Sunday, November 22, 2009

Citrus Glitters

These little sparkly beauties also come from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar. They're a lovely citrus version of a sugar cookie.

I was not a fan of the preparation for these cookies. It required using a hand mixer; mine is crazy and always makes a mess (I place a towel over the mixing bowl and use that to keep most of the flyaway contained. The resulting batter then resembled wood shavings, it was very odd. I just had to take a handful of the crumbles/shavings and start pressing them together and they would stay, but I'd never seen anything like it before.

Sugar cookies aren't my favorite, but these were definitely an improvement on the traditional.

Macaroni and Cheeze

I decided to make this for dinner the other night because my boyfriend was having a bit of a rough day and it's one of his favorites. After making this the first time I was asked to make it at least once a week for about a month, it's a little less now, but yes it's that good. This version (our favorite) comes from Vegan Yum Yum.

I make a few changes to Lolo's recipe. Instead of 1/3 cup of Earth Balance I use one tablespoon, mix everything in the blender, and then add soymilk to desired creaminess. We usually end up eating the entire thing between the two of us and I didn't like the idea of that much fat, plus the soymilk makes the cheeze a little thinner and better able to coat the noodles. I also use a lot less breadcrumbs on top, just a light layer along with the pepper and the paprika. Overall, this is one fabulous dish. It doesn't take too long to prepare and it's mighty tasty!

Grilled Cheeze

While perusing the used section at a local bookshop I came across Vegan Vittles. I flipped through it and saw this recipe for grilled cheeze sandwiches. That and the low price tag encouraged me to buy it. This is now our go-to recipe when craving that gooey, comforting sandwich of our youth, it's fabulous. The cheeze is quick to whip up in a saucepan, then it's just spread on the bread and grilled to perfection. In the past we've paired these wonderfully with tomato soup and cream of broccoli soup.

Vindaloo Vegetables over Rice

Sometimes it's nice to keep your evenings wide open by doing all your prep work earlier in the day and relying on your slow cooker to do all the rest of the work. I usually end up making chili in mine, but this time I wanted to try something different. This is from Fresh From the Vegetarian Slow Cooker. It was essentially a vegetable stew with an Indian flair; cauliflower, green bell pepper, onion, carrot, zucchini, and kidney beans with a spicy tomato base. I was supposed to add frozen peas a bit before serving, but I forgot. Regardless, it had great flavor and was perfectly filling.

Every time I look through this book I'm reminded of all the interesting and unexpected dishes that can be made in a slow cooker, I'm definitely going to have to experiment more with this.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Orange Agave Chocolate Chip Cookies

Just a warning: we might be a little cookie crazy here for a while. I just got Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar and the holidays are quickly approaching, I will probably be making food stuffs for most of my local friends and colleagues.

This was the first recipe I tried from VCIYCJ, honestly they're just alright. The flavor is great, with the orange and chocolate coming together (how can you argue with that?!), but they're quite dry. They don't seem like they would be because they don't crumble, but you'll definitely need to be drinking a thing (or two) while eating these.

One of my cats, Brody, enjoyed watching me make these. He lies around in such a silly position (on his back with all his paws up; he turned a little bit to look at me while I took this pic) that I had to include a picture of him.

Anyway, there are all sorts of amazing sounding cookies in this book, it was really fun to read through and imagine the combinations. I'll be trying a different one next time.

Chesapeake Tempeh Cakes

After reading on multiple blogs how amazing these little guys from Vegan Brunch are I just had to try them out. Have to say they're pretty darn tasty. I've never had a crab cake before (in fact I'd never even seen one until the evening that I made these--I went to a work function and that was one of the appetizers, they looked spot-on) so I can't say how these fare similarity-wise, but I don't think anyone who enjoys tempeh would be disappointed.

I did have a little trouble getting the cakes to stay together while I cooked them. These three were the prettiest, and that's why they got their photo taken. Just a tip if you're planning on making these: make sure you have plenty of oil in your pan and that it's hot before you drop the cake in. They seemed to be more prone to breaking when they didn't start cooking right away. I'm a little oil-phobic when I cook, so I had to add more to make these work.

Chickpea and Artichoke Heart Salad

This was my second time making this salad from Vegan Yum Yum, and it's definitely a keeper. It fulfilled a craving that I didn't even know I had. I now make sure I always have a can of artichoke hearts around so that I can make this if the mood strikes. It's made up of stir-fried garbanzos and artichoke hearts with some ground toasted almonds mixed in. The oil from cooking the beans and hearts serves to keep it moist, then some lemon juice and salt is added. It tastes so good and can easily be a meal all in itself!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Chocolate Chip Spice Cookies

Craving some chocolate, I looked through some recipes until I happened on a cookie recipe that sounded so good: Chocolate Chip Spice Cookies from Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan. I'd only tried one of Dreena's cookie recipes up til now and it was amazing (You Got Peanut Butter in My Chocolate Cookies), so I was excited to try another one. She uses less granulated sugar and subs in maple syrup and agave nectar in a lot of cases, along with much less oil or butter than usual, which I like. These are a spin on a chocolate chocolate chip cookie with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves--a good cold weather cookie. They were heavenly, and I know that they will not last very long in our cabinet. Luckily for when we're craving more this recipe didn't take too long to throw together so they can easily be made in less than 20 minutes.

Italian Feast

Oh, spaghetti. Comfort food at it's most basic. This is spaghetti and beanballs from Veganomicon. The balls are made from mashed kidney beans, garlic, herbs, tamari, tomato paste and some vital wheat gluten to hold them together. They're then baked (or fried) so they're nice and crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. They were really good. We served them with brown rice spaghetti and a batch of mushroom marinara sauce (also from V'con). I also made up some stir-fried spinach with lots of garlic and some garlic bread from one of our local natural foods stores (New Leaf sells their own vegan garlic bread). I didn't have any other use for spare baguette and my freezer is already full of bread crumbs so my boyfriend went and picked up these after discovering I was out of yeast at home and partly through cooking (my original plan was to make garlic breadsticks; I'll still have to try that though).

Served with a glass of red wine this was incredibly satisfying.

Stuffed Acorn Squash and Roasted Asparagus

This was a delicious fall-evening meal. I hadn't been planning on making stuffed squash but the store had them on sale for 99 cents and they're just so cute. First I set some grains to cooking. I used a harvest mix from Trader Joe's that had Israeli couscous, red quinoa, orzo, and baby garbanzo beans. To fill both halves of the squash it'll take about 1 cup of cooked grains. I also cooked up some mushrooms, spinach and red bell pepper. When the grains were cooked I added them to the veggies, then threw in some cranberries and sliced almonds. I scooped this mixture into the cut, cleaned squash. The squash halves were then set in a baking dish, covered with foil and baked at 400 degrees until soft (depending on the size of your squash this could take anywhere from 40 minutes to over an hour).

Cutting the squash in half presented a challenge all its own. I have really cheap knives (IKEA), and so it took me a good amount of cursing and slamming of the squash for me to get it open. Be warned, they're tough little guys when they're raw. I scooped out all the seeds, cleaned them, sprinkled with salt and then cooked them along with the squash, removing after about 20 minutes. I then dumped a few of these on the cooked squash, and ate the rest--yummy.

For the asparagus, we just trimmed the ends, set on a baking sheet, and drizzled with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. They need a good mix around with your hands to coat and then they're ready to roast. I waited until the squash had been in for a little over 20 minutes then set the asparagus in there too (same time I took out the squash seeds). The asparagus comes out flavorful and crispy; roasted asparagus is just so wonderful!

This was a super-filling dinner. We didn't even come close to finishing our squashes. I wrapped up the uneaten portions and put them in the fridge, they might become soup sometime later this week.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

My Vegan 100

So, this started with Hannah over at BitterSweet. This is her veganized version of The Omnivore’s Hundred, which is a list of 100 edible things to try before you die. I thought this sounded like fun, so here we go!

The hyperlinks take you to information for some of the more obscure items and anything in parentheses was added by me.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it:

1) Copy this list into your own blog, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Post a comment here once you’ve finished and link your post back to this one.
5) Pass it on!

1. Natto
2. Green Smoothie
3. Tofu Scramble
4. Haggis
5. Mangosteen
6. Creme brulee
7. Fondue
8. Marmite/Vegemite
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Nachos
12. Authentic soba noodles
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Taco from a street cart
16. Boba Tea (Loving Hut has great ones)
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes (mmm...Olallieberry)
19. Gyoza
20. Vanilla ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Ceviche
24. Rice and beans
25. Knish
26. Raw scotch bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Caviar (ech...even the vegan version sounds gross)
29. Baklava
30. Pate
31. Wasabi peas (not a fan of wasabi)
32. Chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Mango lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Mulled cider
37. Scones with buttery spread and jam
38. Vodka jelly
39. Gumbo
40. Fast food french fries
41. Raw Brownies
42. Fresh Garbanzo Beans
43. Dahl
44. Homemade Soymilk
45. Wine from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Stroopwafle
47. Samosas
48. Vegetable Sushi (Mobo is a great place to go)
49. Glazed doughnut
50. Seaweed
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Tofurkey
54. Sheese
55. Cotton candy
56. Gnocchi
57. Piña colada
58. Birch beer
59. Scrapple
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Soy curls
63. Chickpea cutlets
64. Curry
65. Durian
66. Homemade Sausages
67. Churros, elephant ears, or funnel cake
68. Smoked tofu
69. Fried plantain
70. Mochi
71. Gazpacho
72. Warm chocolate chip cookies
73. Absinthe
74. Corn on the cob
75. Whipped cream, straight from the can
76. Pomegranate
77. Fauxstess Cupcake
78. Mashed potatoes with gravy
79. Jerky
80. Croissants
81. French onion soup
82. Savory crepes
83. Tings
84. A meal at Candle 79
85. Moussaka
86. Sprouted grains or seeds
87. Macaroni and “cheese”
88. Flowers
89. Matzoh ball soup
90. White chocolate
91. Seitan
92. Kimchi
93. Butterscotch chips
94. Yellow watermelon
95. Chili with chocolate (well, with cocoa powder)
96. Bagel and Tofutti
97. Potato milk
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee (I don't like coffee either)
100. Raw cookie dough

Alright, so that's my version! I learned about some great new foods and will definitely have to try some. This was a great idea, take some time to check out what you've tried if you have the chance.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Spicy Tomato Chickpea Soup and Biscuits

This delightful, very filling, soup is from Vegan Yum Yum. It had a nice spicy, almost curry-like, flavor from the chickpeas and spices that were simmered and then blended together. It was perfect for this chilly, overcast day. Browning the chickpeas also imparted a nutty flavor that was very nice.

We also made some biscuits to go with the soup. These were a variation on the fancy biscuits from How it all Vegan; I left out the green onion and dill and used thyme, basil, and rosemary instead--turned out great.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Stuffed Mushrooms and Zucchini Roll-ups

We were heading to a little get-together with some of my school friends last night, so we whipped up a couple of appetizers to bring along. Both of these are from The 30 Minute Vegan. We were also busy earlier in the day so I wanted a couple of things that wouldn't take too long, both of these fit that bill nicely.

The mushrooms were stuffed with a mixture of the stems, Tofutti cream cheese, red bell pepper, spinach, nutritional yeast, and some spices. I left out the onion it called for, and after mixing in the food processor it was too runny, so I added additional spinach, nutritional yeast, and threw in some bread crumbs; after mixing again it was a perfect consistency. They turned out quite lovely with the bubbly brown bits on top. I didn't have a chance to try these while they were still warm, which is when they probably would have tasted their best. They were still quite good at room temperature though. Many people liked these and asked what was inside.

The zucchini roll-ups were extremely good. They consisted of strips of zucchini rolled up with an herbed tofu ricotta. I had a little trouble getting them to stay rolled prior to baking (the zucchini was too firm and I didn't want the strips to break), so I just lied them out on the baking sheet and then rolled after baking. We also stuck toothpicks through them so that they would stay rolled during transport and for ease of serving. I also drizzled these with olive oil and sprinkled with salt before serving. I think I ate like half the plate of these myself--so tasty. When I make these again I will half the tofu mixture that is used as the filling. I didn't place it all on the strips before baking and then when rolling up a lot just fell out, so there was a fair amount of it wasted which I didn't like. But, all in all, a success!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Rainforest Stir-Fry

Wow. Oh my God, wow. Those were the words that escaped my lips after taking my first bite of dinner tonight. This little gem is from reFresh; everything I've made from this book has been great, this was spectacular. The main part of the stir-fry consists of tofu, baby bokchoy, and tomato. I left out red onion because I'm not a fan, and added some mango chunks and jalapeno. After these are warm and the greens are wilted, cooked soba noodles and a spicy mango sauce were added. The mango chunks I added were the remnants from making mango juice for the sauce (I couldn't find plain mango juice at the store so I just put half a mango in my Vita Mix and blended it up--it was more puree, but it got the job done). The sauce also consisted of grapefruit and lemon juice, jalapeno, some more liquids, an entire bunch of cilantro, and then some corn starch to thicken it up a bit. After mixing, it just needed to come to a boil then simmer for 20 minutes; this left plenty of time to prep all the other ingredients.

It was served with orange slices to garnish. This dish was fantastic. It had sweet, it had savory, and it had spicy--amazing. The only things I think might make it more amazing are the addition of mushrooms (which I'll try next time) and maybe some bean sprouts on top for a bit of a crunch.

I halved the recipe and still made a whole lot. Before the veggies had cooked down my wok was overflowing (it's cooked in half-batches in the book). We'll be having this for lunch tomorrow and I'm quite certain it will be great served cold as well!

Herbed Grilled Polenta with Roasted Red Pepper Coulis and Swiss Chard with Caramelized Onions

I had high hopes for this meal. It's from The Vegan Table and the pictures in the book were mouthwatering. We were disappointed.

The polenta was good, it had sun-dried tomatoes, basil, and parsley mixed in, then after it had cooled in a dish, was grilled to a nice crisp on the outside. I wasn't able to get small enough chunks of any of these mix-ins though; I would definitely recommend a food processor because my knife just didn't get the job done well enough and it would have been much better without large-ish chunks. I also would leave out the parsley. I think it's disgusting. I tried it because it was such a small amount, but every bite I had with it in there was just gross. I have vowed before to never use it again, somehow I always end up doing it though, thinking the recipe author must have a reason and this will be the time I like it. It's never worked and I am now going to take a stand: no more parsley!

The coulis was also good, it gave some moisture in addition to more flavor to the polenta. I think it needed some tomato though. In the book Colleen's photo of the coulis is the color and consistency of marinara. Not only would that color have been more appetizing than the odd orange color of ours, I think the tomato would have complimented this very well.

Now for the chard. My least favorite part...which is sad because chard is one of my favorite vegetables. First we caramelized the onions. We let them get really dark, they smelled great, then kalamata olives, capers, and the chard were added in. Once the chard was wilted lemon juice was squeezed on top. All of these mixed together was just way too bitter. I was able to eat it all, but it wasn't with the joy I usually have while eating chard. I won't be making this one again.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Noon-Time Nachos

I decided to throw together some nachos for lunch today. I heated up some refried beans while I made a melty cheese sauce from How It All Vegan. I added some salsa to the sauce then topped the beans with it. On top of both of those is some cilantro and ample hot sauce. The chips were from Trader Joe's: hemp tortilla chips with black sesame seeds. I'd never had these before, but I'll be buying them again--they were the best store-bought tortilla chips I've ever had. I definitely recommend!

Almond Broccoli Sweet and Sour Tofu

This recipe from Vegan Yum Yum caused me a bit of grief. I guess I'll start by saying it tasted great and the sauce had the fabulous gooey consistency of Chinese take-out, so that was good. However, I had a lot of problems with the tofu. It requires tossing the cut pieces in Ener-G egg replacer and water, and then cornstarch to give a nice coating before frying them. While I did this I became well on my way to making a nice tofu paste. I'm guessing I didn't press my tofu enough and there was still too much moisture to make this work correctly. Next time I will definitely make more of an effort (this little kitchen gadget looks fabulous for this purpose, btw--it will be on my Christmas list). I also placed the tofu in a bowl and attempted to coat it by stirring; this was not a good plan. I should have gone the shake-in-a-bag (or tupper) route, I think this would have worked much better. Then, since my coating wasn't very uniform, and in many parts non-existent, the tofu didn't fry up very well and I had a big mess in my wok.

I'm hoping that my tofu problems can be remedied with the above ideas, because this was really good (even with my fried "tofu paste"). The almonds mixed in with the broccoli, tofu and sweet and sour sauce was perfect. I served this over brown rice.

Super-Quick Pasta

I had some pesto left over in the fridge and not a whole lot else (I went shopping right after eating this for lunch, so better food on its way), so I threw together a quick pasta. I just cooked up some noodles (yup, that's two different kinds: brown rice spaghetti and whole wheat penne because I didn't have enough of either to make 2 servings). While the noodles were cooking I cut up a tomato, 2 cloves garlic, and about 2 cups spinach. Once the noodles were done, drained them, then returned to the pot with a little bit of olive oil. I then threw in the tomatoes, spinach, and garlic and stirred until the spinach was wilted. If using a more hearty leafy green (read: pretty much anything else), it's best to wilt these in a separate pan so as not to risk having to unstick the pasta from the pot. Once the spinach was wilted I put in the pesto and heated quickly. I added some pine nuts, and voila, lunch!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Baked Apples and Ice Cream

We had a hankering for something sweet so I baked up a couple of apples for dessert. All I did was core them (I used a knife around the core to get started and then hollowed out the rest using a small spoon; leaving a little on the bottom to hold all the fillings), then peel them. I filled them with some chopped pecans, golden raisins, sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ground clove. I also put a teeny amount of Earth Balance on top of the fillings. Once the apples were filled and in the baking pan, I added about a half-inch of boiling water with a drop of vanilla added. I baked these (at 350 degrees F) for 30 minutes, spooning a little of the water on the apples every 10 minutes to keep them moist.

Once they were done I let them cool for a couple minutes, then transferred to a bowl and added a couple spoonfuls of ice cream (we had Double Rainbow Cinnamon Caramel soy ice cream; it went great). I meant to also add some rolled oats to this, but I forgot. None the less this was delicious!

Emptying the Fridge Salad

Tonight we desperately needed to use up some of our last-leg produce, so I tossed up a quick salad. We've got some baby greens with heirloom tomato, cucumber, Tofurky deli slices, sunflower seeds, croutons, pepperoncinis, and an olive. I topped this with my standby dressing, the Apple Cider Vinaigrette from reFresh. This dressing is great, very simple, with great flavor, and it uses heart-healthy flax oil as the base. I always keep a jar of this mixed up in my fridge for our quick salads.

The heirloom tomato was super juicy and amazing tasting. For as simple and easy as this was to throw together (only had a cutting board and knife to clean!) it was very tasty and satisfying.