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.