Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls

All summer long I had study groups at my house for a big crazy PhD exam. I tried to have different homemade breakfasty things every week for my study buddies, and had my heart set on making cinnamon rolls one morning. All the cinnamon roll recipes I found were just jam packed full of margarine... Up to 3 sticks!! I didn't want my rolls to be that heavy, or that fatty. I remembered how much I liked my modified version of Potato Rolls from Veganomicon (Sweet potato rolls) and thought they'd make a fine cinnamon roll. I was right! The dough itself isn't too sweet but the icing and cinnamon sugar more than make up for it! I let these rise in the fridge overnight and took them out of the fridge an hour before baking in the morning so they'd be hot and fresh for my guests. A light powdered sugar frosting topped them off, and they were completely irresistible!

Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls
3/4 cup warm water
1/2 cup rice milk
1 tbsp margarine
1 heaping tsp yeast
~1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
~1 cup all purpose flour
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp cold, mashed sweet potatoes

2 tbsp margarine
1/2 c brown sugar
3 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup chopped pecans

1 cup powdered sugar
1 - 3 tbsp rice milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Combine 1/4 cup warm water and 1/2 cup rice milk with 1 tbsp margarine in a small saucepan. Heat until the margarine melts, but don't allow it to boil.

2. Meanwhile, proof the yeast by adding it to the remaining warm water and letting it sit for about 10 minutes. It's "proofed" if it gets all foamy. If it doesn't foam up, then either your water was the wrong temperature, or it isn't active anymore! (Both are problems. The water should be between 110 and 120 degrees. You can try again with correct temperature water, if that doesn't work, it may be time for new yeast)

3. In the bowl of your stand mixer (or a large bowl if you haven't got a stand mixer), mix together the flours, sugar, and salt. Mix in the potatoes using the paddle attachment until it becomes crumbly (or use your hands).

4. Mix in the soymilk mixture, and the yeast mixture. If the dough is too sticky, add more flour a tbsp at a time. It should be soft and smooth, but not dry.

5. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes.

6. Lightly grease the bowl and put the dough back in, turning once to make sure it's coated. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and leave in a warm space to rise for about 2 hours or until doubled.

7. Punch down the dough and roll it out to about a 10X15 inch rectangle.

8. Melt the 2 tbsp margarine and brush melted margarine onto dough rectangle. Mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon, and pecans. Sprinkle liberally all over the dough rectangle.

9. Roll the dough up so you end up with a 15 inch dough log. Cut into 10-12 even slices using a serrated knife.

10. Press the sliced rolls down to flatten just slightly and place them side by side in a greased 9X13 inch baking pan. They won't fill it all the way.

11. Options! Want 'em now? Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let them rise in a warm place for about a half an hour until they've doubled.
Want 'em for breakfast tomorrow? Cover the rolls and place them in the fridge to rise over night. Remove from the fridge about an hour before you're ready to bake them.

12. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

13. Mix together the powdered sugar, rice milk, and vanilla. Start with 1 tbsp milk and slowly add more until the icing is of desired consistency. Honestly, I just dump a bunch of sugar in a bowel, add vanilla, and gradually add milk. I just don't measure.

14. Spread the hot rolls with the icing. Try to wait until they cool just a bit before you wolf them down! (Good luck)

Pesto Pasta with Baked Pesto Tofu

I bought a huge bunch of basil recently for a recipe and I had a bunch left over, so I thought I'd make some pesto with the rest of it. I mentioned it to the boy and he said there was some chicken pesto monstrosity that he enjoyed from a deli, and wanted to know if I could do pesto seitan or tofu or something. I decided on tofu since I thought it would adapt better to pesto that seitan. I think of seitan as more of an alfredo protein. All the pesto recipes I found called for tons of oil and more basil than I had, so I kind of winged it with what I had around the house. It came out REALLY yummy and the whole dish was delicious, though it doesn't photograph so well!

Pesto Pasta with Baked Pesto Tofu, Roasted Cauliflower, and Zucchini

The Pesto
2 cups basil, packed
3 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 cup vegetable broth
3 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
salt/pepper to taste

1. In a small saucepan, heat the oil on low with the crushed garlic. Turn the garlic occasionally until it's light brown and fragrant. *

2. Put the basil, garlic infused olive oil, as much garlic as you want from it, broth, pine nuts, lemon juice, and nutritional yeast in a blender and blend until smooth. Taste, adjust seasoning, blend, taste again, until desired flavor is reached. Refrigerate or freeze until you're ready to use it.

The Tofu Part
1 lbs tofu, drained, pressed, cubed
3-4 tbsp pesto

1. Toss the tofu with the pesto and refrigerate, covered, overnight to marinate.

2. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Bake the tofu on a non-stick spray sprayed baking sheet for 30 minutes, turning several times, until it begins to tan.

The Veggie Part
1/2 head cauliflower cut into bite sized pieces
1 zucchini, cut into half moons.
1 tsp olive oil

1. Lightly spray the cauliflower pieces with olive oil and place on a baking sheet.

2. Bake in a 425 degree oven until soft and beginning to brown, about 20 minutes. Turn halfway through.

3. Heat the olive oil in a small skillet and sautee zucchini until just tender. About 3 minutes.

The Pasta Part
8 oz fettucini or the pasta of your choice

1. Prepare pasta according to package directions.

The Assembly

1. Toss cooked pasta with another 3-4 tbsp of pesto... or more or less depending on your taste. Fold in the tofu and veggies. Nom.

* I cook the garlic because raw garlic doesn't agree with me. If you like raw garlic, or are indifferent or lazy, you can skip this step.

Mexican Lasagna and Collard Greens

August has been 'AHHHH!' so I haven't been taking as many pictures or recording as much food as I usually do. I fear it isn't going to improve much with this semester of craziness ahead, but I'll do what I can.

Tonights dinner was Mexican Lasagna and Collard Greens. This was born partially of Things I Had In My Pantry. I've been trying to use pantry things instead of buying new things lately because I have a feeling a lot of that stuff needs some rotating. This dinner was step-intensive, but yummy. I made two small lasagnas, one for the boy, and one for me, mine with tomatoes, his with onions, though I'm going to list the ingredients for the whole shebang and you can, of course, leave out the onions or tomatoes if desired! I made them in small springform pans, but you could use any pan you like, you'd just have to use more tortillas on each layer! The collard greens are mostly an approximation. They were a little bitter so I let them cook longer than I normally would.

It's not so pretty, really.

Mexican Lasagna
1 package corn tortillas
1 can vegetarian refried beans
1 box Spanish rice mix
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 small onion, diced
2 ears corn cut off the cob (or about a cup of frozen/canned)
1/2 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp chopped fresh parlsey
8 oz cheddar style non-dairy cheeze, grated

1. Prepare the rice according to package directions.

2. While the rice is cooking, heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the onions and bell pepper and sautee on medium for about 5 minutes or until softened. Add the corn and sautee a minute or two more until its a little bright.

3. When the rice is done, fold in the veggies, tomatoes, and parsley.

4. Spray whatever pan you're using with non-stick cooking spray. Spread refried beans on one side of a tortilla and place in the bottom of the pan, bean side up. Layer with 1/3 of the rice and a bit of cheeze. Repeat twice more, then top with a final tortilla spread with beans and sprinkle with a little extra cheese.

5. Bake in a 350 degree oven until the cheeze is melty and the entire thing is heated through -- about 15-20 minutes. Let it cool for a few minutes before you cut into it!

Collard Greens
1 bunch collard greens, tough stems removed
1 15oz can diced/crushed tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp dry oregano
10 drops liquid smoke
salt and pepper to taste.

1. In a skillet large enough to fit all the collards, heat the oil. Add the garlic, collards, tomatoes and spices and cover.

2. Cook for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until collards are softened as much as you like. Add salt and pepper to taste.

** This would probably also be good with onion if you can eat that sort of thing, or with a can of diced tomatoes with chilies, if that's your thing. Or heck, some cayenne or something. Or y'know, we liked it pretty good just like this, and it really rounded out the meal!

Still in its little pan

Monday, August 11, 2008

Another lunch - Bulgur and Grilled Veggies

I haven't been updating, but I swear I've been cooking/eating! I had trouble photographing this as our dinner tonight, but it worked out quite well in a lunch box! This is another meal from the "things I threw together" department. I thought it was quite yummy, but the boy was less than thrilled with the dried fruit in the bulgur. He's not a big fan of sweet-in-savory. I think it offset the salty/savory veggies well, and it was a snap to put together!

The veggies there isn't really a recipe for. I marinated the tofu in some hoisin sauce thinned with some soy sauce and just a splash of sesame oil. The veggies got a spraying of olive oil, and salt, pepper and garlic powder, and the rest of the tofu marinade. I grilled them on a cast iron grill pan set under the broiler until the veggies were tender and browned. I grilled up some crookneck squash and zucchini, Japanese eggplant, crimini mushrooms, red bell peppers, and some snap peas from the garden (because I have them coming out my ears!). So that went into my lunch box with some of the fruited bulgur, some melon, strawberries and local blueberries (so delicious and fat!), and two Trail Mix cookies that I baked over the weekend. (I'll have to post a recipe for that sometime too!)

Fruited Bulgur
1 1/3 cups apple juice
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup bulgur wheat
6 dried apricots, diced
2 heaping tbsp chopped dates
1/2 cup unsalted roasted cashews, chopped
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 carrot, grated

1. In a medium pot, heat the apple juice and salt to boiling. Turn off the heat and add the bulgur. Stir, let sit, covered, for 20-30 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed. Fluff with fork.

2. Add everything else and toss well to distribute.