Monday, April 19, 2010

"Fronch" Toast

Does anyone else think vegan french toast tastes even better than "regular" french toast?! It's so crazy-amazing it shocks me almost every time. My favorite recipe is this one from Vegan with a Vengeance. I halve the recipe and it makes the perfect amount for two people. I also add a bit of cinnamon, because why not? I served it up with some yummy sliced strawberries and maple syrup.

Cranberry-Hibiscus Cooler

Sorry for the fuzzy picture, I'd already been sipping on one of these before deciding to photograph another. This was a "I-want-to-drink-but-I-don't-want-to-go-to-the-liquor-store-for-a-real-mixer" sort of cocktail. I just used what I found in the fridge and it was actually really good (others agreed, it wasn't just because I was drunk, geez).

Cranberry-Hibiscus Cooler

makes one cocktail

1 part Vodka
2 parts Cranberry-Hibiscus juice (ours was from Trader Joe's)
2 parts Ginger Ale (ours: Diet Hansen's)

Add all liquids to glass with ice, stir, enjoy.

I imagine this would taste great with many other kinds of juice as well, go nuts!

Black Bean Burgers and Roasted Potatoes and Carrots

Needing to use up some of the bowlful of artichoke dipping sauce I was thinking of complimentary flavors and came up with black bean burgers. These are from Veganomicon. I really like this recipe because it's simple and good; they have lots of onion and spice going for them, and while I'm not normally a big onion fan in these it really works well. The recipe makes 6 burgers, but they freeze well, so that's what I did with my extras. For fixin's we had the sauce, roasted red peppers (which I roasted at the same time as the potatoes and carrots), lettuce, and tomatoes. The veggies were roasted for about 40 minutes, until browned and tender.

Chickpea Cutlets with Mustard Sauce and Artichokes with Tangy Dipping Sauce

We've got the super-jumbo artichokes in season here; they can almost be a whole meal in and of themselves but I wanted some protein to go with, so I threw together the always good chickpea cutlets from Veganomicon. The mustard gravy (also from V'con) is what we always serve with these, the flavors just go together superbly. I've been reading PinkVegan's blog, she's cooking her way through all the recipes in The Vegan Table and The Conscious Cook, to see what I want to make next from both of these books. A while back she made the tangy dipping sauce for artichokes and it went over well with her family; it sounded great and I'd been wanting to try it. That's the sauce in the background of my picture, I halved the recipe, and it still made a whole lot. I used basil as my herb of choice and it was super good. It was creamy and definitely tangy--it tasted great on the artichokes. We had a lot of this sauce left; I used some of it in an upcoming dinner post and I'll have to think of something/s for the rest (it's mostly Vegenaise, so it makes a great spread).

Mango and Avocado Salad with Black Beans and Lime Vinaigrette

This was my contribution to a Spring-themed potluck with some lovely people from the PPK. I've made this salad (from Whole Foods) while at my parents' house in Florida before and it's super tasty (that time it was for four people, so I halved the recipe. This time it was for a whole lot of people so I doubled it). I don't add the full amount of olive oil because it's just not necessary--just enough to give the dressing some thickness is good. I also add lettuce to give some more textures to the salad (crunchy vs the softness of the avocado, mango, and black beans--good stuff). By the end of the night it was all eaten up, so I'm guessing other people enjoyed it too!

Olive Oregano Wine-Baked Tofu and Roasted Asparagus

Sometimes after getting home from work and getting things done around the house I just want to chill. That chilling can then extend a bit too far to make a well-planned out dinner. This was one of those nights. I looked at what I had available and having remembered reading about this tofu dish on Dreena Burton's blog I decided to go for it. I left out the grapes and used kalamata olives, but otherwise followed the recipe. The flavor of this dish is amazing, so tasty! What I didn't really care for was the amount of dried herbs in it; they had a tendency to get stuck in my mouth or throat and feel gross, so next time I might sub fresh. There was also quite a bit of sauce from the wine, sundried tomatoes, and olives, so pasta or rice might make a good base for this. I love that asparagus is back in season! This was just roasted in the oven (alongside the tofu since the oven was set to 400 degrees for that anyway) with some olive oil, lemon juice and salt for flavor. Yum!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Spinach-Herb Stuffed Mushrooms and Sauteed Broccolini

These fabulous mushrooms were one of the first things I made from The 30-Minute Vegan when I first got it some time ago. They're stuffed with spinach, fresh basil (I omitted parsley and doubled the basil), yellow bell pepper, thyme, garlic, and bread crumbs (normally cubes but I have a whole bag of crumbs in the freezer so I subbed). In order to pull this together so quickly the mushrooms are broiled to get them tender before they're stuffed. The veggies were supposed to be sauteed, but because I have trouble paying attention and following directions when I'm trying to do to many things (read: shopping online), I ended up roasting them in the broiler--it was a bit of an "oh shit" moment when I realized what I'd done, but it worked out just fine. Once the veggies were soft they were combined with the bread then put on the mushrooms for one more visit to the broiler. The mushrooms don't come out quite as tasty as if they were marinated and then baked, but in combination with the filling they're scrumptious. For the broccolini I just steamed it, placed in an ice bath to stop cooking, set aside, then sauteed fresh minced garlic and red pepper flakes until fragrant, added the broccolini until warm again, tossed in some toasted pine nuts and a squeeze of lemon juice and it was good to go. I let it steam too long in my lack of cooking concentration so it was a bit overdone, but good.


Now that Daiya is available for our melty pleasure I had to recreate an old favorite: cheesy enchiladas. There is nothing healthy about these, but I had to try it!

Cheesy Enchiladas

makes as many as you want (we made 6)

flour tortillas, medium size
enchilada sauce, canned or homemade (we used canned)
Daiya cheese
Chicken-less strips, chopped (we got these at Trader Joe's, Gardein also makes some)
canned diced green chiles

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Pour enough sauce in baking dish to cover bottom
2. Pour a good amount of sauce on either a plate or in a pie dish for coating tortillas
3. Heat 1 tortilla on a skillet, once warm coat with sauce
4. Move saucy tortilla to baking dish. Add cheese, chick'n, and chiles. Roll up
5. Repeat steps 3&4 until number of desired enchiladas are formed
6. Pour sauce over top of rolled enchiladas. Top with more cheese and chiles
7. Cover dish with foil, bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 10-15 minutes more

We served these up with refried beans. I'll be honest, these kinda freaked me out. If I hadn't made them myself I would have wondered what was in them; the meltiness of the Daiya cheese is gonna take me a while to get used to after not having that texture available for so long. The flavor was great though and they were even better as leftovers.

California Classic Salad and Garlic Bread

This salad, from ReFresh, is one of the most amazing ever; it's a favorite around here and we make it often. The greens are dressed with a simple vinaigrette; this time I used equal parts extra-virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and nutritional yeast. On top are sliced hearts of palm, toasted pecans, avocado, and cherry tomatoes. It calls for white beans mixed with pesto also, but I omitted that this time (mainly because I didn't have white beans handy). It's nice and filling and all the ingredients just go together so well.

My boyfriend wanted some garlic bread also, so he whipped up this: ciabatta topped with Earth Balance, 1 clove crushed garlic, Daiya Italian blend, and chopped tomatoes--all broiled to perfection. It was pretty tasty.


I had high hopes for these brownies from the PPK. I have yet to find a vegan brownie recipe that knocks me off my feet, these had great reviews, but they still didn't quite hit the mark. Maybe the problem is that I grew up on baking mixes and had never had a number of things from scratch (let alone knew where to start in making them that way). When I bite into a brownie I'm hoping for the taste of one from a mix: the nice crispy-flaky top with the chewy insides. These were too dense, a bite or two (especially of an edge) was alright, but more than that was too much for me. This version is much better than the one I've tried from The Joy of Vegan Baking (those ones I didn't even want to eat they were spongy and I think they could have bounced if I had tried it), but I'll keep looking. The brownie recipe from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar states that it is reminiscent of a baking mix, so I'll try that one next and see what's up.

Tamarind Orange Glazed Tofu

My original plan for dinner was to make the the panko crusted tofu with tamarind raspberry glaze from The Urban Vegan. I have been wanting to make that dish since I got that book. I finally tracked down the tamarind paste at a local store, but I couldn't remember what the other necessary items were, alas I did not have all that I required so I searched out a different tamarind tofu recipe that I could do with what I had in the house. I decided on this one from poopiebitch. The only thing I did differently was before adding the sauce to the cooked tofu I added some steamed asparagus; we served it over brown rice. I thought this was just alright. It was overly sweet, as long as there wasn't too much extra sauce in a bite it was fine, but otherwise sickeningly sweet. The sauce also never really became much of a glaze for me. I left it to cook for longer than the 5 minutes but nothing much happened, maybe some corn starch or arrowroot would have helped this along, but I gave up because my asparagus was starting to look quite sad from having cooked so long. Anyway, I wouldn't make this again, and I look forward to finally getting my list together and having all the ingredients to finally make the UV's version.

BBQ Gardein and Daiya wrap

I still had one Gardein product left from when I bought a whole bunch of different items that were on sale a while back: BBQ pulled shreds. We heated it up according to directions, then piled into a warm tortilla with some melted Daiya, lettuce, and bell pepper. These were incredibly satisfying. I'm not normally a big fan of barbecue sauce, but the sauce that is used on these is quite good. I liked having the bell pepper for a strong flavor against the sauce and along with the lettuce provided for some nice crunch. With the one package of shreds we were able to make 3 wraps, so it goes quite a ways, which is always a plus. Nice quick lunch!

Blueberry Orange Muffins

Some mornings (read: weekends) it's nice to forgo the morning smoothie and have something sweeter and less wholesome. This muffin recipe is from The Joy of Vegan Baking and originally called for lemon zest, I substituted orange. Citrus complements blueberry so well, so naturally these taste great. They do start to get really soggy after a couple days, so whatever doesn't get eaten in the first day or so probably won't get eaten. Next time I might just halve the recipe, then it'd work out better for us.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Beanball Subs (or Daiya Dish #1)

Having never had a meatball sub before I have no idea where this craving came from. I blame the cheese. I don't really care for the taste of a lot of mock meats, so I went with the beanball recipe from Veganomicon for this. They were excellent.

Beanball Subs

makes 2 sandwiches

1/2 recipe beanballs (from Veganomicon, p. 189)
1 cup pizza or marinara sauce
1/2 green bell pepper, sliced
2 sandwich rolls (we used ciabatta), sliced
Daiya to taste

1. Make beanballs according to directions. Begin to bake.
2. Chop bell pepper. Place pieces on baking sheet with beanballs.
3. During last 5 minutes of baking add pizza sauce to baking sheet.
4. Place bread in oven on separate baking sheet.
5. After 5 minutes remove everything from the oven.
6. Change oven setting to broil.
7. Stir sauce, beanballs and bell pepper to combine. Pile onto one side of each roll.
8. Sprinkle Daiya on both sides of bread. Return to oven.
9. Remove when bread is slightly browned and cheese is bubbly. Cut in half.


Holy Gigantic Bag of Daiya, Batman!!!

Well said, Robin! So, yeah that's a lot of Daiya. It's 5 pounds, and it's in my house, and it was free! As of April first every Whole Foods in the nation is carrying retail bags of Daiya (that's not what this is though). I'd tried it at Amici's Pizzeria before and it was melty gooey goodness, so once it was locally available I had to have some. I went to my local WF on April second determined to get some. I searched near where the other vegan cheeses are, I searched near the dairy cheese and the pre-sliced meat and pre-shredded cheese area, all to no avail. I finally asked an employee and he told me that they'd gotten in the wrong order, a five-pound bag of each type), and wouldn't have it available for sale for another week or so. I asked if I could possibly buy a pound out of the bag and he said he'd see what he could do. He comes back out with both enormous bags and says that I'd have to take the whole thing, so which one do I want. I'm thinking "crap, what am I gonna do with all that cheese?!" But, instead I say "I'll take the Italian Blend." He whips out his handy-dandy sharpie and writes the magic words "customer sample" and tells me they're just gonna give it to me since they can't use it! Vegan score of the month possibly?! The use by date on this baby is June, so hopefully we'll come up with some creative uses for all that cheese. If anyone is in the Santa Cruz area and wants some, I'd be happy to share.

Chickpea Soup with Saffron and Mushroom-Almond Garnish

It's been really cold here. It feels like winter again, so I wanted a nice potato soup. This recipe from Whole Foods sounded interesting so I gave it a go. I made only a half batch and I left out the parsley. Most of the potatoes and chickpeas were left in rounds or whole (in that order, obviously) so in addition to the topping there was a lot of texture which was nice. Without the mushroom and almond topping I think this would probably be terribly boring; the buttery flavor of the mushrooms (cremini) went great with the potatoes and I already knew that almonds and chickpeas went well together, so all the flavors complimented beautifully. It wasn't terribly exciting and I'm not sure if I'd make it again, but it satisfied, came together quickly, and it was good and warm.

Chana Masala, Spinach, Rice and Naan

Using the Indian style spinach recipe from Alternative Vegan, the Chana Masala recipe from The Vegan Table, and the naan recipe from The Joy of Vegan Baking I was able to make full-blown Indian feast for dinner. The spinach we make often and is a real winner, so full of flavor. I'd never used this chana masala recipe before, but it didn't disappoint. Since the naan took several hours to make (mix, rise, roll, bake) I let the chana simmer for a while to give it more flavor. Every twenty to thirty minutes I would add more water and stir. It was on the stove for a good two to three hours; it had tons of flavor and left the house smelling amazing. I added a bit of plain soy yogurt at the end to give it some creaminess. I would have liked for it to have been a bit spicier, so next time I'll add some chili peppers. The naan didn't turn out as I had hoped. It had great flavor and tasted pretty authentic but the texture was all wrong. It was too dense. There are lots of recipes for naan on the internet so I'll have to try a different one next time to see if I can find something closer to what I've had in restaurants (pre-vegan, since I've been unable to find it anywhere without ghee or milk in it). I served this up with some brown rice instead of the more traditional basmati. Of course, when we ate this we just mixed everything up together and scooped it up with bread, but it looks nice all separated like that. Leftovers of Indian food are always fabulous because the spices just continue to mix together--great lunch the next day!

Chocaholic Easter Basket

Thanks Mom and Dad! This arrived on my doorstep earlier this week, from Pangea Vegan Store. Needless to say it has already been dug into and what's been tasted has been amazing. That dark chocolate spread is so tasty it's almost evil. I ate some on toast with boysenberry jam and my boyfriend had some on fresh strawberries. The Whizzers Chocolate Beans are reminiscent of M&M's; it would be so nice if these were more readily available here (they're from the UK) because they're really good and M&M's used to be one of my favorite candies. The Belgian Chocolates were also pretty amazing.

It was pretty awesome to have an entire basket full of chocolates that I already knew I could eat (no endless reading of ingredients). It's great that there are so many vegan stores online now. I look forward to enjoying the rest of the goodies (although I did have to move them to a cabinet I can't reach without standing on a chair to keep me from polishing them off).