Archive for February, 2010

Wilton, Fondant & Gumpaste Final (and First) Class

For the past four months I have been taking Wilton’s cake decorating classes.  I can without a doubt say that I have learned so many skills from these courses, and definitely will try my best to use what I’ve learned to continue my baking adventures.  While butter cream wasn’t my “thing” (recap), I have sure had a lot of fun and success with the fondant (here and here).

I hate to say it, but the final course, Fondant & Gumpaste, was a bit of a wash.  Of the four suggested classes, our teacher opted to only teach two, describing the skills as “simple and quick to teach”.  Unfortunately for me, I had to miss the first class due to my D.C. trip, and apparently yesterday was our final class (of two). We made one each of three flowers: fantasty flowers (I have no idea what these are, and they are quite ugly), carnations, and daisies (which broke on the way home).  While I am excited to have learned how to make these little gems, now that I’ve browsed the internet for this class I’m rather jealous that other Wilton class teachers allow you to make a cake each week for Fondant & Gumpaste.  I mean, isn’t that the point?  How disappointing that I wasn’t even able to make one cake for this course!  I digress. Moving on.

I haven’t cooked much this weekend, which is our general weekend routine.  However, now I am saddled with the “Sunday Duty” (not to be confused with D’s “Call of Duty”), where I try to extract any possible dinner suggestion out of D (I feel like we’re playing dentist).  As always, he wants “options”, and so I turn to my books.

I generally choose 3-4 books to pull recipes from for about 3 dinner meals.  However today I do not even have a jumping point, so I pulled out five. What I come up with will be what you see this week.  Happy Sunday!

February 28, 2010 at 8:53 am 3 comments

Cinnamon Rolls: Vegan Brunch

Saddled with a snow day, and “nothing to eat in the house”, I knew that I was going to need to bake something to satisfy my time, taste, and boyfriend.  I really haven’t completely dived into Vegan Brunch as fully as I had wanted, due to the window of time allowed for making breakfast most days.  So with time on my hands, I was determined to attempt either Cinnamon Rolls or New York Bagels. I thought for sure D would be interested in bagels, however he vetoed that suggestion and pulled all votes for the cinnamon rolls.

Be prepared.  I pretty much dove into this recipe thinking it would be “done soon”.  It literally took close to 2 1/2 hours before we could taste these heavenly buns. A little detail called, rising. Twice. Luckily, time was of no issue for me today.

As far the rolls go, I pretty much stuck to the recipe, which is easy enough.  I really love that the recipe called for all items that I just happen to have in my pantry. My only qualm is that the active dry yeast is supposed to sit in “luke warm” water, which is really a hard temperature to judge. I am fairly certain my yeast didn’t proof correctly, however that didn’t affect the final product which is all that truly matters in all things food related.

My cinnamon rolls were not exactly symmetrical – the end of the dough was rather thin compared to the center, and so I had different sized buns. They baked for twenty minutes before I pulled them out to ice them.

I didn’t completely follow Isa’s recipe for the glaze. Let me rephrase that. I followed the recipe, then added 2 tablespoons of EarthBalance, and whipped all the ingredients like crazy. I think the addition of the butter brought the sweetness down a notch by adding a little savory, as before it had tasted just a little hyped up on vanilla/sugar.

Review? All time related issues aside, this treat was well worth the wait. D really enjoyed these – eating two right away – and had no clue they were vegan. Okay,  he probably did know, but he didn’t make any snarky comments and raved about how delicious they were.  I have to say, everything about this recipe was spot on.  These tasted absolutely legit and phenomenally moist. The adapted icing/glaze was perfect and this is a recipe I will easily return to if I find myself with three hours to impress a crowd.  Absolutely a crowd pleaser, and I’m sure no omni would be able to tell these are vegan.

Absolutely brilliant. I had two myself.

February 26, 2010 at 4:11 pm 5 comments

Sun-Dried Tomato & Basil Pesto Pasta

I’ve been snowed in all day, and consequently did not work late and need to rely on Thursday as fallback pasta night.  However, that is indeed what tonight ended up being, with a fancied up twist.

For Christmas I had bought D a medium sized AeroGarden.  He has since been growing chives, thyme, and basil successfully. Within the past 3 weeks the basil has really taken off and taken over the entire garden. It has grown tall and fat and I really have barely touched it’s fruits. So tonite, upon D’s request that I make use of all of that basil, I went to the books to find an appealing pesto recipe. I finally settled on adapting an Eat, Drink, & Be Vegan recipe for Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto with Toasted Almonds & Pine Nuts. Obviously I cannot share the recipe, however I will share my adaptions:

  • no capers
  • forgot the water (totally learned my lesson on that one)
  • 1/4 cup of slivered almonds, not toasted
  • closer to 1/4 cup of pine nuts
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups of fresh basil
  • 1/2 pound of whole wheat linguine

I made these adaptions based on my ingredients on hand really, and my craving for a real basily tasting pesto.

Results? This pesto was fantastic. As I was eating, I could easily imagine myself sitting outside at a restaurant on a summer night, enjoying this dish with a glass of white wine.  It was really “that good”.  It was also so incredibly easy to make – and I was incredibly grateful that my changes still produced a delicious finished product. The pine nut, basil, sun-dried tomato, garlic combo (okay – basically everything the recipe called for) really balanced each others’ flavors, contributing to such a fresh and comforting meal.  D shared his unsolicited appreciation (which is rare, as I am typically throwing the Spanish Inquisition at him at first-bite), stating how “fresh and awesome” it tasted.  He literally dug in.  I think this was my first success this week for dinner with him, so take that for what it is. My only future suggestion would be to add a little squeeze of lemon to the pesto mix – oh, and to add the suggested water. The pesto became quite clumpy when I tried to transfer it to the pot, and I then realized that I had forgotten that little suggestion.

Tomorrow is supposed to be dinner date night and elliptical night, however given that school was canceled for tomorrow and the storm is supposed to continue it’s progression, I sadly doubt either of these will occur.  Which also means I will probably get my baking apron on.

February 25, 2010 at 8:01 pm 2 comments

Finally! The best dish Veganomican offers!

When I first began my dabbling in vegan cooking, I purchased the much acclaimed Veganomicon. I flipped through the pages and flagged dozens of recipes that I was interested in making.  While I did experience a few flops, I have had my fair share of successful meals as well.

In November, I finally got around to preparing the Red Lentil Cauliflower Curry recipe.  I was initially seated with a bit of fear in preparing a meal comprised of three items I had little experience with at that time: red lentils, cauliflower, and parsnips. This meal does take a bit of time to prepare, and do follow the suggestion to prepare (chop, etc.) all items before starting the process (which overall does take about an hour start to finish – not bad!).

In my humble, foodie, opinion: this is hands down the best dish Veganomicon has to offer. The flavors intertwine and balance each other fantastically (think: lime, curry, cinnamon – and roll with it). The cauliflower and parsnip become so tender and soft they melt right into each other to further intensify my love for this dish. I topped some brown rice with a few generous scoops of the curry medley – and it was pure excellence.  I would suggest brown basmati rice, but I was all out.

While D wasn’t a fan – I lend that to his non-adventurous palate and strange issues with “mushy” food.  He’s missing out which really only means: more for me! If you take one thing from my review, and this book, it better be this recipe. Hands down my favorite.

February 25, 2010 at 10:03 am 3 comments

“Hawaiian” Veggie Pizza!

Originally I had planned on making the Red Lentil Cauliflower Curry for dinner tonite, however D convinced me that since it is LOST night we should have something “fun”, so the pizza it was.  Unfortunately since I’m a bad veggie-girlfriend, I forgot to pick up mozzarella for D and his half of the pizza is smothered in cheddar cheese (which inevitably was the downfall of his half of the pizza).

My half of the pizza (and what was under the cheese for D) was layered with tons of deliciousness!

It included:

  • Thin crust easy roll out dough (unfort. not whole wheat – time is money!)
  • 1/2 grilled chopped onion
  • small can of chopped pineapples
  • 6 pieces of LightLife Smart Bacon (my favorite)
  • 1 head of broccoli blanched for 5-minutes
  • 1 cup marinara sauce
  • sliced olives omitted at D’s request

I honestly found this combo delicious!  The “bacon” was the perfect balance to the pineapple and onion combo, and I only wish I had added the olives, next time.  The broccoli was slightly out of place but I had to get some green veggies in there somehow.  What would really take this over the top? A spicier cajun style tomato sauce, but I will save that inventing for a rainy day.

Every day I learn eating vegan is really not as difficult or daunting as it appeared for so long.

February 23, 2010 at 8:40 pm Leave a comment

Mexi-Lunch

Pardon the iPhone photos this afternoon! This week I took a change from my usual bring-leftovers-for-lunch routine, and actually planned a lunch for the week.  It’s a take on the Panera BBQ Chopped Chicken Salad, sans chicken.

I pan grilled pressed cubes of tofu after rolling them in paprika, and then let the hickory smoked bbq sauce cook for a few minutes in the pan with the tofu (coating all pieces). 

I then let the tofu mix chill overnight before coming up with this delicious combo:

  • 2 cups of romaine (should probably be more)
  • 1/5 block of lite firm tofu with hickory barbecue sauce
  • 1/4 cup black beans
  • 1/4 cup corn
  • 1/4 cup mango peach salsa (YUM)
  • 1/2 serving (or 9 chips) of guiltless gourmet tortilla chips

Throw it all together for the above deliciousness!  I’m totally loving this lunch, and would recommend maybe a squeeze of lime juice to really step it up over the top. 

Nutrition: 265 calories, 16g protein, 47g carbs, 5g fat.

February 23, 2010 at 12:57 pm 4 comments

Mushroom & Onion Baked Tofu with Asparagus & Rice

After last weeks dip into slightly uncreative meals, I got back on track tonight with a take on “Baked Mushroomy Tofu” over at glueandglitter.com. I had already pressed and froze my tofu last week, so I let it defrost all day in the refrigerator so that it would be thawed out by dinner.  Because neither D or I enjoy mushrooms, I decided I would trade out the mushrooms in the recipe for a full onion.  I sauteed the onion in some olive oil until nice and soft.

I then decided to change up the recipe some more, and added 1/2 of the 16oz container of Mushroom Soup to the pan, as well as about 2 tablespoons of cornstarch to thicken up the soup and make more of a thick gravy. I stirred frequently for about 5-minutes while it thickened up, then set the pot aside.

I then dipped my slices of tofu in 2 Ener-G egg replacers and let them slightly brown on the pan before lining my dish with the tofu.  I covered the tofu with the mix above, then pour the remaining soup on top.  I cooked for 40 minutes at 350 degrees.

Ten minutes before popping the mushroomy goodness out of the oven, I followed the Vegan Yum Yum recipe for asparagus, except omitted the shallots as our dinner was pretty onion heavy as it was.  I did add a little garlic salt.

Finally, I heated up some rice I picked up yesterday on a whim.  By description, I hoped it would balance out our dinner perfectly.  However upon ripping open the package I was slightly turned off by the “aroma”. It just didn’t sit well with me, however I heated it up anyhow and decided to give it a shot.

Overall, I found this dinner pretty delicious. The mushroom bake was an absolute success, and I think the sauteed onions really took it over the top.  It took me back to some dishes my mom used to make growing up – I’d even say this was near restaurant quality yum. The asparagus really was “primo” as D said. It as crispy, garlicy, and a little bit limey.  I loved it and just wish I didn’t have to worry about yucky pee smell later. Finally, the rice. The rice was just as yuck as I had thought by smelling it.  It wasn’t as bad when mixed up with the oniony gravy, however D couldn’t bare it at all.  So definite thumbs down on that.

Other menu items this week: Vegonomican’s Red Lentil Cauliflower Curry & Vegan “Hawaiian” Pizza.

Fitness

Well aside from yoga & one 3 1/2 mile run last week, my fitness has been severely lacking. I really have been thinking about it, and how my lifestyle has changed in the past few years (NYC where I walked and worked out daily, to San Diego where I was outdoors constantly moving, to suburban NJ where it is cold and miserable). Although I go to yoga weekly, I don’t go nearly as often as I’d like due to my second job.  And while I have joined a gym, honestly late at night my motivation is lacking.

When I lived with my parents I ran on their treadmill every day, maybe twice a day.  I have always wanted to purchase my own treadmill, however being on the second floor of an apartment it’s pretty much frowned upon and inconsiderate.  So I decided on the next best thing.  After hours and days of contemplation, test-outs, and price comparison/reviews, I decided to purchase the NordicTrack E5Vi.

Pros:

  • It folds!
  • It comes in 3 strides
  • It glides quietly and smoothly
  • iFit technology = Jillian workouts shouting at me on the elliptical speakers!

My elliptical should arrive Friday or Monday (I hope Friday), and I already purchased a Level 2 Jillian Workout (which actually comes with 24 workouts).  I am so beyond excited I cannot even express it.  I can’t wait to be able to work out whenever I want, for as long as I want!  Also, D said he will use it too!  Double score.

So look for iFit technology updates coming in the future!

Domesticity

I have been waiting nearly two months for curtains to be available on Urban Outfitters’ website for our office/new elliptical room.  While we had originally intended the purpose of the room to be for storage of our books/computers/plants, it’s become a room we use and we want it to reflect that and feel comfortable when working in there. So after waiting forever for stock to be replenished, I finally ordered a pair of these curtains:

I think that’s a wrap.  I’m going to top of my domesticity tonight with a batch of vegan chocolate chip cookies.  You know, I have to get it all in before the elliptical arrives.

February 22, 2010 at 8:43 pm 2 comments

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