Saturday, April 11, 2009

Suzi Eats! A Day in the Life of a Herbivore

This Easter Sunday, it was just me, my hubby, and our kitty Mia. No big family gatherings. It turned out to be a pretty typical Sunday for us, actually, so you'll see this is more of a "day in the life of a herbivore" kind of walk-thru rather than actual recipes here. More recipes coming soon!

So, we kicked off the day with our usual organic, fair-trade Kicking Horse coffee and some oatmeal pancakes (also affectionately known as "oak" pancakes due to a now infamous typo).

Our favorite pancake recipe is from the first vegetarian cookbook I ever owned, Laurel's Kitchen. Its not vegan, but probably could be veganized pretty easily with an egg substitute and soy/almond milk. Sometimes I use gluten-free flour to make it gluten free, but today I used whole wheat flour. I never use pancake mix to make's just way too easy to make from scratch!!

(Oak) Pancakes
1 1/8 cups milk or milk substitute
1 cup rolled oats
2 T oil
2 eggs, beaten (or egg substitute)
1/2 cup whole wheat or gluten free flour
1 T brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Combine the milk and oats in a small bowl and let it stand for at least 5 minutes. In a separate bowl, combine oil and eggs, whisking well. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Add the two bowls of wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just moistened. Let stand for 15 minutes, then ladle the mixture onto a hot grill, turning when bubbly. Makes 6-10 pancakes, depending on how big you like to make your pancakes.

I like to serve my pancakes with real Canadian maple syrup along with a fruit sauce made with a handful of frozen mixed berries heated on the stove top with a bit of sugar and lemon juice until reduced by half and thickened. Today, we used blueberries and sliced strawberries. Sometimes I like a scoop of flavored yogurt alongside the berries and some Yves' veggie breakfast "sausage"...they look and taste so real don't they?!

After breakfast it was on to the relaxing and some more reading about how to use my new camera. Hmmm, my Exposure book has already jumped at light speed to shutter speed but I'm not ready to leave aperture yet. I must try to resist flipping ahead and just trust in the author's intentions.

Although breakfast was quite satisfying, its not long before I'm craving my usual weekend smoothie. My smoothies typically include: 1 1/2 cups of almond milk or soy milk, a spoonful of Greens+ or spirulina powder, a scoop of vegan protein powder, one small banana, and my frozen fruit of the day. Today's frozen fruit was peach, melon, and strawberry.

Sometimes I'll add a pinch of cinnamon and a bit of sweetener, especially if it is a mango-banana smoothie. YUM!!

Since today's a holiday, it seemed like a good day to go to the local mall parking lot to practice for my next driving lesson. Me and all the 16 year olds!! Haha! But not until after lunch!

Mini-pizzas on Greek pita bread.
Greek pitas are thicker than regular pitas and don't have a pouch in the center. They make great pizza crusts! Just throw a package in the freezer and thaw as needed. These are so quick and easy to make.

Top each pita with a few tablespoons of crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce, sprinkle with a pinch of oregano, salt and pepper and pile on your favorite was veggie pepperoni, sliced mushrooms, red peppers and onions. Then add your fav cheese. Mine included mozzarella, cheddar, and goat cheese, ya, decadent...but it's a holiday! Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and throw it in the oven for 20 minutes at 400F until the cheese is all nice and bubbly.

After lunch, its off to the mall. We had the parking lot all to ourselves until just before leaving. We were joined by a young teen out learning how to drive his family's huge mini-van with his dad (why are these things called "mini"??). We kept our distance from each other, both still anxious about sharing the road with other moving vehicles. One more of these sessions and I might be ready to hit the roads of a local, quiet neighborhood. All this driving around in circles and attempting to stall park is beginning to wear out my oh-so-patient co-driver!

I knew just the thing to unwind my husband...slice up five onions for tonite's dinner's caramelized onion tart and roll out the puff pastry! Good thing he used to be a catering cook and has a sharp chef knife...he finished with the onions in seconds!!

Rustic Caramelized Onion Tart with Sauteed Collards and Asparagus
This tart makes a great main for a vegetarian meal, served with a side of collards and asparagus, and it's easy to boot!

While my husband sliced five onions and rolled out the thawed puff pastry, I sliced a cup of cremini mushrooms and browned them in 2T olive oil, 1 T butter with 4 whole, peeled garlic cloves. I added a sploosh of red wine at the end simmering until completely reduced.

To caramelize the onions, heat 2T butter and 2T olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat, and add the onions and salt and pepper, sauteeing, stirring often, for about 20-30 minutes, until soft, sweet and golden brown. In the last 5 minutes, add 2-3 T of balsamic vinegar and cook until thickened. Add the mushroom mixture to the onions and let it cool for 5 minutes, then place the filling onto the puff pastry, leaving a 1" border. Dot with 4oz soft goat cheese and fold the edges around the mixture to prevent leakage. Brushing the edges of pastry with milk will help the pastry brown nicely. Bake at 450F for 30 minutes or until the pastry is golden.

To saute the collards, I used a traditional Mediterranean recipe. Chop the collards into bite sized pieces, removing tough stems, and boil for 10 minutes or until tender. Heat 2T of olive oil in a large skillet and add 3 chopped garlic cloves and a pinch of red pepper flakes and infuse the oil on low heat for 5 minutes, making sure you avoid browning the garlic. Add the collards, stir and sautee for 3-5 minutes, adding salt and pepper to taste. I also added cubes of smoked tofu, which stand up well to the collards.

Oh, and I almost forgot the asparagus! Saute the asparagus in 1T of olive oil until tender, about 3-5 minutes, then sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with 1-2T lemon juice. Enjoy!!

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