Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Avocados and Sweet Potatoes

Recently I've been eating avocado almost every other day, I had it in a wrap a week ago, in soup, in a salad, in guacamole style. They're delicious and full of good fats and vitamin C. I also have a delicious recipe I've made a few times for Sweet Potato Black Bean Quesadillas. They were inspired by a variation of the grilled yuca tortillas in Vcon BUT, they have no yuca so they're actually quite different than the original recipe.

These quesadillas are really quite filling and pleased everyone who tried them the last time I made them, including the ever difficult to please mom. She has requested them multiple times since the first time I made them and this time, I surprised her by sending one down to my brother's baseball game with my dad as a sideline snack for her. She was VERY excited and brought up how delcious they were multiple times throughout the night. And, without further ado, a picture and the recipe :)

Sweet Potato Black Bean Quesadillas
serves 6 quesadillas
482 calories*

2 pounds organic sweet potatoes, peeled
2 cups black beans, cooked (or 1 15 oz can drained and rinsed)
1/4 med red bell pepper, chopped (1/2 cup)
juice of 1 lime
2 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 recipe Simple Quesadilla Guac
6 whole wheat tortillas

Cut the sweet potatoes into 1" cubes (or other chunks of roughly that size) and steam in double doiler or by hanging a colander over a pan of boiling water, however you would normally steam veggies, until the pieces are tender, about 10-15 minutes. While the potatoes are steaming combine the beans, peppers, spices and lime juice in a medium mixing bowl. Once potatoes are done, place in medium bowl and mash with strong fork or potato masher. Add mashed potatoes to bean mixture and mash a bit more, until only about 1/3 of the beans are left whole.

Spread about 1/6th of the mixture (roughly 1/2-3/4 cup) onto one half of a tortilla. Add about 2 T Simple Quesadilla Guac (optional) and fold the tortilla in half so that it looks like a half circle, you should have one closed end and one open end and the filling sandwiched between the two. Choose a non-stick skillet which will fit your half circle quesadilla and place it on a burner and heat on med-high. Once skillet is hot place quesadilla in skillet and warm on one side until brown, about 3 minutes. Flip your quesadilla over and warm 3 minutes on the other side.

Serve plain or with salsa and vegan sour cream :

Notes: This makes a LOT of filling but it freezes really well so don't worry about having extras, pop it in the freezer and pull it out for a quick and delicious meal later on in the month. Also, you could easily add other things to the filling like corn, cilantro, black olives, anything else you like your quesadillas normally.

*The calories for this were calculated using tortillas that contain 210 calories each and using 1/3 of the Simple Quesadilla Guac recipe which follows.

Simple Quesadilla Guac
makes enough for 3 quesadillas

1 avocado
1/2 t salt
1 t cumin
1/8 t cayenne pepper (optional)
juice of 1/2 lime

I know, I know, really, really simple. But it adds just the right amount of spice and creamy avocado goodness to these quesadillas. SO, cut your (RIPE) avocado in half, remove the seed in the center, score the avocado and remove the pieces from the rough outer green skin. Mash the avocado with a fork or potato masher, add the salt, cumin, cayenne (if you want it) and lime juice. Mix together. Mmmm. Find some torilla chips and dip a few, but not too many, save SOME for your quesadillas, dangit.

Note: I recognize that I gave you the recipe for filling for 6 quesadillas and only enough guac for 3, however, like I said, the filling freezes well so I generally save at least half it it for later. But, if you're going to make all 6 quesadillas, or just really like this guac, its super easy to double.

May your future be filled with sweet-potato-black-bean-avocado-goodness


Sunday, May 18, 2008

Spring Green and Gunpowder Explosions

Friends are all returning from school which is making the next few weeks very exciting for me and J. We're both equally as excited to have our friends return and it also helps me to feel as if this year is finally going to end. I walked down to the used book store today with one such returned friend. He bought something like 9 books by his favorite author to bring with him to Nantucket where he has a job for the summer and I purchased Madhur Jaffrey's World of the East Vegetarian Cooking. It was published in the early 80s and is filled with recipes from India, Japan, China etc. and I'm SO excited to get to start cooking from it! Most of the recipes which call for dairy call for products like milk and yogurt which are easy to substitute. After going to a lovely lunch last weekend at a local Indian restaurant I've been hoping to find a good Indian cook book and this one is perfect! So be ready to see lots of middle eastern foods popping up in the next few weeks.

In the name of getting back to blogging and getting back to eating healthy foods and eating real meals, I have a delicious lunch to share. I have had asparagus and zucchini on hand planning to make Spring Green Quinoa from Fatfree Vegan Kitchen and I finally had the opportunity today for lunch to whip it up.

As you can see I used red quinoa which my mom had bought from the co-op, "just for kicks". Other than that the only change I made to the original recipe was to omit a sun dried tomato because I only had ones packed in oil and I didn't feel like opening the new jar. I wouldn't say the dish lacked it however, as it packed a delicious flavor and I really enjoyed being able to taste the edamame, zucchini and asparagus in every bite. It was delectably like spring.
I really think the red quinoa gives the dish a pretty contrast of colors too which amused my dad.

The other cooking adventure I embarked on this weekend was to make Gunpowder Cookies off a recipe from VegWeb. I have a meeting tomorrow for a club to which I always bring some sort of baked good or snack. Last week it was guacamole and tomorrow it will be these delicious, sweet, spicy cookies.
I followed a suggestion from someone else on the forum and added some dried cranberries to the batter which really was an excellent addition. Each bite has new flavors, sweet, spicy, tart. It really is a nice mix. The original recipe can be found on vegweb but below is my adaptation of it, cranberries and all.

The original recipe says it serves roughly 2 dozen but I made HUGE cookies and only came out with one dozen so the calories are estimated for a batch of 12 very very large cookies, you could easily get 15 or even 18 and still serve very happy guests.

Gunpowder Cookies
makes 12
~247 calories each

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup canola oil
2/3 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
egg replacer equal to 1 egg (I used EnerG powder but didn't add the water)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper powder
3/4 cup vegan chocolate chips
1/4 cup dried cranberries

Mix together the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Make a well and add the wet ingredients. Mix together. Fold in the chocolate chips and cranberries. Scoop tablespoons onto cookie sheets roughly 2 inches away from each other and bake for 7-12 minutes at 400 F.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

I'm working on posting again. I'm hoping summer will be full of farmer's market goodies, cooking galore and photos galore :)

today, however, I'm starting with one, lonely oregano plant I bought from the Corsettis down the road. I'm thinking a home made pasta sauce is in the near future...

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Okay so, I took quite an extended hiatus from blogging (after only 3 posts.. goodness) due to simply being lazy. Recently, however, I've decided that I want to restart my blogging adventures, mostly because I have pictures of delicious cakes that I can't wait to share!

That's right, cakes. Every senior at my high school has to complete what we call a "senior project". Its basically a learning experience in which seniors work at something they've never done before, we have a mentor who has experience in the particular project area and a coach who keeps us on track as far as deadlines and such are concerned. I have chosen to do cake decorating for my project and my mentor is my friend Kate who works at the bakery with me.

Being in the kitchen is quite a stress reliever for me. I enjoy the whole process of baking, mixing the flour and the sugar, then smelling the sweet aroma of whatever I'm making once I pull it out of the oven. Mostly though, cakes have been my passion lately. And so, when I came home from a very long day at school yesterday what else could I do but bake cupcakes? I wanted to try out my mini cupcake pan and get to use some of the Wilton colors that I hadn't yet so it was the perfect situation. I did my homework and didn't get to start baking until 11. I worked until 3am on these babies, not even tired by the time I hit my bed. I was so into the process, I didn't even notice how late it was until I got done.

Here we have all the cupcakes cooling, waiting to be piped. The chocolate are chocolate mint and they already have their layer of chocolate ganache here. (I used the basic chocolate recipe from VCTOTW but changed it a little bit to accomodate for the peppermint) The golden are Vanilla Raspberry cupcakes. (Like the chocolate, these were based off the Golden recipe from VCTOTW)

On the left are the chocolate cupcakes with ganache. On the left is a chocolate cupcake with a delicious swirl of red and white striped peppermint frosting on top of the layer of ganache.

These vanilla raspberry cupcakes were kind of dissapointing, not because they didn't taste good or look good, just because the last time I made them I altered the Simple Agave recipe from VCTOTW and it held the raspberry flavor much better than these did. However I didn't have enough agave to make the cupcakes so I opted for using just the regular golden recipe. I'll just have to remember it for next time though :)

Hope you all have a wonderful holiday,

Monday, May 28, 2007

A memorial day feast of wonderful colors

Happy memorial day :)

Today is my sister's birthday so we had a party at my house with all the aunts and cousins and such. And lots of good food. I ate homemade pesto (with basil fresh from the garden), whole wheat spaghetti, an olive garden breadstick and some veggies.

We went to THREE different stores yesterday looking for basil and couldn't find any so finally we just bought some pots of basil from my neighbors and used it. Following the VWaV recipe for "Classic Pesto" I created the following beautiful, green, flavorful pesto.

I highly recomend this pesto as it is DELISH. It has quite a strong flavor, however, and so I suggest that you taste it before serving to see if you want to add more olive oil or adjust the amounts called for.

We had planned on using this for pasta, however, it was very good as a dip for the pita bread I made last night and I'm planning on spreading it on the oat bread which I also made last night. Last night I was in a bread mood, what can I say? :)

I ended up making the Pita Bread recipe from GoV and the Oat Bread recipe from How it All Vegan. I was very pleased with how EASY the pita bread was to whip up and it entertained my brothers to watch it puffing up in the oven. The oat bread recipe was very easy as well and tastes absolutely delish. It is a very soft bread. Not hard or dense just perfect:).

Here's the pesto flanked by the pita pockets on the left and the oat bread loaf and slices on the right. They look so happy together:)

And below is a close up of the oat bread. As I pulled it out of the oven I proclaimed "IT'S BEAUTIFUL!" Because really, I think it made quite a nice looking loaf.

This morning I knew I would be having a large lunch so I wanted something light and summery for breakfast and I opted to use up some stuff I had leftover from last week's baking endeavors to make a smoothie.
The deep purple of the smoothie paired with the green of the pesto was just absolutely gorgeous. The basic recipe follows but for smoothies it is so much more fun to just throw things in a blender and hope for the best:)

Raspberry-Coconut smoothie
-3 tbsp organic coconut milk
-3/4 cup frozen raspberries
-4-7 ice cubes
-1/2 cup pineapple juice (NOT cocktail)
-1/2 cup water (or more depending on how you like your smoothies)
Combine all ingredients in blender and mix until all ice cubes completely crushed and raspberries are mixed with everything else. Enjoy :)

Whew. Sorry for the long post today. It felt good to get some cooking in this weekend. Hope you all had a wonderful memorial day and took a moment to reflect on the sacrifices that so many have made, even if you might not agree with the rationale.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Mothers' Day food :)

So yesterday was Mothers' Day as I'm sure we all know. Dad bought lobsters for the family and so, instead, I decided to make some of Jana's Healthy Rice from How It all Vegan however, I had no chili paste but it was still delish and it should serve as lunch for a few days. If you don't have this book I highly reccomend it. I have two of Sarah Kramer's books, the ones she co-wrote with Tanya Barnard, and her third is on my list to buy from New and Used on amazon.com.

For dinner I volunteered to make pancakes (because really, what's better than breakfast for dinner?!) So I used the basic pancake recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance which are great for my dad since the only sweetener in them is 2 tbsp of maple syrup (he's diabetic).
Everyone loved them and mom especially loved the ones I added chocolate chips and pecans to. I topped mine with thawed raspberries.
I appologize for the picture quality but, you get the idea :).
At Cafe today I had a taste of BBQ rib seitan which tasted and felt (texture wise) scarily like the real stuff. It was so good though. Seitan has become my new favorite and I eat it almost every day I'm at work.
So question of the day is what cookbooks are on your must-buy-as-soon-as-i-have-the-money list? I know I can't be the only cookbook junkie out there. I have a list on my bulletin board of 5 right now and I'm sure there will be more :)

Sunday, May 13, 2007

My introduction to the blogging world

Hello blogging world :)

I've been a devout reader of blogs from all over, mostly ones which deal with being vegan or other food related topics, for a good amount of time and I decided recently that it's time that I join the ranks :).

I'm a 16 year old female vegan from New England, I drive a Caravan which is most likely as old as I am, I am a junior and my favorite foods are black olives, fresh basil, apple cinnamon cheerios and cheesecake. I work at the ONLY vegan/vegetarian restaurant within 50 miles of my house and I absolutely love the people that I work with and the food we serve.

I've entitled this blog "Green Believer" because a. my favorite color has always been, will always be and is, green. And b. because the only thing that I really truly believe in is the idea that we, as individuals and as a whole can change the shape of our world by living lives which are respectful to the world we live in and the people in it. Now, that said, you must understand that I am not a tree-hugging hippie. I don't have eighteen cats or three hundred fish. In fact, I'm not a huge fan of having pets at all. I don't have a beautiful and elegant garden nor do I wear tie-dye and have dreadlocks. Not to be stereotypical. However, I do feel that it is our job, as the human race and especially as teenagers, to "be the change we wish to see in the world" as a famous mouth once said.

I'll try to keep this strictly food related however, no promises. Please don't hesitate to talk to me. I love meeting new people!