Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

I hope everyone has a fantastic holiday. We're heading out to a party in just a bit. We have a small group that will all be dressed as tourists (we found some great Hawaiian shirts and fanny packs at our local Goodwill store). I whipped up a batch of the Chocolate Almond Brittle from The Joy of Vegan Baking for the occasion. This whipped up pretty quick, then just had to set for a couple of hours. It tastes great, but the chocolate starts to melt pretty quick in your hand.

Alright, have some fun, and may your night be filled with more treats than tricks!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Pumpkin Baked Ziti with Caramelized Onions and Sage Breadcrumbs

When I was flipping through Veganomicon the other day this recipe caught my eye and I knew just by reading the title that I needed to try it. I had never noticed this recipe before but it sounded super amazing. I'm sure I don't have to tell you that it was. V'con is my favorite cookbook (and I have a lot. When I went vegan I think everyone thought I would starve because I got almost nothing else as gifts). Isa and Terry put together some amazing, inventive recipes and they never disappoint!

This ziti showcased the flavors of autumn so well. The pumpkin is enhanced by nutmeg, walnuts, and the caramelized onions. A cashew-tofu ricotta is also mixed in with the pumpkin to give it a real creaminess and gives this dish some protein. I made fresh breadcrumbs for the topping and the spices mixed into them really rounded out the flavors.

It took a good amount of time to whip this up, and a whole lot of dirty dishes (both bowls of my food processor and the dry blender container) but this made a lot and we will be happily eating it for several days. The only thing I would change upon making this dish again is to reduce the amount of onion. There were 2 whole onions chopped up and caramelized in there; I personally onion to be a background flavor and it was pretty strong in this. Still good, but strong. I'll probably have onion breath the rest of the evening.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Asparagus and Lemongrass Risotto

Today the wind was whipping around like crazy, so some warm comfort food was in order. Tonight it was another favorite in our household; this recipe comes from Veganomicon--it is fabulous. It has amazing flavors with the blending of the lemongrass, basil, mint, asparagus, lime juice, and peanuts. This recipe takes a little longer than your usual risotto because it requires making your own lemongrass and vegetable broth plus sauteing the asparagus, basil and mint together before even starting with the rice stirring process. But, it's worth it! I left out the called-for shallots, mine were moldy, and subbed Pinot Grigio for sherry (I always make sure I have a cheap bottle of red and white wine around for cooking; no matter how cheap it is 2-buck Chuck just isn't worth it though--blech)

When making risotto it's important to stir, stir, stir. I just turn something on the TV and stir while I watch (tonight it happened to be Tool Academy; I know, I know, but it's a guilty pleasure). Below is a picture of how I keep my area set up while I'm stirring. I keep the broth to the back of the rice pan, set to low so it stays warm. To the right (I'm right-handed), I keep a measuring cup for adding broth. I keep the measuring cup in a larger container so the counter doesn't get all messy.

It takes about 35-45 minutes to stir all the broth in and get the rice to the correct consistency, then you can dig in!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Vegan Giveaways!

There have been a plethora of giveaways for cookbooks and treats recently. Just thought I'd clue you in to some that are still open so you could give it a shot!

From VegNews: Marshmallow Ghosts from Sweet and Sara

Enter to win here. Sweet and Sara marshmallows were the first I had after becoming vegan; I first tried them just a few months ago. They made me very happy, they're so good.

Next up, a plethora of cookbooks:

Go Dairy Free and My Sweet Vegan: Passionate About Desserts here. I don't own either of these books, but based on Hannah Kaminsky's blog (she contributed to GDF and wrote MSV), I'm sure they're both great.

Robin Robertson's new tome 1000 Vegan Recipes is available here from PETA. Again, I don't own this one; it's pretty new. There is some great food porn from it here though. There are also a few recipes on Robin's site.

Also from PETA, The Conscious Cook is up for grabs. This won "Cookbook of the Year" from VegNews magazine and is both highly rated and a top-seller on Amazon. I just recently acquired this one. I have not yet made anything from it but some of Tal's dishes certainly look amazing; his dishes are certainly ones that will impress vegans and non-vegans alike.

Some of these are ending quite soon, so make haste. Good Luck!

Tofu Scramble and Hashbrowns

This morning I was off from work so I cooked up a real breakfast. I had about a 1/2 pound of leftover tofu in the fridge from the tofu bennys, so I made up a quick scramble with that, some spinach, and sun-dried tomatoes. I also had a handful of golden potatoes sitting around so I cooked up some hashbrowns to go with it.

I usually make a fairly simple tofu scramble. I just put a little olive oil in a pan, then add a sprinkle of cumin, turmeric, and garlic powder. I mix these up until the oil is hot, then I add the crumbled tofu. Everything gets mixed up so the tofu is covered in the spices and I just let it cook for a while (until most of the water from the tofu is gone). Then I add some nutritional yeast (usually a couple of tablespoons). Today I threw in the chopped spinach and sun-dried tomatoes. Other times I might add some beans. I always eat my scramble covered in hot sauce.

For the hashbrowns, I started by peeling the potatoes. Then I grated them up and cooked them in the microwave (a couple of minutes; 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between). I sprayed a non-stick skillet with oil, then added the cooked potatoes. I sprinkled salt, pepper, garlic powder, and nutritional yeast on them, then just kept stirring and flipping until they were cooked. I had attempted hashbrowns before, but didn't cook the potatoes first and they did not turn out well; they just weren't cooked enough in the middle. The pre-cooking helped a lot and the spices imparted a wonderful flavor.

Good breakfast.

Lentils In Onion Gravy, Rice, and Stir-fried Red Chard

This was a use up what's in the pantry kind of dinner. I look at what I have, then take a look in several cookbooks until I come across a winner (one that sounds good and works with the things I have on hand). This lentil recipe is from Vegan Fire and Spice. It tasted much better than it looks in this photo. Poor lentils, they just don't photograph too well. Chard, on the other hand, always looks pretty.

The lentils were cooked up with lots of onions and garlic, then simmered with water and spices. Some soy yogurt was thrown in the end to give it some thickness.

I cooked up the chard like so: heat up some peanut and sesame oil in a wok, add garlic, add (cleaned, chopped) chard, stir and let wilt a bit. Then add a splash of soy sauce and mirin, and continue stirring until completely wilted. This is our favorite way to serve up greens, it is incredibly tasty!

Tofu Benny

I just received Vegan Brunch from Amazon, as I was flipping through for the first time this recipe caught my eye, I showed it to my boyfriend and he demanded it for dinner that night. The tofu has a delicious marinade and all the flavors from everything come together so well. We devoured this quickly.

I didn't have all of the ingredients called for, like the two special salts (Black and Roasted) that Isa calls for in her recipe, but this still turned out great. I also ran out of white wine vinegar while making the marinade for the tofu. Since quite a bit was called for in the sauce I got a different sauce recipe from How It All Vegan. I added a little thyme to it though to give some more flavor.

I served this with a smoothie: 1 cup soymilk, frozen banana, 8 frozen strawberries, a couple of handfuls of spinach and about a 1/2 Tbsp of flax seeds blended to perfection. Yum! It was a very ugly brown color, so no photo (you can see part in the upper right corner of the second photo). I love putting greens into a fruit smoothie, it's so good for you and with all the sweetness from the fruit you don't even taste them.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Flavor-fall Muffins

I love pumpkin. I'll just get that out there. Anything with pumpkin in it I'm probably gonna love. I wanted pumpkin muffins, but none of the recipes I found were really appealing to my tastebuds so I created my own. It's got pumpkin (obviously), chocolate, cranberries, and an oatmeal topping. I thought these turned out great. They also have no added oil; this makes them a tad dense but I don't mind that in a muffin.

Flavor-fall Muffins

Makes 12 Muffins

2 cups Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
1 Tbsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Nutmeg
1/4 tsp Allspice
1/8 tsp Ground Cloves
1/2 cup Sugar
1 15oz can Pumpkin (not Pumpkin Pie Mix)
1/2 cup Soymilk
1/2 cup Chocolate chips/chunks
1/4-1/2 cup Cranberries (I used Orange Cranberries from Trader Joe's)

1/4 cup Rolled Oats
1 Tbsp packed Brown Sugar
1/8 tsp Cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly oil muffin pan or prepare liners
2. In a large bowl, combine: Flour, Baking Powder, Baking Soda, Spices, and Sugar
3. Add Pumpkin, Soymilk, Chocolate, and Cranberries
4. Spoon batter evenly into muffin pan
5. In a small bowl combing topping ingredients. Spoon topping over muffin batter
6. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean
7. Remove. Let sit 1-2 minutes before removing to cooling rack or platter


Pasta with Vodka Sauce and Chilled Citrus Broccoli Salad

This pasta is a staple in our home--for us it was love at first bite. The recipe is from Veganomicon. It whips up in about half an hour and the sauce is made creamy and satisfying with the addition of ground almonds. I always add extra crushed red pepper than it calls for, and since this is usually made on a whim we just use whatever pasta we have in the house; tonight it was brown rice fusilli.

The broccoli salad consists of cooked broccoli covered in a dressing of orange, lemon, and lime juice with garlic and oil. Everything is mixed together and chilled before serving...super tasty. This is from Vegan Soul Kitchen. While the recipes from this book have all been amazing, many, like this one, call for a lot of oil. I usually leave out as much as I can, which has yet to affect the results too much.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Tofu Bento Bowl

This recipe was in my most current Vegetarian Times as a reader favorite (click for recipe). The only non-vegan ingredient was yogurt, so I just subbed plain soy yogurt and it worked great. Other than cooking the brown rice everything was quick. There's plenty of sauce/dressing from both the tofu and lettuce mixture to make everything moist and super-delicious. I also liked that there were so many different food textures here with the crunchy cucumber and carrot contrasted with the soft avocado and tofu. Nice weeknight healthy option, we'll definitely make this again.

The leftovers also saved very well and I was able to have them for lunch the next day!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Tofu Burgers and Carrot Fries

These burgers, from The (Almost) No-Fat Cookbook, took a lot more time than I expected. The tofu needed to be frozen, then thawed, and then marinated. I ended up serving them a day later than planned, due to incomplete thawing the originally planned day, but that happens. The result was good. Freezing the tofu gave it a nice crumbly texture and the marinade tasted great. Once they were marinated they were super quick to cook up and serve. Ours were on a toasted bun with roasted red pepper miso mayo, avocado, and lettuce. Some tomato would have been nice but I was out.

The "fries" are cut carrots baked to pure goodness. I followed the instructions from the 101 Cookbooks blog. My suggestions would be to stick to smaller carrots, the smaller-sized pieces cooked up much better. We served these up with regular ketchup (organic and w/o high-fructose corn syrup) and they were great!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

We were heading over to visit some friends so I decided to whip up this pie from The Joy of Vegan Baking. The only cooking is of the crust. I made a graham cracker crust, but since I ran out of graham crackers (most had been used up for s'mores) I threw in some animal crackers to make up enough crumbs. The filling is extremely rich; made of tofu, soymilk, peanut butter, and melted chocolate. After assembly, it just needs to cool in the fridge for a couple of hours and it's good to go.

The crust didn't stay together too well for me, but that's no big deal. It tasted great, but was so rich that the slice above would be too much for just about anyone.


Last night I made a vegan version of my boyfriend's favorite pizza from one of our local pizza places, Engfer's (they have great vegan pizza here too). It's got sliced tomatoes, pepperoni, sausage, and pesto.

It took hours...I decided to make the dough from scratch using the dry container for my Vitamix. I then also made the sauce, the pesto, and the cheeze (all of which required either the blender or the food processor, so many dishes to clean). The pepperoni was Yves brand and the sausage was Tofurky Italian Sausage. I had made a pizza before with the Classic White Uncheese recipe from Vegan Vittles. That works really well (it doesn't melt per se, but it looks nice and has great flavor), it however takes hours to set, so I forwent that recipe this time and tried the Melty White Cheeze instead (from the same book; I picked up this book at a used book store for it's cheeze recipes and it has not disappointed). This cheeze was much runnier, so I just mixed it with the tomato sauce as I spread it on the dough. It tasted great, we just had to let it set about 10 minutes after it came out of the oven so it could firm up a bit before cutting into it. It had a great melty consistency while eating though. The pesto recipe is from How It All Vegan, I really like that it uses no oil. It has just a few tablespoons of pinenuts and miso for the consistency, it's really great. So many other pestos are just drowning in oil.

After about two hours of work in the kitchen, we were able to sit down to some yummy pizza. And it tasted that much better because it was made with love.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Chana Masala, Indian Style Spinach and Rice

I had a bit of downtime at work the other day and decided to spend it looking up a recipe for dinner. I had a hankering for chana masala, so I did a search on my iphone (yes, I usually don't have access to the internet at work...lame). That hindered my mad searching ability some, but I came across this recipe from the Orangette blog.

When I got green garlic from my CSA box earlier this year I made a veganized version of her green garlic soup to fabulous results so I decided to give this one a go. I didn't do the final couple add water and simmer steps becuase by this time we were incredibly hungry, so we called it good enough. I added soy yogurt and served it up. Very good.

I paired it with Indian style spinach from Alternative Vegan, which is spinach sauteed with about 8 spices. So much flavor, we love this recipe! We also had some basmati rice with these. Of course when we commenced eating our plates looked nothing like above, it's best all mixed together.

Kale, Potato and Pumpkin Seed Enchiladas with Chile Sauce

These are the enchiladas from Veganomicon. I'd made them before, but I'd always cheated and used canned enchilada sauce to save time. This time I worked from scratch. The sauce is a combination of roasted peppers, roasted tomatoes, onions, and spices--all simmered and blended into a sauce. I also added a couple of chipotle peppers, because we like things spicy. The results were good, but it yielded a much thicker sauce than I'd expected.

The fillings are made up of smooshed potato, kale sauteed in lime juice and toasted pumpkin seeds. I double the amount of kale called for because I like that ratio of kale:potato better, and also that way I don't have a bunch of kale wilting away in my fridge.

We served this up with some lime and chile refried beans and mexican beer.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Asparagus and Sun-Dried Tomato Frittata

This morning I was craving something hearty for breakfast. Whipped up the Asparagus and Sun-Dried Tomato Frittata from Vegan With A Vengeance. It didn't plate up very well for me, had more of a tofu scramble resemblance, but it tasted great nonetheless. I served it with Three-grain sourdough toast with Earth Balance, but I think homefries or hashbrowns would have been amazing with this.


Found some Divvies Vegan Marshmallows at the local health food store this week. We had some friends over after a fun evening of bowling and it called for s'mores. We used Health Valley Amaranth graham crackers and Semisweet chocolate chips. Lay everything out, put in the broiler on low for a few minutes and voila! Earlier in the week I also whipped up some hot chocolate and had marshmallows in it for the first time in years. Yummy.