Thursday, September 27, 2012

Black Bean Soup

First off, I am very upset with myself for going so long without posting anything here. I've been so busy with the start of the schoolyear and everything that fall brings that I've barely had time to cook, much less take pictures and write out recipes. Anyway, when I went vegan a few years ago, this was one of the first recipes I ever made, and I have made it innumerable times since then. I also eventually changed the recipe completely, perfecting it over time. It's actually pretty similar to the black bean soup at Panera Bread (which, by the way, is vegan!). I could basically live off this soup, especially with a side of warm bread and salad topped with a delicious maple-balsamic dressing! 

Black Bean Soup
  • 3 cans black beans, drained
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 1/2 cup vegetable broth or vegan chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch mixed with 1 1/2 tbsp water
  • 1 1/2 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • salt, to taste

1) Bring broth to a boil and prepare vegetables.

2) Reduce to medium heat, add vegetables, and cook 6-8 minutes. Add 1 can of beans and cook another 5 minutes.  

3) Transfer to blender and blend on high about 30 seconds.  Add cumin and cornstarch mixture, then blend 10 seconds.  

4) Return soup to pan and add remaining 2 cans of beans.  Add lemon juice and salt and simmer 10 minutes.

view more photos here

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Quick & Simple Lunch: Carrot Pasta for One

During the summer, I usually cook elaborate lunches, but unfortunately, when the school year starts again, I tend to switch back to unsatisfying microwaved meals or PB&J sandwiches. This year, as I eat more healthy, balanced meals, I am challenged to create recipes that are not only organic but also simple enough that I can quickly put it together without interrupting my school schedule. I realize I'm very lucky that I'm homeschooled, and most teenage vegans will have to make a lunch that can be brought to school (I'll be working on making some pre-made lunches later!), but this recipe would still be good for lunch on a busy weekend or for a small supper.

Quick & Simple Lunch: Carrot Pasta for One

  • 2 medium carrots, peeled
  • 1-2 tablespoons water
  • 1/3 cup marinara sauce (or more or less, it's your choice)
  • 1/3 cup cannellini beans (optional)
  • vegan parmesan cheese (optional) 
1) Using your peeler, peel the carrots into long, thin strips. 

2) Place in a pan with water over medium-high heat. When water begins to boil, reduce heat to medium and cook for several minutes until carrots are soft, stirring occasionally.

3) Add marinara sauce and beans to pan and cook until sauce is hot.

4) Serve immediately and top with parmesan cheese if desired.


Monday, September 10, 2012

Autumn Apple Pie

The weather outside is getting chilly, the leaves are starting to change colors, and finally the apples are ready to be picked. As soon as apple season hits New England every September, we start picking apples at least once a week, sometimes more, depending on how many apple-based desserts and breakfasts and snacks we can stand. Of course, the first thing I make with apples is always pie because there's no better way to start autumn. 

Perfect Vegan Pie Crust
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons organic sugar
  • 8 tablespoons vegan margarine, refrigerated
  • 8 tablespoons vegetable shortening, refrigerated
  • 4-6 tablespoons cold water
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1) Mix together the flour, salt, and sugar in a large mixing bowl.  

2) Add margarine to flour mixture, cutting it into small pieces.  Stir until flour appears crumbly. Add the shortening, also cutting it into the flour. 

3) In a small glass, mix together 4 tablespoons of the cold water with the apple cider vinegar. 

4) Stir flour as you slowly pour water and vinegar mixture into the bowl. 

5) Knead the dough several times, adding more water if needed to hold it together. 

6) Divide dough into two pieces, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until ready to use.

Apple Pie
  • one recipe pie crust
  • 6 apples
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup organic sugar
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg

1) Preheat oven to 425°F. Place a baking sheet on the bottom of oven or the lowest rack to catch drips. Lightly grease a 9-inch pie plate.

2) On a lightly floured surface, roll out one of the balls of pie crust into a 13-inch circle. Place crust in the prepared pie plate. Set aside.

3) Cut apples into 3/4-inch-thick slices. Place in a large bowl and toss with lemon juice to keep from browning.  

4) In a small bowl combine sugar, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Add to apples and toss well until evenly coated.

5) Roll out remaining piece of pie crust into a 12-inch circle.  Stir apples and place in prepared pie shell. Carefully cover with the crust. Trim edges to leave a slight overhang, press in and crimp rim. Cut three slits in the top of the pie.

(I was out of shortening and had to use only margarine, so I apologize for the lack of a picture-perfect crust!)

6) Bake pie in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F, and bake for another 45-50 minutes, or until filling is bubbling and crust is browned. Place pie on a wire rack and let cool before serving. Tastes bests served warm and with a scoop of vegan vanilla ice cream!

view more photos here