“R” is for Rainbow-Ritos

Huh? Rainbow-Ritos? What are those? It’s simple and silly really: burritos filled with foods that are colorful (like a rainbow). I have issues with eating foods that aren’t colorful. Green MUST be on my plate in some form at dinnertime. I like brown foods (hello brownies!) but there is so much more devouring appeal when meals have pretty colors, right? I think it is especially important when the weather turns to (vegan) custard and mist, fog, and clouds fill our days with gloom (unless you’re goofy like me and prefer the clouds!).

This photo shows a variation on the recipe below because Tim and I snarfed up tonight’s Rainbow-Ritos too quickly for a decent photo. The above Rainbow-Rito has red pepper, tempeh, spinach, avocado, black beans, sour cream, and corn (but you can’t see any corn!).

Anyways, my recipe for Rainbow-Ritos is your new versatile buddy. You can put whatever you please inside your burrito, as long as you represent the colors of the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple. I shall disqualify your burrito if you fail to do so (but I would probably still eat it).

Rainbow-Ritos

Makes 4 servings (more or less depending on the size of your tortillas)

Ingredients:

1-2 tablespoons canola oil
1 large sweet potato, diced small
1 medium red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup sweet corn (frozen is fine, just make sure to thaw it first)
2 cups cooked black beans (this is more than one can’s worth, so use less if you want)*
1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice (or grain of your choice)
1/4 teaspoon good-quality smoked salt, optional
pinch or two of red pepper flakes
Juice of 1 lime
1 cup shredded purple cabbage
1 avocado, diced
Sour cream, optional (homemade is best!)
Lime wedges for garnish (if you’re fancy)
4 (8-9″) whole grain flour tortillas (or whatever type of flour tortilla you enjoy most)

Directions:

1. In a large cast iron skillet, over medium heat, add the oil and saute the sweet potatoes until they turn slightly golden. Cover the skillet with a wok lid (if it fits) and let the potatoes steam a bit to soften them, about 8 minutes. Check to make sure they don’t burn and add a few splashes of water if they start to stick.
2. Add in bell pepper strips and saute for about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and corn and saute a few more minutes. Check to make sure the sweet potatoes are tender. If they aren’t, saute until they are easily pierced with a knife.
3. Add beans, rice, smoked salt, and red pepper flakes. Stir to combine everything.
4. Add in lime juice and any additional seasonings you like (cumin, cayenne, ground pepper, etc).
5. Cook the mixture until heated through and then remove the skillet from heat.
6. Grab a tortilla and spread it with sour cream (if using), place a nice portion of filling on top, and add the cabbage and avocado. Roll your tortilla up, burrito-style, and serve with lime wedges, salsa, additional sour cream, and chips!

*Just so you know, I count the black beans as the blue in my Rainbow-Rito because I can’t think of a truly blue food that would work well in a burrito. Ideas?

Also, I could see some sauteed marinated soy curls, tofu, tempeh, or seitan working well in these too! Fill ‘er up!!

“Q” is for Quinoa Rosemary Crackers

The world needs more foods that begin with the letter Q! I contemplated quiche and quince after reader suggestions, but the weather in Portland has kept me burrowing in my apartment trying to keep warm. In other words, I was too lazy to ride my bike to the co-op for quince and way too lazy to attempt my first quiche. It was either quesadillas or something fun with quinoa. Since quinoa is basically protein with a curly sprout, I figured it deserved some extra attention.

See the cute lil’ rosemary sprig sprouting from the pumpkin seed? :-)

In my neighborhood, rosemary plants grow in monstrous masses along sidewalks. Folks are free to clip off sprigs as they wish. I had some street-plucked, home-dried rosemary in my pantry that I used in my pizza pretzels yesterday and decided it would be a nice addition to the quinoa crackers I wanted to make today. The combination of quinoa and rosemary is quite nice (and pretty if you use red quinoa!).

Quinoa Rosemary Crackers

These are adapted from Celine’s infamous Cheezy Quackers

Ingredients:

1 cup whole grain spelt flour, plus extra as needed
1/4 cup non-dairy butter
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried, ground rosemary
few twists of freshly ground black pepper, optional
coarse salt, extra ground rosemary, and seeds for sprinkling

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat.
2. In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour and non-dairy butter. Process until it resembles fine crumbs.
3. Add in cooked quinoa, nutritional yeast, salt, rosemary, and pepper (if using).
4. Process mixture until a wet dough forms and then add additional flour, 1 Tablespoon at a time, until the dough is no longer sticky or wet. The amount of flour you add will depend on your quinoa. I added about 2 Tablespoons additional flour to my batch.
5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll into a rectangle about 1/8″ thick. Using whatever cookie/biscuit cutter suits your fancy, cut out shapes and place them on your prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt, ground rosemary, and seeds. Gently press the seeds into the crackers.
6. Bake for 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of your crackers. Rotate the pan halfway through baking, and check them after 10 minutes to make sure they don’t burn.
7. Allow crackers to cool, if you can wait long enough (I couldn’t), before eating. They will crisp up once they cool, so don’t fret!

“P” is for… Pizza Pretzels!

I have a problem. I am addicted to pizza. For those of you who read my blog regularly, you already know this little factoid. During the summer months, pizza makes its sneaky way into my meal plans almost weekly. During the colder months, it’s less frequent, which is silly since pizza warms me from head to toe(s).

Recently Tim and I were hiking and trying to think of MoFo post ideas. We were working our way through the alphabet (since that’s my theme!) and when we arrived at “P”, Tim eagerly suggested pizza and then pretzels and then some festive combination of both. Why the heck not, right? Pizza in a pretzel form is pretty exciting! I tied my apron strings, gathered my ingredients, and set to work creating Pizza Pretzels and Super Speedy Marinara Dipping Sauce. Want to see the end result?

I adapted a basic soft pretzel recipe from Urban Vegan, which is one of my favorite cookbooks. If you don’t own it, maybe you should! I will share my recipe here, since I made several changes. The next time you want pizza, try these!

Pizza Pretzels

Makes 6 big, soft, pizza-licious pretzels

Ingredients:

1 cup warm water
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon dry sweetener (preferably unrefined and organic)
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried ground rosemary
1/4 teaspoon dried ground fennel
1 cup grated vegan cheese (I used Follow Your Heart)
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
seeds/seasonings for sprinkling, optional (I used pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, dried garlic flakes, and coarse salt)

Directions:

1. In a glass measuring cup, whisk yeast and sugar with the warm water. Set aside until frothy, about 10 minutes.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl if you don’t have a stand mixer), stir together flours, salt, basil, oregano, rosemary, and fennel.
3. Add in the yeast mixture, cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, and garlic.
4. Knead for about 8 minutes, or until dough is smooth and elastic. If dough is too sticky, add additional flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. If the dough is too dry, add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time.
5. Cover and let rise for about 30 minutes.
6. Preheat oven to 450 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment or a Silpat. If you have a second baking sheet that is the same size, stack that under the first one. This will help keep your pretzels from browning too quickly on their bottoms!
7. Fill a large, wide (my pot is 7″ high and 12″ in diameter) pot halfway with water. Stir in 1/4 cup baking soda. Bring the water to a boil.
8. Meanwhile, divide your dough into 6 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rope about 14-16″ long and shape into a pretzel (make a U-shape, twist the ends together twice at the top, and fold them down to meet the bottom of the U. Press the ends gently to secure the shape). Place formed pretzels on prepared baking sheet.
9. Once water is boiling, reduce the heat so that the water is simmering (just make sure it isn’t at a rapid boil). Submerge pretzels, one or two at a time, in the water. They will rise to the surface pretty quickly. Let them simmer for about 30 seconds and then remove with a slotted utensil and transfer back to the baking sheet. Sprinkle with seeds of choice.
10. Once all of your pretzels have been water-boiled and sprinkled, slide your baking sheet into the oven. Bake the pretzels for 15-18 minutes or until golden. Rotate halfway through baking, and check often to make sure they don’t burn.
11. Let pretzels cool, only slightly (they are best warm!) and serve with Super Speedy Marinara Dipping Sauce (recipe follows).

*I considered sprinkling these with cheezy cashew crumbles (grind cashews, nutritional yeast, and a bit of salt together until powdery), but only after I’d eaten one, so next time for sure!

Super Speedy Marinara Dipping Sauce

Ingredients:

1 (14-oz) can fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
2 garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1/2 teaspoon dry sweetener
1/4 teaspoon dried ground fennel
pinch dried ground rosemary
pinch chipotle flakes

Directions:

1. Put all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth (I am NOT a fan of chunky sauces!!). Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. Serve with your pretzels.

Enjoy!

Any requests for my “Q” post tomorrow? All I can think of right now is quinoa, and that’s boring. Maybe boring will be necessary though!

“O” is for Out to Pasture Animal Sanctuary

For me, being vegan goes beyond what’s on my plate and in my closet. Veganism gives me the opportunity to be an animal activist too. I believe that giving back to the animals is integral to my journey. While I am admittedly incredibly shy and socially inept, I still find ways to participate in animal activism. I hold signs and proudly march in downtown Portland during the annual Fur Free Friday, I donate to causes that benefit animals in need, and I volunteer my time at a local animal sanctuary. The latter is especially rewarding because I am working amidst the animals themselves, improving their homes and surroundings, keeping them happy and comfortable.

I’ve written about Out to Pasture Animal Sanctuary in previous posts. Tim and I have spent time mixing cement, shoveling gravel, washing water buckets, digging trenches, building fences, and trimming blackberry brambles at Out to Pasture. Every task is for the animals and they are often roaming around with curiosity. The owners of Out to Pasture are some of the hardest working people I’ve met. They both have full time jobs on top of maintaining the sanctuary! It’s truly incredible. With the winter season upon us, now is the time to make sure that the animals at Out to Pasture and other animal sanctuaries are warm, well fed, and comfortable. If you can spare a few dollars, please consider donating to Out to Pasture. I can assure you that the funds will be used to provide for the sweetest, cutest animals I’ve ever met. You can follow Out to Pasture on Facebook and keep track of all the wonderful animals they care for.

Here, take a peek!

Bowie – the sassiest rooster on the planet

Hamilton – loves belly rubs

Singer – she’s blind in one eye

A little goat whose name is either Sprinkles or Sparkles, I forget!

Leroy!

Have you ever visited an animal sanctuary? I’d love to hear about your experiences!

“N” is for New Age Spotted Dick

Today’s post is about a traditional British dessert or pudding called Spotted Dick. While the name is quite humorous and slightly perverse, I can assure you that this dessert is completely innocent. Unfortunately, my attempt at veganizing the recipe from the mighty 1,000 Chocolate, Baking & Dessert Recipes didn’t work very well. It was a lesson in always following your gut instincts. When I was putting the sponge dough into the prepared baking dish, I though to myself, “This seems kind of thick… But, since I’ve never baked New Age Spotted Dick before, I’ll leave it be.” Turns out, I should have adjusted my measurements because the sauce that is supposed to fill the middle of the dessert stayed on top instead. Don’t get me wrong, this dessert is delicious, but my veganized version needs some more attention.

Maybe I will succeed next time (and share the recipe if I do)! Until then, I guess I can settle for hearing Tim shout: “When will the Spotted Dick be out of the oven?” : )