Thursday, December 31, 2009

Tofu Florentine

We ate this deliciousness around 11:30 and won't need to eat again until dinner tonight!!! Except for maybe a leftover chocolate cupcake, or two! It was so filling and rich and nutritious. The recipe comes from the Veganomicon cookbook (of course! All recent recipes have been from this amazing book!) You can serve it with an English Muffin or over Diner Home Fries. I was unable to find English Muffins here in Vienna, so I opted for the potatoes. I did not follow the book's suggested recipe, but instead made Garlic Homefries, a recipe we have made many times in the past and love. The broiled tofu was simple: cut a block of tofu into 16 triangles, dip in a mixture of water, soy sauce, garlic, and lemon juice, broil for 10 minutes, spoon a bit more dip on top and broil for 3 more minutes. I sauteed a bag of pre-washed spinach in a tablespoon of vegan butter and sliced a tomato. The cheezy sauce is amazing and will get made again for macaroni, nachos, raw veggies, a spoon....Great stuff. Excellent brunch option.

Chickpea Cutlets with White Bean Aioli and Bulgur, Spinach, and Cannellini Salad

All three recipes were taken from the Veganomicon cookbook. I have had this cookbook for a few years. It was given to me by a friend that was moving, not vegan, and cleaning out her cookbook shelf. Only recently have I started using it...daily! It is a wonderful vegan resource and although there are a few recipes that don't quite make sense or take an astronomical amount of time, I have plans to continue picking through its recipes.
The Chickpea Cutlets were very easy to prepare and sat in the refrigerator for a few hours waiting patiently to be cooked. I worried that they would dry out, but this did not happen. I fried them in olive oil on the stove. Next time, I will bake them. They cooked a bit too fast and the insides remained very chewy. The good news is, I definitely will make these again in the future. I substituted the Vital Wheat Gluten for plain wheat flour and the lemon zest for lime.
On the side of the cutlets, we had White Bean Aioli. Another very simple, versatile, delicious recipe but an extremely strong garlic flavor. We loved it but, I would be cautious serving it to guests!!!
And for the side dish, Bulgur, Spinach, and Cannellini Salad. It was supposed to be arugula but I had a craving for spinach instead. My bulgur was also a combination of quinoa and bulgur but cooked exactly the same as the recipe instructed. I did not have red wine vinegar, but used apple cider instead. It worked out just fine!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Chocolate Cupcakes with Coconut Pecan Fudge Frosting

John and I recently returned from a trip to Paris for Christmas. While traveling home, we stopped for a layover in Zurich. John was completely obsessed with buying a chocolate bar there. Swiss chocolate, blah, blah! I was not really into it, so I declined to buy one for myself. He never ate his, we got home, and he returned to work leaving me home alone with said chocolate bar. Needless to say, he caught me only because I left the wrapper on the counter. So, to make up for this candy bar robbery, I made him a delicious dessert. This cupcake recipe is the most amazing ever. The frosting is heaven on earth. And, served with soy vanilla bean ice cream, I can think of (or taste) nothing more divine!

Spinach Noodle Kugel with Lentil Salad

Both recipes are in the Veganomicon cookbook. The book suggests serving the two together, which John and I agreed is a fantastic combo of flavors. For the Kugel, boil 3 cups pasta. Set aside. Let 30 oz of frozen spinach thaw and drain in a colander. In a food processor, mix 12 oz tofu, 1 cup veggie broth, and 2 Tbsp olive oil. Add this tofu mixture to 1 1/4 cup matzo meal (or bread crumbs!), the drained spinach, the cooked pasta, 1 onion diced, 1/4 cup fresh dill, 2 Tbsp lemon juice, 3/4 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper. Spread it out in a greased 9x13 dish and bake for about 30 minutes at 350. Next time, I will top with sauteed shallots, per John's suggestion!
The Lentil Salad was so amazing! I can't wait to eat leftovers for lunch today! I made a few adjustments to the recipe based on the ingredients I had or could find. Boil 1 cup lentils (I used Beluga aka black lentils) in the combo of 4 cups veggie broth, 2 Tbsp dried thyme, 2 bay leaves, 2 cloves crushed garlic, 1/2 tsp tarragon, and 1/4 tsp salt. When the beans are done, drain in a mesh colander to reserve the spices and remove the bay leaves. Let the beans cool. Make a dressing of 3 Tbsp olive oil, 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar, 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard, 1 Tbsp lemon juice, and 1 garlic clove crushed. Pour this over the cooled beans. I strayed from the recipe which called for radishes and carrots (I actually am not a huge fan of either) and added a chopped red pepper and orange pepper, a diced red onion and a chopped tomato. When all of this was mixed, it went into the fridge for about a half hour and was served with Endive leaves. I could go on forever about how wonderful this salad was!!!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Snickerdoodle Cookies

I have made this version of Snickerdoodles a few times in the past. I really liked how they turned out this time! I under-baked them by a minute so they were soft and chewy in the center but crisp and buttery on the edges. I also used white sugar instead of my usual Sucanat so they didn't turn brown and no whole wheat flour was substituted for the all purpose, as I have done in the past.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Spring Rolls

I fell in love with making these in Portland after seeing a cooking demo with the amazing Isa Chandra Moskowitz. Basically, any ingredients can be added but the foundation should be something crunchy (nuts, seeds, etc.), something chewy or soft (tofu, potato, avocado, etc.), and anything else that sounds good and will fit in the papers!

For this batch, I used smoked tofu (I baked it in the oven for a few minutes to make it hot), sliced avocado and red pepper, walnuts, pomegranate seeds, and sprinkles of vegan parm. I normally like to throw in baby spinach, but was out. I have found that after making these at home, I never order them from restaurants anymore. Restaurants simply add carrots, lettuce, and mint. In my world of adventurous Spring Roll creation, that is just boring! The sauce is super simple and goes well with any combination of ingredients I have ever tried. I also like to add Sriracha Hot Chilli Sauce to mine to give it a little bite.

The wrapper is Rice Paper (made from tapioca flour, not rice!). The key is to get a large bowl filled with hot water(hot but not too hot that you can't stick your hands in!). Drop a rice paper in and let it get all soft and gel-like. Isa compared them to jelly fish and the resemblance is definitely there. When it is completely soft, take it out, shake the extra water off, and lay it flat. Put the ingredients in the center of the paper but don't overfill!!! Fold two parallel sides together and roll from the other side. I usually have to make about 6 of them to start because they are so delicious and if you just make one at a time, you will be annoyed with yourself! If you are making these for guests, it is fun to set up "buffet style" and let people make their own. Lots of fun!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Vegan Thanksgiving Feast!

Okay, Thanksgiving day did not turn out to be a breeze! But, I was thankful for all the work that I did ahead of time. Dinner was supposed to start at 7 but unfortunately our dinner guests got lost! So, we ended up eating around 9. Things were pretty well cooled off but we were all so hungry that we didn't let it bother us.

Harvest Canapés with Chipotle Cheese Topping
I had these little yummers set out when people arrived. I was not able to find chipotle chile in adobo sauce here so I used a mexican salsa instead. Not the same, but close enough. I also couldn't' find plain vegan cream cheese so I bought herb and garlic instead. I think it did a little something special! And, continuing the pattern of straying from the recipe, I garnished with carrots and cilantro. First, I don't like radishes, and secondly, I needed fresh cilantro for the salsa so, 2 birds, one stone.

Arugula Salad with Roasted Grapes
I just wanted to taste roasted grapes! Instead of pecorino cheese, thinly sliced, I used Sheese Cheshire crumbled. I picked it for no particular reason other than it seemed unique. I also used dried thyme instead of fresh in the dressing.

Poblano-Cucumber Salsa
Truly, I don't know why I am even calling it this. I didn't follow the recipe at all! I couldn't' find a poblano chile and I am allergic to cucumbers! I basically made a chunky guacamole.

Spicy Fall Stew Baked in a Pumpkin
I had to make some big substitutes in this recipe also! I wasn't able to find tomatillos or hominy. Instead, I used corn and beans, and a red, green, and yellow pepper. The stew was supposed to make 6 servings but I didn't feel like it was enough so I added more water, 6 potatoes and 4 carrots. I have only found one company that makes vegan cheese here and it is one I had heard about and wanted to try while living in America but never got around to. It is called Sheese. I bought the Smoked Cheddar to sprinkle in the bottom of each pumpkin before the final bake. I half pre-baked the pumpkins a day early to make it easier/faster. They only had to cook for about 45 minutes to melt the cheese and heat the pumpkin and soup before dinner.

Green Beans with Walnuts and Shallot Crisps
I made these last year. They are amazing but the shallots are a bit of a pain in the butt. Completely worth the effort though. The only change I made was using olive oil instead of vegetable. I also used my homemade "maple syrup" and it tasted wonderful!

Pomegranate and Maple-Glazed Beets
I am not a fan of cranberries but love beets so I strayed from the traditional route, but get points for similar color, right!? I was able to use my homemade "maple syrup" for this recipe also! I bought one pomegranate and decided to use my blender and make my own pomegranate juice because I knew one would be enough for the juice and the garnish (plus the juice is insanely expensive!). What a pain and a complete mess! I had to designate one sponge specifically for clean up duty. Juice was everywhere!!! I was washing parts of my kitchen that may have never been touched before.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Garlic
I am obsessed with Brussels Sprouts and have made this basic recipe hundreds of times (seriously). I always get the same response from guests, "I don't care for Brussels Sprouts." But, I have never had a person eat one and not love them when prepared correctly!

Cauliflower Purée
You have to scroll down pretty far to find this recipe but I loved it as a substitute for mashed potatoes. I found a vegan Parmazano cheese that worked well and again, used dried thyme instead of fresh.

Mexican Mocha Pudding with Pumpkin Cream

YUM!!! I was thinking of skimping out and buying some instant chocolate pudding and adding the spices and simplifying my life. But what fun would that have been? Needless to say, I am so glad I didn't. I used Sucanat for the sugar, as the recipe suggests. I found an egg replacement product called Substitut d'oeuf. The recipe calls for 1 large egg and 2 egg yolks. I basically used the equivalent of 2 eggs. The whipped pumpkin cream calls for 15 oz of canned pumpkin. I searched high and low and gave up on finding it! I ended up roasting my own pumpkin and it was delicious and easy.

Chai-Spiced Pistachio Brittle never happened. I ran out of time but did purchase all the spices and nuts, so maybe in a future post!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Apple-Squash Soup with Rosemary Crackers

My current food obsession: soup. Could it be the rainy, cold, gloomy, dare-I-say-it, miserable weather of Vienna? Yes. But dinner tonight was so easy and so delicious! We managed to eat the entire pot of soup, minus one lunch serving for John. I had two large bowls, John had three, and the rest went to work with him today. The recipe for the soup had to be adjusted a bit. I used olive oil instead of butter and veggie broth instead of chicken. And, because of the curry flavor, I decided coconut milk would be a nice addition instead of soy creamer. Today, as John was pouring the final portion into his to-go ware for lunch, he tasted a bit with his finger and said it was even better today! The crackers were also insanely easy and I chose to put rosemary on top, but they can be sprinkled with any type of spice or herb.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thanksgiving Dinner - Tomorrow!!!

Today is a busy day so that tomorrow I can work on making the house look nice, setting the table, and the final assembly of the food. And a bit of relaxing before guests arrive! So, the plan for today is as follows:

Clean and roast the 4 pumpkins for the soup bowls. (I will only half-roast because I plan to heat them and the stew up along with melting the sheese in the bottom tomorrow. I don't want them to be too mushy).
Prepare the spread for the Canapés.
Make the salsa, the dressing for the salad, the mocha pudding, the dressing for the green beans and beets, and the brittle.
Roast the grapes for the salad.

I won't add the dressings or spreads or put anything together, just have it all prepared and in air tight containers in the fridge.

It seemed like a lot to do in one day (it was!) but it all came together pretty quickly. And tomorrow will be a breeze :-)

Thanksgiving Menu

We thought it would be fun to invite a few of our new non-American friends over for Thanksgiving. John has made friends with a guy at work and he and his girlfriend will be joining us for dinner. I am so excited to meet new people and make friends! So, last week I created a spread sheet of 5 meal options and, with John's help, narrowed it down to the final menu! Most of the items come from the October 08 issue of Vegetarian Times Magazine. The meal includes:

Harvest Canapés with Chipotle Cheese Topping
Arugula Salad with Roasted Grapes
Spicy Fall Stew Baked in a Pumpkin
Poblano-Cucumber Salsa (goes on top of the stew)
Garlic Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Pomegranate and Maple-Glazed Beets
Green Beans with Walnuts and Shallot Crisps
Cauliflower Purée
and for dessert, Mexican Mocha Pudding with Pumpkin Cream and Chai-Spiced Pistachio Brittle.

The brittle is a little unnecessary but John drooled over the picture for a few minutes so I tossed it into the mix.
My first thought, this is a lot of food for 4 people. But, the stew will be baked in individual little pumpkins and, although there will be more stew to offer, I wonder if people will ask for seconds considering the massive amount of other things to choose from. Also, most of the side dishes make food for 6-8 people, but I am making half portions.
Knowing this meal was going to take quite a bit of time to prepare, I got to work as soon as the final menu was set in stone. I started buying the dry ingredients about a week ahead of time because a) I have trouble finding ingredients here mainly because their names are in a language I don't read/speak (yet)! and b) there are so many ingredients to find.
Today, 2 days before Thanksgiving, I accomplished the following: All ingredients are purchased. Veggies are appropriately washed, chopped, and stored in Green Bags (these are the most amazing invention ever!).
The pumpkin for the dessert topping is roasted and pureed(this is only if you live in a country that doesn't have canned pumpkin or if you just want to make it fresh yourself).
The walnuts are roasted and I prepared the shallots for the green beans.
The bread is sliced and in the freezer in an airtight container.
I made the maple syrup substitute. (Again, this is if you live in a country that charges €9 for maple syrup. Please! That is over $13.)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Apple Strudel Pie

I purchased some Strudel Pastry by mistake a few days ago. I grabbed it thinking it was phyllo dough but instead it was much thicker and softer. It seemed ideal for an apple strudel so I combined an old favorite recipe for "Apple Wrapper Pie" with the strudel pastry dough and came up with a scrumptious treat! I guess I call it the Apple Strudel Pie. I mixed 4 golden delicious apples, diced and peels on, with 2/3 cup brown sugar (it is called brown sugar here but it really is turbinado sugar) and 1/3 cup flour. After spreading the dough out, I dumped the apples on top and folded the dough around, leaving a hole in the top. It baked in a pie dish at 350F (176C, approximately) for about 25 minutes. Yum!

Pasta with wine sauce and roasted veggies

John and I bought a large white squash when we first moved here. I am not sure why we chose this squash, I have never cooked one like it before, but it was in the shape of a flower and we love squash! I googled the German name and it is in the Pattypan family. So, I chopped it up, cut the outside off and added a sliced eggplant and orange pepper, mixed with olive oil, salt and pepper, and roasted for about an hour. I boiled some bow tie, whole grain pasta and mixed it with the roasted veggies. For a sauce, I followed the recipe that I used for the Louie's Cannelloni, No Baloney. It is from the VegNews magazine. I am excited to say I will still be receiving the magazine here in Vienna, but as online material! Savin' those trees! I reheated left-over Rosemary rolls and served a mixed green salad with Balsamic and Olive oil dressing and sliced beets. It was a really delicious and filling meal.

Julia Child's Potato and Leek Soup with Rosemary Rolls

I have been reading the book Julie and Julia. It is a memoir about a lady that did a blog about cooking every recipe in Julia Child's first french cookbook, in one year. It was just recently made into a movie staring Amy Adams and Meryl Streep. I actually watched the movie on our flight here to Vienna! The first recipe she describes is a potato and leek soup. It is mentioned as very easy and very delicious, of which I love both! It is also one of very, very few recipes of Julia Child's or french cooking for that matter, that can be easily made vegan! (And I think Julia Child would probably be spinning in her grave if she knew I was taking the butter and/or cream out of her recipes!) The weather here in Vienna is gloomy and cold and perfect for hot soup! I found the recipe here and only had to substitute the cream for a vegan version. The EuroSpar grocery store right next to our apartment carries a great product called Cuisine Sojacreme zum Kochen und Verfeinern (Soy cream to boil and refine?!?!) Anyway, the cream container has a great picture of a bowl of soup with the product being poured in. And it did not disappoint! The soup was heavenly. To go along, I made my favorite Rosemary rolls with whole wheat flour. I was nervous about the rolls turning out because 1) yeast is called germ and it took me a long time to figure this out and 2) the flour that I bought apparently already had "germ" in it. But, the rolls were the perfect companion to the soup.

Indian Curry with Naan and Samosas

I found these cute triangle shaped Naan breads and was inspired to cook an Indian meal. But, before I describe the meal, I have to get something off my chest. Before we found out we would be moving around the world for the next two years, I was busy building up an arsenal of spices and herbs and seasonings of every color, culture, and combination! I had such an eclectic collection that was so diverse and delicious! To wrap this rant up, no food items make it through customs. I am really happy to have given everything to my friend Rachel, whom I know will use it all! But I desperately don't want to start building the collection again, knowing we are moving in 8 months. So, I have been opting for small amounts of packaged spices or jars of spices that are multipurpose. (Yes, I am bitter. But I am working on it!) For the Indian meal, I opted for a jar of Korma Curry Paste. The recipe was already translated for me on the back and was very simple: cook an onion in oil, add meat, add the Curry paste and water, and serve. What a snap, right!? Instead of the meat, I roasted potatoes, eggplant, and yellow pepper. After getting it all into the pan, I noticed it was very thick. A thick consistency like gritty syrup. It didn't look right at all. In a panic to save my lovely roasted veggies, I poured the sauce out of the pan and started retracing my steps. The directions were so simple, too simple! I realized that when it said, "add Curry Paste," it didn't say how much to add. I assumed that it was the entire jar. WRONG. So I now have an entire jar of watered down Korma Curry Paste in a plastic container in my fridge that will probably make 15 Indian meals, not one! At any rate, when I got the majority of the sauce out, it turned out flavorful and delicious. Because I am not working and have tons of time on my hands, I decided to make Samosas to go along with the Indian meal. This website has a video describing how to make the Samosas. I substituted spinach for the peas and a package of curry spices for the 4 that they suggest. Also, the "cone" that she suggests did not work out for me. I just wrapped them up like a little box.

Mushroom and Spinach Strudel

John keeps commenting on how much my cooking style has changed since we moved to Vienna but I am trying to combine my style with some of the traditional local favorites. (Side note: to say they eat a lot of meat and cheese is the greatest of understatements!!!) So, when John came home one day with his bottom lip quivering because "Everyone eats this delicious looking strudel for lunch every day," I decided to get this strudel thing under my belt! A blog I have check out many times and borrowed recipes from in the past had exactly what I was looking for. It is called "What the hell does a vegan eat anyway?" and is hilarious with amazing pictures, recipes and raw food weekly. Instead of using tofu (I still haven't found a tofu here that I am absolutely in love with) I used the extra Wiener Schnitzel patties from the previous week. I had to use 2 sheets of phyllo because I couldn't get one piece to fold and be large enough, like the blog suggests. I wilted my spinach in a little bit of the wonderful soy butter I found a few days ago and cooked my mini-portobello mushrooms in a combination of basil, garlic, dark soy sauce, salt and pepper, and onion. The wrap up was pretty easy (no doubt because of the massive amount of butter I spread on the phyllo!) and I baked it on a sheet of foil. I am still getting used to Celsius temperature so I think 400F is equivalent to about 204C. If I am way off, I am not worried because it worked out very well!!! The gravy was easy to make because I had left-over mushrooms so I added them to a cup of water with a Vegetable Bullion melted down and a tablespoon of flour. On the side, steamed brocolli (and yes, I did add a little of the soy butter that is my new obsession, while it cooked!) I made sure to have an extra piece for John to take to work! You should have seen his sweet face when he realized he would get to show off with strudel to his co-workers!

A few staples for the Vienna kitchen

I bought a basil plant that I will attempt to keep alive for the 8 months we are here (Pray for my basil). I also purchased whole flax seed but now worry about leaving my seed grinder back in Portland! I am not confident my food processor will do the trick, but fingers are crossed. And, my favorite find, vegan butter!!!! It is soy based and when used to saute spinach, is absolutely heaven!

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

I made these cookies for 2 reasons. 1) I missed chocolate chip cookies, American style. Bakeries here in Vienna have amazing, delicious baked goodies, but I haven't seen good ol' Chocolate Chip cookies anywhere! 2) I missed baking and wondered if it would be possible for me to bake some of my old stand-by favorites with the ingredients I have access to here. The result, not my old stand-by's but John and I managed to eat all 2 dozen in about 3 days. :-)
In my pursuit for the appropriate ingredients, I learned quite a lot of German! Baking Soda was challenging to find because my translation of it was not correct. Also, I never did find Vanilla extract. In it's place, I used Vanille Zucker (vanilla sugar) which is just what it sounds like, vanilla bean stems soaked in sugar. A blog claimed that, in equal measure, it could be substituted. I also chose a different recipe from what I am used to because I couldn't find vegan butter. This recipe uses oil for moisture. I didn't find tapioca flour, so used all-purpose instead. The brown sugar that I bought (Brauner Zucker) was basically just turbinado sugar. I used soy milk and sunflower oil (instead of canola) and chopped up a dark chocolate bar for chips (couldn't find them!!!)
So, the flavor was very sweet, almost too sweet. The vanilla sugar was very strong, not in a bad way, just a different way. The exterior of the cookies were very shiny. All in all, I won't make this exact recipe again, but I will continue to try to make a good chocolate chip cookie!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Eating Vegan in Vienna - Sehr gut

My husband John and I moved to Vienna, Austria last week. His job (wind turbines) requires us to make a few international moves and Vienna is stop number one. I was extremely nervous before moving here about the possibility of eating without giving up my vegan values! Fortunately, I have been able to get around the grocery store (there is one on every corner) and have not had a problem finding organic veggies and fruits, grains, and tofu (trust me, it is no Portland Ota tofu, but it will suffice). We have also found a list of vegan restaurants to try on the Happy Cow website and other Vienna vegan bloggers have great ideas too.

So, I have been cooking a lot of simple dishes with veggies and grains. For fun, I found a vegan version of the traditional Wiener Schnitzel at the grocery store. John loved it and it cooked on the stove top in a little olive oil in 5 minutes. The company is Vega Vita and we have also tried their "chicken nuggets" which were so-so. Along with the Wiener Schnitzel, I sliced and roasted an eggplant, and made whole wheat pasta. The pasta is added to a sauteed mixture of shitake mushrooms, onion, garlic, salt and pepper, and a green leafy veggie that I could not figure out what it was! First, I thought it was baby spinach but after opening it, I realized it was not!!! I forgot to google the name and have since thrown the bag away. At any rate, it had a very nice flavor! We dowsed it with onion and basil tomato sauce and enjoyed.

A few of my favorite lines from the eating out section of my German handbook:
1. Nichts mit Augen. (Nothing with eyeballs.)
2. Ich esse nur Insekten. (I eat only insects.)
3. Ich bin Schnapshund. (I'm a boozehound.)

Guten Appetit!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Green Smoothies

I went to the Portland Farmer's Market today to stock up on supplies for Green Smoothies. Since reading the book Green For Life, John and I have really enjoyed replacing a meal with a green smoothie. Of course, we get a lot of critics. It is amazing how friends become "nutrition experts" as soon as you start following a dietary pattern that is healthy. But when was the last time a friend reached out to you with concern for your health while eating a cheeseburger or a greasy piece of pizza! It is completely warped.
Anyway, the key to sticking to the Green Smoothies is variety. Mixing different greens with different fruits. I have also been adding a product by Vega called Smoothie Infusion. It adds a bit of powdery texture but loads of nutrients. My plan is to finish this package of the product but, in the future, I will just add flax seed to the smoothies because we already drink the original Vega daily and the Smoothie Infusion is a bit pricey.
So, today I bought peaches, apples, blueberries, strawberries, carrots, arugula, kale, and lettuce all organic and all for a whopping 20 bucks! I will post some of the smoothie creations I come up with very soon!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

La Bamba Casserole

I love this recipe and make it often. It came from a Cooking Light magazine, not vegan but easily converted. I substitute the ground turkey for Yves Meatless Ground, vegetarian refried Black beans for the fat-free it calls for, and Vegan Cheddar for the cheese top.

For this batch, I tried a new Cheddar cheese substitute made from Rice Milk. The mozzarella melts nicely so I decided to give the cheddar a try. unfortunately, it did not melt nicely but I enjoyed the flavor.

Flax Seeds

I read an article on the WebMD website that gave its opinion on the book titled Skinny Bitch. It is a very funny, highly informative book written by a vegan and animal rights activist. The article on WebMD irritated me beyond believe, for many reasons. One quote in the article particularly bothered me.
"And when you eliminate all animal products, you miss out on valuable nutrients only found in animal products, like omega-3 fatty acids."
It is completely untrue that omega's are only found in animals, particularly fish. If you do happen to find a piece of fish that is free of mercury, PCB's and other toxins, you are still consuming animal cholesterol, animal fat, and animal protein (that started as a plant protein before it was eaten by the animal). Apparently, Yale researcher and author David Katz, MD, the sadly mistaken person quoted here, has never heard of flax seed.

Blueberry Coconut Granola and Coconut Milk

My latest obsession is Coconut Milk. I have been drinking it after yoga class, adding it to my granola, and making hot chocolate with it. I also have used it in baking and as a substitute anytime something calls for milk.

My girl Miriam is going through a detox, and I have signed on partially. We both decided that granola would be a good option for breakfast. I used my traditional recipe but loved a substitution she made. Since her detox includes no sugar and oil, she substituted the maple syrup and oil for applesauce! Her batch was definitely less sweet and flavorful but developed a nice, crisp, healthy tasting granola.

I added dried blueberries, pecans, and coconut to mine. I also substituted Agave Syrup for Maple and added a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Farmer's Market Flowers

I went to the Farmer's Market with Miriam last week and only bought flowers!!! They were so beautiful and a large bouquet, enough to fill two vases was $10.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Louie's Cannelloni, No Baloney!

I finally made the Cannelloni's from the October 09 VegNews. I think they turned out fantastic! And, as far as I know, our dinner guests enjoyed them as well. They were served with a tossed salad that included mixed greens, artichoke hearts, chickpeas, red and yellow bell pepper, and cherry tomatoes. For dessert, we ate Frankie's Finger-Licking-Good Lime Cheesecake, also from the October 09 VegNews magazine.

The recipe for the Cannelloni's is as follows:
For the sauce: 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 medium yellow onion minced, 5 garlic cloves minced, 1/2 tsp dried fennel seed, 2 tsp dried Italian seasoning, 1 28oz can diced tomatoes, 2 15oz cans tomato sauce, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, 1/2 cup red wine, 1/2 cup fresh basil chopped, 1/2 cup fresh parsley chopped.

For the filling: 2 15oz cans white hominy drained and rinsed, 8 oz silken tofu, 1/2 cup bread crumbs, 3 TBSP fresh parsley chopped, 1 small package frozen chopped spinach thawed and drained, 1 lb vegan mozzarella shredded and divided, 2 packages cannelloni cooked and drained. (I made crepes instead).

1. In a large sauce pan over high heat, add olive oil. Saute onion and garlic until onions are translucent. Add fennel seed, Italian seasoning, and stir for one minute. Add diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, salt, pepper, and wine. Reduce heat to low and stir in basil and parsley. Let simmer, stirring occasionally, for about an hour.

2. In a food processor, combine hominy, tofu, bread crumbs, parsley, and 1/3 cup of the sauce until the consistency of ricotta is reached. Transfer mixture to a medium bowl and add spinach and 1/3 cup of the vegan mozzarella, and stir to combine.

3. Preheat oven to 350. Coat the bottom and sides of a 9x13 pan with a small amount of sauce. Fill pasta tubes with hominy mixture and arrange in pan. Cover cannelloni with sauce, then top with vegan mozzarella. Cover pan with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly. Serve with extra sauce on the side.

The dessert did not turn out as fantastically as I would have hoped. I definitely would not call it a cheesecake in front of non-vegan people if I ever made it again. People get an expectation in their mind of what something should taste like, and when it doesn't taste like that, they become disappointed. The pie had a good flavor, refreshing and creamy but had two flaws, one my fault and one not. First, I burned the crust. Second, after it sat in the fridge for a day, the agar agar re-formed its original consistency and tasted like little pieces of rubber. Not appetizing and resulted in me tossing the pie into the garbage!
Here is the recipe:
1 package silken tofu, 8oz non-dairy cream cheese, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, 4 tsp lime zest divided, juice of 3 limes, 2 tsp agar agar flakes, 1 prepared pie crust, 1 1/2 cups non-dairy whipped cream.

1. Preheat oven to 350. In a food processor, combine tofu, cream cheese, brown sugar, vanilla, 3 tsp lime zest, and lime juice until smooth. Add agar agar and blend for about 1 minute.

2. Add tofu mixture to pie crust and bake for 30 minutes. Turn off oven, and allow cheesecake to sit in oven for another 40 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool, then top with non-dairy whipped cream. Sprinkle with remaining lime zest and serve.

I made a pie crust using one package of Amaranth Graham Crackers, 6 TBSP Earth Balance butter, and 2 TBSP turbinado sugar.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Ziti with Tuscan Porcini Mushroom Sauce and Rosemary Bread

I am getting ready for our dinner party tomorrow night (I love having people over for dinner and calling it a "dinner party!") and am making the Cannelloni's that I mentioned in my crepe posting. To go along with the Cannelloni's, I thought a loaf of Rosemary bread would be nice and remembered making this bread in the past. It turned out OK last time, but I thought maybe I could make it again, and do it even better this time! This recipe is an attempt to imitate Romano's Macaroni Grill Rosemary Bread. I have only eaten at a Macaroni Grill one time but did like their bread. I was extremely happy with how it came out this time. I used King Arthur's Unbleached Bread Flour, turbinado sugar, and Earth Balance Butter. I followed all other directions, including making 2 round loaves of bread. For the dinner party though, I am going to make rolls in the shape of knots.

To go along with my "test" bread, I followed a recipe from Cooking Light called Ziti with Tuscan Porcini Mushroom Sauce. I made all the typical substitutions to veganize it including veggie broth instead of chicken and Sesame Parm instead of Parmesan cheese.

On the side,
Lemon-Balsalmic Butter Kale
. I leave out the raisins and use Earth Balance Butter.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Sesame Ginger Tofu and Roasted Veggies

I marinated the cubed tofu in a combo of fresh garlic and ginger, and a jar of Drew's Soy Ginger dressing for about 2 hours. I then spread it on a baking sheet, sprinkled sesame seeds on top and baked it at 350 for about 20 minutes.

For the veggies, I included a portobello mushroom, broccoli, a red pepper, 3 small carrots, a large green onion, and 4 whole garlic cloves. The dressing consisted of these ingredients, not really measured: white wine, olive oil, Bragg's liquid aminos, salt and pepper, a slight dollop of mustard, and whole basil leaves. This baked at 475 for about 35 minutes.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Spinach and Mushroom Crepes

The latest addition of VegNews (such an excellent magazine!!!) has a recipe for Louie's Cannelloni, No Baloney! It looks so amazing and we are having a few people from John's work for dinner this week so I think it will be a hit. The problem, I can't find Cannelloni at the grocery store. I do find Manicotti but after a little research, although they are often confused, they are not the same. A little more research found that Cannelloni and Crepes are very similar. So, before I attempt this recipe for guests, I thought I would give vegan crepes a try to see if it was a possibility.
I followed this recipe simply because it was the first to show up on a Google search. It doesn't have egg substitutes and includes very common, simple ingredients. I used almond milk instead of soy. I also added about a tablespoon more water to the batter after 3 very thick crepes were finished. It helped so much! My biggest challenge was feeling like I was getting the batter thin enough in the pan. The recipe says it will produce 16 crepes. Mine made 6! I am not sure how it would be possible to get 16. But, I was extremely happy with the 6 that came out! The flavor was sweet, doughy, and melt-in-your-mouth fresh.
My friend Miriam left me some tiny tomatoes and basil before she left town so I thought it would be nice to create something for the crepes out of these ingredients. I started with olive oil and half a red onion. I added 2 large garlic cloves and 1 large Portobello mushroom chopped. I sliced the tomatoes in half and chopped the basil and added these along with salt and pepper and a handful of spinach. This sauteed on low while I made the crepes.
I sprinkled Sesame Parm inside the crepe before wrapping them up.
I feel confident in making the Cannelloni's now that I am comfortable making crepes!

Eggplant "Parmesan"

My friend Miriam gave me an eggplant before she left town and I desperately wanted to use the leftover Bechamel sauce from the Vegetable Pot Pie I made a few days ago. The recipe I followed took quite a while to put together but it was absolutely delicious and worth the time. I cut the eggplant slices as thin as I could possibly get them (much thinner than 1/4 inch as the recipe suggests). Instead of soy parm, I made a batch of Sesame Parm. The only adjustment I made to the tomato sauce was a double dose of garlic and a few whole, fresh basil leaves. And, I used the leftover bechamel sauce instead of making the cheese sauce. For the bread crumbs, I toasted 2 Ezekiel 4:9 Hot Dog Buns at 350 for about 25 minutes. I added the buns and 1/4 cup Sesame Parm to the food processor until it resembled bread crumbs!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

"Chicken" Salad Sandwiches

I needed a favor from John during his lunch break, so I bribed him with tasty sandwiches! Safeway has this "English Muffin Bread" that is surprisingly vegan and so moist and delicious. The "chicken" is from the company "It's All Good", of which I am addicted. 4 slices come in a package, I used 2 packages and heated them in the microwave for 2 minutes per package. I used the exact same recipe that I used for the potato salad I made a few weeks ago but substituted chicken for the potatoes . I added avocados to the sandwiches and they were awesome.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Vegetable Pot Pie

Usually I am able to search for a recipe online and add a link to it (saving me the time of typing the recipe out!)but this recipe is from the latest addition of VegNews and I made it within the first few days of receiving the magazine in the mail. So, it seems others haven't posted it online yet. Maybe I am the first!
We had a small dinner party that included this Veggie Pot Pie and a delicious side salad full of fresh veggies. For dessert, I made another batch of Carrot Cake Cupcakes. It was all very delicious. The crust was flaky and because the potatoes were boiled ahead of time, they became soft and slightly mashed in the veggie mix. The rich, creamy Bechamel sauce made a huge batch so I have leftover for another dish sometime in the near future. Here is the recipe:
For the vegetable filling: 4 tsp coconut butter, 3 cups onion chopped, 1 1/3 cups carrots 1/4 inch diced, 2 cups mushrooms, 1 tsp paprika, 1 tsp dried basil, 1 tsp dried marjoram, 1 tbsp salt, 3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, 1 cup peas, 2 1/2 cups potatoes 1/4 inch diced and steamed for 15 minutes.

For the Bechamel sauce: 3/4 cup cashews, 3 cups water, 2 tsp salt, 1 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard, 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg, 6 tbsp coconut butter, 1/2 cup barley flour.

For the crust: 2 cups barley flour, 1/4 cup tapioca flour, 1 tsp salt, 6 tbsp coconut butter, 11 tbsp water.

1. Preheat oven to 375. For the veggie filling, in a large saute pan, melt coconut butter and add onion. Saute for 5 minutes. Add carrots and mushrooms and cook for 3 minutes. Add paprika, basil, marjoram, salt, and pepper and saute for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the peas and steamed potatoes. Set aside.

2. For the Bechamel sauce, in a dry blender, grind cashews into a super fine powder. Add water, salt, mustard, and nutmeg. Blend until smooth. In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, melt coconut butter, then add barley flour. Cook for 3 minutes, until roux is bubbly and begins to brown. Stir in cashew cream mixture and cook 10 minutes, stirring regularly until thickened. Pour sauce over sauteed vegetables and stir to combine. Spoon into a 9x13 baking dish.

3. For the crust, in a large bowl using a fork, stir together the barley flour, tapioca flour, and salt. Blend coconut butter into flour mixture until it resembles a course meal. Slowly add water and stir very lightly. On a floured board, roll out crust into a 1/3 inch thick rectangle. Carefully cover vegetable and sauce mixture with crust, then slice 10 vent holes into the top of the crust. Bake for 40 minutes, then increase the temperature to 400 for 10 additional minutes to brown the top. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before serving.
(I didn't get a picture during the first serving so this picture is a leftover piece that has been microwaved! Still yummie but not as pretty.)

Sweet Cinnamon Biscuits

A really quick version of a cinnamon roll but still with the soft gooey center! I have no idea how I got the recipe card originally but it is from a company called "Grandma's Kitchen" and it is dessert card 26. The recipe is also posted at It is not a vegan recipe but was easily converted. Instead of 2 cups all-purpose flour, I replaced one with barley flour. I used Safflower oil instead of vegetable and soy creamer instead of buttermilk. For the butter, I used Earth Balance and I did not pour milk over the biscuits after they were finished baking. I didn't think soggy biscuits sounded good, but maybe?!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Mixed Berry Pie

We are off to a BBQ today and I have a ton of berries left over from my trip to the Farmer's Market last Wednesday. I have had this recipe for a long time and although it only calls for blueberries, I am also adding strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries. It looks mouthwatering! I am also taking Creamy Vanilla Organic So Delicious to scoop on top! I made a few substitutions to the original recipe. Instead of salad oil, I used Safflower and instead of cornstarch, I used arrowroot.

Marinated "Chicken"

Another product from "It's All Good" and very versatile. This "chicken-like" protein marinates well in anything. I let it sit for a few hours in a mixture of garlic, ginger, olive oil, lemon juice, rice wine vinegar, and garlic chile sauce. While this was marinating, I also let a can of artichokes marinated in a mixture of olive oil and lemon juice, salt and pepper. The chicken was baked in the oven and the artichokes were cooked in a skillet on the stove. When the artichokes were finished cooking, I tossed the spinach in same skillet and allowed it to absorb some of the same flavor.