Monday, February 22, 2010

No-Queso Quesadillas

I'm making a recipe from FatFree Vegan Kitchen tonight (to be blogged about later) and while looking up the recipe for that I saw this one and it sounded so good I had to make it for lunch. I halved the amount of cheese sauce and used 2 burrito sized tortillas and it turned out perfect. I used to eat quesadillas all the time in college because they are super quick and easy. Finding this recipe and having it taste so good makes me happy!

Lemon Garlic Pasta, Lemon Green Beans, and Chick'n Tenders

This was another throw-together-what-we-have-in-the-house dinner. The pasta is from Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan. It's tasty and super easy: you don't have to chop anything! For the green beans I just covered them with a bit of olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and baked them along with the chick'n (Gardein). I cut up the chick'n pieces and tossed them with my pasta and it was very tasty that way.

Donuts: Fail

So, my same visiting friend wanted to try out making some donuts for breakfast. I had received a donut pan for Christmas and hadn't used it yet, so I was quite excited as well. We used this recipe from VeganYumYum; we didn't make minis so this made 6 regular sized donuts. We ran into a number of problems. Despite being told not to spray the nonstick pan that probably would have been a great idea because my first attempt at getting one donut out was it breaking into several pieces because it was stuck in parts to the bottom. They were also not very sturdy. It said they wouldn't be golden on top but a tester will come out clean, so that's when I took them out, but they were very fragile. When glazing we couldn't dip them for fear of them breaking, so we spread the glaze on, which worked fine, and then topped with sprinkles.

They turned out quite adorable. However, they didn't taste that way. I took one bite and all I could taste was salt. I didn't eat anymore after that and just made some toast for breakfast. Everyone else thought they tasted alright but were nothing amazing and would have preferred if they held up a bit more. All well. I've tried this recipe from VegWeb before to good results, I think I'll try it in the donut pans instead of muffin tins next time.

Raspberry Mojitos

Whenever we have game night at our house mojitos are on the menu. I don't remember how this came to be, but it works for me (that rhymes, ha). We've tweaked the ingredients around several times and have found one that we now use every time. This time we threw in some raspberries, when blackberries are in season I like that even better.

Raspberry Mojito

makes one large cocktail (about 16 oz with ice)

1/2 lime (either squeeze juice into glass or toss in wedges)
12 mint leaves
6 raspberries, plus additional for garnish
1 oz simple syrup (or 1/2-3/4 oz agave nectar)
2 oz white rum
4 oz sparkling water

Add lime juice or wedges to glass along with mint leaves, raspberries, and simple syrup. Muddle everything together with a spoon (if using lime wedges really push on them to get the juice out). Add rum, sparkling water, and ice to glass. Stir. Garnish with additional raspberries and serve. These are easiest to drink with a straw.


Peanut Butter Chocolate Pillows

A good friend from college came to visit this weekend and knew that she wanted to make some cookies. I sat her down with VCIYCJ and this is the recipe she decided on. I'd also had my eye on these but thought that they looked like a bit too much work for standard cookie baking times. They do take a bit more time to prepare as first the peanut butter balls need to be rolled out and then covered in the chocolate dough, but the results were fabulous. We had a couple other friends over for a game night and they all got happily gobbled up.

I thought they looked more like UFOs than pillows. Luckily, they tasted like neither.

Polenta with White Beans, Braised Kale and Roasted Pears

Here's another recipe where the original looked so pretty and I kind of made a mess of it. This dish is from Vegan Dad. I didn't want to dirty extra dishes by shaping the polenta in muffin tins, and I wanted more kale piled on so I just spooned everything on top of the kale. I made this for two by quartering the polenta portion, kept the white bean portion the same except for using a 15 oz can of beans, used an entire bunch of kale (I added lemon juice in addition to white wine and salt), and 1 pear. I also topped this with some chopped almonds for some crunch. It was very tasty and despite having so many different parts really fairly simple to throw together. I would be very happy to eat this again.

Gardein "Chicken" Scaloppini with Shiitake Sake Sauce, Braised Pea Shoots, and Crispy Udon Noodle Cakes

I'm no Chef Tal, and I may not be able to reach his level of presentation, but I was definitely able to enjoy this dish looking the way I threw it together. I decided not to make circles out of the cooked udon noodles because it seemed wasteful to me and that pretty much killed the presentation right there. Gardein is still pretty new, so it can be hard to find. I wasn't able to find the Chick'n Fillets which are fresh, and instead used the Chick'n Scaloppini, so I left it in one piece since they couldn't be cut while frozen. I subbed creminis for shiitakes because I couldn't find those right now either. I also used vegetable broth instead of faux chicken stock. But anyway, everything else was the same! Oh, except I didn't use as much Earth Balance for the sake sauce either because I didn't think it was necessary. And that sauce was good!

This dish tasted amazing. It was the first thing I've made from this book, and reading this recipe was actually the reason I bought it, so I'm glad it lived up to its high hopes. As soon as we were done eating this my boyfriend said: "you can definitely make this one again!" Sounds like a winner to me.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day: Red Wine Spaghetti with Broccoli Rabe and Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

Since most restaurants are overcrowded and underwhelming on Valentine's Day I prefer to make our own seductive meal. This year I decided to go with this beautifully colored pasta from the Food Network. It uses an entire bottle of red wine, so this can be as cheap or as expensive as you like really. The spaghetti gets cooked in the wine and just soaks up all the color. It also takes on a delicious sweet flavor. The broccolini gets cooked in olive oil, garlic, and red peppers then everything is added together for this showstopping dish. I just omitted the Parmesan; my boyfriend covered his in Parma, so it could go that route too. It was very tasty, and if you couldn't tell yet I thought it was very pretty! We served this with some garlic bread (I didn't think ahead with using all that garlic though, we both had lovely breath for the rest of the evening).

For dessert I dipped some cleaned, prepped strawberries in chocolate and put in the fridge to set. Fantastic! So simple and yet so amazingly tasting; whomever thought up dipping fruit in chocolate I applaud you. Luckily we have several more of these in the fridge for later.

Chocolate Orange Marmalade Muffins

I'm not too good at waking up; I really like to sleep. So weekends are nice because we can sleep in and still have time to make something tasty for breakfast before getting on with the day. Here is a muffin from 500 Vegan Recipes. It was a very delicate looking muffin with the bits of orange peel from the marmalade showing; they were also very decadent with chocolate chips inside. While I thought that these were very good they were a bit acidic. I'm guessing that's from the marmalade, so next time I might try these with either a different brand or a different type of jam altogether and see what happens.

Sweet and Sour Tofu with Asparagus and Carrots

Knowing I had some asparagus on hand to be used up I gave my boyfriend the option of pasta or some sort of stir fry. We tossed around ideas for how to do the stir fry and eventually ended up with this. I used the tofu and sweet and sour sauce recipe from Vegan Yum Yum (I pressed the tofu in the TofuXpress because of the lackluster results when I tried this last: here). In lieu of broccoli I cut and steamed the asparagus and then tossed shredded carrots in as well. We served it all on a bed of quinoa. This was fabulous! I really liked the sweet of the carrots with the sauce and also that they were still crunchy. We ate every last bite.

Peanut Sesame Hummus

This hummus from Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan is incredibly satisfying. In lieu of tahini it uses peanut butter and toasted sesame oil. There are also some red pepper flakes so it's got a bit of a kick. All of the hummus recipes I've tried from this book have been amazing (another favorite is the Black Bean Orange) and are quickly devoured!

Fried Rice and Spring Rolls

Having some leftover cooked rice and a craving for many different vegetables I decided that fried rice and veggie spring rolls would suit perfectly. A lady from work gave me a box of soya nuggets a while back, so I decided to experiment with them in this recipe as well. For the rice I sauteed ginger and garlic along with the puffed soya nuggets (they required boiling, sitting, and draining first) then added a hot red pepper and two zucchini. Once those were soft I threw in the rice and some shelled edamame. For seasoning I just used a bottled Bul Go Ki sauce (Korean marinade reminiscent of a sesame teriyaki).

For the spring rolls I cooked up some rice noodles and wrapped those up with sliced cucumber, shredded carrot, avocado, mung bean sprouts and mint leaves. We whipped up a batch of the peanut sauce from Vegan Lunch Box to go with. Yum! Some of the leftover peanut sauce and noodles got thrown together with some more cucumber, carrots, and sprouts for my lunch the next day.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Chocolate Beer Waffles

This was my first attempt at waffles (I received a waffle iron as a belated Christmas present). I don't believe we could have picked a more delicious test subject than these from Vegan Brunch. These were amazing, eliciting oohs from my boyfriend. I used a light beer rather than a dark/porter because that's what we had in the fridge. They had a great deep chocolate flavor and a berry sauce would have been over-the-top amazing with these. We ate them with Earth Balance and maple syrup. I was going to make a strawberry sauce but having never made waffles before I screwed up on the timing and didn't have a chance to get to the sauce before the waffles were finishing up. Next time!

Mashed Potatoes and Broccoli with Punk Rock Chickpea Gravy and Soy Nuggets

It's always interesting when you get to the end of the week and you've used up the majority of fresh items in your house. I didn't feel like running to the store, so this was the result, not too shabby. I just boiled and mashed some yellow potatoes, steamed some broccoli, heated up soy nuggets (from Trader Joe's) and made the Punk Rock Chickpea Gravy from Vegan with a Vengeance. I'd never made this gravy before, but it reminded me of the Chickpea Noodle soup from Veganomicon. It had the same chickpea meets onion flavor. The amount of onion is what I didn't love about this gravy. The onions were cut into slices which I think after having tasted it is too big for this sauce. It had a great taste though and it's a very clever way to get protein from gravy (just like in her white bean gravy), go Isa!

Dragon Rice Bowl

I should have gotten a photo of this before the miso gravy was added, but all well. This is another fabulous recipe from ReFresh and a favorite in our house because of its tastiness. It consists of brown rice, grilled zucchini, tomatoes and marinated tofu, miso gravy and toasted sesame seeds. Besides marinating the tofu and making the rice this all comes together in a few minutes.

The gravy is a nutritional yeast and miso paste sauce and it compliments the tofu and vegetables wonderfully.

Double Chocolate Almond Explosion Cookies

There's something special about Dreena Burton's cookies; they're always so fantastic! It's a good thing her recipes make only 10-12 because they are always polished off in less than 24 hours (Once I made her Chocolate Chunk Spice Cookies when a couple friends were over and the four of us finished them all before they even got cool). I fear what having more around would do.

These cookies from Vive Le Vegan are also a winner. The chocolate cookie with chocolate chips inside and toasted almonds to set them They taste very decadent. When they were gone (so two days later) I was asked to make them again, so I did yesterday and now there are two left. Her cookies are so good it's not even fair really. We don't buy sweets so we make a fair amount of cookies (they're quick and store easily), probably once every couple weeks, so I'll have to make a point of trying the rest of Dreena's recipes.

Macadamia Nut-Encrusted Tofu and Gingered Chard

Both of these items are from The 30-Minute Vegan. The tofu has a tahini and crushed macadamia nut topping. There were some leftovers of this that I had for lunch the next day and I think it tasted even better the next day after the flavors had time to come together more.

The chard was cooked up with tons of fresh ginger (about 2 tablespoons minced). Large amounts of ginger always leaves a weird feeling on my teeth, but nevertheless this was great.

This book is great when I don't feel like spending much time in the kitchen but still want something healthy and satisfying for dinner.

Sesame Asparagus

Besides roasting the spears in a little bit of olive oil and lemon juice, this is my favorite way to prepare asparagus. This recipe is from Vegan with a Vengeance and the sesame and crushed pepper flavors compliment the asparagus so well, especially with any Asian-type meal. We served this up with some takeout from our local mostly vegetarian Southeast Asian restaurant, Charlie Hong Kong. Good stuff.