Chloe’s Kitchen: Mac ‘N’ Cheese

Mac and Cheese

As you can probably tell, I love mac and cheese. Up until recently, I’ve been using the Mac and Cheeze recipe from Vegan Yum Yum, which I still love. But it’s still not quite there, in terms of authenticity. But this Vegan Mac ‘N’ Cheese recipe from Chloe’s Kitchen is the real deal. And, because it omits the soy sauce and miso, it’s more budget-friendly than the Vegan Yum Yum recipe. I like to bake mine as the recipe suggests, but it would be great served as a creamy dish. As usual, I like to serve blanched green beans on the side, and for this meal, I served a simple salad of mixed greens and vegan French dressing. I also used panko on top instead of regular bread crumbs for a little extra crunch.

Hurry Up Alfredo

This weird combination of food was our dinner last night. I made the Hurry Up Alfredo from “Vegan Yum Yum,” along with a spinach salad and a side of roasted okra (I discovered my love of roasted okra last summer).

The Hurry Up Alfredo is one of those recipes that definitely requires a good blender. I tried to make it a year or two ago in my food processor and the flavor just didn’t come out right, not to mention there were bits of raw cashews in the sauce. This time around, however, I was able to get it silky smooth and, wow, it was really, really good. It also lives up to its name because it comes together amazingly fast, making this a great weeknight meal. By the time the okra had roasted in the oven, the alfredo — pasta, sauce and all — was ready to serve.

I hope you all have a great week! I plan on making a few dishes that will make use of my Jungle Jim’s purchases and will post them soon.

Game Night Nachos

A platter full of nachos, good beer and a game of Phase 10 was what I originally had planned for this past Friday. Sadly, my car decided it didn’t need a front exhaust pipe on my way home from work and I had to spend my Friday evening waiting for a tow truck. So, we ended up making these nachos for our Sunday dinner, which was fine by me.

For these nachos, I used the cheezy sauce from Vegan Yum Yum’s Mac and Cheeze recipe, which is so versatile (it goes great on a baked potato with broccoli). On top of that, I layered seasoned black beans, chunky salsa, pickled jalapenos, chopped onion and diced avocado.

Hope everyone is having a great weekend!

A Getting Started Guide for New Vegans

Veganism has come a long way in the past decade, with an explosion of blogs, cookbooks, products and resources, as well as an overall awareness. Of course, this is all very good, but all of the information can be very overwhelming if you’re new to the lifestyle.

My yoga instructor has decided to go vegan and was asking me about getting started. I’m certainly not an expert or a nutritionist, but I thought I’d put together some resources and recommendations to help her in the transition and to share it here to help any of you in the same boat. It’s just a quick guide and, eventually, I’d like to build on it enough to create its own page. And please feel free to add any tips of your own in the comments.

Books

Vegan Yum Yum” — As much as I love Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s books, I highly recommend “Vegan Yum Yum” for anyone starting out. Most of the recipes are very simple to make and budget-friendly. I still make her mac and cheese recipe on a regular basis.

Magazines

VegNews — In addition to recipes, this magazine offers tons of information about new products, destinations, as well as facts about living a meat- and dairy-free lifestyle. I’m always inspired to be a better vegan with each new issue.

Websites

Happy Cow — This site offers a list of non-vegan ingredients.
Post Punk Kitchen — I know I said to wait on her cookbooks, but her site is great way to find food ideas and to build yourself up to more involved recipes.

Advice

Try not to get into the frozen food, veggie burger rut. There is so much more to vegan food than veggie burgers and frozen dinners. Don’t get me wrong, they have their place, but if you depend on them, you will burn out quickly. Plus, they’re super expensive.

Don’t beat yourself up for not being 100 percent vegan. Even if your goal is to be 100 percent vegan, 100 percent of the time, there will be a time when you slip up, either knowingly or unknowingly. And that’s okay. Being vegan shouldn’t be about beating yourself up all the time or feeling guilty.

Don’t let the naysayers get you down. It’s going to happen. You’re going to come across that family member or friend who just doesn’t understand why you’d want to give up cheese. I’ve even had a so-called friend put non-vegan ingredients into food and purposely not tell me. The best thing is to be polite with these people and just let it go.

Have fun. While some may see the vegan diet as restrictive, I see it as just the opposite. Since becoming vegan, my eyes have opened up to so many new ingredients and recipes that I never would have been exposed to before. And I have a blast exploring all the possibilities.

Also, check out The Pantry page to find out how to stock your pantry.

More to come …

I hope you all are well! I’ll have some food posts up soon!

Vegan Doughnuts and Thanksgiving Plans

So, who travels across the country to San Francisco and comes home with a doughnut pan as a souvenir? Why, I do, of course.

I had to go to San Francisco for work last week and stayed an extra couple of days for fun. My friends and I ventured over to the Ferry Building, which has tons of gourmet food and wine shops, including a  Sur la Table.

My husband and I have been wanting a doughnut pan so that we could try out the vegan doughnuts featured in “Vegan Yum Yum.” For some reason, our Bed Bath & Beyond doesn’t carry doughnut pans, so I couldn’t resist when I came across one in Sur la Table. The pan I purchased is for full-size doughnuts and her recipe is for mini doughnuts, but it wasn’t an issue.

I didn’t have any chocolate chips to melt, so we stuck with basic powdered-sugar doughnuts. They were so easy to make; I had fresh doughnuts in about 20 minutes. And it only took about 5 minutes to devour them all.

On another note, I cannot believe that Thanksgiving is right around the corner! Last year, my husband and I put together our very first 100-percent vegan Thanksgiving meal. We stuck with the basics and I was so pleased with the results.

This year, we’ve decided to step it up a few notches and try a spread that was featured in the November/December 2009 issue of Vegetarian Times. The recipes come from the book, “Vegan Soul Kitchen” by Bryant Terry, which I don’t have in my collection, but I’m planning on purchasing soon.

I’ve been wanting to make this meal for a long time, so I’m really excited to give it a shot. The menu includes:

Butternut Squash-Bartlett Pear Soup
Citrus Collards with Raisins
Smothered Seitan Medallions in Mixed Mushroom Gravy
Carrot-Cranberry-Walnut Salad
Cumin-Cayenne Mashed Potatoes with Caramelized Onions

The only thing I’m changing is the dessert. The spread in the magazine features a delicious-looking Chocolate-Pecan Pudding Pie, but I’m going to switch it out for the Pumpkin Cheesecake With Pecan Crunch Topping in the new “Vegan Pie In The Sky” from Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero.

If all turns out well, I hope to have lots of pictures (hopefully better than the blurry shot I took last year) and lots of comments about the food.

I hope everyone is well!

Vegan Food Happenings

Hey everyone! Sorry for the lack of posts. I’ve been cooking, just not posting. I don’t have any recipes to share, but I thought I’d share some pictures of a few dishes that I made these past few weeks.

Bok Choy Skillet Supper from Vegetarian Times

This dish was extremely easy to make and was really tasty. The only thing I would change is the bok choy. My husband and I found it kind of stringy. We’re big fans of swiss chard, so we might use that the next time we make the dish.

Almond Milk Latte and Banana Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies from “Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar”

These breakfast cookies are really delicious and really filling. The recipe in the book also makes a ton of them, so, unless you want to freeze them, I would recommend cutting the recipe in half.

Baked Potato with Broccoli and Cheese

Sorry for the bad picture. My husband and I have recently become addicted to baked potatoes. They’re cheap and filling and very versatile. For this baked potato, I steamed some broccoli and made the cheesy sauce from the “Vegan Yum Yum” Mac and Cheese recipe. We served our potatoes with a Caesar salad, which we also found in the cookbook.

That’s all I have for now. Tomorrow, I’m planning on writing a post about our first CSA pickup. Hope everyone is well!

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!

Vegan MoFo

In case you didn’t know, November kicks off VeganMoFo, the Vegan Month Of Food. The event encourages everyone to write about vegan food as often as possible during the entire month of November. The idea is to bring awareness about veganism to the masses, which is a good thing.

And being the 3rd of November already, I have some catching up to do! I plan on making a casserole from Vegan Yum Yum tomorrow, so expect to see a post about that soon!

 

Confessions of a Bad Vegan

I’ve been a bad vegan. I’m not going to lie: I slipped and had dairy and fish and I feel horrible about it. It all started with my brother’s wedding the week before last. It was a destination wedding, which required a very quick, 10-hour trip down to Destin, Florida. The trip started out well. I actually planned ahead and made food for the entire duration of our quick, four-day trip, with the exception of dinner because we knew we’d eat out with the wedding party. I made pumpkin muffins, eggless egg salad, roasted vegetable sandwiches, and brought chips, a dark chocolate bar, and some lemon cookies for snacks. Everything was vegan.

We weren’t even a few hours on the road before we made our first offense. We had to stop to get gas and noticed a Cracker Barrel across the street. Now, Cracker Barrel is bad for a number of reasons that I won’t go into, but we ended up going in and each ordering the vegetable plate. I ordered mine with the fried okra, baby carrots, coleslaw, and the mac and cheese. All vegetarian, but not at all vegan.

For the rest of the road trip we behaved, eating only what we had packed in the cooler, and it was delicious. The roasted vegetable sandwiches were taken from a Vegan Yum Yum recipe and were out of this world! So simple, but very flavorful.

Our second offense came the first night we were in Destin. Instead of going out to eat with the rest of the wedding party, we opted to run to the grocery for dinner and stay at the condo so I could finish some work. We ran up to The Fresh Market and ended up with a horribly bland margarita pizza and a salad. Once again, both vegetarian, but not at all vegan.

Our third offense came when we went out after the wedding. The Irish pub-style restaurant we went to had no vegetarian entrees, and I have a problem with consuming nothing but fries and salads for dinner, and not to mention that we needed something substantial to soak up the alcohol we had already consumed on an empty stomach. I broke down and had crab cakes, and my husband had the catfish. Neither vegetarian, nor vegan.

But our bad eating habits didn’t stop with our trip. Since coming home, I’ve had no problem sticking to my vegan diet while at home, but not so much whenever I’ve eaten out.

Now, I say all this not to shame anyone for eating dairy, or even meat, but just to show that no one is perfect. Regardless of the diet you adhere to, mistakes happen, but you can’t beat yourself up over them. All you can do is to try to make better choices the next time around. And that’s what I’m going to do. Despite my slip-ups, I love being vegan and have no plans to change anytime soon.