Vegan Food Happenings

Man, I’m a bad blogger. I’m beginning to sound like a broken record, but I apologize for the lack of posts. This past winter seemed to hit me pretty hard, motivation-wise. But I still cooked quite a bit and I even took a few (blurry) pictures. I tried out some new recipes—some good, some not so good. I even experimented a little on my own. For this post, I thought I’d share a few of the dishes that I made over the past few weeks.

My husband has been working nights for school, so I’ve been left up to my own devices for dinner. I’ve been making lots of tofu scrambles like the one you see below. I use the tofu scramble recipe from Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s Vegan Brunch. It’s so easy and leaves lots of room for variation.

For this year’s Super Bowl, I decided to make a few snacks. While browsing the Whole Foods deli section, I came across a bag of pretzel bites that were vegan. They were still warm, so I couldn’t resist. The bags of pretzel bites were on a display with large blocks of cheddar cheese and beer, which gave me the idea to make a vegan version of beer cheese. It turned out way better than I expected. I used Lauren Ulm’s mac and cheese sauce for the base and added a few extra ingredients, including beer, to give it a more authentic taste. I plan on making it again, and when I do, I’ll post the recipe on here.

In addition to the beer cheese and pretzel bites, I also made a big bowl of guacamole.

I’m a big stickler for not wasting food. I’ve been known to throw together some, um, interesting dishes to avoid throwing out food. This cauliflower and lentil dish was such an experiment, but it turned out really well. It consisted of cauliflower, red lentils, and lots of spices that gave it an Indian vibe. Next time, I think I might roast the cauliflower in the oven to add another layer of flavor. Again, when I make it again (if I can remember how), I’ll post the recipe on here.

Finally, I’ve really been making an effort to make a substantial breakfast on Sundays. My husband and I are big fans of “CBS Sunday Morning,” so we’ve made it a tradition to enjoy our coffee while watching the show, and then make a good breakfast/brunch after the show ends at 10:30am. This morning, I decided to make banana-cinnamon pancakes with a side of veggie sausage.

Well, that’s it for now. I’m sorry I couldn’t offer any recipes this time around. Hope everyone is well!

 

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Apple Strudel and Black-Eyed Peas

Happy New Year! Can you believe it’s now 2011? Crazy! The holidays were very relaxing for us, and were filled with lots of delicious vegan meals. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to capture them all on film, but I’ll do my best to give you a rundown of all the wonderful new recipes that we tried.

For some reason, I like to have a big Italian meal on Christmas Eve (I blame it on my mom’s Italian roots). This year, I decided to make a lasagna, along with a Caesar salad and warm, crusty bread. For the lasagna, I turned to Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s newest cookbook, Appetite for Reduction. It’s quickly becoming one of my favorite cookbooks. I’ll go into that a bit more a little later, but so far, every recipe that I’ve made from the book has been delicious!

The recipe, Lasagna with Roasted Cauliflower Ricotta & Spinach, was super-easy to make and packed with flavor thanks to the roasted cauliflower. My dad even finished off a big plate of the lasagna! To cut down on the cooking time, I opted to not boil the pasta. Instead, I layered the uncooked pasta noodles and added a little water right before baking. I also doubled the recipe so that there would be enough for everyone.

For the Caesar salad, I used Laura Ulm’s recipe from her book Vegan Yum Yum. The dressing for this salad is really what made the dish. It was incredible! (Well, the homemade sourdough croutons certainly didn’t hurt.) It consisted of almonds, miso, Dijon, vegan Worcestershire, and silken tofu among other ingredients. The croutons were also very easy to throw together and a must-have for the salad. Cubed sourdough bread was tossed with olive oil, Italian herbs, salt, and pepper, and then baked in the oven. I could easily eat this salad as a meal. So simple, but so delicious.

For dessert, I turned to Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World (another must-have book from Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero) to make red velvet cupcakes. The Crimson Velveteen Cupcakes were incredibly moist. The Old-Fashioned Velvet Icing, though delicious, was a little runny for me, so next time, I think I’m going to make them with a cream cheese icing. Still, they were the perfect finish to our Christmas Eve meal.

For Christmas morning, I once again turned to Vegan Yum Yum to make an apple strudel. In case you didn’t know, Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry is vegan. Now, it’s also not very healthy, but hey, it was the holidays! The strudel recipe was ridiculously easy to make. It was simply a matter of slicing the apples, tossing them in cinnamon, sugar, and flour, and then rolling them in the puff pastry. I made the strudel the day before and put it back into the oven for a few minutes to warm it. A slice of the strudel and a cup of coffee were the perfect Christmas morning treat.

For the past couple of years, we’ve been making it a tradition to eat black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day with the hope that they will bring us good luck for the year. This year was no exception and I once again turned to Appetite for Reduction to make these Hottie Blacked-Eyed Peas & Greens and Ginger Mashed Sweet Potatoes & Apples.

But before I go into how delicious both recipes are, I just have to profess my love for the cookbook. Yes, the recipes are low-fat, but you wouldn’t know it. The food is just so clean and simple and delicious, which is the way I like to cook. They also, for the most part, require very few ingredients (especially if you have a stocked pantry), making them incredibly budget-friendly. If you buy one cookbook this year, I highly recommend adding this one to your collection.

Anyway, back to the meal! The Hottie Black-Eyed Peas & Greens had so much flavor thanks to the onions, garlic, hot sauce, and liquid smoke. The recipe came together in no time at all while the sweet potatoes and apples steamed for the mash.

Though two separate recipes, I used Isa’s recommendation of making the Ginger Mashed Sweet Potatoes & Apples as a side for the Hottie Black-Eyed Peas. And, wow! The smokiness of the peas along with the sweet potatoes and apples made for a flavor-packed meal. And so healthy. And like the peas, once I finished cubing the potatoes and apples for steaming, the mash came together really quickly.

Well, that’s it. For now. I hope this rundown inspires you to try some new vegan recipes.

Enjoy!

Holiday Cookies and Appetizers

My husband and I, along with our fabulous downstairs neighbors, had a holiday gathering last night, with cookies being the major theme. We both provided a few savory snacks in addition to the sweets, and it was a chance for me to try a few new dishes. And with me being the procrastinator that I am, I was down to the wire trying to get everything onto the table, so I didn’t get a chance to take any pictures. But, this morning, I was at least able to snap a shot of some of the leftover cookies that we made for the get-together.

Cookies

For cookie ideas, we turned to Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar. I decided to make the Linzertorte Thumbprint Cookies, and my husband decided to make the Espresso Chip Oatmeal Cookies – his first ever attempt to make cookies from scratch, I might add. Both cookies turned out perfectly. We took the recipes directly from the book without any variation, so I’m not going to post the recipes here, but like all of Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s and Terry Hope Romero’s books, I highly recommend that you purchase them for your cookbook collection.

The thumbprint cookies looked very fancy, but they were surprisingly easy to make. They consisted of a lightly-sweetened shortbread dough, rolled in crushed hazelnuts, and then topped with a tiny dollop of raspberry jam.

The oatmeal cookies, according to my husband, were also easy to make. The instant espresso powder and chocolate chips really took the oatmeal cookies to a whole new level. They were chewy and sweet, without being too sweet.

Appetizers

For the savory portion of our spread, I decided to try three new recipes: Chestnut Lentil Pâté, Asparagus and White Bean Pesto Tart, and vegan cream cheese topped with red pepper jelly and walnuts. They were all incredibly easy to make and turned out way better than I had expected.

The pâté recipe was pulled directly from Veganomicon. I discovered a few days ago, after buying two pounds of chestnuts and roasting a few of them, that I really don’t like chestnuts. At least by themselves. But their strange, meaty texture works perfectly for a pâté. Now, I’ve never had real pâté before, but to me, this looked just like the real thing. It had a touch of sweetness from the chestnuts, and paired well with melba toast.

My favorite appetizer of the entire evening was the Asparagus and White Bean Pesto Tart, which you can find here on Vegan Yum Yum. It was super-easy, and looked beautiful on the tray. It was also a big hit with our guests (I should have made more!). The white bean spread was very reminiscent of a hummus, but the Dijon mustard, cashews, and pesto set it apart from its chickpea cousin.

Last weekend, my friend, Erin, and I venture up north just outside of Cincinnati to check out Jungle Jim’s, which is what can best be described and the “Las Vegas of grocery stores.” The place is overwhelmingly huge, and has an incredible international food section. We stocked up on fun party foods while we were there, and using her suggestion, I picked up a bottle of red pepper jelly. For the party, I spread it over vegan cream cheese and topped it with walnuts. The spicy and sweet jelly paired perfectly with the tangy cream cheese, and the walnuts added a nice crunch when spread over a cracker.

Our spread also included some other goodies, but I was most proud of our cookies and other new recipe additions.

I hope you’re having a wonderful holiday season!

Dal Makhni

I love lentils. They’re cheap to buy and easy to prepare. They’re also super healthy. Combine them with some fragrant spices, tomatoes, and a cashew cream sauce, and you’ve got yourself a delicious, Indian-inspired dish that is sure to please.

I adapted this recipe from the Vegan Yum Yum cookbook, which is one of my favorites. I highly recommend it if you’re thinking of becoming vegan or just looking for simple vegan recipes. Lauren Ulm’s food is very simple in its ingredients and preparation, making it a good starting point before moving on to more involved cookbooks, like, say, Veganomicon.

Dal Makhni

Serves 2 + leftovers

Ingredients:

2 cups long-grain brown rice
1 tbsp Earth Balance margarine
2 cups green lentils
8 cups water
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
1 cup chopped yellow onion
4 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves
4 green cardamom pods
1 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes
1 tsp salt
1 cup raw cashews
3/4 cup water

Directions:

In two separate pots, cook both the lentils and rice in 4 cups of water, each. Add the Earth Balance to the rice. Both should take about 40 minutes to cook.

After the rice and lentils have cooked for about 20 minutes, go ahead and heat the oil in a large, deep skillet (I used a soup pot). Add the onion, and cook for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the onions start to brown and caramelize. Stir constantly and keep an eye on them to prevent the onions from burning. After they’ve browned, add the cloves, cinnamon stick, bay leaves, and cardamom pods and fry for 2 minutes. Next, add the ginger and garlic and cook for 2 more minutes.

Add the tomatoes and salt and simmer for about 5 minutes, then add the cooked lentils to the pot. Add a 1/2 cup of water if the mixture is too thick.

Blend the cashews in a blender or food processor, and slowly add the water until it forms a creamy sauce. Add the cream to the lentil mixture and reserve some on the side for an extra dollop on top.

Serve over rice.

Enjoy!

Broccoli Almond Sweet & Sour Tofu

This dish reminds me a lot of the General Tao’s Tofu I made a while back with the exception of the sauce. The General Tao’s sauce was sweet and spicy, and this is sweet and tangy.

The recipe is taken directly from the Vegan Yum Yum book, and you can also find it on Lauren Ulm’s website by the same name. (That’s why I’m not going to post it on here.) The book has the entire recipe, which includes adding the brown rice and the broccoli.

It’s delicious, and much tastier and healthier than most takeout. Plus, I use the sweet and sour sauce recipe quite a bit for my stir-fry dishes. It’s super-easy to make and you probably have most of the ingredients on-hand (especially if you’ve stocked your pantry).

The key for making this dish quickly is to do your prep work in advance and to take a couple of shortcuts:

First, I get my brown rice going. Second, I press my tofu. I then make the sauce and set it aside. About 10 minutes before the rice is finished cooking, I throw my broccoli pieces on top of the rice and close the lid. The broccoli will be perfectly steamed by the time the rest of the dish is finished. After I finish frying my tofu, I take it out and wipe the pan. I then pour my sauce mixture into the same skillet to thicken. Once it thickens, I toss in my fried tofu pieces, stir to coat, and serve immediately over the steamed broccoli and rice.

Enjoy!