Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Pizza and Baby Navy Beans for Kiddo and Daddy

I made pizza for my daughter and me (my wife went out for dinner with a friend), using Vicolo brand deep cornmeal crust as a base. I put some vegan Daiya cheese on her portion. I also made some baby navy beans with bell pepper by cooking in my Instant Pot pressure cooker unsoaked beans in just enough water to cover for 30m. Dinner was good!

Labels: ,

Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas Dinner of Leftover Seitan with Vegetables, Served with Peruvian Giant Lima Beans (No Added Fat)

Merry Christmas! Back in late April, I found that rice and beans can be cooked easily with each other at the same time, taking into account some words of wisdom that I had read. I was going to have some leftover seitan with vegetables from earlier in the week, and wanted to make some rice. But I love Peruvian giant lima beans and decided to not just make rice, but make a rice and beans dish, as well. I've tried cooking rice and beans together a few times, and it always has worked out.

I hadn't soaked the beans, but they cook fairly well. I usually soak them (overnight with room temperature water or for at least 30m in boiling water) and then get good results in 28-30m. I thought I'd put 1/2 cup of beans and 1/2 cup of brown rice into the my Instant Pot pressure cooker. I've had good luck with about a half hour cooking of rice and beans in a 1:3 ratio so thought I'd go with 3 cups of water and a 35m cook time. When I went to cook, however, I found I didn't have plain brown rice in stock - so I'll have to try this some other time.

For today, I just put 1/2 cup of the Peruvian giant lima beans into the pressure cooker with a vegan bouillon cube, 3/4 cup onion cut into 3/4" cubes, and enough water to just cover, and cooked for 35m. I served it with the leftover seitan and vegetables.

Dinner was good. The beans, curiously, were mostly done, but just three or four were a bit hard. I wonder if with such a small quantity of beans there was some issue maybe with a few beans being above the level of the water, perhaps. I love the creamy Peruvian giant lima beans - I didn't even add any salt or other seasoning! As I expected, by cooking the onion (I usually add raw onion at the end) so long, it really melted into the broth and formed a gravy.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Great Northern Beans w Vegs, Acorn Squash w Emperor's Forbidden Rice

My family is still traveling, but I had three friends who came over for dinner. I used both of my Instant Pot pressure cookers tonight.

In one, I cooked acorn squash very simply and quickly, using a technique by my friend Lani Muelrath that as I described this past February. All she does is puts a trivet (to keep the food from touching the pot) into the Instant Pot, rinses an intact acorn or butternut squash, puts in a cup and a half of water (I think that I put even less in; it shouldn't be so much as to get over the level of the trivet), and pressure steams for 8 minutes. The squash can then be sliced very easily (tonight it felt like butter!) and served.

For the main course, I had soaked maybe a cup and a half of Great Northern beans for maybe 4 hours or so. I rinsed and put in enough water to just cover the beans, and also added a vegan bouillon cube and three cloves of garlic, finely (1/8" or so) minced. I cooked for 25m, using the logic that Great Northern beans soaked overnight take about 20-25m to cook under pressure, and unsoaked take 25-30m.

After the pot cooled down a bit, I opened it up and tried the beans. They were done but still rather firm, so I added a little bit more water and cooked another 5m. They were now a bit tougher and I got it - just like I learned with black beans, these beans need more water. In the future, I'm going to go with enough water to cover and then another 1/2" or so.

I added more water to get about 1/2" above the level of the beans, and added the rest of the ingredients - about 3c of chopped kale, 1/2 or 3/4 cup chopped chard, 3 or 4 scallions cut into 1/2" lengths, 3 or 4 carrots cut into 3/8" lengths, about 1/4 t finely (1/8") chopped ginger (I chopped about a teaspoons worth, and saved most to be added just before serving), 2T or so of nutritional yeast, 1/4 t turmeric, 1/2 t ground cumin, 1/8 t or so of lemon pepper, and the rest of the ginger. I cooked for 3 minutes.

After the cooking, I waited a few minutes, slowly released remaining pressure, and mixed in the juice of one small tangerine and about a cup of onion, cut into 3/8" cubes. I also added a little kala namak (black salt that is actually pink in color) and Himalayan pink salt (a total of about 1/2 t or to taste of any kind of salt would do as a starting point). I shied away from jalapeno, but chopped and served in a bowl for two friends who wanted to add the heat to their servings.

I had also made emperor's forbidden rice (a deep purple/black rice cooked in a 1 : 1 2/3 ratio of rice to water or broth for 30m). I served the rice in the squash, along with some dried cranberry and cherry, and a pickled cherry pepper.

Dinner was good. My friends really enjoyed the meal. I would have liked a bit more "zing", such as with more garlic and ginger, and perhaps a touch of jalapeno. I'll have to make something like this for my wife. Merry Christmas!

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Pressure Cooked Tofu with Vegetables (No Added Fat)

I made another simple dinner for myself tonight, pressure cooking tofu, zucchini, potato, kale, green tomato, ginger, and broccoli for 4 minutes, along with 3T of water and a vegan bouillon cube in my Instant Pot. I added some raw onion, salt, jalapeno, and oregano before serving.

It came out well, but I didn't learn my lesson about the jalapeno - this one is just too hot. I had cut the potato into small 3/8" cubes, so 4 minutes was more than enough cook time; in fact, the vegetables were fairly soft. Next time, I should have larger (almost 3/4"?) pieces of potato or reduce the cook time to 2m or maybe 3m.

Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Seitan with Vegetables (No Added Fat)

My wife and daughter are away for a few days so I'm cooking for myself. I made a simple dinner tonight. I cut up:

  • A small carrot into 1/4" lengths
  • A medium zucchini into 1/2" lengths
  • Half of an unripe green tomato into 1/2" cubes
  • Half of a small leek halved then cut into 1/2" lengths
  • 3 or 4 kale leaves (stems excepted) roughly hand cut into approximately 1" pieces, and
  • A little bit (maybe 1/2 t) diced (1/4") jalapeno.
I put that all, along with 3T or so of water and 4 ounces of seitan strips, into my Instant Pot pressure cooker and cooked for 2 minutes. I served with a bit of lemon pepper. Tomato with olive, along with cranberry sauce, completed the meal.

It was good! My jalapeno was quite hot and made me wish that I had not used it, or used it very modestly. If I had had ginger, I would have added it to the dish. I can try making something like this for my family, but my wife and many others probably would want a bit of salt (capers would be nice, instead), and my daughter, alas, doesn't like zucchini.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Spicy Seitan and Brussels Sprouts, Bhutanese Red Rice (No Added Fat)

My daughter loved yesterday's dhal so much that she wanted to eat that for dinner. Easy - I just heated it up. That gave me the opportunity to make a spicy main course.

I found the biggest pineapples I've ever seen a few days ago at a local cooperative market (Weaver Street Market). We quickly finished one, but a second one remains. I thought it might be good to make a simple dish with just seitan, pineapple, and maybe jerk seasoning. Instead, I decided to cook seitan with Brussels sprouts and jalapeno, and sweeten it a bit with citrus. Here is what I did:

  • 1 1/2 cups frozen Brussels sprouts (for ease; fresh could be used after trimming outer leaves and then cutting off very end and gently pressing an "X" maybe 1/16" into the bottom, then steaming and just mixing in to the finished dish)
  • 2 medium carrots cut into 3/8" slices (1 1/2 cup or so)
  • 8 ounces seitan (any reasonable cut would do; I used strips maybe 1/2" x 1 1/4")
  • Medium green tomato cut into 3/8" cubes (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1/2 jalapeno pepper, finely (< 1/4") diced (about 2 T)
  • 1 T finely (1/8") diced ginger
  • Medium seedless tangerine, peeled, then cut into 3/8" cubes
  • 3 T water
  • 1/2 c onion cut into 3/8" cubes
  • (optional) 1/8 t (or to taste) lemon pepper
  • 1/2 t tarragon
  • 1/4 t (or to taste) salt
  1. I put all of the ingredients, except the lemon pepper, tarragon, and salt, into my Instant Pot pressure cooker and cooked for 3 minutes on low pressure.
  2. When I was ready to serve, I slowly released pressure and carefully opened the Instant Pot.
  3. I then mixed in the remaining three ingredients.
I also made some Bhutanese Red rice (1 part rice to 1 1/2 parts water and vegan bouillon cube, but I went with a moister 1 3/4 parts water, as I usually do; I also started with a sauté of onion and garlic, and cooked with a bit of salt, turmeric, and ground cumin). English cucumber slices completed the meal.


Dinner was good. My wife loved the main course; I liked it. I would have liked the Brussels sprouts and maybe even carrots to have been cooked a bit less.

Ideas for the future

The citrus was a good idea, but I wonder if it would have been better as juice instead of pieces of fruit. I should try just 2 minutes or possibly even merely 1 minute of low-pressure cooking.

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Sweet Potato Miso Soup with Herbed Tofu and Kale (No Added Fat)

Dinner tonight was just for my daughter and me. My daughter wanted soup, so I made a simple miso soup. She wanted sweet potato, so I cut a medium sweet potato into small 1/4" cubes. I put these ingredients into my Instant Pot pressure cooker and cooked for 5 minutes:

  • The sweet potato
  • Maybe 1/4 cup onions cut into approx. 1/4" x 1" half moons
  • 4 small cloves of garlic finely (1/8") minced
  • 1t ginger also finely minced
  • 3/4 of a head of kale, stems excepted, roughly hand torn into approx. 1/2" or 3/4" squares
  • 4 ounces herbed tofu cut into 3/4" or so cubes
  • 2T miso
  • 3 cups or so of water
It came out well and we both enjoyed the meal.

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Polenta, Wild Rice, and Seitan with Spicy Marinara and Grilled Asparagus (No Added Fat)

It has been a long time since I have cooked wild rice and I was thinking of using it tonight with dinner. I picked up some packaged polenta today and discussed with my daughter what she would enjoy for dinner. I was thinking of cooking wild rice and polenta with seitan and various vegetables, including corn, and that sounded appealing to us both.

My daughter didn't like the idea of including marinara sauce, so I decided to prepare a little spicy marinara to top my wife and my servings. My wife and I, but not my daughter, enjoy asparagus, so I thought that I would serve all but her grilled asparagus. As I was preparing the dish, I decided not to use corn because the dish had so many ingredients that the corn would be lost and superfluous. Here is what I did.

  • 1/4 cup wild rice
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 8 ounces seitan cut into 1/2" cubes
  • About a pound of polenta in any form (I used a 17.6 ounce tube of polenta, but it could have easily been made from cornmeal), cut into small cubes (which I did - about 3/8") or blended into a slurry
  • 2 cups onion cut into half moon slices approx. 1/4" x 1 1/4" ( maybe 2/3 of a medium onion)
  • 1 1/4 cups carrot cut into 3/8" slices (3 small-medium carrots)
  • 1T miso
  • 1/4 cup additional water
  • Pinch or two of salt (to taste)
  1. Wild rice is cooked in a 1:3 ratio of "rice" (really a grass) to liquid for 25-30m. I put the wild rice, 3/4 cup water, and bouillon cube into my Instant Pot pressure cooker and cooked for 23m.
  2. After the cooking was done, I waited a few minutes and gently released pressure, then added the seitan, polenta, onion, carrot, miso, and additional water, and cooked for another 2m.
  3. When I was ready to serve, I opened the pot slowly, and added salt.
  4. I served as is to my daughter. For my wife and me, I served it with a few tablespoons of a spicy marinara that I had prepared with an existing sauce base, cooked slowly with onion, plenty of olives, nutritional yeast, and hot chili pepper. I also had cooked on a cast iron pan with no oil some asparagus spears; I put the hot spears on a plate, added some lemon juice, then sprinkled on salt and lemon pepper. I served the asparagus spears on top of the polenta main course before topping with the sauce.

We all loved the dish!

Ideas for the future

I bet a little wine would be good cooked into the polenta (and/or sauce). Doubling the amount of sauce could be good. Artichoke would be good with the polenta.

Labels: , ,

Monday, December 07, 2015

Purple Sweet Potato, Brussels Sprouts, Cranberry Sauce (No Added Fat)

I can't remember what I did tonight as I'm documenting this after the fact. I know that sweet potatoes take 10-19 minutes to cook under high pressure in the Instant Pot pressure cooker. We had thin purple sweet potatoes, so I went with 13 minutes in the high pressure steam mode, with about a cup of water and a trivet, supporting the sweet potatoes so that they didn't touch the container.

I know that the main course included Brussels sprouts, probably also cooked in the Instant Pot. I remember that we enjoyed the meal, though my wife and daughter did not like the cranberry sauce.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Haricots Verts Soup with Seitan, Massaged Kale Salad with Meyer Lemon (No Added Fat)

My daughter and I often eat at the Durham Co-op Market on Mondays, when their hot bar is all vegan, in honor of Meatless Mondays. They had an awesome soup, full of green beans, mushrooms, and I think wheat berries. My daughter doesn't like mushrooms and I didn't have time to cook wheat berries, but I wanted to make a green bean soup. I found at the store half-priced French green beans (haricots verts). I prepared the following meal:

  • 8 ounces French green beans cut into halves
  • 8 ounces seitan cut into 1/2" cubes
  • 3/4 cup onion cut into half moons approx. 1/4" (or slightly less) x 1 1/4"
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped coarsely into approximately 1/8" pieces
  • 1t rosemary needles, halved
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 vegan bouillon cubes
  • 1/4 t salt (or to taste)
  1. I put all of the ingredients into my Instant Pot pressure cooker and cooked on low pressure for 3 minutes.
  2. When I was ready to serve dinner, I opened the pressure cooker slowly and put the soup into bowls.
I served as well on each plate a slice of whole wheat bread topped with tomato. I made a massaged kale salad with Meyer lemon juice and salt.


I know that soups taste great as they cook slowly, but I didn't have that much time. I knew that the tender beans would likely cook in just a minute even with low pressure, but I cooked a bit longer (3 minutes). It was good! The flavors could have been more strongly expressed in the soup, but it was still quite tasty. The salad was very good, too!

Ideas for the future

I would have welcomed the texture of a grain like wheat berries, and need to cook a soup with grain soon - it's been a long time. A little bit of wine and nutritional yeast would have also been good in the soup. Were my daughter amenable, mushrooms definitely would have been nice - I was thinking uncut small crimini mushrooms, perhaps, for a nice texture.

Labels: , , , ,