Archive for July, 2010

VEGAN BLONDIES HOORAH!

Don’t mind the caps-y title, but before we get to the aforementioned vegan treats – let’s talk dinner.  Having tried many many vegan Pad Thai recipes, I had to flip to the recipe in The 30-Minute Vegan’s Taste of the East that I won last week, which obviously promises for a delicious quick dinner recipe. I almost screwed it up tonight: I accidentally forgot to buy a lime (whoops), ran out of sesame oil halfway through, and ran out of shallots. Other than that we were good to go with the recipe with the only modification being added 1.5 tbsp of smooth natural peanut butter to the sauce.

The noodley part of the dish was absolutely phenomenal, with just the right hints of sweet and hot (with a touch of creamy). D went back for seconds, which is basically the litmus test of all good meals.  We both were not into the tofu part of the dish, to no fault of the recipe.  I didn’t have time to press the tofu for more than 10-minutes and it was all sorts of wiggly jiggly and neither of can handle our tofu without the firmness of a brick. So verdicts?

First recipe from this book is a success!  There are a plethora of awesome looking recipes that seem so much less daunting than usual due to the 30-minute nature of the book.  I can’t wait to share more!

Yesterday I had a terrible day, and thought it was good bloggie etiquette to leave my issues off this page.  I desperately wanted to bake but due to exhaustion had to nix the thought – which quickly reared it’s beautiful head this evening. As a rule, I like to always have “cookie” ingredients on hand – which ultimately always include the presence of semi-sweet chocolate chips.  I have been under the false belief that I had exhausted my supply – to find a lone bag at the highest shelf of my baking cabinet!  Imagine my excitement!

I have been yearning for a white chocolate butterscotch coconut blondie – however due to a lack of white chocolate and butterscotch en casa,  I had to settle on a straight up brownie recipe. I found a recipe on allrecipes.com. I subbed Earth Balance for the butter and an Ener-G egg replacer. After baking for 23-minutes, I let them cool for about 10-15 – so that they still maintained their melty gooey state.

These are SO out of control!!!  REALLY!  While I am still searching for the perfect chocolate chip cookie, these may be the perfect chocolate chip blondie. D commented that they were like a huge piece of cookie cake – and *gasp* went back for seconds.  He said they were the best vegan cookie to date, and he would have believed me if I had said they were not vegan.  My friend was over and I gave him one too, and he said they were A-MA-ZING before I told him they were egg/dairy free. Score! Ooey, gooey, chocolate success. Just what I needed.

What’s the best baked good recipe you’ve veganized successfully? I think this is my first attempt at a non-already vegan recipe. Relief!

July 27, 2010 at 9:58 pm 12 comments

Seasonal dinner reversal.

Today I got down to it. Rather, I really really tried to get down to figuring out what I wanted to eat this week. Nearly a month ago I purchased American Vegan Kitchen by Vegan Appetite‘s Tamasin Noyes, and haven’t gone further than throwing some flags in the recipes that I wanted to try.  So when D offered that chili was a food he’d be willing to eat, I knew right where to turn.  Sure it’s over 90 degrees and humid, but this solved a dinner dilemma and a dusty new cookbook dilemma.  I cranked the a/c and scurried down to Whole Foods to stock up on all the necessary ingredients for “Chase-the-Chill Chili”, and made sure that I had ingredients on hand at home for “Yankee Cornbread”.

I pretty much stuck to both recipes, however subbed a bag of Boca crumbles for the seitan, went with a cherry flavored beer (recipe calls for beer), didn’t use any vegetable broth (I like my chili thick), and cut down on the cumin since that is a “no no” taste around here. As for the cornbread, I just threw in 1/3 cup frozen corn kernals (all I had) – and got to cookin’!

Look at how hearty that chili is!  And yes, my cornbread chunk was really about half the size of my bowl.  And I had more.

I think this chili was fantastic!  It was definitely on the hot side – which was awesome for me, but not so much for D (he is more of a bland/mild chili guy). The sweet cornbread really was necessary to balance out chili kick.  I have to say, I wasn’t sure all the flavors were going to mix (beer? cocoa? molasses?) but they work together fabulously!  This made a huge portion and since D couldn’t deal with too much of it, I froze half and will enjoy the rest for lunch this week.

The rest of my week’s dinners are going to be pretty simple and sort of “the norm”, but hopefully I can find a way to twist it up. I’ll leave you with my princess cat Veruca, enjoying some of her homegrown treats D has been working on this summer.


What special treats do you make/buy for your pet family? And major thanks to Gail at Hungry Vegan – I won 30 Minute Vegan and can’t wait to start cooking through it!

July 25, 2010 at 8:17 pm 15 comments

Whoops I did it again. A manifesto.

Sometimes this happens.  Actually this is really the first time it’s happened in 7-months to this extent.  I haven’t been posting because I have had this weird aversion to food lately.  Don’t fret, I’m eating, but nothing appeals to me. Nothing. I eat for the sake of eating.  I don’t want fruit, I don’t want vegetables, I don’t want something too carby, I don’t want something hot.  I don’t really know what I want (okay that’s a lie – the past two days all I want are pita chips and hummus).

This has obviously taken a toll on my creativity, my interest in blogging, and my interest and reading blogs (so please do NOT take this personal – I’m going to catch up).  I have a feeling it’s because my vitamins are all effed up or something, as I haven’t been consistent in almost 2-months with taking them.  I’m working on it.  It’s the best explanation I can come up with.  So, for all these reasons, I have not blogged or participated in blogging. I’m hoping this changes.

I’ve attempted to make awesome ice pops, which tasted amazing and got stuck in the popsicle mold. Fail.

However last night, for the first time in literally two weeks, I made a new dinner.  We’ve been pretty much living off of frozen throw-togethers from Trader Joes until this point.

Mexican Polenta Casserole

  • 1 polenta tube
  • 1.5 cups frozen “Latino Blend” vegetables (corn, peppers, onions, black beans)
  • 1 can of fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup daiya (or cheez of your choice).

This was super simple.  Preheat the oven to 350.  Meanwhile, after oiling a pan, saute frozen vegetables until smelling fragrant over medium heat.  Add entire can of tomatoes to vegetable mixture until begins to bubble. Lightly oil a casserole dish, then layer the bottom with slices of 1/4 inch of polenta slices, pressing into the bottom.  Layer with 1/4 cup of cheez. Cover with vegetable/tomato mixture.  Top with remaining polenta circles and remaining 1/4 cup of cheez.  Bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes.

I think this was pretty tasty and so so so easy to make.  And it was my first time using polenta!  Honestly though, the vegetable/tomato mixture stole the show.  The polenta added the right flavor and texture to beef it up.  The Daiya was a fail.  I love Daiya, but I think my food apathy is not a fan of it.  I would have preferred a different cheese to take things up a notch, preferably of the pepper/jack variety? Any suggestions?

When I’m not dealing with food apathy crisis 2010, I’ve been hitting up hot yoga like crazy.  I learned of the terrible things that happen when you go to hot yoga, in the heat of summer, not properly hydrated.  Not doing that again.  I also am cheating on my yoga studio with a studio that is around the corner from where I live (versus 15-20 minutes), currently promoting a $50 unlimited month (versus $15-17 a class), and where I am beginning to at least build a relationship with my teachers (class of 5-10 versus 25-50).  While I love love love my regular studio, and this studio does not compare on many levels, I can’t say I’m not enjoying the pros of the current change.  I think in the future I’ll probably juggle both studios, for convenience and love.

Anyhow, yoga and the message of “letting go” have totally become my mantra this week.  An old friend, who I once was best friends with and haven’t spoken to in 4-years, jumped out of their car and stopped me in the middle of my run on Tuesday. He shared how much he missed our friendship and sincerely valued how great of friends we once were. In the past, I’m not sure how I would have responded to this.  Considering the circumstances of our dissolved friendship, I’d mourned this friendship’s end long ago and went through all the phases of sadness, anger, etc. etc.  But it was just so easy to let it go. And accept that the past was the past, and there was some good in that.  And I missed our friendship too.  And so we are moving forward, after four years. It’s something to think about.

And finally, I end with a few photos from where I spent my day today.  At a coworker’s home, with her animals.  I love animals, and I completely fell in love with her cat.

Have you ever had a random food apathy episode?! I’ll be catching up with your blogs this weekend, promise!! 🙂  Also I joined twitter, and am sort of embarassed?  Are you on??

July 23, 2010 at 9:27 pm 14 comments

Introducing: Wally the Waffle Iron!

I mentioned earlier in the week that I have never been so lucky as to enjoy home-made waffles anywhere but in diners or breakfast joints.  They aren’t my #1 breakfast food, but they sure are a delicious treat that I’ve wanted to try veganized.  So last week I bought Wally, the Waffle Iron. I couldn’t wait for “Sunday Breakfast” and started on it today.  I followed Isa’s Recipe on PPK, however subbed the lemon juice with 1 tsp. vanilla extract.  I also added 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar to the soy milk and let it sit a minute before adding it to the wet ingredients, to thicken it up a little.  The soy yogurt I used was vanilla flavor.

I had to “prep” the waffle iron, so the first pancake was a little greasy.

I then got a little creative, and decided to powder the waffles.

And caramelize bananas & strawberries.  Best decision yet!

The caramelized fruit totally stole the show, turning the waffle more into the vessel for sugary fruit consumption.  However, I did manage a few bites sans fruity delight and the waffle was pretty damn good.  It does have a grainier aspect to it, due to the cornmeal, however this recipe fluffed right up and maintains a thick consistency, with no holes or breaks in the waffle (which I hear can be a bit of an issue with vegan waffles).

D is eating these right now, sans fruit because I ate it all, but with powdery goodness and maple syrup. They’re actually reheated because he woke up late and he says they are really good. Hip hip hooray!  Off to a day full of hanging curtains and World Cup.  Happy Saturday!!

July 10, 2010 at 10:05 am 19 comments

No Questions: Best Pizza I’ve Ever Made!

A few years ago I went around telling people that my dream was to own a pizzeria.  I became so die-hard that I didn’t eat pizza for 4-months in anticipation of a trip to Italy, where I made sure to sample the alleged “First Pizza” in Naples, and the “Best Pizza” in Naples, and consequently almost made us miss our train back to Rome. Point is, pizza has played a big part in my life for a very very long time.  And I’m not here to tell you that it’s place in my heart has changed at all.

During the past year and a half of living with D I have tried on countless occasions to make us all sorts of pizza, each an attempt to perfect the art and call it my own.  I consistently have come face to face with the ultimate obstacle: soggy crust.  This is all just background info before I introduce to you the “BEST PIZZA” I’ve made to date!  That’s right, straight from D’s lips to your computer screen.  It was fresh, gourmet, and fantastical.

The Bruschetta Pizza.

  • 5 ripe Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 medium red onion, diced
  • 1 cup basil, chopped
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, pressed
  • sprinkling of garlic salt, to taste
  • drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil
  • your favorite, or easiest, pizza dough recipe

Simply mix all the ingredients, drizzle with olive oil and garlic salt, and let sit at least 30-minutes to let the flavors mix. Meanwhile, prep and bake your dough without adding the topping (well we did drizzle a little olive oil)! This is essential to gain the crisp, crunchy crust that compliments the pizza style. When pizza crust is ready, remove and add the room-temperature bruschetta.  Slice & serve!

D’s half was topped with sliced mozzarella, and he couldn’t say enough good things about the pizza.  I mean all the flavors and textures were perfect – and this took all of about 15-minutes to throw together.  Can you really beat that?  Mind you, all the ingredients cost me about $12 – the price of a pizza – but nothing really beats homemade pizza, where you are in control of the ingredients and flavors. This is now my #1 in a rush-ready to impress- recipe.  Give it a try!

Whats your favorite food of past and present?  Have you perfected it?

July 8, 2010 at 8:18 pm 23 comments

Chocolate covered… everything!

Today D and I met for lunch and I started to bug him about all the bananas we bought and how he better get to eating them.  He then turned it around on me and reminded me how much he loved chocolate covered bananas *cough cough*.  I considered this a simple mission that I was eager to knock out during the World Cup game half-time.

These were so, so simple to make.

  • Cut (3) peeled bananas in half
  • Insert popsicle stick (or if you’re out – halved skewers) halfway through the banana
  • Lay naked (non-dipped) banana on wax/parchment paper in freezer for at least 2 hours
  • When it’s time for dipping, melt 1/2 a bag of semi-sweet (vegan) chocolate chips and 3 tbsp. of Earth Balance together.  I can’t figure out double boilers for the life of me, so I microwave my chocolate in a microwave safe bowl for 30-second intervals on Low Power (or Level 50 – whatever that means).
  • Dip and swirl banana in chocolate, sprinkle with toppings if desired (wish I had cookie crumbs and toffee, booh) and lay back on paper and return to freezer until solid.

While those were chilling, I found myself with a bit of leftover melty chocolate and a tremendous need to coat things in it.  So I added the #1 fruit for chocolate dipping into the equation.

Did I mention that on Monday in the 100 degree heat I decided to bake a gazzilion chocolate chip cookies (I used this recipe)? The cookies were good, but not until after they cooled off as they were of the more soft than crispy variety.  D said they were like the soft Chips Ahoy in the red package, and everyone at work ate them up yesterday without question.  So I dipped some of them into the remaining chocolate and added some sprinkles to the mix – with the plan to make ice cream sandwiches. I used the Turtle Trails variety from So Delicious Coconut flavors.

Super delish!!!! Best idea in awhile.  Don’t worry Cynthia – I made sure to eat these after dinner! 🙂  Dinner was “Pad Thai” from The Vegan Table with Gardein Chik’n Scallopini. D was a little confused about the chik’n (tofu? fake chicken? which?) but said it was “pretty good”! Hooray!

It was delicious.  I think it’s fair to say I had a pretty darn good eating day, and have more than my fair share of chocolate to dig into as time allows.  The icing on the cake with all of these chocolate covered treats is that they are impressive tasting, and even though people at work comment “these are so delicious and I know you never use eggs”, I know that a compliment lies in there.

I’m off to continue flaunting my bragging rights.  D was Germany, I was Spain.  I watched the game in real time but kept the end a secret so D and I could re-watch it after he got in from work.  He felt 110% certain Germany was going to kick Spain’s butt, and I kept mum.  VIVA ESPANA!  Look for some vegan Spanish meals on Sunday in celebration of the World Cup aka Amanda’s 50% heritage day!

July 7, 2010 at 8:30 pm 11 comments

Blueberry Day Off Pancakes!

Yesterday I took the liberty to cancel my clients (wooh) and sit outside my friend’s pool and take in the 100+ degree heat in style. But before that, I really wanted waffles – and I didn’t  have a waffle iron to get my needs met. So I turned to Isa and Vegan Brunch and attacked the “Classic Pancake” recipe (also in Vegan with a Vengeance).  I added a cup of fresh blueberries I got to flipping one.pancake.at.a.time.

These were delicious and filling and really way too warm to eat on a hot hot morning with hot hot coffee.  There’s not much else to say about these, except vegan or not no one would ever know. That carries a lot of weight around here.

And really, this post is dedicated to my new boyfriend: Mr. Waffle Iron.  He’s way too shy for an unveiling just now, but I brought him home today because I had a $20 thingy for Kohls from my mama and Mr. Waffle Iron ended up being $10.  FYI:  I did not grow up with homemade waffles and feel like I’m missing out big time during my weekend breakfasts, being limited to pancakes and  french toast.  In fact, when I called my sister and told her the good news – she shared my enthusiasm with “That’s going to be so fun! I’m jealous”.  It’s the little things people.

Look forward to my first ever waffle post soon!

July 6, 2010 at 10:46 pm 11 comments

An All American Vegan Holiday!

I’m always looking for a reason to bake cupcakes or whip up a new recipe, so Independence Day must not go unnoticed. Consider this a double whammy of American Vegan goodness that brings some pride to the food that passing our mouths on another American holiday associated with food. At least we can be patriotic and cruelty free, right?

Inspired after my visit to Sweet Freedom Bakery, I couldn’t shake the flavors associated with the Blueberry-Lemon Cupcakes.  So I took to the bible – Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.  I followed the recipe for a Lemon Cupcake with Lemon Buttercream, and added 3/4 cup of blueberries to the badder after combining all ingredients.

These were AMAZING!  For serious!  I know that I say that all the time, but these were – dare I say – better than the cupcakes I had at the bakery.  So moist and refreshing – all the flavors complimented one another to form PERFECTION!  D ate three, nearly in a row.  He was utterly disappointed when I gave away more than 1/2 of the batch (only makes a dozen) to our neighbors.  These are a true winner and the perfect choice for a summer barbecue dessert.

So a big hit around here is potato salad from the deli.  Unfortunately, it’s both expensive and laden with dairy and egg products.  Today’s mission was an attempt to replicate our favorite potato salad without those elements.  I had to work completely on looks – as I peered into the deli counter to see what ingredients appeared to be present.  I also relied a bit on taste memory, and what I think was essential.  Here’s what we came up with for my Vegan Red-Skin Potato Salad.

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 lbs ( about 8 ) red skin potatoes, quartered
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • 1/2 medium red onion, chopped
  • 1/2 tbsp. pickle juice
  • 1 tbsp. dijon mustard
  • 3/4 c. Veganaise
  • 1/2 tbsp. fresh dill, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt (or to taste)
  • ground pepper to taste.

Boil potatoes in salted pot of water until tender to fork but without falling apart (need to keep an eye on this!). Meanwhile, mix the remaining ingredients in a bowl and set aside to chill in refrigerator. When potatoes are ready, drain and set aside until cool.  When cooled, cut into 1-inch chunks and mix with remaining ingredients.  Chill for 2 hours (or until cold) before serving.  Enjoy!

This is pretty damn good if you ask me!  I love the dill/pickle juice flavor – and I do think the inclusion of both onions are necessary for the right crunch and intensity.  I’m still waiting for D to try this – but I found it delicious and can’t wait to eat it during lunch all week!  D loves it!  He didn’t even pick around any of the onions or dill, just gobbled it all up . Hooray! I served mine up with a veggie burger (topped with guac) and a half-sour pickle. YUM!

Hope you’re having a delicious holiday weekend as well – can’t wait to see what everyone has been up to (and eating)!!

July 4, 2010 at 1:24 pm 15 comments

Philly [Vegan] Eating

Against my better holiday-traffic judgment, yesterday I drove down to Philly to visit one of my best friends from graduate school.  We road tripped across the country together 2 years ago, so she knows just how food-centric I can be [the entire trip was planned around cupcakeries], and likewise we had a lovely day traveling around the city and stuffing our faces.

Steph & I circa 2008.

We started off with lunch at Mugshots Coffeehouse – we had gone here for coffee and dessert the last time I visited her, and I was secretly hoping we would return.  Their menu is jampacked with organic fare, and I’d say 50% of their menu is vegan – how about that??  Sandwiches, wraps, smoothies, muffins, cakes, cupcakes, cream cheese, etc. – all vegan options.  I had a terrible time choosing what to eat, and ended up having the barista choose for me: The Slammer: Lettuce, tomato, vegan meatballs, and avocado in a wheat wrap. It was different, messy, and delicious.  That’s why there is no photo of this – I stuffed it down faster than I was able to remember to whip out my camera. But I 100% recommend visiting this cafe – and I can say their vanilla soy latte and vegan carrot cake are creamy and flavorful – my non-vegan friend and I had to alternate spoonfuls to keep it “fair”. Yup.  Also bringing this location over the top is their prime location facing Eastern State Penitentiary – D and I will be returning next month to hit up both spots.

Steph and I then traveled across town (literally) to Sweet Freedom Bakery, which specializes in baking allergen-free: so they are vegan (dairy-free & egg-free), gluten-free, corn-free, wheat-free,  peanut-free, and even soy-free! With a list of restrictions that long, I was anxious to see how well they could pull off the goods.

The shop is cute & sweet (with nearly blue everything), and they offer a list of ingredients for each item in front of the display.  It was a hot day yesterday so I went with the Lemon Blueberry cupcake & Steph went for the mint chocolate cookie sandwich.

I was extremely wary about how tasty these were going to be – especially since I’ve had some terrible gluten-free cupcakes in the past.  These were phenomenal, and I give it to you straight – especially with cupcakes.  Really, so so moist and flavorful.  The lemon and blueberry balanced and I cannot for the life of me figure out how they were able to maintain all elements of a cupcake without so many “traditional” ingredients.  These ladies are masterminds!  The cookie sandwich was also out of control delicious – also very moist (but with a good crunch) and a fluffy sweet filling.  I can’t recommend this spot enough – especially if you have a lot of allergies.  After explaining my delight in enjoying these treats, an old woman inside (a “regular”) proclaimed she has celiac’s and this bakeshop is her lifeline!  Props to Sweet Freedom, we were happy chicas!

We walked back across town, shopped, people-watched, and then decided we could use one last food trip before I hit the road again.  We hit up The Belgian Cafe, also in her neighborhood. She piqued my interest when she said she brought her dad here and he fell in love with their vegan chicken wings. I’m in! I sipped on a Dogfish Festinal Peche – perfectly light for my developing beer palate.  We split the Vegan Spring Rolls (marinated tempeh and fresh vegetables with sour cherry compote)  & Stuffed Tofu (tofu marinated in Spaten Optimator, stuffed with dried cherries, cashews, cilantro, & garlic and  served on a bed of sesame spinach).

While the spring rolls were good – they were nothing different than any other I’ve had before.  The stuffed tofu, however, is worth mentioning.  It was delicious – I can’t even describe the flavors because they were too busy dancing in my mouth for me to break down.  They totally hit it home with this dish and you can absolutely consider me a fan of this establishment. They offer various other vegan options on the breakfast/sandwich/entree menus, we just ordered off the appetizers. Also – if you are a beer person, their list is pages long with a nice selection on tap.

Overall, after a day of walking and eating I was pretty wiped.  I had a fantastic start to my long weekend, and today was spent watching Europe dominate the World Cup quarter-finals and doing a little baking. How has your weekend been so far?

July 3, 2010 at 5:15 pm 10 comments

Mediterranean Feta Pasta

First and foremost – thanks for the hair support friends.  I know that post was way off topic, however it really rocked my boat to have my hair all skunky brewster and I needed to be able to share some of that energy with the world.  After the hair fiasco culminated, I continued the June pantry cleanse with another simple yet tasty meal. I dub this Mediterranean Feta Pasta [for fools].  this is really that simple and tasty.

Ingredients

  • 28oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 18oz can of cannellini beans, drained/rinsed
  • 10oz box chopped frozen spinach [let that 15-20 minutes]
  • 1/2 box penne
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 block crumbled soy feta [tomato garlic] – or more if you so desire!

Cook pasta in boiling water per box directions. Meanwhile, saute garlic in olive oil over medium heat until golden/fragrant.  Add tomatoes, basil, oregano, and beans and bring to boil.  Cover and simmer 10 minutes.  Add spinach and cook another 5-10 minutes, raising heat to medium, until most excess liquid reduced. Stir in feta, then mix in pasta.  Enjoy!

The meal was so quick to throw together and so delicious!  I especially love the chunks of tomatoes and the feta combo – it’s a different take on a traditional basil-centric summer pasta that is often consumed around here these days, and far more decadent thanks to the feta. D even said it was “really good” – he also felt the need to add “it would be better without the beans”.  I know you all disagree, as do I!  You can barely even tell there are beans in the dish quite frankly. Mind over matter D, even if you do have spidey sense for beans.

This recipe made a ton of pasta, even using only half a box.  I tried so hard to push off leftovers on my friends last night, but to no avail.  No one eats leftovers around here, such spoiled brats!  So tonight we are eating leftovers, and D can sulk about it all he wants unless he wants to pull dinner together.

On a personal note, I’d like to add that for the second time in my adult-life I’ve left the dentist without cavities!  Mind you, both visits occurred within the past 365 days, however prior to that I was glutton for punishment and feared the almighty dentist like the boogey man. I’ve learned that flossing and a sonic-care tooth brush can keep the dentist away the same way that an apple can for the doctor.  This is a moderate adult accomplishment for me. Hooray!

July 1, 2010 at 1:32 pm 3 comments


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