Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas Dinner 2008

The Voluptuous Vegan served us well for last year's Christmas dinner and that Seitan Bourguignonne recipe has been on my list for a long time so there you go. We sort of followed the menu idea in the book, starting with a simple salad of mesclun, carrots and an orange champagne vinaigrette (which is a fancy way of saying I mixed Trader Joe's orange champagne vinegar with olive oil, mustard, salt & pepper). The menu suggestion is to serve the seitan with mashed potatoes and parsnips but I wasn't too keen on the look of the parsnips we found in the grocery store so I made mashed potatoes and celery root instead.

Speaking of the grocery store, the first thing that dawned on me, shortly after arriving, was that this is not an inexpensive meal. Start with the alcohol (red wine and mirin) and already we'd spent more than we do for most meals. Then there's the shiitake and porcini mushrooms (we subbed plain 'ol button 'shrooms for some of the shiitakes), and red bell pepper isn't cheap this time of year either. Having said all that though, this recipe makes a lot. We had it for dinner three nights in a row and there's still a little left over. Oh, and the flavor. Layer upon layer of rich complex flavor. Definitely something worthy of serving company. And worthy of a holiday meal too. Especially Christmas, what with the red pepper and green peas and all.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Quinoa with Seitan and Vegetables

I've managed to check off at least a couple of things from my list. The Sauteed Seitan with Mushrooms and Spinach from Veganomicon made for a fairly simple but very delicious meal a few nights ago (sorry, no pictures of that one). I also went back to the test kitchen with my seitan patties this past weekend. This time it was for sort of a chorizo style, seasoned with smoked paprika, cumin, oregano, cayenne, fennel seed and garlic. And once I made the seitan the idea for this quinoa dish started formulating. Actually it was going to be a rice dish but we were out of white rice and I didn't feel like waiting for brown rice, so quinoa made a fine substitution. Here's how it went down.

1 lb. seitan
3 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 med. onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
pinch saffron
14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
3/4 c. water
1 c. quinoa
1-2 c. broccoli florets
1/2 c. frozen peas
salt & pepper to taste

Short version: cook onion in 1 Tbs. olive oil; add garlic, thyme, paprika, saffron. Add remaining ingredients, bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes until liquid is absorbed. Meanwhile chop the seitan and fry in 2 Tbs. olive oil until nice and brown. Stir into the quinoa at the end.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

To Do

I know it's been a lot of the same 'ol same 'ol when the best thing I could come up with to post about was a tofu scramble. Actually I did manage to make the Pumpkin Baked Ziti from Veganomicon for a holiday potluck but I've already posted about that. So now I'm resorting to a post not about something I've cooked but about some things I'd like to cook. Maybe one of these days soon. In no particular order...
  • Seitan Bourguignonne from The Voluptuous Vegan. Might try this for Christmas dinner.
  • Sauteed Seitan with Mushrooms and Spinach from Veganomicon. Something fairly simple I might get to soon.
  • Cajun Meatloaf from Vegan Dad. Well, I'd really like to make almost everything that Vegan Dad posts.
  • Continue experimenting with my seitan patties.
  • Re-visit the Apple Uglies. But instead of apples use pears and ginger.
  • Delve more into the Real Food Daily cookbook. I checked it out from the library again but I've hardly touched it and now it's due in 3 days. Maybe I can renew it...
  • Another video. Any requests? Is anyone actually reading this?
So what's on your list?

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Simple Wraps

Are there any Annie's Goddess Dressing fans out there? Well here's an idea for you. Put some rice on a tortilla, add whatever veggies you like, slather on some Goddess dressing and roll it up. This was a quick meal from a few nights ago. I had already cooked brown rice and a couple sweet potatoes the night before. When it was time for dinner on this night, I started by cooking a couple chopped scallions and some garlic in olive oil in a cast iron skillet. Then I added a can of black beans and the sweet potatoes. I mashed this mixture up a little bit, cooked until it was heated through, then put it on whole wheat tortillas with the rice and Goddess dressing. If you're not a fan of the Goddess then pick your own personal favorite.

On another note, if you visit this blog in a web browser you may have noticed that I updated the template. When I did that, the blogroll and other links that used to be on the side went away. I added some links back based on what was in my Google reader but since I rarely use Google reader that wasn't an exhaustive list. So if there was a link to your blog there before and there's not one there now, my apologies - hopefully I'll get around to adding it again soon.
I'm still not totally happy with how the site looks so if I can ever find more time I'll probably keep futzing with it.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanksgiving Feast 2008

How many of you out there in veg-land have had a Tofurkey on Thanksgiving? Or at any other time? I was just trying to remember Thanksgivings past and I realized this was at least our 12th vegan Thanksgiving meal (and there were one or two more that were vegetarian and possibly vegan). In all that time we'd never had a Tofurkey. Our centerpiece has most often been a layered vegetable pie of some sort but the point has always been to cook from scratch and highlight the vegetables. That can take a lot of time though, something that's in short supply this year. Now it's all about convenience so we went with the Tofurkey. We still spent some time in the kitchen cooking other dishes but not nearly as much time as in years past. The Tofurkey comes with stuffing and gravy, and to complement all that we also made roasted potatoes, green beans, cranberry sauce and pumpkin cheesecake.

For the potatoes I just roasted Yukon golds with olive oil, rosemary, salt & pepper while the Tofurkey was cooking. Like the last 2 years, the cranberries were a modified Emeril recipe. I wanted to try at least one new recipe though so I made the Green Beans with Walnuts and Shallot Crisps from the latest issue of Vegetarian Times. These were definitely a step up from your standard green beans. And finally there was dessert! Darlene made her pumpkin cheesecake again this year and it was fabulous! (In fact we just had some for breakfast...)

Though I missed our over-the-top Thanksgiving meals from years past just a bit, the Tofurkey was pretty good and very easy to prepare. The Tofurkey itself, and the gravy in particular was a bit salty for our tastes but that's what happens when you don't control every aspect of your food preparation.

Dessert was a big highlight for us as always, but also for baby Jonas. No, it'll be a while before he has cheesecake but we did save a little of the plain pumpkin that went into the cheesecake and he thoroughly enjoyed it.

As for us, we thoroughly enjoyed our Thanksgiving dinner and eating up the leftovers too. Including these waffles with cranberry sauce we had for breakfast yesterday. We hope you all had a happy vegan Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Easy Curries

Finding vegan recipes on the Food Network is a rare thing indeed but sometimes you find one that's super easy to veganize. This Vegetable Curry recipe from a past episode of Good Eats is a case in point. Just swap in soy yogurt and you're good to go. This comes together in a snap and the variations are endless. We followed the recipe as is once last week and last night we swapped the mixed vegetables with a bag of frozen chopped spinach and a can of chickpeas. Both variations were excellent.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Why No Thanksgiving Turkey

With Thanksgiving coming up in the U.S. I just thought I'd take a moment to talk turkey. Or lack thereof. We don't eat turkey on Thanksgiving for the same reason we don't eat turkey (or any other meat) on any other day of the year. So no animals have to suffer purely for our own indulgence. Not when there are so many other amazing things to eat that are far less cruel. In fact if you look at the archives of this blog alone you'll find over 500 other things to eat. And for specific holiday ideas take a look at our past Thanksgiving posts here, here and here.

Many people say they have turkey on Thanksgiving because of tradition, but tradition is what you make it. We've made a tradition of having a meatless Thanksgiving for 10 years now and this year will be no different. Check that. It will be different in that we'll introduce our son to this tradition and hope that he will carry it on himself one day.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe and Seitan

This is what we did for our blog anniversary. It may not make the next top ten list but it's interesting (to me anyway) because I've never cooked with broccoli rabe before. Broccoli rabe (aka Rapini) is more like a bitter green than like broccoli and it has a very pungent flavor, a little bit akin to mustard greens I guess.

I got this idea from a cooking show we happened upon last weekend on PBS. There was an Italian woman on there making orecchiette with broccoli rabe and sausage (and also lots of butter and cheese). I was intrigued and I figured I could easily veganize something like this, thereby leaving out a lot of fat (and a lot of cruelty). I didn't recall her exact recipe or even what show we were watching but I remembered the general idea. Which goes like this:

1 lb. package orecchiette (or other small pasta)
1/4 c. olive oil
1 lb. seitan, diced (see following recipe)
2 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1 lb. broccoli rabe, coarsely chopped and thick stems removed
1 Tbs. tomato paste
2 c. vegetable broth
1 tsp. dried basil
salt & pepper to taste

In a large deep pan heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add seitan and cook for several minutes until it's getting brown. Add garlic and cook another minute. Add broccoli rabe, cook until wilted then add the remaining ingredients. Bring to a simmer then reduce heat, cover and cook for about 10 minutes. While all this is happening, cook the orecchiette in plenty of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain and add to the broccoli rabe and seitan. We served ours garnished with parsley.

And note that if you want the broccoli rabe to look brighter and not as drab as in my picture, serve immediately and don't let it sit on the burner over low heat while you try to get your baby to bed.

Here's how I made the seitan:

Italian Style Seitan Patties

3/4 c. + 2 Tbs. wheat gluten
1/4 c. chickpea flour
3 Tbs. nutritional yeast
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. fennel seed (crushed with a mortar & pestle if you have one)
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/2 c. white beans
3/4 c. water
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. soy sauce

In a large bowl, mix together gluten, chickpea flour, nutritional yeast, salt, herbs and spices. In another bowl, mash the beans very well with a potato masher then mix in water, oil and soy sauce (you could do this in a blender too). Add the wet ingredients to the dry, mix well then divide into 6 equal portions. If you have a kitchen scale now would be a good time to use it but if not you can just eyeball it. Form each portion into a thin 3 1/2" patty and place on parchment paper on a baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes, flip patties then bake another 10 minutes.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Three Years

It's been three years since we started this blog and a lot has changed since then. We did a little bit of a special dinner for our blogiversary tonight (using a vegetable I've never cooked with before) but that'll have to wait because all I have time for is a short post.

So to tide you over here's the ubiquitous top ten list - my top ten favorite posts from the last three years. Many other posts could've made the list but I think this is a good one.

10. Lightlife review

9. Bread Pudding video

8. Christmas dinner

7. Jamaican Veggie Patties

6. Baby Shower

5. Thanksgiving

4. Veganizing Paula Deen

3. Veganizing Rachael Ray

2. A Week of Breakfast

And my number one favorite post: Apple Uglies!

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Week of Quick Meals

A few months ago I posted about a typical week; this one was not so typical in that we actually had somewhat of a plan. I came up with some meal ideas over the weekend and we went shopping on Sunday morning to get what we needed for the week. We started by trying to use up some whole wheat tortillas and collards that had been in the fridge for a while. I steamed the collards, and while that was happening I scrambled tofu with black beans and salsa (among other things). The collards and tofu went on the tortillas with more salsa and Tofutti sour cream. Good and good for you!

Monday night was a very easy pasta dish. We made the Instant Roasted Red Pepper Sauce from Vegan Express and had that over pasta and broccoli (dump frozen broccoli into the pasta water when the pasta has 3-4 minutes left to cook). We doubled the sauce recipe and it goes like this: mix 1 12-oz. package of silken tofu, 1 12-oz. jar of roasted red peppers (drained), a little parsley, 1/4 c. lime juice and 1 tsp. salt in a food processor until well blended.

Tuesday was election day and I took a vacation day from work to volunteer for Obama (and he won in Virginia!). I also had slightly more time for cooking in the evening and another thing we wanted to use up was the package of ring-shaped pasta. Yup. Spaghetti O's! Without the meatballs this time but with plain 'ol diced seitan instead. (And also with a salad.)

It was back to work Wednesday and dinner was some quick fried rice since I also managed to cook a batch of brown rice Tuesday night to have at the ready.

On Thursday we also managed to throw together a simple salad, which we had with couscous (from a packaged mix) and easy barbecued tempeh (pour about 1/3 a bottle of barbecue sauce over diced tempeh and bake at 350° for 25 minutes). Friday was one of Darlene's old standbys, sort of a mock chicken-noodle soup that she makes with seitan and cute little pasta stars.

And I had another idea for Saturday but time got the better of us and we dug into our stash of boxed Indian entrees. We stock up on these things whenever we see them on sale and we cook some rice and nuke them in the microwave for a really quick meal. In fact I just went over to the Tasty Bite web site to borrow some pictures and I found that they sell their Indian and Thai meals on-line for much less than we normally find them for in the store. We like these Tasty Bite meals too because they clearly label which ones are vegan.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Video: Bread Pudding

We got a good response the last time we posted a video and have been wanting to do another one, then baby came along and here we are 6 months down the road already. Now here's one that includes baby. We did this again with our Flip, and the audio quality in particular isn't stellar but hopefully you'll get the point. The recipe I'm using is posted here.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Two from Quick Fix

Have I mentioned we don't have a lot of time for cooking these days? Yeah, probably. Dinner is often a re-hash of something we've already written about many times but I had a chance to flip through Quick Fix Vegetarian recently and I found a couple new recipes to try. First up was the Indonesian-Style Noodles. Which was not very authentic because I used spaghetti, but whatever. It was tasty and fast to prepare. It's sort of a noodle stir-fry with scallions, garlic, ginger, cabbage, soy sauce and brown sugar. We also boosted it by adding a little seitan. The recipe calls for a garnish of cilantro but I really didn't want to buy a whole bunch of cilantro just for a little garnish so I used some of the parsley that's still hanging on in our herb garden. Not quite the same but again, whatever.

Tonight we made the Sicilian Couscous and again gave the meal a boost with the addition of seitan (this time fried in olive oil, soy sauce and agave). The couscous was made with scallions, spinach, raisins and orange zest and garnished with parsley and pine nuts. Not the greatest thing I've ever had but definitely a good meal. There were plenty of leftovers from both of these as well, which is always a good thing.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Apple-Sage Breakfast Patties

This is another variation on the seitan patties I recently posted about. Last time I was pondering how to make them larger (as opposed to baking them in muffin tins). The muffin top pan was a good idea but then it occurred to me that we have a set of biscuit cutters/ring molds that has about 10 different sizes (which worked perfectly when we made donuts). So this time I tried pressing the seitan batter into about a 3 1/4" ring mold on a baking sheet and that did the trick.

We've been up at our local orchard a lot this Fall picking apples so our abundance of apples was on my mind when I made these patties. I followed the basic recipe from before but omitted the white beans and added 1/4 c. finely diced apple, 1 tsp. ground sage, 1/2 tsp thyme and 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper. This time I divided the batter up into only 6 equal parts and pressed each piece into the ring mold on top of parchment on a baking sheet. I baked them uncovered at 350° for 15 minutes then flipped them over and baked another 10 minutes. We had them with toast and homemade apple jam.

This was probably my favorite variation yet. Baking them uncovered makes them a little more chewy, which was a good thing. Next time I make these I'll probably bump up the spice a little more - maybe with a little more red pepper and a little more sage.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Tempeh Fries with Sesame Broccoli

We finally had a chance to open a cookbook and try something new the other night. We were still looking for something quick though so the cookbook we opened was Vegan Express, where we found an appetizer and a side dish that combined to make an excellent meal. And it was all done in 25 minutes. The Tempeh Fries with Wasabi-Dill Mayonnaise were awesome and super simple, as was the Spicy Sesame Broccoli. The tempeh is just pan fried in a mixture of soy sauce and oil and is paired with a refreshingly delicious sauce containing vegan mayo, a little rice milk and lime juice, plus wasabi and fresh dill. The broccoli is even easier, as it's steamed in a mixture of soy sauce, sesame oil, white wine and sugar, then sprinkled with crushed red pepper and sesame seeds.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Lemon Bundt Cake

What do you do when you wake up at 5 in the morning and can't get back to sleep? And you've got half a bag of organic lemons in the fridge that need to be used up? If you're me, you open up your copy of The Joy of Vegan Baking and get to work on a Lemon Bundt Cake with Lemon Sauce. These last five months have been a whirlwind and it's a rare occasion that I bake something nowadays. So today I took advantage of my sleepless morning and made this fabulous cake. The cake is good on it's own but the sauce really makes it. If you can keep yourself from eating the sauce straight up with a spoon that is. Check out Colleen Patrick-Goudreau's wonderful book for the cake recipe (or try The Millennium Cookbook, from which she adapted the recipe). The sauce is super easy and would be great on any number of baked goodies so I'll share my version of that right now. Put 1/2 c. sugar and 1 Tbs. cornstarch in a saucepan, add 2/3 c. water, simmer over medium heat stirring occasionally until thick, then stir in the juice and zest from 2 lemons. Let it cool, then drink it up... I mean, pour it over your lemon cake (or muffins, or whatever).

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Seitan and Kale Stew

I've probably already mentioned that I used to enjoy browsing through cookbooks (or blogs or TV shows) and finding fun new recipes to try. Now there's precious little time for such things so we're often eating some quick pasta dish or maybe something from the freezer. Here's something quick that I made up on the fly and it came out pretty good (though I'm realizing now it's the second less-than-photogenic post in a row). I did this while baby Jonas was taking a late afternoon nap and it took me 35 minutes from start to finish (which unfortunately is often about the length of his naps).

Chop up about a pound of seitan (or just a package of seitan from the store if you don't make it yourself) and a medium onion. Cook both in a healthy amount of olive oil in a large pot. While that's happening, wash a bunch of kale, tear off the thick stems and tear the rest into smaller pieces. When your onions and seitan are getting nice and brown pour in about a cup of red wine. Let that cook a few minutes then add a small can (or half a large can) of crushed tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper and whatever else you want - I used about a teaspoon each of smoked paprika and coriander. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes. While it was simmering I made some couscous that we served it with and I sprinkled a few fresh chives on at the end. Probably not the greatest thing I've ever made but better than a frozen pot pie.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Chickpea Broccoli Casserole

I posted about this casserole recipe from Vegan With a Vengeance way back when we first started this blog. In fact that post garnered our first negative comment (thankfully the negative comments have generally been few and far between). I admit my photography skills were somewhat lacking back then. In fact they're still less than stellar and this isn't the most photogenic dish either but it sure does taste good. I can't believe it's taken us so long to go back to it. It bakes for an hour but it's fairly quick to throw together so it can make a decent weeknight meal.

Start by draining 3 cans of chickpeas then mashing them well in a large bowl. Add a chopped onion, some diced chives, 3 grated carrots and chopped broccoli (I used frozen this time and it came out fine). Mix in 1/2 c. bread crumbs, 3 Tbs. olive oil, 1 cup veggie broth and 1 tsp. salt. Spread this mixture in a baking dish, cover and bake at 350° for 45 minutes then uncover and bake another 15 minutes. It's a great one dish meal as is but this time I bumped it up a little and added 1 tsp. of smoked paprika (my new favorite seasoning). One change I might make next time would be to sauté the onions first but it saves time putting them in there raw. We served it garnished with pine nuts and a little more of the smoked paprika sprinkled on top.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Quick Fried Rice

Here's a quick and easy meal idea. Whenever you have a chance, start some rice cooking. Brown rice takes longer but it's better for you and you can be doing other things around the house while it's cooking. Once it's done, let it sit and cool a bit. Then dump it into a container and add a handful of cashews and some veggies - fresh or frozen. Maybe chop up a carrot and throw in some frozen broccoli and bell peppers. Now put the whole thing in the fridge. You've spent 5-10 minutes of hands-on time so far. Any time you want a quick meal in the next few days, heat a wok or other deep pot over medium-high heat, add a tablespoon or two of oil, then add the rice mixture and stir-fry for about 5 minutes. During the last minute add 2-3 tablespoons of soy sauce and 1 tablespoon of sesame oil. Enjoy.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Seitan Patties

I mentioned these in the last post and now those of you who were waiting for the recipe (all 2 of you) can breath a sigh of relief. I've written about how much I like the seitan recipes in the Real Food Daily cookbook and this is an adaptation of one of those. I also like Julie Hasson's seitan sausages and all the wonderful variations that have been traveling the vegan blog circuit but those do come out a little dense. What I like about the RFD recipes is the softer texture.

Now I've created the best of both worlds by baking seitan sausage patties in muffin tins. And you thought muffin tins were only good for cupcakes huh? I'd actually like to find a way to make larger patties that would fit on a bun or sandwich so I'll probably keep experimenting but these are most excellent already. I'll give you the basic recipe and the bratwurst-style variation I made, then you can go nuts trying out all manner of herb/spice variations yourself - I think I'll be trying a sage-heavy breakfast-style patty next.

Seitan Patties - Basic Recipe -

3/4 c. + 2 Tbs. wheat gluten
1/4 c. chickpea flour
3 Tbs. nutritional yeast
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/2 c. white beans
3/4 c. water
2 Tbs. canola oil
1 Tbs. soy sauce

In a large bowl, mix together gluten, chickpea flour, nutritional yeast, salt and onion powder. In another bowl, mash the beans very well then mix in water, oil and soy sauce (you could do this in a blender too). Add the wet ingredients to the dry, mix well then divide into 12 equal portions. If you have a kitchen scale now would be a good time to use it but if not you can just eyeball it. Press each piece into a well oiled muffin tin, cover with foil and bake at 350° for 25 minutes. Serve straight from the oven or store them in the fridge then pan fry in a small amount of oil before serving.

Bratwurst-style variation -

Replace 1/2 c. of the water with beer and add:
1/2 tsp. white pepper
1/2 tsp. marjoram
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
pinch nutmeg
pinch ground ginger

Thursday, September 04, 2008

CSA Bounty

Every year we think about joining a CSA but the farmers market is very close by so we end up just going there most weekends and picking out what we want. When a friend was out of town last weekend though, we jumped at the chance when she offered that we could pick up her CSA share. The cool thing about a CSA is you never know exactly what you'll get - and sometimes you might be pleasantly surprised. We got mostly what you'd expect this time of year - tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, peppers and the like, but the pleasant surprise was fresh lima beans, something neither of us had ever had before.

I poked around on-line to get some ideas about what to do with fresh lima beans but then I realized we still had some fresh corn in the fridge and I knew I had to make succotash. Not the most original idea I know, but I've only ever had the frozen kind and I was keen to know what it tastes like with fresh veggies. Much better than frozen as you might expect. I sautéed the corn in a little Earth Balance then added the limas (which had been boiled for 15 mins.) along with salt, pepper, smoked paprika and few cherry tomatoes. We had some tempeh bacon to complete the meal; all that smokiness an homage to Southern cooking where you'll find a ham hock in everything, even the veggies.

I also experimented with a new seitan patty recipe over the holiday weekend (a post on that will be forthcoming). With the nice red bell peppers from the CSA share I made a roasted red pepper sauce from Vegan with a Vengeance and we had that over the seitan and saffron rice. Not the best presentation I know, but at the last minute I decided it was interesting and took a picture.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Product Review: Purely Decadent Ice Cream

We've been fortunate enough on a couple of occasions to review some great vegan products but this was the package we anticipated the most. The kind folks at Turtle Mountain sent us samples of their new Purely Decadent vegan ice cream flavors to try and we're so glad they did. We were especially keen to try out their new line of vegan ice creams made with coconut milk. I have to confess that we tried a small sample of almost every flavor within minutes of the package arriving but this weekend we invited a bunch of friends over to help us sample this bonanza. Unfortunately almost everyone we invited was either busy or out of town this weekend (or we just don't have many friends). Either way I guess that's more for us.

So yesterday we did little sample plates for us with all five of the coconut milk based flavors and all five of the new soy based flavors. And today we did have one friend come over to sample some of the creamy goodness. I took pictures but go on over to the Purely Decadent site to see what professional pictures of all these flavors look like.

The coconut milk flavors are (clockwise from top left): Vanilla Bean, Coconut, Cookie Dough, Chocolate and Mint Chip. With the exception of course of the coconut flavor, we hardly noticed the coconut milk base in any of these. What we do notice is a rich, full-flavored creaminess that's every bit as good as (or maybe better than) dairy ice cream. To be fair, maybe we're not ones to judge since it's been many years since either of us has had dairy ice cream, but the friend we had over is not vegan and her first remark (after mmmmm) was that she would've never known these were dairy free if we hadn't told her. All of these flavors are truly outstanding (I just know I'm going to run out of superlatives here) but the two flavors that really stood out for all of us were the Chocolate and Cookie Dough. In fact the Cookie Dough is fast on its way to becoming the first of all the flavors we received to disappear completely - probably because it reminds Darlene of downing whole pints of Ben & Jerry's cookie dough ice cream after long bike rides way back in the day.

We're totally enamored with the coconut milk based flavors but the new soy based flavors are awesome as well. They are (clockwise from top left): Dulce de Leche, Blueberry Cheesecake, Key Lime Pie, Snickerdoodle and Belgian Chocolate.

These all live up to the Purely Decadent name quite well, though they're maybe a tiny notch below the coconut milk flavors in creaminess. Our surprising favorite among this batch turned out to be Snickerdoodle. Neither of us initially thought this would be a favorite but it packs a powerful cinnamon punch and has scrumptious bits of cookie dough mixed in - what's not to like? The Key Lime Pie is incredible as well and I'm all about the Belgian Chocolate too, even though I like the coconut milk based chocolate flavor a bit more. There's definitely not a single flavor in the whole lot that we won't savor to the last drop. (I also must confess that I totally licked those plates clean after I was done eating the samples with a spoon.)

Now all this writing has made me hungry so excuse me while I go dig into the freezer...

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Banana Nut Muffins

I've already posted about my old standby banana bread recipe so this is really just a way to re-use some content. I've been making muffins from this recipe lately, which I like because they take less time to cook. In the original recipe I used egg replacer. There are those who would argue that you don't need egg replacer in banana bread (or muffins) because the banana acts as a binder. I did leave it out when I made the muffins this time and they came out fine but I do think the egg replacer helps them hold together slightly better. So add it if you've got it but feel to leave it out per the recipe below.

2 ripe bananas
1/2 c. canola oil
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. + 2 Tbs. soy milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. chopped walnuts

Mash bananas in a large bowl then add oil, sugar, soy milk and vanilla and mix well. Sift in flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and gently mix until well combined (it will be a fairly stiff batter). Fold in nuts, then divide equally into oiled muffin tins (makes 12). Bake at 350º for 25 minutes.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Vegan Express Salads

I wanted to try something new but not too involved this weekend so I figured Nava Atlas' excellent new book Vegan Express might be a good place to start looking for ideas. One of the first recipes I came across sounded good - Chickpea and Carrot Salad with Parsley and Olives. It was a snap to prepare too, just mix together canned chickpeas, grated carrots, parsley, green olives, and scallions. Add a little lemon juice and olive oil, and season with cumin, salt & pepper. She suggests serving this with her Sweet and White Potato Salad and who am I to argue with that. This was a pretty basic potato salad served with a vinaigrette and chopped tomatoes and avocado, but the addition of sweet potatoes makes it a little more interesting. Everything was served on a bed of lettuce and another interesting addition is the toasted pumpkin seeds on top of the potato salad. This made for an excellent dinner and it didn't take that long to prepare.

On the page facing the carrot salad recipe is the Middle Eastern Chopped Salad recipe. This caught my eye too because it's basically a jazzed up cucumber and tomato salad - and we've been getting a lot of cucumbers and tomatoes from our garden. It also includes bell pepper, olives, scallions, parsley, sesame seeds and pine nuts. This was a good start to last night's dinner and afterwards we just had some basic sandwiches. Fun stuff, though it's not always like this. Tonight's dinner was a little of the leftover carrot salad and PB&J on toast.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A Typical Week

When we started here (going on three years ago), the idea was to show what a couple of vegans eat on a regular basis, from the ordinary to the spectacular. After a while the ordinary just wasn't "blog-worthy" anymore and we started posting only the better stuff (or whatever was new or fun). Now that we have a baby and thus very limited time to cook, there's not much that's new or blog-worthy anymore. So I thought I'd document the typical again and post about what we had over the course of a week. Actually this turned out to be a decent week with maybe a little more time for cooking than we might have other times. I started a week ago Saturday with the BBQ Tempeh I've already posted about.

Next up was black-eyed peas with chard, then Monday night was a tofu scramble with spinach (that came out of the freezer) and roasted potatoes. I saw the big fingerling potatoes at the farmers' market and they were a little expensive but I just had to get them so I could make these oven fries.

I also splurged a little and got some organic baby squash at the market. On Tuesday night I quartered them lengthwise and sautéed them in olive oil with garlic then I added pasta. I was going to do just olive oil and garlic but I found some tomato/tempeh sauce I made a long time ago way in the back of the fridge so I used that up.

And that was pretty much it for the cooking. On Wednesday night we just had a big salad. Yeah, those silly vegans eating nothing but salad... Ours had red lettuce, cucumbers and tomatoes from our garden, carrots, artichokes, chick peas, slivered almonds, pine nuts, and dried cranberries.

Then it was back to the freezer - this time for the whole meal - for Amy's pot pies. These are a tad pricey but a lot cheaper than eating out.

And the week finished off Friday with a salad and a sandwich. More cucumbers and tomatoes from the garden, and a sandwich on whole wheat bread with seitan, tomatoes and vegan mayo.

If you've read this far, maybe some of you other bloggers can help me with a question. Other than moderating comments, is there any way to have Blogger notify you if you get a comment on an older post? I'm not sure I want to moderate all comments, but every so often I notice comments that appear on older posts - usually a long time after they appeared. I always read and appreciate new comments, even if I don't respond to them all, but with well over 500 posts now who knows how many comments I've missed on older posts. OK, it's probably not that many but still I'm curious.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

In Defense of Whole Foods

Wait. Before you fire up those flamethrowers hear me out. I'm not going to sit here and extol the virtues of any money-grubbing corporation, Whole Foods included. But I thought I'd comment on this recent NY Times article about Whole Foods and how they're trying to convince people that they can be an economical place to shop. I find this amusing because I already know that. Oh sure, the moniker Whole Paycheck is not without reason and if you just go in there willy nilly and buy whatever you want it may hold true. But for a lot of our staples, believe it or not they're the least expensive game in town. And that's important when you're on a budget - especially a new-baby-budget. We don't have a Trader Joe's here, nor do we have a co-op where you could become a member and get a discount. So for things like tofu, soy milk, a lot of bulk items and even the occasional produce item we shop at Whole Foods. Yes they often irritate me but no more so than any other mainstream grocery store.

What I really wanted to point out though are a couple of choice quotes from the article that just rubbed me the wrong way. I've written before about how the mainstream media often takes little pot shots at vegetarians and vegans and this article is no exception. First up is the quote from the Whole Foods employee regarding tofu, "It looks gross but it's delicious." I supposed you could view that in a positive light but still. What looks gross is a package of bloody ground beef, or a whole fish laying on ice and staring up at you with cold dead eyes. Hell, some things in the produce section look gross (celery root anyone?) but tofu? C'mon! It's an innocuous white block. Get over it.

Worse though is the closing quote from a Whole Foods shopper who says she considers "Whole Foods expensive for average people...It was only cheap if you were a vegetarian willing to eat beans and tofu." Well count me in then! So I guess if you eat beans and tofu you're not average. I just looked up antonyms for 'average' and the first one I found was 'abnormal'. I always suspected I might be abnormal, now here's validation ;-)

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Easy BBQ Tempeh

I don't have many of my own recipes to share these days so I'll co-opt someone else's. We got some more fresh corn from the farmers market yesterday and the one thing I could think of that goes with corn on the cob is barbecue. Except we don't have a grill. Nor do we have the time to fire one up and cook something on it. So I decided to do my old standby of pouring barbecue sauce over tempeh and baking it. Except we didn't have any barbecue sauce. Probably because the last time I was in the grocery store looking at barbecue sauce and scouring ingredient labels for things like anchovies, I found that it all had high fructose corn syrup and I couldn't bring myself to buy any. So I made my own from a Vegan Dad recipe. All of his recipes rock, but especially this one. I halved the recipe for the sauce, upped the maple syrup just a tad, left out the brown sugar and added a tablespoon of molasses. Then I poured it over cubed tempeh and baked at 350° for 25 minutes. The amount of sauce was just right for an 8-oz. package of tempeh (unless you end up eating most of the sauce with a spoon first like I almost did).

We started the meal with a tomato salad made in large part from a monster yellow tomato from our garden. Only about half the tomato plants in our garden are doing anything this year but this one plant is producing like gangbusters. (There's a 'normal' sized tomato and an ear of corn in the picture for perspective.)

The salad was simple, fresh and delicious: tomatoes, olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, pepper and a touch of fresh basil.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Corn Pudding, Take 2

Way back when, I posted about the Corn Pudding and Chile Cornmeal-Crusted Tofu recipes from Veganomicon. Somehow I remembered that post just recently because I said I couldn't wait until summer to make the corn pudding with fresh corn. And the time is nigh for fresh corn. I picked up half a dozen ears at the farmers market on Saturday and found some time to make the corn pudding on Sunday. I also made another big batch of seitan so instead of the chile-cornmeal tofu we had the same coating on seitan.

The corn pudding was amazing with frozen corn but it was so much better with fresh because it got all sweet and lusciously caramel-y on the bottom. Our time for cooking is scarce these days but we might have to make this again before corn season is over. I'm not totally sold on the cornmeal coating on either the seitan or the tofu though. I fried it this time because I thought it came out a little dry baked, but now I think it's the cornmeal that makes it kind of dry. It was still really good, but next time I might use half cornmeal and half flour for the coating. Or I'll just go for our old standby and use almond flour.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Summer Wraps

I shoot from the hip a lot more when cooking these days. That is to say, I do it all the time. Sure, I used to improvise on occasion, but I also used to spend weekends poring over cookbooks or magazines or blogs trying to find interesting new recipes to try. Nowadays what little "free" time I have on weekends is spent doing errands, paying bills or maybe - heaven forbid - sleeping an extra hour. So when dinner time comes around, if it's not something frozen or just a big salad or sandwich, it's something made up on the fly. Like these wraps. I did find the time to make a quick run to the farmers market over the weekend and we've even gotten a few squash and tomatoes from our small garden.

I started by cooking some rice with crushed tomatoes and a little lime juice and cumin. Then I cooked onions and yellow squash and added fresh corn, white beans, fresh tomatoes and garlic. I don't quite remember how it was seasoned but probably with chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper. The rice and squash mixture went into tortillas and we topped it with lettuce and more fresh tomatoes. Not the best thing I've ever made but it was quick and there were plenty of leftovers which is always a bonus.

Oh, and baby Jonas is doing really well but as you can tell, we don't have time for doing much else now except for taking care of him.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Spicy Seitan Fingers

Here's something fun we made over the July 4th weekend. We've done something similar in the past with TVP chunks and with tempeh but I was inspired by Vegan Dad's wingz recipes to try this again with seitan. I found time on my day off on the 4th to sleep a little and also to make a huge batch of the Real Food Daily seitan recipe so here's what I did with part of it. This was kind of an experiment but it came out really good. We use a milder hot sauce like Frank's Red Hot for this but if you want to use something hotter knock yourself out.

1 lb. seitan, cut into strips
1 Tbs. peanut oil
2 Tbs. maple syrup
1 Tbs. soy sauce
1 Tbs. cider vinegar
1/4 tsp. liquid smoke
1/4 c. Earth Balance margarine
1/4 c. hot sauce

Prehet the oven to 350°. Heat a large oven-proof skillet over medium heat. Add the oil then the seitan and fry the seitan until brown on all sides. Add the maple syrup, soy sauce, cider vinegar, and liquid smoke and cook for a minute or so until the seitan is nice and glazed. Add the margarine and hot sauce and mix everything around until the margarine is melted. Pop the whole thing in the oven to finish for 15 minutes. We had ours with macaroni salad and steamed broccoli on the side.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

A Real Happy Family

Have you ever been to a Chinese restaurant and seen something called "Happy Family" on the menu? This usually consists of several different types of meat, like beef, chicken and shrimp, all "happily" married together in one dish. But I got to thinking that this really isn't a happy family at all. It's a dead family. And certainly the animals whose remains are swimming in brown sauce didn't have happy lives. So the other day I set out to create a real happy family - a stir-fry containing a trio of proteins that provide an interesting contrast in flavor and texture, but without all that death.

I didn't write down a recipe but if you've ever made a stir-fry you can try something similar with whatever veggies and sauce you like. I used about 8 oz. each of seitan, marinated tofu and marinated tempeh. The veggies were primarily red bell pepper and carrot because that's what we had on hand, and I also threw in a little frozen broccoli. And the sauce was hoisin, rice vinegar and a few other things I don't remember. What I do remember is that it was an explosion of flavor. So go try your own real happy family.

On a related note I have a question for you tempeh eaters out there. You know who you are. Do you steam your tempeh before cooking with it? I did in this case and I've read that steaming cuts down on the bitterness but often I'm lazy and I don't bother and I don't know if I really notice the difference.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Hodgepodge Lentil Stew

When you don't have a lot of time to cook, one obvious strategy is to cook vast quantities when you do. And a soup or stew is easy to expand. We didn't make it to the farmers market this morning (long story) but we still had some things left from last weekend's market that we needed to use up - namely a big bunch of collards, scallions and some nice red and purple potatoes. I was thinking about the white bean soup with collards that I've made in the past but lentils were what we had on hand so that's the direction I went. I kind of made it up as I went along but it came out good so I'll share what I did. It's not exactly the perfect meal for the first day of summer but the weather has been a bit mild here lately...

2 Tbs. olive oil
1 large onion diced
3 small carrots, sliced
2 stalks celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. dried tarragon
1 tsp. smoked paprika
salt & pepper to taste (depends on saltiness of the broth)
8 cups veg. broth or water
1 pound lentils, rinsed
1 large bunch collards, chopped
1 pound potatoes, diced
chopped scallions for garnish

Heat oil in a large soup pot and add the onion, carrot and celery. Cook for several minutes then add the garlic, tarragon, paprika, salt & pepper and cook another minute or so. Add water or broth, lentils and collards. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer, partially covered for 30-40 minutes until lentils are just getting tender. Add potatoes and simmer another 10 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Adjust seasonings if needed and serve garnished with scallions.

And since the food is not exceptionally interesting I'll be shameless and drop in another pic. It's food related only in that it demonstrates the reason we're not cooking as much as we used to.

These last 6 weeks have not been without their (many) challenges but in general everyone is doing well.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Glazed Tofu x2

It seems the weekends are the only time I'm cooking anything remotely blog-worthy these days. Last weekend I made the Chili Lime Tofu from VeganYumYum. You should seriously go try this recipe.

Well what are you waiting for? Go.

OK... now that you've tried it, isn't it simple and delicious? A whirlwind of flavors? We didn't have collards so we had ours over a bed of fresh spinach. I'll show you what ours looked like but Lolo's picture is way better so follow the link and check it out.

Last night I wanted to do something different after several nights of having pasta. I thought of the Chili Lime Tofu again but I thought I'd change it up a bit. Then I saw the bottle of Trader Joe's pomegranate glaze that's been in the back of our fridge for I don't know how long and the proverbial light bulb lit up. I used that as the base for the glaze and added soy sauce, maple syrup, and a little molasses and red chili paste. We had our pomegranate glazed tofu over brown rice with some fresh local chard on the side and it was fabulous.