Happy New Year! Not going to lie, 2014 was a rather rough year and I’m not exactly sorry to see it go. While I was able to accomplish some goals, new job and new features here on the blog, my biggest “goal” was not reached and there was nothing I could do to change that – just have to accept that there are things in life that are impossible to control. I did fall a bit short on a few of my blogs goal, mostly due to interference from the goal not met -but I’m okay with that because I did the best that I could. I messed around with some new ingredients and new cooking techniques and while I didn’t do every week of /52weeksofcooking I did more than 2013 so that’s something! September was also the BIGGEST month ever for the blog, which was an awesome birthday present. I can only hope that 2015 sees such incredible support. With that said, time to talk about the recipes that gave such awesome numbers with the top 5 recipes of 2014. The top 5 are based off of unique hits as recorded by wordpress, and limited to recipes posted in 2014.
#1: “Sausage” and Spinach Stuffed Shells which was made in May for /52weeksofcooking’s soy challenge. I love it when a savory recipe takes first place!!!
#2: Taco Bowl an awesome recipe for when you are craving tacos but either don’t want, or can’t have the shell. Adding more gluten free recipes to the blog was one of my big goals for the year, and more than 30% of all recipes in 2014 were/are gluten free!
#3 Buddha Bowl which is probably one of the healthiest recipes on my blog as it features raw veggies and delicious whole grains. This was part of the clean eating challenge on /52weeksofcooking and is also a great recipe for starting out the New Year!
#4 Sweet Potato Falafels with Garlic Hummus came from a Secret Recipe Club Challenge, which I’ll be continuing in the New Year. Posts will be the first Monday of every month as part of the awesome Group A, which occasional guest posts and features sprinkled throughout the year.
#5 Watermelon Feta Salad which is surprisingly the “sweetest” thing in the top 5 – which goes to show that cookies aren’t always #1. This salad caused a bit of drama when the original post omitted a few key sentences, but it’s an awesome dish and I’ve made it a few times since.
There they are! The top 5 recipes of 2014 which happen to be all savory – which I wasn’t really expecting. While I haven’t most as many sweets this past year, just assumed those few would be the ones to take the care. So with that – enjoy your new year! I have a few posts in progress and will once again be setting the goal of posting three times a week, but we’ll see what life has to say about that little plan.
Every now and then I tend to bite off more than I can chew when it comes to blog challenges, and this week’s r/52weeksofcooking is a prime example. The theme this week was Indian which is a cuisine I’m familiar with and have done a few times in the past. However I wanted to try something different so instead of my standard tomato based curry I decided to attempt a yogurt based dish, and then go the extra step in making it vegan. I researched a variety of different dishes before finally deciding on Navratan Korma which translates to Nine Gems Curry. For my nine gems I settled on: peas, green beans, Indian Eggplant, green bell pepper, tofu (or paneer), Indian red chilies, shallots, cashews, and carrots. I debated about using cauliflower or broccoli but it’s still too early in the season for them and couldn’t find any at the local market. Needless to say this is a very (very!!!) prep-heavy dish with lots of cleaning and cutting.
I started prep work with the tofu in order to give it time to press before moving on to the eggplant, for similar reasons, and then all the remaining vegetables. To figure out the right spices I looked at a variety of online recipes before finally settling on the below combination. For a more traditional dish use paneer in place of tofu, just keep it mind it will cook a lot faster than tofu and might require additional vegetable oil in order to brown.
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1/4 tsp cumin seed
- 1/4 tsp cardamon seeds
- 1/4 tsp amchoor powder (mango powder)
- 1/2 tsp tumeric
- 2 garlic cloves, diced
- 1 tsp ginger, shredded
- 3 scallions, diced
- 1/2 tbsp garam masala
- 1 lb of tofu, well pressed and drained (can also sub paneer)
- 4 Indian eggplants, sliced and salted
- 1 cup spring peas
- 1 cup green beans, tipped and halved
- 1/4 lb carrots, cut in to 2inch pieces
- 1 green pepper, diced
- 2 Indian red chilis, diced and seeded (optional)
- 1 cup coconut milk (plain or original - can also used canned version)
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt (I used So Delicious Coconut - but Almond or Dairy would work as well)
- 1/4 cup cashews (optional)
- Heat the olive oil in a large saute dish over medium heat. Once hot add the seeds, spices, garlic, scallions, and ginger. Cook for 2 minutes or until cumin seeds start to split stirring frequently to prevent burning.
- Add the tofu and cook for 10 minutes, turning regularly so tofu browns on all sides. Add the remaining vegetables and stir well. Cover and cook for 10 minutes, stirring once to prevent sticking.
- Remove lid and add the coconut milk and yogurt. Bring mixture to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Serve hot over coconut (or regular rice) or with fesh Naan topping the dish with cashews (optional)
by AmandaE at dancingveggies.com
I served the cashews only on top of mine since I couldn’t find a bag that was marked in such a way to indicate it was 100% peanut free. This dish might have taken a while to get started but it’s incredibly quick to come together and delicious – making all the cutting worth it! I also have a feeling this dish would work well in a slow cooker and look forward to testing that theory shortly.
Note: I’m submitting this to the So Delicious Dairy Free Recipe Contest
Time for the April installment of the Secret Recipe Club!!!! This month I was assigned the incredible Ilona’s Kitchen blog which is packed to the brim with delicious treats – both sweet and savory! As always I had a hard time finding the perfect recipe, something that would be different than the normal and showcase the delicious recipes on her blog. After much debate I decided to go with one of her two (!!!) recipes for Sloppy Joe’s, figuring if they were such a hit with her munchkin they would also go over well with my husband. In honor of the vegan twist on this recipe I’m renaming them Sloppy Joey’s, and my Joey seems to have no issue sharing his name with this incredible dinner! Other than the vegan twist most of the recipe is as you will find it on Ilona’s Kitchen, as long as your overlook my avoidance of celery in this dish in favor of more peppers.
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- Coarse salt and ground pepper
- 1 pound tofu, pressed and cubed
- 1 can (15 ounces) tomato sauce
- 1/4 cup ketchup
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, celery, and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are softened, 5 to 7 minutes.
- Add the tofu to the skillet, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon as it cooks until all the tofu is a deep golden almost brown color, about 10 minutes minutes.
- Stir tomato sauce, ketchup, and Worcestershire sauce into tofu mixture in skillet. Simmer until thickened, stirring occasionally, 6 to 8 minutes.
- Season the mixture with more salt and pepper, as desired. Spoon onto buns (or fresh bread!), and serve immediately.
by AmandaE at dancingveggies.com
These came together in record time, the only trick was finding a vegetarian friendly Worcestershire sauce. In the end I wound up making my own using this guide from the incredible Martha Stewart. I have to say this homemade version was far better than any I had before, and used the extra sauce as a topping for the mashed potatoes that I served with my Sloppy Joey’s . Thanks Ilona’s Kitchen for an incredible dinner idea!
Good evening! It is once again time for another International Incident Party hosted by the lovely jeroxie I was thrilled when I saw this month’s theme of GUMBO. I have been trying to be more adventurous in my cooking and cajun/creole dishes most certainly fall in that category. I have attempted etouffe and jumbalaya in the past, but in both of those cases my dish was more in the spirit of. This time I set out to do something as traditional as possible, minus the andouille sausage of course. I was orginally hoping to make my own vegetarian sausage but realized that was way out of my skill level, so had to settle with doing everything else from scratch and using tofurkey sausage. However I didn’t want to go heavy on the soy based products so I decided to add some beans, figuring they would add the right texture/taste to the dish. I am rather impressed with what I came up with, even more so in the fact that this dish is also vegan!
Ingredients: (serves 6-8)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 onion, diced
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 1 green pepper, chopped
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 can (16oz) black or red beans, drained and rinsed
- 4 cups water
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- 1 (14.5 ounce) can stewed tomatoes, undrained
- 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tbsp Cajun Seasonings (I used Emeril’s Essence)
- 1 lb tofurkey sausage
- In a large dutch oven melt the butter over medium heat. Once the butter has melted whisk in the flour, allow to cook until the mixture has turned a very rich brown color, darker than peanut butter for the best results.
- Meanwhile in a large saute pan heat up the olive oil. Add the garlic, onion, celery, and green pepper. Cook for 5 minutes, until the garlic begins to turn golden and the vegetables are tender.
- Once the flour mixture has turned brown stir in the water and vegetable stock, then add the tomatoes, beans, and cooked vegetable. Cover and simmer for 30minutes. Add the seasonings, recover and cook an additional 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile dry brown the sausage in a small pan. Cut into bit size pieces and add to the gumbo. Allow the mixture to simmer for a final 30minutes. Serve over brown rice!
I think this dish might be one of the few dishes were celery is acceptable, normally I leave that out but since I was resolved to be as traditional as possible I sucked it up and kept it in. I’m sure most locals would still turn their noses up at my vegan gumbo but it is insanely dishes and really is a rib sticking dish.