Sunday, November 21, 2010

Homemade Vegan(ish) Ravioli

Over the last week I have turned in two projects, taken a competency, taken an exam, and given a presentation. So of course, on Tuesday afternoon, I decided to undertake homemade ravioli.  I do not own a pasta roller, or even a conventional rolling pin.  Therefore, what seemed to be a rather simple pasta recipe turned into two hours of fighting dough, cutting out individual discs, and then re-rolling each before stuffing them (this is after baking the squash and making the filling ~1 hour).  I must remind you: this was three hours that I was not working on any of the aforementioned school-related tasks. Bliss.  The boyfriend came home about 2 hours into battle ravioli, looked into the kitchen, and decided to turn away.

Aside from my fight with the dough, the raviolis turned out beautifully, and most importantly delicious.  They can be made completely vegan by omitting the eggs from the dough and increasing the water until the consistency is correct, and leaving the mozzarella out of the filling.   I stuffed some with just the vegan filling, and some with a little cheese, and even the boyfriend couldn't really tell the difference.  

While this recipe seems simple, be ready to work those biceps.  If you want to forgo the pasta-making experience, use wonton wrappers.  

Vegan(ish) Ravioli

  •          1 small block extra firm tofu
  •          1 small acorn squash
  •          2 cups fresh spinach
  •          4-6 leaves fresh basil
  •          5-6 cloves garlic
  •          2 tablespoons onion, diced
  •          2 tablespoons olive oil
  •          1-2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional, yields a cheesy flavor)
  •          Salt and black pepper
  •          Grated mozzarella cheese (optional)
  •          3 cups all purpose flour
  •          2 eggs—optional (can substitute more water for a vegan ravioli)
  •          ¼ cup olive oil
  •          ¼ cup plus 1-4 tablespoons water
  •          ½ teaspoon salt

1.       Chop squash into 6-8 pieces, and roast at 400 degrees for about 25-30 minutes until soft, allow squash to cool until able to handle.
2.       Remove squash from tray, and roast garlic cloves 5-6 minutes to remove raw flavor
3.       Heat olive oil over medium low heat, add onion and spinach; sauté until spinach is limp and feathery
4.       Scoop squash into blender or food processor; add spinach mixture, garlic, basil, salt, and pepper and blend until smooth
5.       Crumble tofu very small to resemble ricotta cheese into a medium mixing bowl
6.       Add squash mixture from blender, nutritional yeast, and more salt and pepper to taste. 


1.       Beat eggs with fork, add olive oil, water and salt.
2.       Add 1 cup of flour, and combine.
3.       Add rest of flour and beat with mixer.
4.       Continue to add 1 tablespoon of water at a time until you can combine into a stiff dough with fingers.
5.       Roll dough out to less than 1/8 inch thick and cut into discs with a drinking or wine glass
6.       I had a difficult time getting the dough thin enough (probably due to my use of a wine bottle as a rolling pin), so I ended up using a small wine glass to cut the circles while the dough was still thick, then rolling each one individually just before filling. 


1.       Take a small scoop of filling and place in the center of your pasta (or wonton wrapper)
2.       Wet the edges, and fold over to close
3.       Use a fork to press along the edges
4.       Spoon into boiling water 8-10 minutes, or until about 1 minute after they rise to the surface
5.       Serve with your favorite marinara or other sauce
6.       Extras? Freeze them for later!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Guilt-Free Chicken Chili

Well, winter finally decided to come to Denver after two months of weather-confusion, and on Tuesday we had our first snowfall of the season.  Ok, so it was only about 1/2 an inch, and it lasted for an hour, but I am willing to celebrate regardless.  Plus, it has been dumping in the mountains.  To celebrate what is arguably my favorite season (the others have decent contention as well), I made some hearty, healthy chili.

Chili often gets written off as time-consuming or unhealthy.  This one is neither. The recipe originated from Real Simple's Chili for a Crowd, but has been adapted very liberally.  My two favorite things about this chili:  I combined white chicken meat and red chili (probably shameful to true connoisseurs), and it has beer.  It can also be easily transformed to vegetarian: scrap the chicken, add a few more beans, and switch out the chicken stock for veggie stock.  It went well with some simple low-fat buttermilk cornbread (recipe to come) and pale ale.  

This takes about 1 hour, and will serve 6-8 hungry people.  It freezes very well.

Chicken Chili (serves 8)
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 bell peppers, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 3-4 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1” cubes
  • 1 6-oz can tomato paste
  • ¼ cup of chili powder (if desired add 1 tablespoon chipotle chili powder)
  • 3 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 12-ounce bottle or can of lager beer
  • 1 ½ cups chicken broth
  • 2 15-ounce cans kidney beans
  • 1 15-ounce can great northern or white kidney beans
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • Salt and black pepper


My favorite toppings are listed below, but be creative.  Cheese and sour cream are popular with dairy-lovers.
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Diced avocado
  • Scallions
1.   Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat, add onions, garlic, and bell peppers and sauté until onions are transparent (about 5 minutes)
2.   Add chicken, cumin and chili powder(s) and cook 5 more minutes, stirring often
3.   Add tomato paste and cook 1-2 minutes before adding diced tomatoes, beans, 1 teaspoon of salt and some ground pepper and cook 10 minutes
4.   Add beer and broth, and reduce heat to medium-low, simmer uncovered 30 minutes, add salt and pepper to taste
5.   For a richer flavor: add a little extra broth and simmer 15 minutes longer on low heat

Friday, November 5, 2010

Baked Tofu--one recipe, endless options

Tofu is well known as a vegetarian or vegan staple.  It is high in soy protein (9 grams per 4oz serving), and can adopt any flavor.  It also is remarkably cheap.  However, many despise its somewhat "slimy" texture, or want to migrate from the basic stir fry recipe.  Enter: baked tofu.  While baking tofu takes a bit longer, it has deep flavor and bolder consistency.  The longer you bake it, the chewier it will get.   
I used the marinade below, but any sauce with a low oil content will work.  Since tofu is so absorbent, a very oily sauce will yield a greasy mess. 

Baked Tofu
Adapted from
·         1 block extra firm tofu
·         3 tablespoons sesame seeds
·         ¼ cup soy sauce
·         1 teaspoon powdered ginger
·         1 teaspoon curry powder
·         Black pepper

1.   Rinse tofu and pat dry with paper towels, place on a plate between paper towels, put another plate on top and weight with a can, allow to sit for 5 minutes to remove some more of the water
2.   Place everything except tofu and sesame seeds in a medium bowl and cut tofu as desired, strips are good for dipping, cubes for croutons or larger to maintain some silky texture
3.   Add tofu and allow to sit 15 minutes
4.   Heat oven to 350 degrees and spray or wipe cooking oil over a large baking sheet or in a baking pan
5.   Lay out tofu in a single layer, sprinkle seeds over and bake tofu 10 minutes, flip and bake 10 more minutes. 
6.   The longer you bake, the chewier the tofu will become, up to about 40 minutes.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Saturday Morning Pancakes

Whole Wheat Pancakes
Since I can remember my dad had made us pancakes on Saturday mornings.  I would help, wearing an ankle-lenth apron and standing on a kitchen chair backed up to the counter.  These beauties ruined any taste for the stick-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth Bisquick American favorite.  Using whole wheat flour gives the pancakes more structure and therefore more fluff, as well as being much better for the body.  Depending on the type of flour you use and its degree of absorbancy, a little more milk may be necessary for optimal batter thinness.  This past weekend the boyfriend and I enjoyed a lazy morning full of fluffy whole wheat goodness topped with raspberry syrup, and I just had to share the love.   
Whole Wheat Pancakes
The New Laurel’s Kitchen: a handbook for vegetarian cookery and nutrition
·         2 ½ cups whole wheat flour
·         2 teaspoons baking powder
·         1 tablespoon brown sugar
·         1 teaspoon salt
·         2 large eggs
·         2 ½ cups lowfat milk
·         2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
·         Bananas or blueberries if desired

1.       Combine flour, baking powder, brown sugar and salt
2.       In another bowl, beat eggs and add milk
3.       Add dry ingredients and stir briefly (you should still have some lumps), if too dry add a little more milk ¼ cup at a time
4.       Stir in oil
5.       Heat griddle or heavy bottomed pan, hot enough that when you sprinkle water drops on the surface they dance
6.       Pour batter onto griddle by spoonfuls and add blueberries or banana slices if desired
7.       Cook over medium heat until bubbles form and pop
8.       Flip and cook 1-2 minutes until golden brown on the other side
9.       Top and enjoy!  My favorite toppings are plain yogurt and homemade berry syrup