Friday, December 29, 2006

Leftovers remix and more

One thing I forgot to mention about last night's pizza was that we had quite a bit of the sauce and the tofu mixture left over. We also had some collards that didn't get used in a previous meal (more on that in a bit). So I chopped the collards and cooked them with onion and garlic and a little more of the seitan broth. I also added salt & pepper and Spike seasoning, then I mixed in a little tomato paste at the end. The collards turned out quite fabulous on their own like this, but I mixed them into some cooked penne along with the sauce and tofu, then spread everything into a baking dish and baked at 375° for 25 minutes. Yum yum!

And here's something from a few nights ago. I made the white bean soup with collards that I've mentioned before, and to go with the soup, the White Bean and Tempeh Sausage Patties from Vegan with a Vengeance. The patties were excellent but I have to admit that I think I like the mock sausage recipe that we made on Christmas Eve from Cooking with PETA just a little better. Though the VWAV recipe is certainly a little more original.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Bolognese Bread Pizza

We've been thinking lately about veganizing more Food Network recipes. We've done this occasionally in the past and I've noticed in looking at our site statistics that sometimes traffic comes to our blog from Google searches for Food Network personalities. So maybe one day soon this post will get a few hits from people searching for "Rachael Ray pizza recipe". Because this is way better for you and infinitely better for farmed animals than anything Rachael Ray can do. Her recipe for Bolognese Bread Pizza aired recently and it occurred to me that I could easily veganize it.

And I had just the bread in mind too. Last month a co-worker pointed me to an article and recipe in the NY Times for no-knead bread. I tried it and it came out very crusty and tasty, but also very wide and flat. I've thought about making it again and using a smaller pot to contain it and potentially make it rise more, but I figured it'd be great for this pizza exactly as it came out the first time. So I made the bread yesterday and planned on pizza tonight (I had a bit of trouble with the bread recipe - let me know if you want to try it and I'll expand on that). I cut the bread in half across the width and scooped out some of the inside (which I'll dry and make bread crumbs from later), then toasted the bread in a 400° oven for a few minutes. Next I piled on some of the bolognese (recipe below), followed by marinated mushrooms and kalamata olives, and finally a rosemary-tofu mixture very much like the Basil-Tofu Ricotta in Vegan with a Vengeance (1 lb. tofu mashed with olive oil, fresh rosemary, lemon juice, garlic, nutritional yeast and salt & pepper). Then the pizzas went back into the oven under the broiler this time just until the toppings were heated through and starting to brown a little.

Here's what I did for the bolognese:

3 Tbs. olive oil
double recipe of faux beef seitan from La Dolce Vegan (or 1 lb. seitan of your choice)
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
pinch of crushed red pepper
1/3 c. seitan cooking liquid (or veg. stock)
24-oz. bottle of strained tomatoes (or a large can of crushed tomatoes)
2 Tbs. tomato paste
2 tsp. vegan worcestershire sauce
salt & pepper to taste

Finely chop seitan in a food processor. Heat oil in a large skillet and add onion and carrot and cook for a minute or two. Then add seitan and cook for several more minutes until vegetables are getting soft and seitan is getting brown. Add garlic, thyme and red pepper and cook another minute, then add seitan liquid and cook for 30 secs. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 15 minutes or so.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Christmas Dinner

This was quite similar to our Thanksgiving dinner I suppose, but different enough. The homemade puff pastry we did for Thanksgiving was split in half at that time, with the 2nd half being frozen for just this occasion. So we again created little turnovers from the puff pastry but this time they were filled with greens (kale and collards) and mushrooms (white button, portobello and shiitake). We also did a couple of Food Network recipes again, namely Emeril's Cranberry Conserve and Tyler Florence's Whipped Sweet Potatoes and Bananas. We cut the sweet potato recipe in half and it's easily veganized with margarine instead of butter and agave instead of honey. We also cut the margarine in half again and it was still excellent. Rounding out the plate were mashed Yukon gold potatoes with roasted garlic and mushroom gravy from Vegan with a Vengeance (I had hoped to use purple potatoes but we couldn't find any).

We thought about having something green on the plate as well, but instead I poked around our various cookbooks and found a nice salad recipe to start the meal. Mollie Katzen's Vegetable Heaven is a book we haven't used much lately, but it has some good recipes in it, like this Onion-Wilted Spinach Salad. Sliced onions are cooked in olive oil with a little bit of cumin seed, then the hot onions and oil are added to the spinach, causing it to wilt slightly. Some lemon juice goes into the equation, along with sliced apple, avocado, salt and fresh ground pepper. Definitely something we'll think about making again.


Oh, and for dessert? Vegan Eggnog Cheesecake from the Fatfree Vegan Kitchen. Susan's already taken quite beautiful pictures of her creation so I don't think another one is necessary here, but I will give the recipe two thumbs up - way up.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Waffles and Sausage

We usually like to do something fun for Christmas Eve, and what's more fun than breakfast for dinner? This time it was PPK/VWAV pumpkin waffles and vegan sausage. We also got a jump start on cooking for tomorrow and made cranberry conserve today and that went well with this meal too. For the sausage we used the recipe in Cooking with PETA. It was the first time we've tried that recipe but it came out really good - especially with a little drizzle of maple syrup on top.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Stir Fry


This was a total clean-out-the-fridge meal. In fact, there was something leftover from each of our last 4 posts. Cabbage from when we made chili, broccoli from the pasta, bell pepper from the calzones, and green onions and marinated tofu from the last post. I saved the tofu marinade too and that plus a little cornstarch made a nice sauce. I threw in a carrot too since we almost always have some on hand and as usual, we had our stir fry over brown rice. It wasn't spectacular, but quite good considering it was thrown together from leftovers.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Noodles & Tofu

Despite all the recipes we've already tried from Vegan with a Vengeance, there are still plenty more good ones we've yet to try. One thing we hadn't made was the marinated tofu - until tonight. I made the baked Asian style marinated tofu and it came out great. I made the tofu to go with a simple noodle dish (Asian Sesame-Soy Noodles) from Nava Atlas' The Vegetarian 5-Ingredient Gourmet. In this case the 5 ingredients were soba noodles, sesame oil, soy sauce, agave and scallions. I put some noodles on the plate, some tofu on top, and I spooned just a little of the tofu marinade on top. A bit of a brown plate to be sure, but very tasty just the same.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Calzones

This is something we've done here before but I was inspired to make calzones again by my blogging friend Bazu. We had some pizza sauce in the freezer from I don't remember when, and we recently picked up some Follow Your Heart vegan mozzarella at the store. I used the pizza dough recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance (but with half whole wheat flour) and we got 8 calzones out of it this time. In addition to the mozzarella, we filled them with a saute of zucchini, mushrooms, bell pepper, spinach and garlic and they were delicious as usual. On the side we had some of the pasta left over from the last post.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Pasta Marinara with Broccoli

This really isn't all that special but I haven't posted in a few days and I also wanted to give a nod to a book I haven't mentioned before. This is from 150 Vegan Favorites by Jay Solomon, which I think is the first vegan cookbook we bought. We haven't used it very often of late but it's got some good recipes in it. This one is relatively basic but easy and healthy. Just dice an onion and cook in olive oil, add some garlic, then a can of plum tomatoes and season with salt, pepper, basil and oregano. Cook all that for a bit then puree with a hand blender, then add about a cup or so of kidney beans. Meanwhile start your pasta cooking (whole wheat spaghetti in our case) and when there's about 3-4 minutes left until the pasta's done, add some broccoli florets to the boiling water. Spoon the sauce over the pasta and broccoli and you're done. Or if you like kalamata olives like we do and you have some on hand sprinkle a few of those on top.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Mitch's Vegetarian Chili

This recipe dates back a long time, to when we used to live in Raleigh, NC. There was a place called Mitch's right across the street from the NC State campus (maybe it's still there?) and we'd eat lunch there occasionally and we'd usually get their veggie chili. Then one day the chili recipe was published in the local paper and I clipped it out. We still make it every so often, but I guess it's been a while since the last time because we haven't mentioned it here yet. One great thing about this recipe is that it's almost entirely fat free. That was especially good for today since we had a few friends over earlier for a small memorial service for Violet and one of the items on the menu was apple uglies. So we definitely had our share of fat for the day.

But back to the chili. Tonight I made a couple of very small modifications but I'll just give you the original recipe and you can do what you like with it.

1/4 c. split peas
1/4 c. brown lentils
4 c. chopped green cabbage (about 1/4 of a large head)
2 medium onions, cut into 1/2" dice
6 c. water
2 Tbs. minced fresh jalapenos
4 medium carrots, diced
5 stalks celery, diced
2 Tbs. chopped fresh basil
1/3 c. chopped fresh cilantro
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs. salt
1 1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 Tbs. cumin seed
2 Tbs. chili powder
1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
2 15-oz. cans kidney beans, drained

Combine split peas, lentils, cabbage and onions in a large soup pot, cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for 30 minutes. Add remaining ingredients except beans. Bring back to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add beans and simmer another 30 minutes.

This makes a lot so you could easily cut the recipe in half. Or you could freeze half and have a quick meal with it in the future.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Quinoa-Peanut Soup

Just a quick note to second the opinion that this soup from Nava Atlas' Vegetarian Soups for All Seasons is a good one. I was inspired to try this after reading Eat Peace Please a couple nights ago and I'm glad I did. In addition to being yummy, it's very filling too, what with the peanut butter and quinoa and all those veggies too. The only thing I might do different next time is to add just a bit more quinoa since the small amount in the recipe got a little lost with the mounds and mounds of veggies I added.

Hmmm... two quinoa posts in a row. I guess that's because it's a good whole grain that cooks in less than half the time of brown rice.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Quinoa Jambalaya

I used to do something like this quite often way, way back in my pre-veg days and I'd make it with chicken. I don't remember where I initially found the recipe but no matter; it's been changed and veganized over the years and using quinoa instead of rice is yet another twist. Last time I made it with brown rice and it was marginally successful; this time was very good. I didn't measure anything except for the quinoa and liquid. Everything else is approximate but this should be close:

2 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 block extra firm tofu, cubed
1 Tbs. soy sauce
1 c. diced red onion
1 c. diced green bell pepper
1/2 c. diced celery
1/2 c. sliced button mushrooms
1 clove garlic, minced
1 c. (packed) choped kale
1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 c. quinoa
1 c. diced tomatoes (with their liquid)
1 c. vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
hot sauce to taste
salt & pepper to taste
chopped fresh parsley for garnish (optional)

Heat 1 Tbs. olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add tofu and cook, stirring occasionally until tofu is brown. Add soy sauce and cook for another minute or so, stirring constantly. Set tofu aside and add remaining olive oil to the same pan. Add onions and a pinch of salt and cook for a minute then add bell pepper, celery and mushrooms. Cook for several more minutes then add garlic, kale, basil and thyme and cook for another minute. Add quinoa and stir, then add stock, tomatoes, bay leaf, hot sauce, salt & pepper and mix well. Bring to a boil then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 16-18 minutes or until quinoa is tender and liquid is absorbed. Remove bay leaf and serve garnished with parsley.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Ginger Hoisin Soba Noodles

It figures. I talked about scaling back and now 2 nights in a row I've made something I deemed blog-worthy. This idea started with the Ginger Hoisin Rice Noodles recipe from The Everyday Vegan. We didn't have many of the veggies called for in the recipe so we changed that up based on what we had on hand, and we also used soba noodles instead of rice noodles. What we did have on hand worked well too - carrots, broccoli, red cabbage, shiitake mushrooms and cashews. I did the sauce straight from TEV and it came out really good (hoisin sauce, tamari, ginger, garlic, rice vinegar, sesame oil, corriander and crushed red pepper).

Dessert was great too - a parfait made with Darlene's special peanut butter pudding and carob pudding. The puddings are pretty simple; just silken tofu, powdered sugar, a little vanilla extract, and then peanut butter or melted carob chips (chocolate chips work wonderfully too).

Dilled Vegetable Barley Soup

Well we did try out a new recipe last night - another one from The Vegetarian Family Cookbook by Nava Atlas. We thought about making this as a starter for our Thanksgiving meal but decided that we had enough already. So it made a good dinner last night with nothing else but slices of whole wheat baguette. Like many soups, it starts out with a mirepoix, which is a fancy way of saying onions, carrots and celery sauteed in oil. There's also some garlic in there along with a diced potato (a yukon gold in this case). The recipe also calls for a small can of crushed tomatoes but all we had in that department was a can of whole fire roasted tomatoes and that made a fine substitution. There's the barley of course, and the liquid was the last of the vegetable stock and seitan broth left from Thanksgiving. I even found some fresh dill trying to make a comeback in our herb garden since it's been unseasonable warm here of late (though suddenly not so anymore). Oh, and I threw in some kale to up the good-for-you factor even more.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Scaling Back

No, we're not going anywhere. We are however, deciding to post a little less frequently. It seems we're repeating ourselves more and more often and unlike some people, we don't have the creativity or motivation to make something different every time we cook. Nor are we equipped to consistently produce amazing, gourmet meals. Oh, we have our moments, but with a year's worth of archives up now we feel like it's time to scale back a bit (and hopefully you can find plenty of ideas in said archives - along with plenty of evidence that vegans aren't just eating veggie burgers and salads for dinner every night).

For the last year, we've posted about everything from the fun and interesting to the mundane. In the forseeable future anyway there will be less mundane but that inevitably means fewer posts. For example, the last 3 nights we've had Tofu-Dill Salad Sammiches from Vegan with a Vengeance, gone out to eat at Maharaja and had red lentils with spinach (pictured above), all of which we've written about before (in some cases more than once). And really, how many times can we post about gnocchi anyway?

So with apologies to those of you who have enjoyed all of our 6+ posts a week for the past year, for now I think we'll shoot for something on the order of half that. We really appreciate all of you reading and leaving us wonderful, supportive comments and we hope you'll continue to do so. And now maybe we'll even have time to read and comment on all of your awesome blogs more often.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Pasta with Red Chili Peanut Sauce

This one here's a repeat (we posted the recipe back in the Spring). Something fairly quick and with more whole grains (whole wheat spaghetti) and good-for-you veggies (steamed broccoli). And I found some cilantro in the fridge so that worked as a garnish.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Stir Fry

Thanksgiving food was good but now the leftovers are gone and between the stuffing, puff pastry and all the desserts I think we went through a 5 pound bag of white flour in the last week. So I decided whole grains would be good tonight. The fridge was sparse again but we had a small red cabbage, plus some seitan left from the pre-Thanksgiving batch. So a stir fry seemed relatively quick and easy and we had it over brown rice. In addition to the cabbage and seitan, I added carrots, green onions, garlic and ginger. I winged it on the sauce but it came out pretty good - it was some of the seitan cooking liquid, plus soy sauce, rice vinegar, agave, a little chili oil and cornstarch.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Vanilla Pudding


Here's the promised picture of the pumpkin cheesecake (recipe here). It was most excellent, especially with the vanilla pudding. The fresh vanilla in the pudding really made the flavor pop. The pudding recipe is a really simple one from Very Vegetarian that we do from time to time. Mix 1/3 c. sugar, 2 1/2 Tbs. cornstarch and a pinch of salt in a saucepan, then whisk in 2 c. soymilk or Silk creamer. Cook over medium heat continuing to stir frequently until it's nice and thick then add 2 tsp. vanilla extract (or 1 tsp. plus the insides of one vanilla bean) and 1-2 Tbs. margarine. Then refrigerate until it's cool.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Post Thanksgiving Lunch

Darlene's sister Kristen and her husband Ryan are in town for the holiday and we had them over for lunch today. We have so many Thanksgiving leftovers that we could've avoided cooking but we wanted to do something new (and keep the leftovers for ourselves ;-). We made the Jay-Lo's Fried "Chicken" from La Dolce Vegan and since it's the time of holiday excess and all we deep fried those yummy seitan strips to make them even more tasty. We also had some of the Mac & Cheeze from Very Vegetarian that we've posted about before and some steamed green beans. A bit of a Southern style meal and the muscadine wine topped it off (though admittedly now I'm not sure about the total vegan-ness of that stuff). But I am certain that we have enough leftovers so that we won't be cooking for at least the rest of the weekend.

Here's Kristen, Ryan and Darlene sitting down for lunch...

Thanksgiving Feast


Here's what you've all been waiting for (all 3 of you ;-) This was a very sad Thanksgiving for us but cooking was a distraction and we made a lot of good food. We rarely eat at our table but Thanksgiving is one of those occasions when we do and for the last 8 years, whenever we sat at the table Violet would invariably end up in one of our laps trying to sneak some food. Not so this year. And she missed a good spread:
  • Puff pastry turnovers filled with seitan and stuffing
  • More stuffing on the side
  • Whipped sweet potatoes and bananas
  • Roasted potatoes
  • Mushroom gravy
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cranberry conserve
  • Pumpkin cheesecake
  • Apple cider cupcakes
We started cooking on Wednesday and like last year, everything was completely from scratch. For the turnovers, we used Emeril's recipe for the puff pastry dough, substituting Earth Balance margarine for the butter. We filled them with stuffing and turkey-style seitan (recipe from La Dolce Vegan). Once again the puff pastry came out completely awesome - not the best thing for you but hey, it's a holiday meal.

The stuffing I did just like last year (follow the link above, a basic recipe is there). It's so much better (and cheaper) if you can use homemade bread for your stuffing. This was fairly traditional with onions, celery and apples (though I forgot to add the walnuts) and it was seasoned with fresh sage, thyme and marjoram.

For the potatoes, we got some Ruby Crescent fingerlings and purple potatoes and roasted them with olive oil, salt & pepper and fresh rosemary and thyme.

We also decided to do some kind of sweet potato casserole this year and we had some ideas for coming up with our own recipe but then Darlene happened to catch Tyler Florence on the Food Network doing a sweet potato dish with bananas. It sounded good so we went with that recipe. We cut the recipe in half and used margarine instead of butter and agave instead of honey and it was amazingly good - we could've had it for dessert if we didn't already have other good stuff for that purpose.

The gravy was the Mushroom Sauce (made into a gravy by the addition of flour) from Vegan with a Vengeance and it was awesome. For the brussels sprouts we used a great sweet/sour recipe we found a while back on the Vegan Lunch Box. And we went back to the Food Network for the cranberry recipe. We always use fresh cranberries (I don't know why so many people use that canned stuff) but we usually keep it simple. This was slightly more involved but still easy to do and very tasty. It's one of the few times we've seen Emeril make something that's vegan.

And finally, dessert. You've already seen the cupcakes, and the cheesecake is very similar to the recipe that Darlene posted last year. I think the only difference this year is that we didn't make the topping and we used a whole can of pumpkin instead of using fresh pumpkin. We still don't have a pic of the cheesecake but maybe we'll get one before it's gone.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

And the mystery ingredient is...

Vanilla beans. Even with our free gift card it's crazy that we paid over 8 bucks for 2 vanilla beans right? We used one of them today for the vanilla buttercream frosting that went on top of the apple cider cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. And the real vanilla was good but I don't know if it was worth it. Not for the frosting anyway, which is all sugar and fat. We also made our pumpkin cheesecake today and tomorrow we'll make some vanilla pudding to go with the cheesecake. I think the real vanilla will be better served with the pudding. The desserts and a few other things (like homemade vegetable stock) were a jump start today for our Thanksgiving feast tomorrow. More on that later - for now check out the cupcakes. The vanilla's in the frosting you've just gotta look real close.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Curried Potatoes and Fruited Couscous

These are the first recipes we've tried from The Vegetarian Family Cookbook by Nava Atlas and both were excellent. The Curried Potatoes with Peas, Raisins, and Cashews is just that. We used a combination of red and yukon gold potatoes and added them to some onions and green chilies that had been cooked in olive oil. The seasoning is just curry powder and cumin and there's a little lemon juice in there as well. For the couscous, you cook some onion and a diced apple in olive oil then add a little curry powder and cinnamon along with some dried fruit (I used dark raisins and diced dried peaches). A little orange juice goes into the mix then the cooked couscous gets mixed in and some slivered almonds go on top.

Now for something in the "small victory" category. Every year, our favorite local radio station teams up with Whole Foods and does a Thanksgiving contest. Every day for a week or so before Thanksgiving if you're the first caller when they play a turkey call you win a "natural, organic, free-range turkey" from Whole Foods. Only occasionally they mention that if you're vegetarian you can get something else. This year I was determined to win so there'd be one less person getting the turkey. I tried several times to no avail but after a few days I finally got it. And the vegetarian alternative turned out to be a plain 'ol $25 gift card. So we did part of our Thanksgiving shopping at Whole Foods this morning and our cart was full of nothin' but veggies. And because we had the gift card we splurged on something rather expensive that we never would've bought otherwise. Stay tuned to find out what that might be...

Monday, November 20, 2006

Spring Rolls

Something else we've done many times before but this time with a slight twist. We were in our local Asian market buying the spring roll wrappers and we were checking out what kinds of tofu they had when we spied another package that said "vegetarian chicken". It was basically just processed and seasoned seitan but we decided to get a package and give it a try. I don't really remember what chicken tastes like but I imagine this stuff was in the same ballpark. At any rate, it was something different to put in our spring rolls. It went in there along with the napa cabbage, snow peas, carrots, mushrooms and scallions. For the dipping sauce this time we relied on the sweet and sour sauce that was still hanging on in the fridge from our "neat" ball adventure. The sauce had been in there a while but we're not picky about using old stuff from the back of the fridge. It didn't have anything growing on it, then it didn't smell funky, and finally the taste test revealed that it was fine.

On the side we had a simple salad of red leaf lettuce, carrots and cucumbers with our standard sesame oil/rice vinegar/soy sauce dressing. Yum. Oh, and key lime pie for dessert. Double yum.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Sweet Potato Chili

This is something we used to make quite often but it hasn't appeared here yet so I know it's been over a year since we last made it. It's from the first vegetarian cookbook we ever bought - The Meatless Gourmet - Favorite Recipes from Around the World by Bobbie Hinman (which has since been re-published with a new title - The Vegetarian Gourmet's Easy International Recipes). In the past I've followed the recipe in the book fairly closely but tonight I adapted it somewhat based on what we had on hand:

1 Tbs. oil
1 medium white onion, diced
1 small jalapeno, minced (or to taste)
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
salt & pepper to taste
1 large sweet potato (about 1 lb.) peeled and cut into about 1/2" dice
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 15 oz. can black beans, drained
1 medium apple, peeled and diced (I used a Pink Lady but a Granny Smith would be fine.)
1 c. canned pineapple chunks

Heat oil over medium to medium-high heat in a 4-5 qt. pot. Add onion and jalapeno and cook for several minutes, then add garlic and spices and cook another minute. Add remaining ingredients, mix well and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer until sweet potatoes are tender, 30-40 minutes (you can make it go faster if you keep the heat a little higher and/or dice the sweet potato smaller). It goes great with rice or in this case cornbread.

We're out of town this weekend but we're already planning for our vegan Thanksgiving feast next week.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Breakfast Burrito

At one time we thought about doing something special for our blog anniversary, but our motivation being what it is these days that didn't pan out. So another idea came about, based in large part on the fact that our fridge was looking very sparse. One of the reasons we started this blog was to disprove stereotypes about vegan food. I hope we've done that but tonight we've come full circle in a way by having a dinner that's full of stereotypes. What do vegans eat? Salads? Tofu? Fake meat? Burritos? Anyone who pokes around our archives can see there's a lot more than that but tonight, well... the stereotypical vegan food is kicked up just a little bit at least.

We had a simple salad with leaf lettuce, carrots, red onions and toasted pine nuts. At our last Trader Joe's run we picked up a bottle of orange champagne vinegar and it makes an excellent dressing. Whisk all of this stuff together in a bowl or shake it in a jar:

3 Tbs. orange champagne vinegar
1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
1 Tbs. agave
3 Tbs. flax oil
3 Tbs. olive oil
pinch of garlic powder and fresh ground pepper

In the burrito was a basic scrambled tofu with a couple of diced soy sausage patties thrown in. It also had red onion and grated carrot and was seasoned with salt & pepper, paprika, turmeric, nutritional yeast and a little lemon juice. And I also made some hash browned potatoes that I threw into the burrito, though you could have the tofu and hash browns without the tortilla and it'd be equally yummy. Don't you love a little breakfast for dinner?

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

One Year

We had dinner out tonight with some new friends but today marks the end of our first year of doing this blog so I though I'd get a post up. With Violet gone we're not in much of a mood for celebration these days but I did come up with a few numbers to share. We've come a long way since our first post. In the last year we've had 342 posts which comes out to over 6.5 per week. I thought it would be interesting to go back and look at how many times we used recipes from or mentioned various cookbooks. We got our copy of Vegan with a Vengeance right before we started this blog and I knew that would come out on top but there were many others as well. This is a very quick unscientific tally of any recipe source we mentioned more than twice:

Vegan with a Vengeance, 68
Vive le Vegan!, 20
La Dolce Vegan, 10
Vegetarian Times Magazine, 7
The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen, 5
Very Vegetarian, 5
Fatfree Vegan blog, 5
teany book, 4
Sinfully Vegan, 4
Cooking with PETA, 4
Horn of the Moon Cookbook, 3
The Uncheese Cookbook, 3
Cooking Light Magazine, 3

At the beginning we promised that we could point you to recipes that were created by other talented people and I guess we've done that.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Soup and a Sandwich

Usually if I make soup I like to make something hearty that's a meal by itself. Tonight though we had an idea to make a barbecue sandwich and we figured a lighter soup would go well with that. The Carrot Bisque from Vegan with a Vengeance was perfect; I halved the recipe and we just happened to have half a can of coconut milk in the fridge that we really needed to use. That might've been the first time I've had a carrot soup and it was excellent.

Also in the interest of using things up, I shredded half a head of cabbage that had been sitting around for a while and made that into coleslaw last night. Then tonight I cut up some seitan and quickly fried it in a little oil before pouring store-bought barbecue sauce on top. I made some nice multi-grain bread this past weekend and that was perfect for sandwiches with the seitan and coleslaw.

Oh, and as a side note, I'm not typically a big football fanatic but I admit I did think about putting the orange soup in the blue bowl in honor of my Florida Gators who are still in the national title hunt (albeit barely). And they're still #1 in basketball too. OK, I'm through now...

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Gnocchi with Broccoli and Pesto

If you've been hanging around here a while you know we've made gnocchi many, many times in the past. But has anyone noticed that it hasn't appeared here for several months now? That's only because we usually stock up on packages of gnocchi at Trader Joe's and we haven't been to TJ's in quite a while. With all that's happened with Violet these last few months we haven't been anywhere in a while but we did get down to Virginia Beach on Friday and that trip included a stop at one of the newest TJ's in Newport News. So we cracked open a package of gnocchi tonight and had it with broccoli and some pesto that's been in our freezer since this time last year (like most of the rest of our garden this year, the basil never really did much). On the side is some whole wheat toast with an olive tapenade that Darlene made last week.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Pomegranate Portobellos & Tempeh

Several months ago at Trader Joe's we bought a bottle of pomegranate glaze because it looked interesting. We actually used a little of it when we made BBQ Tofu, but since then it's been sitting in the fridge. Then just recently I picked up a whole pomegranate when they were on sale at one of our local grocery stores. I wasn't sure what to do with that either but then I got the idea of baking some tofu or tempeh in the glaze and sprinkling the pomegranate seeds on top. Well it was unseasonably warm here today so I thought I'd break out the grill one last time and fire up some tempeh and portobello mushrooms. I made a marinade with the pomegranate glaze, water, olive oil and a little salt and poured that over the tempeh and mushrooms. Later when I went out back and took the top off our itty-bitty hand-me-down grill I realized two things. One, I hadn't cleaned it since the last time I used it and 2) it had a big rusty hole in the bottom of it. So on to plan B which is to use a grill pan on the stove top and smoke up the house since we don't have an exhaust fan in our kitchen.

But first I cut open the pomegranate to retrieve the seeds. Tedious work that, and I decided I probably wouldn't buy another pomegranate any time soon. I did manage to extract most of the seeds though and I saved a few for a garnish and juiced the rest. The juice went into a most excellent apple crisp Darlene made for dessert. But I was talking about mushrooms and tempeh... Those were grilled on the stove top and came out quite good - especially with a dab of barbecue sauce on the side. The smoke alarm went off but sometimes these things happen. And in the good-for-you department we also had some kale on the side - cooked with onions and garlic and Spike seasoning (my new favorite way to cook greens).

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Brown Rice Pizza

We've been thinking about trying this rather unconventional pizza recipe from Vive le Vegan! for quite a while and we finally got to it tonight. The main break from convention is in the crust, which is made by mixing cooked brown rice with herbs and olive oil and pressing it into a pan. Then some pizza sauce goes on top along with some roasted veggies - we did zucchini, green bell pepper and shiitake mushrooms. We also put some vegan cheese on top - the Follow Your Heart mozzarella. We've tried the FYH cheddar flavor before and it was so-so, but the mozzarella was pretty good on the pizza. And the brown rice crust was quite good too, and very good for you. It didn't turn out to be something you could pick up with your hands like a standard pizza but it tasted good.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Wraps

We were busy this afternoon making apple uglies, which we haven't done in quite a while, so we decided on something quick for dinner. I started out with the Broccoli Burritos recipe from the last issue of VegNews but then I went in a slightly different direction. First I mashed a can of chickpeas with a few tablespoons each of pimientos and Vegenaise, then added a chopped stalk of celery and salt & pepper. I also steamed some broccoli and cauliflower and that went into tortillas with the chickpea mixture and avocado and lettuce. Simple but quite good and filling.

Sourdough Banana Pancakes

I haven't made bread in a while so I figured I'd do it this week since I'm off work. There's always starter left over when making sourdough and it works well for pancakes. I veganized and adapted this recipe from Nancy Silverton's Breads From the La Brea Bakery. I posted this once before way back when, but I tweaked the recipe again this morning and I think it came out better (this assumes you have a wet starter). Mix all this stuff in a bowl then do what you'd do for any other pancake:

2 c. sourdough starter
1 mashed banana
1 Tbs. ground flax seed
2 Tbs. whole wheat flour
2 Tbs. maple syrup
3 Tbs. oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda


We also wanted to let everyone know that we decided to continue posting on Violet's blog to keep her spirit alive and share more stories about her.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Seitan Burgers and Fried Pickles

Yup. Fried pickles. I'd never heard of such a thing until we had them several years ago at a place called Hodad's on the North Carolina Outer Banks. We've had them at the same place many times since then though now I'm not entirely sure if they're vegan. Thankfully I recently noticed the Shook 'N' Cook Pickles recipe in La Dolce Vegan and I knew we had to make some of our own. We wanted to have something fun for dinner tonight and this was it. Of course fried pickles do not a dinner make so I poked around for a good veggie burger recipe and I found one in an old issue of Vegetarian Times (actually the July, 2000 issue has several good veggie burger recipes).

I was just on the phone with my friend Anubhav and he was interested in the pickle recipe so I hope Sarah Kramer doesn't mind if I post it (it's so yummy!). This is ever so slightly adapted:

Buzz the following together in a food processor:
1/2 c. corn flakes
1/4 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. each black pepper, paprika, sugar, garlic powder and onion powder

Then mix together 1/4 c. maple syrup and 1 Tbs. Dijon mustard in a shallow bowl. Slice 5 medium dill pickles into quarters, coat with the maple/mustard mixture then dredge in the breading (or put the pickles and breading in a bag or Tupperware container and shake well). Deep fry for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown. (You could pan fry 'em too but that's not as fun.) We had ours with some Veganaise on the side for dipping though if you have some of the maple/mustard mixture left over that also works.

The burgers came out really good too. They were primarily seitan, chopped fine in a food processor then mixed with sauteed onion, bell pepper, shiitake mushrooms, garlic and seasonings. The binder was primarily whole wheat flour and cornmeal and there was a little chipotle pepper in there to give it some kick. We had them with lettuce, avocado and barbecue sauce and they complemented the pickles nicely ;-)

Monday, November 06, 2006

Pho Bo

As you might imagine our motivation is a little lacking these days so I'm posting last night's dinner tonight. And tonight all we had were leftovers. We're in need of distractions so we had a friend over for dinner last night. Typically when we have someone over we'll make something tried and true but this time we tried something new. The Pho Bo, or Vietnamese "Beef" Noodle Soup turned out to be another gem from Nava Atlas' Vegetarian Soups for All Seasons. It's veganized with the help of seitan and vegetable stock and it hit the spot on a cold night. We started with a basic salad with our simple Asian dressing of sesame oil, rice vinegar and soy sauce and we also made some fried rice.
Edit: I just realized that the Pho Bo recipe is also in the latest issue of VegNews (Nov/Dec 06)

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Pasta

First, a sincere thank you to everyone who has sent us comments and thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. It means a lot to us that so many people we've never met would take the time to offer us words of support. One of the reasons we started this blog was so that we could feel connected to a broader community of people who share our compassionate views and we're feeling that connection now more than ever.

I was talking to my aunt last night and not long after losing both of her parents several years ago she also lost a wonderful dog. And now she has another beautiful dog who's just been diagnosed with cancer. But she reminded me that even though times are tough we need to make sure we take care of ourselves. I'm trying to remember that advice so in addition to taking a shower for the first time in days today we also cooked dinner for the first time in a week. It wasn't anything special but it was a diversion for at least a little while. We had to toss some veggies that had been in the fridge for well over a week but we did salvage some cauliflower, a little broccoli and a red bell pepper. I cooked all that in olive oil with a small diced onion and some garlic then added some diced tomatoes and balsamic vinegar and seasoned it with paprika, basil, salt & pepper. I tossed in the pasta and some toasted pine nuts and it was a decent meal.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Violet 1998 - 2006


Our best friend is gone. Words can't describe the train wreck that is our emotions. I suppose we'll be back to cooking and posting soon but right now all we want to do is cry.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Product Review: bake at home energy bars

First off, we haven't posted in a few days and we may be posting infrequently over the next few days because we're going through the wringer again with Violet. I did want to get this one out though so here goes. The folks at Matisse & Jack's asked us to review their new bake-at-home energy bars (disclosure - we're not getting anything else for this other than a couple of boxes of their energy bar mix).

I've eaten a lot of energy bars in my day, mostly Clif bars, but I never really considered the impact of all those wrappers. There are millions upon millions of these things being sold these days and all those wrappers take up a lot of landfill space. Now the best thing you could do to avoid that impact would be to make your own energy bars from scratch, but what people like about the packaged bars is their convenience. Enter Matisse & Jack's. They make a boxed mix that you bake at home by adding one or two wet ingredients. Each box makes 9 bars so you're definitely saving some packaging, but they really taste a lot better and more fresh than the pre-packaged variety too (and they're cheaper). Currently they have two flavors available, Cranberry Walnut and Chocolate Chip. Everything in the box is vegan and you can bake them vegan by just adding applesauce as the wet ingredient. The other option is a combination of applesauce and yogurt and soy yogurt will work too. In fact we baked one box each way and I think I liked the ones with the soy yogurt slightly better. Either way they taste better than my old Clif bars and you can tote them around in a re-usable container rather than tossing a wrapper in the trash. They're softer and a little more cake-like than other energy bars and that's generally a good thing, although I'm not sure if they'd hold up quite as well stuffed into a jersey pocket on a long bike ride. The main advantage the pre-packaged energy bars have is their shelf life and for that reason I'll probably continue to stand by Clif - they're a pretty good company I think - but I'll also probably buy fewer of them and more of the Matisse & Jack's.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Sweet and Sour "Neat" Balls

Another recent addition to our cookbook collection is Dreena's The Everyday Vegan. We like her 2nd book Vive le Vegan! so we decided to round out the collection with this one (can't wait for the next one either). We're looking forward to delving into this book some more but this recipe is definitely a winner. The 'neat' balls are made with finely chopped or crumbled tofu, minced veggies, bread crumbs and other yummy stuff (like hoisin, miso and roasted garlic). At first I thought they might not hold together but once I got in there with my hands and mixed everything around well all was good (sometimes you just have to get your hands dirty). The homemade sweet & sour sauce was delicious too and we had them over quinoa with some sauteed mustard greens on the side.

Another Cupcake Picture

I know, I know, vegan cupcakes are everywhere now (as their long march to take over the world continues). This was last night's dessert, which we ended up eating before dinner. How can you go wrong with a banana cupcake with peanut buttercream frosting? It's "The Elvis" variation of the Banana Split Cupcakes and my mouth's watering just thinking about them now.

The rest of this is probably not of interest to anyone who's not local, but we had some errands to do last night so we went out to eat at our old standby, Ming Dynasty. Plus we wanted to check out the rumor we heard that it had changed ownership. Sure enough, the wonderful owner who's been a fixture there in the 5 years we've been going (and for many more years than that we've heard) was nowhere to be seen. But more telling was a new alcohol license in the window bearing a different name. The extensive vegetarian menu's still the same and our waiter was familiar but the food was lacking a little something. It's never been gourmet food to begin with and what we had last night was good but we've had the same dishes in the past and I think they were just a touch better. Sigh...

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Nachos

I was thinking about making something else tonight but we didn't have all the ingredients. Then I opened the cabinet and spied a full bag of tortilla chips we bought recently. We also had some tofu sour cream that we needed to use up, and we almost always have black beans and salsa on hand so I figured nachos would be fun. I cooked some onion, bell pepper, carrots, broccoli and garlic in oil then added chili powder, cumin and oregano. Next in went a can of black beans and some canned diced tomatoes and I cooked everything together and mashed the beans a little in the process. Then I spread the chips on a baking sheet and spooned the black bean mixture on top along with some salsa and the tofu sour cream. It doesn't need to bake for very long - 350° for 15 minutes should do the trick. For starters we had a basic salad with Dreena's Cumin Lime Vinaigrette - always good to have with Mexican/Southwestern dishes (or any other time for that matter).

Polenta Lasagna

So this is one answer to the question about using the leftover creamed spinach. This recipe is also (mostly) from The Convenient Vegetarian and it is convenient. I sliced a store-bought package of polenta and fried the slices in olive oil until golden brown on each side. I removed that from the pan and quickly fried some diced seitan (the recipe calls for crumbled tofu to be mixed with the spinach but we didn't have any and I figured the seitan might be better anyway).

To put it together, I put a little marinara sauce from a jar in the bottom of the pan then added some of the polenta, then some leftover spinach, then some seitan, then another layer of polenta, spinach and seitan. I poured the rest of the marinara sauce over the top, covered and simmered for about 5 minutes until everything was heated through. If you have time, it's not hard to make your own marinara but the store-bought stuff was pretty good and made this whole dish come together quickly. I just love one pot meals, especially yummy ones like this.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Creamed Spinach

Another cookbook we've added to our collection recently is The Convenient Vegetarian by Virginia Messina and Kate Schumann. I'd never heard of it and I might not've sought it out and/or bought it new but we happened upon it at a used book store last week and it was $3.50 so we figured we'd give it a shot. It's all vegan and is mostly all about quick and easy meals. This spinach recipe came together quickly with onions & garlic, frozen spinach, silken tofu, veg. broth, sun-dried tomatoes and a few seasonings. We had it over cous cous with some toast on the side and it was quite good. It'd also be good with pasta. This came from the "planover" section of the book, which is about taking a basic recipe then making a new meal on another night from the leftovers. So what would you do with leftover creamed spinach? We'll be taking a cue from this book and incorporating the leftovers into another meal soon so stay tuned.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Jerk Seitan

It's been too long since we've had this great recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance. I'd been thinking about making it for a couple weeks and today I finally found the time. We've had it with mashed potatoes before but this time we took Isa's suggestion and had it with her coconut rice (only with brown rice). Also on the side are some collards that I've been meaning to do something with since I got them at the market last weekend. That's the thing about buying things fresh from the farmers' market - they've just been picked and they'll often keep in the fridge for a week. As for cooking the greens, we've tried various methods but tonight they came out really good with just a little onion and garlic and Spike seasoning. We'd never tried the Spike before but we had some excellent greens at the Charlottesville Vegetarian Festival recently and we asked the woman at the booth how she made them. For one thing she used a wide variety of greens, but she also put us on to the Spike seasoning and I have to say, that stuff's pretty good. We found it in our local mainstream grocery store so I would think it's pretty widely available.