Saturday, August 21, 2010

Lettuce Wraps

A couple of my good friends got married recently. They always tell me how much they love my food, so for their gift I made them a cookbook. Another friend told me about this site,, so that's where I organized everything and had it printed up. It turned out beautifully; if anyone's interested in making up a cookbook, I'd definitely recommend Tastebook.

I went through all my cookbooks to pick out the best of the best recipes, and it was hard to narrow it down. I also found new ones I wanted to try, like these lettuce wraps above from The Vegan Table. It makes up a tofu and pepper mixture (I added some shiitake mushrooms), and a sauce which gets combined with cucumber, basil, and of course hot sauce in a lettuce leaf. These were pretty good. The tofu mixture was a bit watery, so I'd recommend pressing the tofu real well before cooking. Water chestnuts would have made a good addition to the tofu mixture as well.

Chinese Tofu Salad

This salad here is one of my favorites. Growing up my mom would make Chinese Chicken salad; this is similar, but even better--sorry mom! For the base we've just got some cut up Romaine lettuce, cucumber, and normally oranges but I didn't have any so this time I subbed golden raisins. For the tofu I just pressed it, then covered it in a mixture of flour, cornstarch, nutritional yeast, salt, and pepper. After dredging, I cooked it up until crispy--good stuff. I used the sesame dressing recipe from How it all Vegan and topped with additional sesame seeds, both black and white. Just writing this has made me want this again...

Cherry Banana Breakfast Bomb

I had just a few cherries left hanging around, so I blended them up with some plain soy yogurt and banan. Then I just topped it with the rest of the banana and some cacao nibs. Not the most amazing breakfast I've ever whipped up but tasty and pretty nonetheless.

Italian Rice and Beans and Glazed Green Bean Salad

Here's another Vegan Yum Yum dish, this one had better results than the last. The rice had great flavors with sundried tomatoes, navy beans, pine nuts, and lemon zest. The leftovers were great too.

I found these Chinese long beans at the store, they looked super fun and so I wanted to try them out.
I decided to try this green bean salad (also from VYY) and it was alright, but a bit too sweet for my taste; guess I'll credit the maple syrup for that one. I've tried this version of green bean salad before and preferred it.

Lime Peanut Noodles with Seitan, Kale, and Carrots

Since I'm such a whiz at making seitan now, I wanted to try another new dish featuring it. This is from the Vegan Yum Yum cookbook. This was nothing special, but was easy and quick. I think frying up the seitan a bit would have made a great improvement, as was everything was a bit soft and there were no great textural differences. Some sriracha on top was the perfect accompaniment.

Happy Birthday S'more Cupcakes

My birthday was the end of May. I had a lovely girls' night, we went out for dinner, drinks, and to see Sex and the City 2. While the movie wasn't as fun as I was hoping, the company sure was. My boyfriend took advantage of the fact that all the ladies were out and arranged a guys' night at our place. That fact made it even sweeter that he took time to find a recipe, shop, and make cupcakes during that time. These are the s'more cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. I knew something was up when he called me to ask which store had vegan graham crackers. Now he's not the most experienced in the kitchen, so these ended up a little undercooked in the middle and the frosting was too thin, but the thought left me speechless. I came home with my friends to him shaving chocolate on the tops, it was adorable!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Spicy Tortilla Casserole with Roasted Poblanos and Chile-Lime Corn on the Cob

This dish from Viva Vegan! sounded like it had so much promise and I couldn't wait to make it. With spicy in the title and pine nut crema baked on top it sounded like it couldn't go wrong, but it did. It just wasn't anything special; it's the first recipe from this book to make me feel that way, so that's not too bad, but it was disappointing. It was dry and even with the roasted peppers, homemade sauce using fresh ingredients, pepitas and the crema, it was a bit bland. If there had been some sort of enchilada sauce to go on top this might have been alright. I just doused it in hot sauce/salsa, but unfortunately we didn't touch the leftovers. Next time I'm in the mood for something like this I'll make up the whole enchilada casserole from Vegan Fusion World Cuisine, that one's so good. Here are some in-progress shots of the sauce:

With the casserole I served some fresh summer corn, boiled and then served with squeezed fresh lime juice and chile powder. I got the serving idea from Fat Free Vegan. It was awesome, the flavors went so well together; I like it better than with Earth Balance. Pretty sure this will be my new favorite way to eat fresh corn. Although, I recently went to Gracias Madre and they had their own amazing version: chipotle cashew cream and cilantro--wow. Alright, there are lots of good ways to serve up some corn, but I'm loving this whole spicy thing.

Hawaiian-Style Sweet-and-Sour Roasted Pineapple, Brown Rice, and Baby Bok Choy

This pineapple recipe is from the May/June issue of Vegetarian Times. It looked fantastic and it didn't disappoint. My boyfriend, who doesn't even like pineapple, loved it as well. The roasting caramelized the fruit and it brought out the flavor and provided some crispy bits. Also within were red bell peppers and red onions, all the flavors went together wonderfully. It was great over rice, but it wasn't necessary. The only negative to this dish, like most roasted dishes is that it gets cold so fast. On the side was ume vinegar sprinkled baby bok choy. Yummy.

Here's another pre-roasting beauty shot:

Amaretto Amore Cookies

I was in the mood for a different type of cookie and couldn't find anything that sounded quite right. Instead, I found a recipe that sounded promising and tweaked it to suit my cravings. I started with the recipe for Booze it Up cookies from 500 Vegan Recipes. I used the recipe from the book, which apparently had a typo, it was missing cornstarch. I think that would make a good addition to my version as well as they could definitely use a little thickener. I'm adding it to the recipe below. Amaretto makes a great drink, so of course it made a great cookie. Trader Joe's has a great low-priced bottle.

Amaretto Amore Cookies
makes about 18 cookies

1/4 cup + 3 tablespoons canola oil
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup almond butter
3/4 cup Amaretto
1/2 tablespoon almond extract
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup spelt flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 tablespoon corn starch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat baking sheets.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the canola oil, sugar, almond butter, Amaretto, almond extract, and vanilla extract.
3. Add all the dry ingredients, except for the chocolate chips. Mix until well-combined.
4. Add chocolate chips.
5. Place well-rounded spoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheets. Place in the preheated oven and bake for about 16 minutes. Let cool slightly and then transfer to a cooling rack before enjoying.

For even more almond love, add some chopped roasted almonds to either the batter or on top before baking.

Latin Feast: Arroz con seitan, Braised Brazilian Shredded Kale, and Black Beans

Oh. My. God. This rice dish is one of the most amazing things I've ever eaten. It tasted like it came from an amazing restaurant, but even better because it came from my own home. The beautiful coloring came from achiote paste, and the addition of green olives and capers gave an unexpected flavor combination. I used the steamed white seitan for this dish. So yeah, it's amazing and if you or a friend has Viva Vegan! I suggest you make this right away. Let's see a close up of this beauty:

Served alongside was another recipe from the book, braised Brazilian shredded kale. It was also very good, with onions and nice smoky flavor from the addition of liquid smoke. To round everything out we also made the black beans from Veganomicon. I like this simple recipe because it doesn't take much: a can of black beans, an onion, a bay leaf, and that's about it. The beans can just sit on a burner while you're busy cooking other things.

Leftover Mix Plate

Here are some more of the roasted veggies and quinoa, I sure made a lot. I served it up with some fresh strawberries, whole wheat pita, and hummus from Vive le Vegan! This was a nice little grab bag of a dinner, but it all worked out well together. This hummus recipe has become my favorite when I'm in the mood for something basic. It's got a fabulous garlic and lemon aftertaste that I love. Once made I sprinkle with a little extra virgin olive oil and paprika. It's great served with carrots, cucumbers, warm tortillas, or just about anything.

Banana Soft Serve

So this amazing stuff has been making the rounds in the blogosphere. I believe it originated here, at Choosing Raw. Consider me smitten. It's so simple, just take a frozen banana or two, break it up a bit into the food processor and process until smooth. Tastes just like ice cream! It's great with toppings too:

So far I've limited these to breakfast, topping with Marley's Hemp Granola in the top photo and overnight oats and cacao nibs in the second. For the version with the overnight oats, I added 1 tablespoon almond butter to the food processor along with the banana. I'm sure the soft serve would be awesome as dessert with some chocolate syrup, nuts, whatever suits your fancy. It's also really good with fresh cherries:

This really tastes so good it's ridiculous. Kudos and total props to the person who figured this out!

Creamy Sweet Potato Bake

This dish is from the Vegan Yum Yum cookbook. It definitely had potential, but I screwed it up. I grabbed yams because sweet potatoes were not available at the grocery store and little to my knowledge there are quite a few differences. For one, yams are much drier, and herein lay the problem. The casserole was pasta, spiced cream sauce (hints of nutmeg, yum), kale, and topped with bread crumbs. The yams really sucked to moisture out of everything so they were a bit tough to eat, but it all tasted great. We'll definitely have to give this one another go, using the correct ingredients next time.

Let's play catch-up shall we?! First up, Roasted Vegetables with Quinoa and Balsamic Vinaigrette

Lucky day! I got out of class at 1 o'clock today and had the rare opportunity to not study or drill on plastic teeth in plastic heads and just enjoy myself (doing laundry and cleaning up my computer...but it felt good to get things done! And I got to watch "Bones" while I did so, which is so nerdy that it feeds my soul--and the lead is vegan, which is awesome). I haven't been cooking or experimenting quite as much as normal lately, but I've still got all sorts of good stuff that have been made in the last couple months. This will be a long series of posts...

Back a couple months ago was a simple dinner of roasted veggies on a bed of quinoa and dressed with the better than bottled balsamic vinaigrette from Oh She Glows. I just walked around the grocery store and picked out whatever struck my fancy. We got red bell pepper, yellow squash, zucchini, asparagus, and japanese eggplant. Look at those beauties all cut up and ready to cook. I just sprinkled with a little olive oil and salt and cooked at 400 degrees until tender, a little over 30 minutes, tossing once during roasting.

This turned out great. The leftover veggies and dressing were perfect over lettuce and made a great salad.