Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Saag (Palak) Paneer

  Another Punjabi inspired dish! Did you know "palak" means "spinach"? "Saag", however means "greens". So your saag paneer might be palak paneer, but it might not! This is another Many Hands House favorite that I have been making for over 15 years now. And yes, the children cheer when it is served!

Palak Paneer
serves 4

2 boxes of tofu or homemade paneer
6 cups packed fresh spinach or 4 frozen spinach
2 fresh hot green chiles, seeded and chopped (adjust to taste, or sometimes I use powdered cayenne)
1 tsp. each garlic and ginger
3 cups canned evaporated milk or coconut milk
2 Tbsp. flour
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
3 tsp. butter (or substitute)
1 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 tsp. tumeric
2 cups chopped tomato
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar

cooked rice

- broil your tofu or paneer in the oven until golden, or fry in yummy butter.
- place fresh spinach in steamer basket and steam for 6 minutes. Transfer to blender with chiles, garlic, ginger, milk and flour. Blend til smooth.

-Heat oil and butter. Cook onion and tumeric for 4 minutes. Add tomato. Cook 4 more minutes.
-Add spinach mixture to onions and tomatos. Reduce heat. Stir in salt, sugar and tofu. Mix and heat through.

-Serve over rice.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Matar Paneer

 Matar Paneer is a recipe I have been making for decades. It's a family favorite and Chris' very very favorite. I usually make it vegetarian, and all of the ingredients (except spices) are available at Aldi. Last night I made it vegan, and it was darn good. Here are both versions! Remember you can mix the two recipes - a little tofu or coconut milk in your vegetarian version, for example.

Matar Paneer - Vegetarian  
(serves 8, you might want to halve it)

4 cans evaporated milk
2 blocks paneer (You can make it!)
1/2 cup ghee or butter
8 Tbsp. ginger root
4 Tbsp. garlic
1 onion, chopped
4 tsp. salt
4 tsp tumeric
1 tsp hot red pepper (you may want to adjust this for taste)
4 tsp. coriander
4 Tbsp. gharam masala
4 cups chopped tomato
2 cups peas
4 Tbsp. sugar
fresh cilantro

Put butter in skillet. Fry paneer cubes. (You can also bake them) Remove from pan.
Add more butter and ginger and garlic. Fry for 30 seconds.
Add onions and salt. Fry for 7 minutes (until soft)
Add one can of evaporated milk.
Stir in tumeric, red pepper, coriander, gharam masala
When blended, add the rest of the milk and the tomatoes
Bring to a slow boil, and let reduce for 10 minutes
Add peas and sugar
Add paneer
Garnish with cilantro

Matar Paneer - Vegan
(serves 8, you might want to halve it)

4 cans coconut milk
2 blocks tofu (You can make it!)
1/2 cup vegan butter
8 Tbsp. ginger root
4 Tbsp. garlic
1 onion, chopped
4 tsp. salt
4 tsp tumeric
1 tsp hot red pepper (you may want to adjust this for taste)
4 tsp. coriander
4 Tnsp. gharam masala
4 cups chopped tomato
2 cups peas
4 Tbsp. sweetener (to taste)
fresh cilantro

Put vegan butter in skillet. Fry tofu cubes. (You can also bake them) Remove from pan.
Add more vegan butter and ginger and garlic. Fry for 30 seconds.
Add onions and salt. Fry for 7 minutes (until soft)
Add one can of coconut milk.
Stir in tumeric, red pepper, coriander, gharam masala
When blended, add the rest of the coconut milk and the tomatoes
Bring to a slow boil, and let reduce for 10 minutes
Add peas and sweetener
Add tofu
Garnish with cilantro

We serve this with a salad and wheat tortillas. You could make papadum, chapatis, fried cauliflower, tamarind sauce, and mango lassi.

Girly recommends adding vegan sour cream to the sauce. Next time I will!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Vegan Broccoli "Cheese" Soup

  Chris and I have been looking for a vegan alternative to our family's favorite Super Easy Cheese Vegetable Soup. We have really been moving towards complete veganism. (In fact, it's getting difficult for us to look at the blog's header photo- so much dairy! Time for a new pic!)
  We had been thinking of using a variation of The Farm's Yeasty Mac and Cheese recipe for the soup base. When I saw this recipe for Vegan Broccoli Cheese Soup, I knew it was the one!  Now I need to be up front with you. Nutritional yeast doesn't really taste like cheese. It tastes like nutritional yeast. And my family LOVES it. We use it on popcorn, toast, burritos, salad, everything. So we tried it and now we're sharing it with you!

Vegan Broccoli Cheese Soup
Note: You can probably make this gluten free by substituting the flour with 2 or 3 tablespoons of corn starch or another similar thickener.
  • 3 or 4 small heads broccoli, chopped and with most of the stems removed
  • 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unbleached flour
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried yellow mustard powder
  • 8 cups water
  • 5 tablespoons vegan butter
Prepare your broccoli and onion, then steam them for about 15 minutes. It will not have enough time to cook in the soup itself, so it needs to be cooked separately. Just be sure to not over-steam it.

In a large soup pot (which will need to be at least 3 or 4 quarts), mix all of your dry ingredients together, then whisk in the water until the dry and the wet have been well mixed. Add in the vegan butter and allow it to melt as the soup cooks.

Turn on the heat to about medium high and stir constantly. It will take several minutes to thicken, but if you do not stir the soup it will burn on the bottom and not thicken evenly.

As soon as the soup thickens up to a consistency that you like, take the soup off the heat and stir in the steamed broccoli and onion. You can serve immediately, or you can store it and serve it later. It will thicken up more in your refrigerator, however as you heat it up again, it will return to a more liquid state.

Success! We loved it. Méabh REALLY loved it. I look forward to trying the yeast base in other recipes. We served it with a salad and home made garlic toast.

We had some lovely dinner guests too.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Portobello Salad with Mustard Dressing

This is the salad we made this week to go with the Carrot Ginger soup:

Portobello Salad with Mustard Dressing
Adapted from Veganomicon

Serves 4

1/4 cup smooth mustard
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tbsp pure maple syrup

8 cups mixed greens
1 avocado, peeled, halved, pitted and cubed
1 small red onion, sliced into very thin half moons
15 ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 recipe Roasted Portobellos (recipe follows)

Preparing the dressing: Whisk all the ingredients together in a small bowl.

Toss all the salad ingredients together, except the portobellos. Add the dressing. Divide up the salad and place the sliced warm portobellos on top of each salad.

Roasted Portobellos
Adapted from Veganomicon

1/2 cup wine
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 large or up to 4 small portobello caps

Clean the portobello caps. Combine all ingredients for the marinade in a glass pie plate or small casserole. Place the mushrooms upside down in the marinade and spoon a lot of the marinade into each cap to form a small pool. Preheat the oven to 400F and marinated for about 20 minutes.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil, use tongs to flip the caps over, and cook, uncovered, for another 10 minutes. Let it cool a bit and then slice the mushrooms very thinly on the diagonal to make nice meaty slices.

Carrot - Ginger Soup

  I just recently discovered this soup at an Ostara celebration. It was so delicious I wanted to live in it! I finally received the recipe from it's maker, Melinda. Thank you Melinda! It was wonderful to eat it al fresco, with a delicious portobello salad on the side. 
Carrot-Ginger Soup

6 Tablesppons vegan "butter"
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup fresh ginger, minced
1/2 onion, diced
7 cups broth 
1 1/2 lbs. carrots, cut in chunks  (I had only 1 lb. carrots, so added a small yam to make up the quantity)
pinch of curry
1 cup wine - a white Zinfandel works well. 
2 Tablespoons lemon juice 

Saute garlic, onion and ginger in butter, then add in everything else.  Simmer 30 - 45 minutes.  Puree in blender or food processor. (half in the blender at a time is my method; requires an extra pot to receive the first 1/2, in order to pour second 1/2 from cooking pot into the blender)

Add lemon juice and salt & pepper after pureeing.

*adapted from the chef at Skyline Ranch, Telluride, CO, 1989  (Skyline Ranch since has been sold to a private party; no longer open to the public) 

Monday, April 4, 2011

Veganomicon's Chickpea Cutlets

 My kids love Chickpea cutlets. When Rhiannon got home today and found out what was for supper, she jumped for joy! 

Unfortunately Chris had car troubles before I got much cooking done. I had to go rescue him! Imagine our delight when we arrived home and the children had made supper themselves!  Big salad, hand mashed potatoes, gravy, and chick pea cutlets. We served them with a little barbecue sauce. Corn on the cob would have been nice too, but we ate all of that on Saturday.


1 c. chickpeas
 2 T. olive oil
1/2 c. vital wheat gluten
1/2 c. plain breadcrumbs
1/4 c. vegetable broth or water
2 T. soy sauce
2 garlic cloves , pressed or grated
1/2 t. lemon zest
1/2 t. dried thyme
1/2 t. Hungarian paprika
1/4 t. dried rubbed sage
to taste olive oil , for pan frying or baking


Mash the chickpeas and oil together until no whole chickpeas remain. Add remaining ingredients and knead for 3 minutes until strings of gluten have formed. Preheat large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Divide dough into four equal pieces. Flatten each piece and stretch to roughly 4" x 6"

PAN-FRYING: Add a thin layer of olive oil to to the pan. Place cutlets in the pan and cook on each side for 6 to 7 minute They are ready when lightly brown and firm to the touch.

BAKING (This is what we do - WAY yummier!): Preheat oven to 375°F, and lightly oil baking sheet. Brush both sides of each patty with olive oil, place on baking sheet, and bake for 20 minutes. Flip patties and bake another 8 to 10 minutes until firm and golden brown.

And they didn't even mess up the kitchen, well, not too much........

From one of my favorite cookbooks, Veganomicon

Recipe yoinked from

This blogger is hilarious!

Now get over to The Pagan Family blog to read our interview with Steven Posch.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Healthy Eating from the Start

Here are some of Many Hands House's tips for raising healthy, adventurous eaters, right from the start.

  • Breastfeed! For at least two years, if not three. This will make sure your baby gets all the calories and nutrition needed, plus you'll avoid all those nasty allergies later.
  • Don't introduce solid food until your baby has reached these three milestones: can sit up unaided, has a tooth, and tries to grab the food and shove it in their mouths. Usually a bit after 6 months.
  • Avocado and tofu are the best baby foods. (Around 8 months old!)
  • Be a good example and eat healthy food yourself! (Remember, they're grabbing it off your plate. And the foods flavor your breast milk.)
  • Only offer water to drink. 
  • Eat spicy food when your pregnant and breastfeeding, and don't be afraid to let your toddler try moderately spicy food - we prefer to call it "flavorful".
  • No sugar or extra salt. Your child should have no idea that white bread exists. 
  • Serve children a salad just before the meal. Even babies. I stir up raw spinach greens with flax oil and nutritional yeast for Méabh. She loves to suck the oil off the leaves.
  • A toddler will eat a nutritionally balanced diet if left to their own devices and offered only healthy food. Although it looks like they are only eating bananas, eventually it will even out. I promise.
  • A person needs to be offered a new meal 3 times before they feel comfortable with it. The first time I served steamed artichokes (20 years ago) Tabitha wrinkled her nose. And again the second time. But then.... ask Tabitha how she feels about steamed artichokes now.
  • When serving a complex meal to a toddler, separate the items. For example, I like my Matar Paneer all mashed up. But let a toddler explore the individual flavors. Peas, rice, tofu, cilantro, sauce for dips.
  • Have the kids help you cook early on. I let my children use a sharp knife when they lose their first tooth. This helps when they get older, because they can start making you fancy dinners!
  • Play restaurant. My children love this game. We make big chalkboard menus, and design a fancy, healthy, balanced meal. We have candles, tablecloths, music, the works.
  • Now and then let the food pantry run low, and play what I call "Rat Day" ( I love pet rats. You can call it whatever you like.) Try to make fun foods with whatever you can find. Who knew that canned beets warmed up with cracked pepper could be so delicious?
  • Don't eat too much. People often eat when they're bored. Bored is good for you.
What tips do you have for rearing healthy adventurous eaters?

Friday, April 1, 2011

What We Eat - Day One - Shopping

  I am often asked,"If you're a vegan, what do you eat?". Which to me is amazing, because when I see meat based meals I think "Is this ALL you eat?". Also, many of my friends this week are simplifying their lives, and their meal plans, and blogging about it. I hate being a victim of peer pressure, but I do want to be part of the scene. So this week, I will try to accurately blog about what Many Hands House eats. Remember, Chris and I are vegan , but the children are vegetarian. I will include the recipes, which is why you all will keep checking back!  :)

  Making new recipes are one of the joys of my family. We look forward to trying new recipes and foods we've never tasted. The first year of my marriage, I tried to not make the same meal twice. Two of my children have expressed an interest in becoming chefs.

Today was shopping day. Chris went to Aldi, I went to Hy-Vee (a locally owned chain, I visit because of it's "Health Market" - it's the closest thing to a health food store I've got.)

Here is what we bought:
shampoo and conditioner
frozen veggies
refried beans
olive oil
fresh spinach
corn on the cob
vegan butter
spaghetti sauce
corn muffin mix
can vegetarian chili
Estimated cost - $195.00 ( Chris lost his receipt)

Hy-Vee Health Market 
vegan mayo
vegan sour cream
real maple syrup
coconut milk
vital wheat gluten
dog food (IAMS large breed)
cedar chips
healthy-est  lasagna noodles
whole wheat wraps
more wine (there was a tasting - you'd have done it too if you were shopping with 5 children!)
cut daffodilds
3 conveniences orange juices and 1 green kombucha (for the ride home)

Cost - $132.08
 It was super fun to have the kids help. Often they help me find the cheapest of an item, for example, chick peas (Hy-Vee brand); or the most nutritious item, in this case wraps ( La casa low carb) and lasagna noodles (Ronzoni Healthy Harvest Whole Wheat)
Recipes to make this week:

vegan eggplant lasagna
vegan broccoli cheese soup
chickpea cutlets
vegan enchiladas
carrot ginger soup 
What new meals are you trying this week?

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