Tag Archives: Vegan

♥ Irish Colcannon

So much for my New Year’s resolutions. Yep, I’m back to being a lazy blogger. Ah, well. I did make it back and that’s what counts. And just in time for Saint Patrick’s Day leftovers. March 17th is J’s day (er, excuse) to celebrate all things beer and his perennial favorite, corned beef and cabbage. Myself, I prefer to celebrate the Irish whiskey cake. 🙂

This year, I resurrected a favorite old recipe for this year’s potato side dish: Irish Colcannon. Colcannon is traditionally served at Halloween with charms such as a ring (marriage), a coin (wealth), a button (bachelorhood), a thimble (spinsterhood) and a tiny horseshoe (good luck) stirred into the Colcannon.  The recipients of each charm would benefit accordingly. Whatever the tradition and significance attached to Colcannon, it’s a wonderfully flavorful side dish. The kale and the cabbage in the potato dish bring just the right amount of green to the Saint Patrick’s Day table.

The Colcannon is even better the next day with leftover corned beef, diced, and the corned beef gravy drizzled over the top.

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Irish Colcannon

Ingredients:

2 pounds yellow potatoes, diced

1/2 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 leek (white part only), rinsed and chopped

3 cups green cabbage, chopped

3 cups frozen kale, thawed

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 cup nondairy butter

1 to 1-1/4 cups soy milk

Directions:

Place the potatoes in a saucepan with enough cold water to cover. Bring to a boil; reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes.

While the potatoes are cooking, heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, leek, and cabbage; sauté until softened. Add the kale, garlic, salt and pepper. Continue to cook until tender; remove from heat.

Drain the potatoes and return to the pot. Stir in the kale and cabbage mixture. Heat the nondairy butter in 1 cup of the soy milk in the microwave and pour over the potatoes. Mash with a potato masher, adding more soy milk if necessary. Check the seasoning and serve hot.

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Here it is, the best for last. And the absolute best use for leftover corned beef (in fact, I always double the corned beef recipe to ensure leftovers): the mighty Reuben sandwich. The king of all sandwiches, really. Teese mozzarella cheese, Bubbies sauerkraut, sliced red onion and homemade Thousand Island dressing between two layers of corned beef on dark rye bread from the bread machine. Oh, how I love thee, Reuben!

♥ Slow Cooker Hominy Soup

I’m happy to report that I am (finally!) a working woman again. I have been fortunate in that I was able to transform my volunteer work into a paid position. To my way of thinking, that makes every paycheck a bonus. Having Fridays off does not suck, either. Yaaah me! 🙂

Now that I’m away from the house during the week, the dinner schedule has drastically changed around here. I’m lucky enough to be off by 4:00 in the afternoon and I live a mere 5 minutes away from my new office. But, when I return to the house, the greyt boys are my first priority (sorry, J!) and not the usual dinner prep work. Luckily, we have just enough daylight left to take a walk down the street to the boys’ favorite hang-out spot.

The meadows adjacent to the lake are chock full of squirrels, rabbits, chipmunks, coyote and bear. The greyt boys practically go berserk with all the delightful scents and sights they encounter. And they love to eat snow, which is funny considering that both of our boys spent their racing careers in very hot climates.

The slow cooker has become my best friend since I returned to work. In fact, I think I might be forming an almost-romantic attachment to mine. It’s reliable and it’s dependable and when I return home from walking the dogs after work, it’s waiting for me with a hot, home-cooked meal. I’ve known a lot of men that can’t deliver on those basic desired qualities! Now, if it could only shovel the driveway…

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Slow Cooker Hominy Soup

Adapted from this recipe.

Ingredients:

4 cups yellow and/or white canned hominy, drained and rinsed (alternatively, use 2 cups hominy and 2 cups frozen corn kernels)

1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 large onion, coarsely chopped

2 small zucchini, sliced in halves or quarters

2 small yellow squash, sliced in halves or quarters

2 poblano peppers, diced

4 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 8-ounce package soy curls (chicken-style seitan works, too), soaked for 15 minutes in filtered water

3 cups vegetable broth

1 14-ounce can tomato sauce or tomato purée (preferred)

1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes with juice

1 teaspoon crushed red chili pepper flakes

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon azafrán or saffron (see note)

2 teaspoons Mexican oregano leaves

1 teaspoon thyme leaves

1-1/2 teaspoons sea salt

Optional Garnish:

Shredded green cabbage

Diced tomato

Diced avocado

Chopped cilantro

Directions:

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté the onion, zucchini, yellow squash and peppers until crisp-tender. Add the garlic and cook another minute or so. Cut the heat and remove the pan from the burner to cool.

Meanwhile, drain the soy curls and cut into bite-size pieces. Add to the slow cooker with the hominy, vegetable broth, tomato sauce or purée, tomatoes, crushed red chilies, bay leaves, azafrán (saffron), oregano, thyme and salt. Stir in the cooked vegetables and turn the slow cooker to ‘low’. Cook for at 8 to 10 hours. Add the corn the last 30 minutes, if using.

Serving suggestion: place a handful of shredded cabbage in a large soup bowl and ladle the soup over it. Garnish with diced tomato, diced avocado and/or chopped cilantro.

Note: The azafrán (saffron) ingredient won’t make or break this recipe. If you have it on hand, great, but know that buying this costly ingredient for this dish is strictly optional. Myself, I use it liberally because I happen to have a large box of Iranian saffron in my pantry. That’s one of the few perks of being married to a man who deploys to the Persian Gulf (way too) often: care packages from the Spice Souk in Dubai. I’ve been spoiled by having access to some of the world’s best spices at dirt cheap prices.

Can't you almost smell the heavenly aroma of the Spice Souk?!

♥ Imitation And Flattery

There are two vegan-friendly restaurants in South Lake Tahoe. Now, when I say “vegan-friendly”, I mean that the wait staff are knowledgeable about their menu items and about veganism in general. Specifically, they don’t subject us to nonsense like “but you still eat fish, right?” Both restaurants offers a variety of tempeh and tofu alternatives in most of their entrees.

During the summer months, we love the rooftop dining at Freshies with spectacular views of Lake Tahoe.  And Barbie’s wedding, Tahoe style, on the roof itself.

But, it’s hard to get a table at Freshies with less than an hour wait during the summer months when tourist traffic is the heaviest. And they refuse to take a dinner order to go. I guess being a local repeat customer amounts to nothing in their eyes. Hmph.

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Maybe so, but flattery was the furthest thing from my mind when I came up with this copycat of my favorite meal at Freshies. It felt more like necessity, actually. I needed my big salad fix; and I needed it in less than an hour.

First, the appetizer: My Tri Fries. Yams, sweet potatoes and Russet potatoes fried up crisp and served with Caribbean spices. These babies are simply addictive. And, luckily, they were easy to replicate. Better still, my version is oven-fried, not deep-fried. The method is simple: toss 3 pounds of the cut potatoes with 1/4 cup olive oil and 1 teaspoon of seasoning (I used Walkerswood Dried Jamaican Jerk Seasoning). Arrange on a baking sheet in a single layer and bake at 450F for 30 to 35 minutes, flipping halfway through the baking time.

My take on The Crunch, “the local’s favorite”: layered baby greens, red cabbage, cucumber, carrot, broccoli, tomato, avocado and sunflower seeds. Freshies serves The Crunch with a creamy basil dressing, but it’s made with buttermilk so I always ordered a substitute vegan dressing. I liked the sound of a creamy basil dressing, so I played around and came up with my version, and it has fast become our favorite salad dressing.

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Creamy Basil Dressing

Makes about 1-1/2 cups

Ingredients:

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup Vegenaise

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

2 cups loosely packed fresh basil

Directions:

Blend all ingredients with a handheld blender until smooth. I like to thin it with a bit of  water before serving.

♥ Tropicado Smoothie

Hooray, hooray . . . today is International Green Smoothie Day!

I would be remiss if I didn’t share our current favorite green smoothie with the world on such an important day. Bonus, this sweet frozen treat is perfect for the hot August days that we have been enjoying here in South Lake Tahoe.

Without further ado, I present the Tropicado Smoothie, so named by J because it contains (surprise!) an avocado.

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Tropicado Smoothie For Two

 Ingredients:

2/3 cup orange juice, unsweetened

2/3 cup coconut milk, unsweetened

1 cup frozen unsweetened mango or pineapple

1 ripe banana, frozen preferably

1 ripe avocado

1 ripe kiwi

2 Tablespoons coconut manna, optional (but so good!)

2 Tablespoons Spirulina powder, optional (for extra green goodness!)

Directions:

Place all ingredients in the pitcher of a blender and blend well.

Enjoy!