Using a butter knife, glide the sharp end around the sides of each jar, ensuring any air pockets are removed. Top jars with seals and screw on lids. 
 Step Six: Add jars to boiling pot of water. Using jar tongs, carefully place each jar in the pot, one at a time. Be sure the water is high enough to cover the whole jar, but low enough that the water won't boil over. Fit as many jars in the pot as you can safely. You may need to do a few batches. When jars are in, top with a lid and keep flame high enough to keep at a boil. Boil jars for 35 minutes. 
Step Seven: Carefully remove each jar with tongs and place on a dry towel on counter. Allow to cool and sit at room temperature for 24 hours. 

Congratulations! You have now canned tomatoes. How wonderful. I'm so excited to enjoy garden tomatoes in the dead of winter! My mom and I had a really great time together. She's done it for years and I've been wanting to learn to can. And what's better than garden tomatoes? I love to learn new methods and skills in the kitchen. Through the years I've made homemade peanut butter, bagels, cakes, and other random things. But I want to learn more. Anyone have any ideas? 

Chef Teebs

Friday, September 9, 2011

Samfaina served with steamed broccoli and brown rice

 My sister had my mom and I over for homemade lemon scones and tea. It was lovely. The room was decorated with candles and other vintage/shabby chic attire. We sipped tea and savored each bite of the scones. Events like these make me so happy to be a lady. Thank You Jesus! 

A delicious dish I would like to share with you is called Samfaina. I had never heard of it either.. It was very easy to prepare; especially once you get all the veggies chopped up. I recently tried this recipe. I served it with brown rice cooked according to the directions on the box and some steamed broccoli on the side. 
  (I cut the original in half. What I'm writing serves 5)

1 T. olive oil (or water)
1 1/2 C. coarsely chopped onion
2 1/2 C. eggplant, peeled and 1" cubed (about 1/2 lb.)
1 C. zucchini, 1/2" cubed (about 1/4 lb.)
1/2 C. red bell pepper, chopped
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/4 C. tomato, chopped & seeded (about 3/4 lb.)
1 T. fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 t. fresh thyme, chopped
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. sweet smoked paprika (I used regular)
1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion to pan; cook 10 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.  Stir in eggplant, zucchini, bell pepper, & garlic; cook 5 minutes; stirring frequently. Stir in tomato, parsley, & thyme. Cover, reduce heat, & simmer 5 minutes. Uncover and simmer 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender and liquid evaporates. Stir in salt, paprika, and black pepper; cook 1 minute. Serve!
After all the chopping, I found it to be a very fun dish to throw together. Tasted delicious too. It was a great way to use up some of the veggies we had in the drawer and the tomatoes in the garden. Next project: Canning tomatoes!! 

Stay tuned...

Chef Teebs

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Vegan Sweet Potato, Black Bean & Corn Burritos

I've been craving sweet potato & black bean burritos for months. Even in London I was looking for a place that might have them. I finally decided to just make up a recipe! I tend to just throw stuff together to use what I have on hand, so I'll share how I made it even though I'll probably try something a little different next time. 

Sweet Potato, Black Bean, & Corn Burritos

4 sweet potatoes, rinsed and peeled
Olive or Coconut oil
salt & pepper
2 cans black beans, rinsed & drained
2 cobbs of corn
green leaf lettuce
1 onion, cut in fourths and sliced
hot sauce, salsa, cheese (vegan)

Preheat grill. Lightly spray grill pan with cooking spray. Slice potatoes in 3/4-1" squares and place in pan. Toss with oil and season with salt & pepper. Feel free to add any seasonings you like. 

Husk corn and rinse. Place grill pan and corn on grill. Cook until tender and lightly charred. When corn is cooled, carefully cut off kernels using a knife. 

Cook onions in a small skillet in a little oil until caramelized and golden.

Place beans in a saucepan, add a little coconut oil or water if dry. Cook until heated through.

You can use warmed taco shells or burrito shells. Assemble: beans, corn, onion, lettuce, sauces of choice and wrap em up! 
Homemade salsa
I made homemade salsa to go along with it. It was so delicious. I love making meals like this. You can get so creative. I would say that the corn really kicked it up. But maybe next time i may add grilled green onion, red pepper, or who knows what. Got any suggestions? I'd love to hear them! 

Happy Cooking,

Chef Teebs